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Live Review: Sea Wolf @ The Echo 06/21/07

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Let me preface the following review with: I've never seen Grand Ole Party, Everest, or Sea Wolf perform live before. Last night's show at The Echo was exceptional. However, I noticed a palpable disparity between Sea Wolf fans as I traveled from the back to the front of the brimming room. In the back, I experienced insouciant veterans, who felt as though the set list dragged a bit, but ended with a bang. In the front, I experienced overwhelmingly ecstatic rookies and drunkards, who literally stood on their tippy-toes to make out the fine horizontal line on their set list that symbolized the encore. Regardless, the mixture of these two perspectives provided for an overwhelmingly entertaining show.

Grand Ole Party ripped open the show with an expansive 11 song set. Drummer/front woman Kristin Gundred commanded your attention with her vehement vocal style. Gundred's powerful presence made her seem inventive beyond her years, and at times she reminded of Janis Joplin and Karen O. Her wailing vocals were funkily accompanied by jaunty guitar licks and scaled bass lines in 'Turn On Burn On'. The crowd pleaser 'Look Out Young Son', which served as a blatant exercise in Joplin, enlivened some to the extent of dancing. A few of their guitar solo-infused songs called to mind Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, specifically 'Before The Beginning' from their 1969 release 'Then Play On'. The combination of their distinctive retro sound and unusual outfit gripped my attention song after song, proving that Grand Ole Party deserved just as much consideration as the following acts.

Next up was the country inspired indie-rock band Everest. They opened their cohesive set with the meandering 'Angry Storm', which developed through complex three-way harmonies and electric slide guitar. 'Into Your Soft Heart', an enthralling excursion through alt-rock elements, warranted the Wilco comparisons I had heard before. Sure, Everest's front man Russel Pollard sounded like Jeff Tweedy, but I noticed The Band's country-rock influence more than anything. This deliberate throwback makes for a truly unique sound. The acoustic ballad 'Rebels' caught my attention through Pollard's raspy and strained vocals. 'Rebels' reminded me of less poppy Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, except pumped out with way more heart. The caliber with which Everest's music is crafted demonstrates their ability to effectively integrate country components without boring people to death. By the end of their set, it was clear that the crowd had developed a little folk niche for Everest.