@ Ortlieb’s Lounge 10/22/12

Granted, outside of the bands in Seattle I had worshiped, from Hendrix to Nirvana and beyond, I truly claim little knowledge of the music scene there. Last night I do believe I had such knowledge increase manifold, as I saw two bands from that city perform at Ortlieb’s Lounge in the Northern Liberties section. Two bands were touring together for the first time, and had been part of the CMJ Music Marathon experience.
Before both bands performed there was an appearance by local songwriter Anjuli Josephine, whom I had last seen with her band at The Fire this summer. She performed a 6-song solo acoustic set, plus one new song. Her voice is what drew me in all over again…languish, tempting, careful all at once, a bit like Ingrid Michaelson’s own style. Anjuli’s lyrics reveal something of herself as being vulnerable but a strength somewhere in there, masked well in her mid-range voice.
The Blakes are anchored in simple 4-4 drumming for the most part, featuring slick guitars and domineering echo-y vox that all the kids like. One song had a ‘hey’ chant between verses. Most of their songs have a danceable groove which could have been lifted from an early Kinks songbook, or perhaps the fun indie style of The Strokes.
Snow Keim, lead guitarist and principal vocalist for The Blakes, chatted with me before the gig, talking about Seattle’s present scene. Their CMJ experience included shows at Cake Shop and Santos Party House among the five they played this past week. With 9 years together in the current formation, The Blakes present great vocal harmonies and a willingness to groove. They had released 5 proper full-length albums. Further, they showed off an older one to me that got quotes from luminaries no less than SPIN Magazine and Iggy Pop.
The Young Evils are five strong, with 2 lead guitars in Troy Nelson and Cody Hurd, vocalist Mackenzie Mercer, bassist Michael Lee, and drummer Eric Wennberg. When not touring with the band, Troy is DJ for tastemaker Seattle radio station KEXP. Their songs are equal elements of 80’s-90’s indie rock and 70’s power pop. The small audience enjoyed the accessible song “Dead Animals” along with a song that included handclaps in the verses (this might have been “Darker Blue Bayou”). The band kept to a strong uptempo groove. They also were big on the duel harmonies with a bit of solo on guitar. One could hear dark undertones in the sound. Each band member were comfortable in their stage presence. Michael in particular angled his bass like a protruding trident, dueling with Eric, while the 2 main guitarists were side-by-side. On the last song they truly tore it up with a punk-tinged number. Most of the songs check in at around 3 minutes in length. And before we knew it, the set was over. They had CDs and precious limited edition vinyl for sale (500 or so, which indeed is limited). Talking with them afterward, while enduring some old Joe Walsh and Stones songs overhead, Mackenzie tells me the band was seeking a cheap room in the city to stay in, and also were taking a pilgrimage to South Street and Jim’s Steaks. They also planned to find evidence of Toynbee tiles,  a  particular type of street art, whose story has been made into a film.
During the set i met an older gent, Greg Dear, who was in a band called L.S. Wilkinson many moons ago (don’t look for it; you won’t find it) , and does freelance reports and reviews of live events in Seattle. He is a fan of both bands and was in town this week for a relative’s wedding. He also is quite enamored with whatever projects Scott McCaughey is up to; also a band called Manooghi Hi, who have the Seattle rock sound plus Indian polyrhythms.
I had 2 soft standard tacos with just the right amount of spice, plus a Yards, for $4. Such is happy hour here!
I wish there had a bigger audience to enjoy the energy of the music, for both The Blakes and The Young Evils have a sound that’s radio-friendly along with being danceable. As I type this, I instantly recall the oft-quoted remark from “American Bandstand”: “It’s got a good beat, and I can dance to it”.  They have announced shows right through Halloween night, with gigs across the East Coast and then halfway home, stopping in Chicago.for a few media appearances.

Lots more photos at my latest Facebook gallery.


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