Saintseneca leaves a trail of forgotten stories and memories as part of their Pillar of Na tour.
Saintseneca leaves a trail of forgotten stories and memories as part of their 2018 U.S. and western European tour, Pillar of Na.
For those of you not familiar with Saintsenca, the Columbus, five-member line-up is fronted by Zac Little, Steve Ciolek, Maryn Jones, Jon Meador, and Matt O’Conke. The band brought their indie folk-rock sound to Black Cat on September 19 in Washington D.C., following the release of their latest album, Pillar of Na.
The smell of a young boy’s fresh cooked fries penetrated the huge black box, loosely packed with a diverse crowd, unable to be labeled by age, race, or gender. The audience looked on as Saintseneca’s members refined and calibrated their numerous instruments. As the start of the performance neared, all was quiet—a respectful silence flooded the dark room, lit only by simple floodlights and a larger-than-life, strawberry-heart neon sign (the centerpiece imagery for their new album).
Little led the members onstage and launched into Pillar of Na’s “Feverer,” a song that is not too fast nor too slow, but requires a great deal of passion, a virtue that Saintseneca is not lacking.
Between small anecdotes and nods of gratitude to the audience, Saintseneca worked through a 10 song set—excluding a 4 part encore—spanning from songs like “Acid Rain” and “Missing Dogs” from 2011 album Last, “Takmit” from 2014 Dark Arc, “River” and “Sleeper Hold” from 2015 Such Things, and of course, “Beast in the Garden” from 2018 Pillar of Na.
Although Little refrained from addressing the audience too often, Saintseneca’s performance did not disappoint. Members switched between vocals and instruments, passing between typical items like guitar, keyboard, and bass, but also incorporated the balalaika and bouzouki, both of which are elements off of Pillar of Na.
As Little sang his way through the setlist, his passion was overwhelming, even breaking a string with his zealous playing. On theme to Christian thematics that present themselves throughout Pillar of Na, Little seemed almost mystic with his long, ginger hair and beard—a bad-ass prophet, weaving tales with his quick fingers and angelic voice.
At one point, Little stood solo, band members sitting on the floor around him, hanging on to the guitar’s fervent drip like a hot summer night in Barcelona, only for them to stand up and jump in, transporting you back to the present.
And that’s exactly the magic of Saintseneca, each member brings out the best in one another, wonderfully coaxing each other into a performance driven by passion and honesty. Saintseneca is completely in sync with one another, proving mastery in each instrument to deliver a performance that leaves you a bit more enlightened.
By the end of the performance, Saintseneca transformed the Black Cat, Little’s “favorite venue in the United States,” into a space of kinship and mindfulness—like you’ve traveled through time and space and found at least a small piece of yourself.
We know good things will be heading Saintesenca’s way. There is no doubt that they will continue to grow their craft and impress upon their audience with their musical preachings. All we can hope is that our paths may cross again on their journey.
Ladder to the Sun
Beasts in the Garden
Pillar of Na
Reviewed by Emily Brauner, Photos by Xavier Dussaq.