MANHATTAN, NY—Eisley are an indie rock band from Tyler, Texas, consisting of four siblings (Chauntelle, Sherri, Stacy, and Weston DuPree) and their cousin (Garron DuPree). The band was conceived in 1997 when lead guitarist Chauntelle and vocalist/rhythm guitarist Sherri began creating music together in their bedroom. Younger sister Stacy (who was then eight years old) became frustrated over their insistence that she was too young to be a part of the group and wrote her own song without their help before she was inducted as vocalist/keyboardist. Their brother Weston (who was then 10 years old) soon joined the band as the drummer. Cousin Garron later replaced the original bassist. Originally called the Towheads, the musicians renamed the band Eisley after Mos Eisley, a large spaceport town on the planet Tatooine in the Star Wars saga.
Boyd and Kim Dupree, the parents of the four DuPree siblings, operated a coffee shop out of their church. Eisley performed its first show there in 1998 and became the frequent weekend house band for most of four years. Eisley eventually performed the local music club circuit and at the shows sold copies of the first of its 10 EPs in 1999.
In their youth, the Dupree siblings recorded darkly fantastical music and whimsical lyrics with vivid imagery of fireflies, woods, and open fields. As they reached adulthood, their lives became a soap opera and the later EPs and albums featured songs about real life, lost love, and troubled relationships. Chauntelle suffered a broken engagement; her fiancée, Adam Lazara of Taking Back Sunday, left her shortly before their wedding date after he impregnated a waitress in the DuPrees’ hometown. Sherri endured a failed marriage; her husband, Chad Gilbert of New Found Glory, cheated on her, filed for divorce and connected with Hayley Williams of Paramore. The most recent songs are more upbeat, now that all three sisters are happily married. Chauntelle married guitar maker Todd D’Agostino, Sherri married Max Bemis of Say Anything, and Stacy married Darren King of Mutemath. Fourth-fifths of the band has recently become new parents. The group’s fourth studio album, 2013’s Currents, centered on this new maturity with nautical/maritime imagery that depicted the constant movement of the currents, which are sometimes turbulent and other times calm, but always moving. The metaphor of this current-like flow of time accented the need for an anchor in order to remain grounded.
At the Bowery Ballroom tonight, Eisley showed that the band’s story is expanding rather than simply collecting bookmarks. Little of Eisley’s performance linked to its folk-pop fairy-story origin, as the band nurtured a more indie-rocking and ambient sound. The set included older songs, but the center of gravity was on newer material that was thematic and even somewhat experimental. These songs and sounds built an ebb-and-flow atmosphere around the conceptual lyrics, with seemingly minimal regard for radio potential.
Sherri and Stacy alternated lead vocal duties almost equally, with Chauntelle offering lead vocals on only one song. The vocals were strong, and lush melodies and crystal clear harmonies were still a mainstay in the Eisley signature. Sherri and Stacy specialized in bending and prolonging syllables in almost every line of verse and then filling out the songs with a lot of audience-rousing woooh-ooohs. Chauntelle rocked the guitar with dreamy leads and airy riffs while Stacy provided ambient sounds on her keyboards. Weston pounded driving drum beats and Garron rolled out basslines with precision. The rocking arrangements, the brightness engineered by the lyrics and the indie-style innovations in the compositions, however, made the overall set sound sweet but somewhat undefined. The wash of sound was sometimes saccharine. Perhaps part of the Currents theme was to shift back and forth from driving pop to cascading mind melts.