"Dolly Parton just got weird."
That’s the one phrase I scribbled in my notebook app during Powerkompany’s concise yet powerful show at Big Irv’s, a new DIY space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The special Valentine’s Day set was the final stop on the band’s Fashion Week Tour, which had the Athens-based dream-folk duo trekking up the East Coast to open the Tilly & William FW 2014 fashion presentation. That show ended up getting canceled (hotels take snow days?), but the 30 or so 20-somethings that huddled at the living room-y venue were treated to a low-key, intimately moving half-hour.
Lead singer Marie Davon wore a Technicolor, hand-knit dress from Brooklyn designer Beth Pilger, whose collection was projected onto the wall as the band played. The dress, which was fit for a model several inches taller, was adorably oversized, much like Davon’s voice—a show-stoppingly operatic soprano much larger than the frontwoman. In fact, Davon is the rare sort of recorded artist who actually sounds even better live, if only for the audience to experience the sheer vigor of it all in the flesh. Meanwhile, husband Andrew Heaton, who also plays in the bluegrass quintet Packway Handle Band, worked the support role, playing violin and guitar and occasionally singing backup vocals.
Powerkompany songs are quietly epic: Each one is built on classic folk songwriting, which the duo transforms into baroque love-locked odes by delicately folding in layers of melancholic violin swells, florid synths and drum machine, all delivered with winning pop melodies. The highlight last Friday came when the group launched into “Can’t Wait,” a dreamy duet with a rousing and otherworldly coda that had Davon repeatedly hitting a sirenlike high note. It gave me goosebumps, and from the widened eyes of the hushed crowd, it was apparent that they felt it, too.