Material: Alex Wong and Megan Slankard shared the stage with their own version of an acoustic round robin. Possessing different styles, the artists managed to find common ground while performing songs from their individual catalogs. While Wong’s approach is more reserved and poetic, Slankard has an extroverted and high-energy presentation. Between them they covered a myriad of subjects, from disappointment in relationships to social issues and observations about the world around them. In “There Are No Shadows In L.A.,” Wong sings about a city that offers the promise of dreams realized, while suggesting that it is lacking in complexity, dimension and a past to hang on to. Slankard grabs on to the silver lining in “Like Always, Alex,” a positive take on coming out the other side of hard times.
Musicianship: Both artists are experienced musicians with enough skills between them to cover plenty of musical territory. Wong, a seasoned producer with multi-instrumental talents, has a gift for nuance and restrained expression as a player and vocalist, which he artfully uses in a live setting. His added audio effects are replete with subtle percussion touches and pre-recorded sounds. With a more stylized voice and a harder touch on the guitar strings, Slankard delivers a different vibe and take on her material. They overlap when harmonizing or when background instrumentals are added to a particular song.
Performance: No strangers to the stage, each exuded a relaxed and confident demeanor, staying true to their individual vision and viewpoint. While partitioning the set had its advantages creatively and economically, more of a common thread of shared experience (either through a mutually penned song or life event) would have elevated the show to a higher level.
Summary: Alex Wong and Megan Slankard have a strong handle on their respective skills, and though diametrically opposed in execution, they manage to pull off their unique statements effectively while musically joining forces to support each other. Although opting to maximize the tour by set sharing, more of an integrated intention could have been communicated to underscore the bond between them. As far as the future is concerned, Wong’s next solo effort comes out September of this year followed by a concept project in early 2018 with fellow artist Jesse Terry, bringing attention to Kivalina, AK, a town at risk of succumbing to rising sea levels and climate change. Also—don’t miss Wong’s brilliant video “Oceanside.” Meanwhile, this summer, Slankard continues touring in the Midwest and on the East Coast, then again in Europe in 2018.
The Players: Alex Wong, vocals, guitar, percussion, glockenspiel; Megan Slankard, vocals, guitar.
Photo by Mark Shilowich