Land of Talk / Half Waif - live in Allston (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Land of Talk / Half Waif

live in Allston (2017)

live show

Land of Talk were a band I unfairly discriminated against during their initial run in the late 2000s. I always saw them as part of the lower tier of Saddle Creek bands, below the heralded Bright Eyes and Cursive, perhaps something I wouldn’t be as into, and thusly never gave them a fair shake. I realized how sorely I was missing out when I heard Life After Youth, however, and was sad for my past self, operating on poorly constructed biases and ill-founded preconceptions. We’re talking a top 10 effort of the year as it stands, a delightful and invitingly melodic meditation on aging, longing, loneliness, and more that musically rests somewhere between their old peers Rilo Kiley and Eisley.

I didn’t know what to expect from Half Waif, who I’d also had some other random, wrong preconceptions about. I think I expected something more ramshackle, and instead got super polished, well-done...indie pop, I guess? But the kind adorned with tasteful synth, drum pads, programmed loops, and the very impressive pipes of frontwoman Nandi Rose Plunkett (who apparently studied classical singing in college, and it shows). I could draw vague comparisons to Fear of Men’s more recent stuff, but I’m not sure it paints a full picture. It was the tour’s first night, and no one would have been the wiser, as the trio sounded well-rehearsed and rather bright and vivid. And a very sensible stylistic warm-up for Land of Talk. The crowd was definitely feeling it, too.

I use “they/their” a lot up there to describe Land of Talk, but I think it’s generally recognized that the project is by and large vocalist/guitarist Elizabeth Powell. She led a quartet that ably performed songs from the aforementioned Life After Youth (most of it, which I was real pleased about) and plenty of older ones that the packed house adored. Cheers were loud and appreciative throughout the set, and while I thought maybe Life After Youth brought on a plethora of new fans like myself, the older songs definitely got the biggest responses. It was awesome to hear the serene “Inner Lover,” and the urgent “Heartcore,” though the gravity and loveliness of older ones like “Some Are Lakes” tell me I should get around to checking out her first two albums sooner rather than later.

Powell looked slightly surprised by the warmly loud appreciation shown by the large crowd, but was always amiable in banter, responding to individually shouted things when warranted (and even when not, really). After opener “Yes You Were,” she appeared a little perturbed by a vibrational issue occurring, and not long after mentioned to the crowd that they got a bit of an insider glimpse into her realness, fourth wall thusly broken.

Set list (9:07-10:04):

  1. Yes You Were


  2. Yuppy Flu


  3. Loving

  4. Inner Lover


  5. Some Are Lakes


  6. Quarry Hymns


  7. Spiritual Intimidation


  8. This Time


  9. The Hate I Won’t Commit


  10. Heartcore

    Encore (10:05-10:12):

  11. It’s Okay