The evening at Saint Luke’s with Shallow Alcove and Tiny Habits was ripe with the feeling of youthful melancholia, from heartbreak to leaving home. Both bands performed folky, vocally-strong sets, rapturing their audience with storytelling and raw emotions.

Shallow Alcove performed with their two frontmen, Grace Krichbaum on vocals and Dan Harris on the banjo, supported by Peter Groppe and Jack Harrington. The group brought a peacefulness to the room, something not hard to find in a converted church that offers performers a backdrop of stained glass windows and organ pipes. For a yet-to-be-released song, ‘Waiting for the Tulips’, the crowd was bathed in soft pink lighting and the band asked everyone to close their eyes, extending a meditative offering. This evoked solidarity in stillness that I’ve rarely seen before at other concerts. Shallow Alcoves embraced hopeless romantics in their cover of ‘Glue Song’ by Beebadoobe and in their performance of their hit ‘Dream Song’. The group were at place on stage, grateful to be there and content in each other’s company. 

Tiny Habits, a harmonic trio who met at university in Boston, Massachusetts, took the stage almost exactly at their scheduled 8:45pm start time. Although the sound mixing tended to over emphasise the bass, the four-person band complimented the singers nicely. Most songs proved themselves to be more interesting vocally than instrumentally; this was no inhibitor though, as both the band and the singers demonstrated their talent in a cohesive and entrancing performance. 

Each of the three singers brought something special to the mix. Maya Rae’s wide vocal range lent itself to the depth of the songs; in the moments between, she’d baffle at the reality they’d found themselves in. Cinya Khan strummed a guitar for most of the set, adding entertaining commentary on the beauty of Scotland, while Judah Mayowa would gently dance and laugh with the other band members before returning to stand between the two female vocalists and add his perfect harmonies and riffs. The symbiosis and collaboration of the group was obvious throughout their set: they each took turns performing their own feature song from the album, offering individual introductions of their heartbreak ballads ‘Broken’, ‘Malleable’, and ‘Planting Flowers’, on which the others would provide vocal support. No one person dominated the stage; their compassion and gratitude for each other was obvious. 

Throughout the set, the trio marvelled in the realisation that people now knew most of their discography upon the release of their debut album, All For Something, only two days prior. But they also offered recognition of what made them famous: their impeccable ability to turn popular songs into three part harmonies in order to take their audience to an entirely new place from any original production. To do this, they performed ‘What Was I Made For’ by Billie Eillish, Keane’s ‘Somewhere Only We Know’, and ‘Landslide’ by Fleetwood Mac. All three of these performances were truly satisfying; however, the performances of their popular original songs proved them as talented and appreciated musicians in their own right. During ‘Wishes’, they excused their band and huddled close together to offer up something deeply personal about themselves; I witnessed two fans crying in an embrace during this. For the first song of their encore, ‘pennies’, audience members took it upon themselves to wave coins in the air as a disco ball spun overhead.

It was a night filled with goosebump-inducing vocal performances and communal moments of serenity. The music from both of these bands fit perfectly for the space, allowing for reflection and celebration outside the boundaries of traditional faith, which is more than familiar to a younger generation of artists and creators and dreamers.