Despite my best efforts not to act my age, I am occasionally reminded of just how long I’ve been knocking around this town. On Friday, I got to see The Cave Singers at the Showbox, a club my friends used to call The Shoebox, for reasons that were obvious at the time. It was only after I got my ticket scanned and went inside that I realized I had never been inside this swank multi-bar before in my life. I mean, it’s only been there for what, a couple decades?
I was further set up for disappointment by a blog post that promised sitars from openers Rose Windows. There were no sitars. When you’re promised “meandering sitar melodies paired with feral, Black Sabbath-inspired guitar” and said sitars do not appear, disappointment seems inevitable. Except it wasn’t. Instead, I found myself agreeing with my friend, who said, “I think this is my new favorite band, whoever it is.”
Rose Windows later confessed on their Facebook page that was the biggest show they had yet played, but we couldn’t tell at the time (except they could have mentioned their name while they played, so folks like my friend could have known who their new favorite band was). Unlike the sitars, the Sabbath-inspired guitars were present aplenty, married to a Jefferson Airplane sound graced by flute melodies and Grace Slick-worthy vocals. It wasn’t just a nostalgia-fest, though. Despite the time warp trip, Rose Windows’ blend of 60’s psychedelia and current indie-rock is just unfamiliar enough to keep you happily guessing. I am waiting with bated breath for their debut LP, The Sun Dogs, which has already been recorded and is supposed to be released early in 2013. I will be talking about these guys again.
Poor Moon! I’m already talking about these guys again. Over on Three Imaginary Girls, we did a concert preview and ticket giveaway for their show in September. After seeing them live, I think I was insufficiently enthusiastic then. These guys are going to have a hard time pulling attention away from their foundation in Fleet Foxes. The sound starts there, and the comparisons are inevitable. But while Fleet Foxes is the starting point for understanding Poor Moon, it’s not the whole story. The echoes that you hear in Poor Moon are not coming from the same 60’s that influenced Fleet Foxes. The folk is more genuinely folksy, less Neil Young. The atmosphere is more cinematic, less psychedelic. Their percussion is dominated by xylophone instead of drums. Poor Moon offers a cleaner, more heart-felt experience than the cerebral Fleet Foxes. Obviously, I’m not quite ready to take Poor Moon on their own terms, but I’m working on it, because I know it’s worth the effort.
An Aside: The bartenders at Showbox are the best. Before the show, I opened a tab at the Green Room bar. When they opened doors for the venue, I went back to the bar and she recognized me – by name. “Are you ready to close out your tab, Miss Alexander?” Later, I ordered a beer at one of the bars inside the venue. When I went back between bands, the bartender looked at me and said, “Another Negro Modelo?” I can’t even remember people I’ve been properly introduced to, and these chicks keep track of the credit cards and drink preferences of a crowd of 1100. If I ever go to Vegas, I want to go with them.
Ah, The Cave Singers. One of the first bands I listened to when I started get back into indie music, and still one of the best. I still can’t put my finger on how this folksy band with their twangy, Appalachian vocals can manage to create an experience as intense as the most brutal extreme-metal bands. There is just such a feeling of barely restrained energy, of incredible power lurking underneath these laid back melodies. When Pete Quirk laconically sings, “Folks round here do what they want,” on Invitation Songs, you know they’d kill anyone who tries to stop them. Plus, how often do you see someone play melodica?
Early in the show, Quirk commented that they hadn’t played here in a long time, and that it was a wonderful time to be back. “There are some beautiful things happening in Washington right now, with marriage and marijuana.” A cheer rose to the ceiling with the cloud of smoke that followed that comment, and the rest of the night felt like an extension of that moment; a celebration with the folks back home of life, and love, and independence.
Standing by myself on a freezing street corner in downtown Seattle at 1 o’clock on a Saturday morning felt pretty lonely. And hungry, despite having drunk as many calories as I usually eat in a day. Maybe it was the effect of all that second-hand smoke, but I was starving.
I looked up. Across the street, a hot dog stand was bustling. Tired, hungry, and floating on an indie-folk cloud of well-being, I breezed past the hot dog stand without another thought. Back home, I danced in the kitchen with The Cave Singers in my ear buds while I drank a glass of milk. Then I woke up my husband to tell him what a great show it was.
Five hours later he got me back, “Steven’s Pass got 48 inches in the last 24 hours!” As I drifted back to sleep, I could hear him in the living room, explaining the dangers of tree wells to our daughter. It looked like everyone was going to have a good a weekend.