It’s a long way from Denton, Texas, to Tel Aviv for acclaimed experimental folk rockers Midlake, but nothing will likely be lost in translation when the band makes its Israel debut on Friday night, September 9, at the Barby Club.
An integral part of the dreamy acoustic/electric blend of music that emerged around the time they released their breakthrough 2006 album The Trials of Van Occupanther and its hit single “Roscoe” (named one of the best of the decade by Rolling Stone), Midlake joined bands like The Decemberists, Band of Horses, Grandaddy, The Flaming Lips and Arcade Fire in building upon the foundations of previous decades, and creating something warm and fresh: updated dreamy classic rock that could sway from folky hymns to sweeping psychedelia.
That album’s follow-up, 2010’s The Courage of Others, saw Midlake paying homage to British folk rockers like Fairport Convention and Pentangle.
The return after a lull
Following the acrimonious departure of front man Tim Smith mid-decade, the band entered a lull, until regrouping for last year’s well-received comeback, For the Sake of Bethel Woods, named after the site of 1969’s Woodstock festival.
Among the attendees of the legendary festival was 16-year-old Dave Chandler, father of Midlake’s keyboard and flute player, Jesse Chandler.
Chandler told The Guardian earlier this year that after his dad passed away in 2018, Jesse saw him in a dream in which he suggested that Midlake start working together again. The album cover features an image of Chandler’s father picked out from a crowd shot in the Woodstock movie.
“It’s probably the most poetic and beautiful inspiration for us, getting back together. A big part of it, at least for me, was just missing my friends.”Eric Pulido
“It’s probably the most poetic and beautiful inspiration for us, getting back together,” says Midlake’s guitarist and singer Eric Pulido. “A big part of it, at least for me, was just missing my friends.”
The music is pretty great too, as the years off and the regrouping have seemingly inspired the band to new heights. For The Sake of Bethel Woods ties in all the various musical threads of the band’s makeup.
“Seventies west coast folk-rock is always going to be a part of our Midlake DNA, but to feel like you can pull from a jazz background and also go to more modern places was really freeing and refreshing,” Pulido told The Guardian.
Not many bands of this caliber arrive on Israel’s shores – bands that are not about hit singles or shows, but career artists intent on creating an oeuvre of music that can hold up over the years. Midlake, like a rock thrown into a pool of water, shimmers and vibrates through the ages.