Into It. Over It., St Pancras Old Church, gig review: Evan Weiss gives his songs a stripped-back makeunder in an especially intimate setting

Acoustic rearrangements lay bare the musicianship at the heart of Weiss' songwriting

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The Independent Culture

“It sounds amazing”. You can forgive Evan Weiss’ lack of modesty as he makes this proclamation to St Pancras Old Church’s Monday evening congregation, as it’s clear he’s talking about the acoustics of the ancient venue, rather than boasting directly about the skills he’s displaying on his own acoustic guitar.

That said, Weiss – aka Into. It. Over It. – shouldn’t shy away from such praise. The fingers on his left hand dance up and down the fretboard, while his right alternates between delicate finger-picking and furious strumming. Indeed, the Chicago-based king of the so-called “emo revival” is an incredibly accomplished musician.

Taking place in a small Fourth Century church – Weiss notes astutely that the building is “old as balls” – it goes without saying that tonight’s show is an intimate affair. The first in a run of three London gigs – the following two in more raucous Lexington pub just down the road, where he will play full albums alongside his band – this is an acoustic “greatest hits and requests” concert to perhaps 100 people, all sat attentively on wooden chairs laid out as pews in the moody, candlelit church.

On record, Weiss’s music takes its cue from the Nineties emo of Sunny Day Real Estate and American Football (he fronts another band with AF’s Mike Kinsella), sometimes dreamy and intricate while often brash and messy. In tonight’s set he successfully manages to do the often difficult task of translating these songs into a solo acoustic environment. The term “acoustic rock” is enough to send shivers down many a music fan’s spine, but stripped back, Weiss’ songs have strong musicianship and melody at their core and the understated rearrangements are testaments to his talents as a songwriter.

On the likes of “Your Antique Organ” and “Shaking of Leaves”, twinkling guitar lines swim underneath Weiss’ soft, warm vocals, sounding not unlike Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard. Emotional crescendos in traditionally fuller numbers like “No EQ” and “P R O P E R” see him playing harder and taking a step back from the microphone, using the venue’s acoustics to his advantage.

Dressed in a black T-shirt and baseball cap, and sporting a heavy beard, Weiss looks more southern trucker than midwestern emo kid, and his whispered confessional lyrics and friendly on-stage patter with “the most polite hecklers ever” warm the atmosphere in what he notes is a decidedly chilly venue. 

There is something about the church that commands an eerie quiet, and while the audience are clearly captivated, no one sings along, instead they’re happy to take it all in. For an act with such an ardent fan base (the show sold out months ago and the following two London dates are close) it’s disappointing that Into It. Over It. hasn’t had more mainstream success, especially given the popularity of songwriters of a similar ilk such as Bon Iver, Jose Gonzales and Ben Howard, all of whom Weiss could give a run for their money.

Finishing delicately with “New North-Side Air” from the 2013 album Interesections, Weiss then steps off the modest stage and runs down the aisle, high-fiving the crowd in the pews as he goes. He said earlier that he’d remember this night for the rest of his life, and judging by some of their faces as he completed this surreal final act, those who’d braved a blustery November night to worship at the altar of emo at a church in the shadow of a railway station won’t be forgetting any time soon either. 

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