On The List :: Skyes @ Cameo Gallery [2.28.14]
It is both metaphor and cold reality to be the 8:30 band on a Friday night. You're just starting out, and everyone knows it, whether they know you or not. Skyes, a Brooklyn four-piece, with ambition that easily outpaces their current Q-rating, took the stage at Cameo Gallery without saying a word. Singer DA Knightly would thank the crowd after the night's penultimate song, introducing the band for the first time, maybe unnecessarily. The set spoke for itself.
Any discussion of the rising stock of a band like Skyes begins and ends with Knightly. Toting what may well be the best voice in Brooklyn, she is a mixture of mad scientist - punching keys on one of the two iPads on stage while also playing a keyboard - and organic sprite, seemingly possessed by the nature and power of the band's arrangements, maybe even by her own voice. Opening with the propulsive, "Secondhander", this writer began to do the math: This is likely their second or third best song in their own estimation, still with hit-in-waiting "A Girl Named Jake" saved for the latter portion of the set. Labels should sit up in their seats and take notes. To my eye there weren't industry people in the audience (always look at the back: too well dressed, maybe a leather jacket if they're in their 40s, usually talking through some part of the set), but there will be in the future. The sound that came through the admittedly splashy acoustics of Cameo proved big enough to fill far larger rooms, a throwback to industrial pop bands like Garbage and Metric, a stadium-sized aesthetic playing in room that fire codes around 100.
The middle of the set dragged a bit, and the band should look to free Knightly from her keyboard duties, but the closing three songs would evangelize anyone. Running through "A Girl Named Jake", "Burden" and an as yet untitled closer large enough to sink Williamsburg into the East River, the band announced its arrival with its departure for the night. On record, "A Girl Named Jake" sounds like a Kate Bush research project, updated for the 2014 listener. In person, the sound is bigger and more ambitious, Knightly hitting intermediate pitches with deftness and sophistication. When she finally introduced the band, a bit of superfluity when you're playing mostly to friends and friends-of-friends, the scattered audience of beards, shoulder bags, and asymmetrical hair cuts already knew. It stood as an introduction nonetheless. She and the band should get comfortable with this part, the introduction; they're going to be meeting a lot more people.