If Seattle Living Room Shows’ first event of 2014 – an evening featuring Mark Ward, Learning Team, and You Me & Apollo – is any indication of how SLRS’ 2014 season is going to play out (and I believe it is), it is safe to say that this is going to be another exciting year for Kristen and Carrie Watt, and for each of us who get to attend their exclusive events.
Alright, be honest now, who among us has not – at some point or another – had the dream of uprooting to New York, renting an artist’s loft, and living a minimalist, over-romanticized, 1960s beat life akin to Patti Smith’s? Well, I must say that a little piece of that dream was realized – for me, at least – upon arriving at last week’s SLRS venue.
As Emile Panerio, the frontman for the evening’s second band, Learning Team, accurately described the performance space perched atop Capitol Hill’s Moss Alley Motors, “when we first heard where we’d be playing, I thought, ‘hmm, a loft.’ And in my mind I wanted it to be this huge magical palace. But I was like, ‘Eh, probably won’t be,’ and then we got up here and it was like exactly what I’d imagined it would be.”
Now if I hadn’t been to several of the spaces Carrie and Kristen Watt secure for their shows, I’m sure I would have felt exactly the same way as Emile. Having seen many of those spaces, however, I was not at all surprised when the steep, dimly lit stairway leading up from the street ended in a spacious room – complete with skylights open to the stars, candles hanging from the walls, a floor and ceiling entirely composed of exposed cedar, and about 100 people chatting and waiting for the evening’s event to begin.
Seattle’s own Mark Ward, back for his third Seattle Living Room Show, started off the night’s lineup with thirty minutes of impassioned, up-tempo tunes. During his set, I was impressed as Mark simultaneously jumped up and down, alternated between finger-picking and slamming on his white Fender, and drubbed on his kick drum with his right foot. Let’s just say he made those DDR kids at video arcades look like amateurs.
For those of you who haven’t heard Mark before, his music focuses on themes of self-exploration, love, and mortality; while almost always having a deceptively up-beat tempo. He also has a vocal style that sits somewhere between speaking and singing, while still being definitively melodic. Sound enticing? Check out his website and purchase his album, Through the Dark, to experience his sound firsthand.
After a short break following Mark’s set – and a tour of the loft’s private bedroom-turned-greenroom (literally just a quick 360-degree spin) – the evening’s second act, Learning Team, took the stage. A five-piece indie-pop band from Bellingham, WA, these guys’ music is chock-full of the same familiar nostalgia and pop structure that gave Bremerton’s Death Cab for Cutie its cult following; and the same cohesive, crystalline luminosity that makes it possible to listen to Beach House’s albums over and over again and always hear something new.
Comprised of guitar, bass, keys, synth, drums, and cello; Learning Team’s instrumental harmonies seem to mostly avoid standard block chords, and are instead composed of five simultaneous, juxtaposed melodic motives. All in all, the sound makes for a cohesive, but diffuse atmosphere that seemed to place everyone at the show into a trance-like calm. If you hear that this band is coming your direction, I recommend you catch them live.
If there was anyone left in the room who hadn’t been thoroughly “wowed” by the evening’s performers by the end of Learning Team’s set, I would be very surprised if the last band of the night, Me You & Apollo, didn’t bring them to the rest of the room’s level.
Based out of Fort Collins, CO, You Me & Apollo started out as frontman Brent Cowles’ solo project and quickly evolved into the explosive, 5-piece, doowop-Motown-soul-country-blues – yep, all of those – band they are today. Comprised of Tyler Kellogg, Jonathan Alonzo, Morgan Travis, and Dave Cole; the group produces an enormous amount of power and energy that is nothing short of contagious. After only a few minutes of their set, the audience was stomping so hard to the rhythm that the entire loft floor was bowing and waxing to the beat.
Aside from the group’s sheer energy, these guys are just great musicians. The group’s style and uplifting songs most closely recall influential artists such as Otis Redding and Chuck Berry, but with the addition of distortion and hard-hitting drum solos that might make Otis and Chuck shake their heads and sigh.
Cowles also has an impressive powerhouse of a voice that can be crooning in a soulful falsetto one minute, and plunging into a gritty baritone guttural the next. Not to mention that his subject matter varies from sensitive, clearly audible lines such as, “You got a hold on me, like water’s got a place in the sea – like summer’s got a hold on heat,” to incomprehensible hollers that unfailingly summon a comparable response from the audience.
So there you have it, folks! As I suggested at the beginning of this post, Seattle Living Rooms’ first show of the season was, quite literally, a roaring success. Go check out all of the evening’s great musicians if you haven’t heard them, and make sure to get on the SLRS’ list so you don’t miss out on their next show.
Don’t miss the next Seattle Secret Show THIS Thursday, February 27th with 2 solo artists from Seattle (one from a major band) and 1 solo artist from Nashville! All of this in our newest secret location overlooking Lake Union!
Thursday, February 27th, 2014
7:00pm doors, 8:00pm music
$20 / 21+
Get your tickets here: http://bit.ly/1cIOOPw
Must use password: sss227
Cheers and thanks for reading!