Despite making a name for himself as the creator of indie-pop band Matt Pond PA, Matt Pond’s 12-year, eight-record career didn’t draw many people to Thursday’s show. Perhaps it was the relentless rain that kept some away. But those who did attend were treated to an intimate set of some of Pond’s best songs.
His latest album, The Dark Leaves, offers mostly slow and steady songs built around string sections. They tend to be a bit boring and bland on record, though every now and then a track like “Remains” stands out. However, his conversational style of singing translates well to an intimate live setting like the Westcott: It was as if every person in the audience was right on stage with him, seeing each wrinkle form on his forehead and watching each time his eyelids closed tight as he confessed his deepest thoughts, like when he sang “Wild Girl.”
The Matt Pond PA current lineup, which often changes, includes guitarist/vocalist Leslie Sisson (also in side project The Wooden Birds with Pond), bassist George Souleidis, guitarist/vocalist Chris Hansen and Dan Crowell on drums.
The chemistry between Pond and his band mates mirrored the chemistry between the band and the audience, especially with Pond’s understated humor and winks to the crowd in between songs. When singing “New Hampshire” off 2004’s Emblems, he traded his guitar for a beer; before performing a slower song, he joked about the small crowd, saying “this one’s for the lady.”
His joke prompted one older fan to apologize for the city of Syracuse. But the low turnout didn’t faze Pond.
“Don’t apologize, because then I’ll apologize and we’ll be stuck in a circle of apologies,” Pond said.
He thanked all 52 of his new friends for coming out on a rainy night and performed the last few songs as if the venue was full. In the final song of the set, “Giving It All Away Tonight,” he reeled around in an idiosyncratic dance that included some jarring head bobs.
After the song, fans pounded the stage, calling for an encore.
“You may be small, but you’re very loud,” Pond told the crowd.
Otto-Tune is a music blog dedicated to exposing the best in local, national and international music to the Syracuse community.