Live Review: Sea Wolf @ The Echo 06/21/07
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.
After much anticipation, Sea Wolf took stage. They opened their set with the mysteriously boomy 'Leaves In The River', showcasing front man Alex Church's diffident yet empowering vocals. Church blew softly across his acoustic guitar, reverberating the strings and emitting lush feedback. Despite the sporadic, incomprehensible exclamations from drunkenly fueled idiots, who attempted to steal the lime-light by clapping along at completely inappropriate times, Sea Wolf enraptured the crowd. Bassist Theodore Liscinski was a good sport about it all, vying to subside the mutinous individuals who poured in through the side door of the stage by means of incorporating them. He playfully handed the shakers to an overbearing fan at the side of the stage. Though I can understand why the Sea Wolf veterans felt as thought the set list dragged, the majority of the crowd seemed enthused. They held off until the fourth song in their set to break out the resoundingly successful up-beat hits, performing unreleased songs that they've, presumably, drilled into the heads of the vets.
Overall, the crowd seemed most content with the classics: 'Middle Distance Runner', 'You're A Wolf' and 'Black Dirt'. Up in front, the giddy newcomers sang along word for word, swaying to the leisurely execution.
After the obligatory "Thanks for coming, that's all for us", Sea Wolf graced the stage for a two song encore, including a brand-new song entitled 'Captain'. 'Captain' features buoyant guitar riffs and the use of a peculiar instrument called a marxophone, which is comprised of a series of saw-like hammers striking a fretless zither. If 'Captain' is any indication as to the direction of their ever-developing sound, then I am thoroughly convinced that their forthcoming LP, whenever it's released, will spur rampant interest. The auxiliary backing of Aniela Perry on cello, Theodore Liscinski on bass, Lisa Fendelander on keys, Byron Reynolds on drums, and Aaron Robinso on drums made for dynamic sputters of acoustic-based indie-rock.
If you're one of those seasoned Echo veterans, who have seen Sea Wolf a million times, then you probably weren't impressed with the organization of their set list. Their performance may have come off as run-of-the-mill. However, if you've never seen them live before, then you don't know what you're missing out on. Sea Wolf functions with immaculate precision, which surpasses the energy captured on their two EP's. All in all, Grand Ole Party, Everest and Sea Wolf delivered engaging, unforgettable performances.
Grand Ole Party's Setlist:
'Into Your Soft Heart'
'Only In Your Minds'
'You Burn Bright'
Sea Wolf's Setlist:
'Leaves In A River'
'The Cold, The Dark And The Silence'
'Middle Distance Runner'
'I Made A Resolution'
'The Garden You Planted'
'Black Leaf Falls'
'You're A Wolf'
'Captain (New Song)'