We loved Mitski’s Bury Me At Make Out Creek, we loved Elvis Depressedly’s New Alhambra and we loved Eskimeaux’s O.K., so we got really jealous when the US got a tour combining all three. Luckily, we have friends in the right places. So welcome our new writer Erika as she makes us even more jealous with some words and pictures about the Seattle leg of the tour. – J.
It’s 8 P.M. on a Saturday night in Seattle, Washington. The city, renowned for it grey skies, has been barraged by endless, scorching sunshine for what feels like weeks on-end. It’s been hitting record-high temperatures. The sun has only just set and the day’s heat is slowly evaporating off the pavement outside of El Corazon’s Funhouse, which stands in the shadow of an overpass, like a riparian clubhouse on the edge of the rapid, torrent of headlights that is Interstate 5. People crowd around the main door, smoking cigarettes, enjoying the mild relief of the cooling night air. Openers Dude York have started right on time and latecomers like myself experience that hallowed moment of approach when the distant beats and faraway vocals become increasingly resonant, the pressure building viscerally as you move closer with every step, until suddenly you find yourself fully in the midst of the magic and mayhem.
Sound fills the small space within The Funhouse. The stage lights are being used sparingly to save the musicians and crowd from any added heat – the band is visible only in brief flashes. It is dark and hot, yet something very cool is brewing here amid the la loteria-themed decor.Early in their set Dude York already have the crowd drawn to the stage and they’ve got them dancing and singing along with the band – a remarkable feat for an opening act at an early show. Their music is rollicking, brusque pop. Theirs are the kind of infectious songs you can’t help but move to. The righteously teenpop summer jam Believer sounds anthemic played live, and a sea of bodies moves in beat-driven agreement when guitarist Peter Richards sings, “I believe in the city that will never change.”
When Dude York pass the torch on to Eskimeaux the energy shifts, becomes more focused and feels somehow purified by an added sweetness. The softness and sincerity of Gabby Smith’s crooning flows, liquid-like, through the heavy, hot air, into every corner of the room. Their bright, pop hit Broken Necks has the notoriously too-hip-too-dance 21-plusers corralled near the bar in the back enthralled and rocking at a distance. It sounds mystifyingly perfect. The Thunder Answered Back captivates in its combined gentleness and raw strength. Eskimeaux’s set is lovely in its openness and guilelessness.
Between sets Mitski climbs on stage, a bag of ice in hand, and she begins throwing ice cubes out to the grateful, sweat-glazed crowd.
When Elvis Depressedly take the stage, even before they’ve started playing, it’s clear, they are going to play the kind of music you ought to be listening to live on a sweltering summer night in a crowded, low-lit club. It’s the kind of music that perfectly soundtracks those uncomfortably hot summer nights of abundant freedom and excessive boredom. You nod your head and shake your hips as little or as much as you like. You give yourself up to the beat or the indifference and anything else and just, whatever. Frontman Mat Cothran stumble-sways through the songs. Organ notes quiver like convection while he sings cry babies with the mic pressed to his mouth and the chain he’s wearing clenched in his fist and pulled across his face. Then finally it’s Mitski’s turn. The heat has been oppressively groggy-making and the night is deepening. Mitski comes on with a sense of solicitude and a promise of relief. A fresh bag of ice is flung on the crowd before the first song begins. When Mistki begins singing her voice rings like a bell. It holds an astounding amount of conviction and clarity and it seems to summon something deeper within the show-goers, something beyond the natural inclination to simply dance or sway or nod. Backed by heavy fuzz and noisy reverb, the effect is breathtaking. Their set is full of simplicity and at times the sound is sparse, almost silent. Yet every song holds the same weighty promise of sudden chaos, the same hint of something dormant about to burst forth, the same growing roar.The brilliant thing about these bands is that their songs feel like they are meant to be played live. The music drives through the chatter of voices, the barely audible racket of the band next door, the clinking of beer glasses and the crackle and buzz of amplified instruments. It takes in the sounds of the crowd and the sounds of the club and is in communion with all the noisy living happening around it. Everything becomes part of the set. The music is like a signal that grows more cogent and clear in the context of all the unplanned, unpracticed and unpredictable stuff that defines life-in-the-moment.
Try as we might to describe why a night of live music can comfort us, relieve us, inspire us, confront us or sometimes even change us entirely, the actual phenomenon is something you have to be present to fully understand. If you have a chance to catch this trio on their U.S., don’t pass it up. It’s summer and you’re young (even if you’re not, you are). So go out and have a good time, dance a little, meet the bands who’ve recorded the music you love, show them that you love it and let yourself be part of it for a night.
The show rolls into the following cities and states over the nest few weeks:
7/8: Austin, TX @ Mohawk Indoors
7/9: Dallas, TX @ Sons of Herman
6/18: Cleveland, OH @ Mahall’s
6/25: Boise, ID @ The Shredder
6/28: Portland, OR @ Analog
7/3: San Diego, CA @ TBA
7/7: Houston, TX @ Walters
7/10: Memphis, TN @ Hi Tone
7/11: Nashville, TN @ The End
7/12: Atlanta, GA @ Purgatory at The Masquerade
7/14: Washington DC @ DC9
7/15: Philadelphia, PA @ Philamoca
7/16: Somerville, MA @ Cuisine En Local
7/17: New York, NY @ Palisades
7/18: Hamden, CT @ The Space
7/19: New York, NY @ Shea Stadium