HEAVYHEARTSsmall.jpg

Date: March 24, 2007
Venue: The Sunset Tavern

As I've said time and time again, "Woe is the band that must follow the Heavy Hearts."

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Last Night: The Purrs, the Heavy Hearts, and Charles Leo Gebhardt at the Sunset

"Woe is the band that must follow the Heavy Hearts."

HEAVYHEARTSsmall.jpg

Date: March 24, 2007
Venue: The Sunset Tavern

As I've said time and time again, "Woe is the band that must follow the Heavy Hearts." Okay, I've never said or thought that until last night at the Sunset, while watching a perfectly agreeable set by local foursome the Purrs that couldn't have been anything but a letdown after watching the Heavy Hearts tear the stage to pieces (metaphorically speaking) just moments earlier. Still, the Purrs gave it their best effort.

"Can you put some more reverb on my voice?" one of the band's two singer-guitarists asked the sound guy at the start. "Y'know, Captain Spaceship? Put some drugs on it?" "I'll Phil Spector it up," the sound guy replied.

While not quite a wall of sound, the quartet did construct a pop-psychedelic haze with their jangle and echo -- the Purrs get compared a lot to the Verve (mainly due to singer-bassist Jima's Richard Ashcroft-summoning vocals) and Galaxie 500 (their Velvet Underground-inspired guitar jams), and both of those influences are evident on ther band's recordings. But live, they mostly reminded me of '80s dream-pop icons (and Paisley Underground stalwarts) the Dream Syndicate.

Unfortunately, the music didn't really seem to captivate the chattering crowd — save for the couple of swooning women in front — which was still buzzing about the Heavy Hearts through most of the Purrs' 40-minute set. And fair enough, really — the Hearts hit the Sunset stage with enough energy to power all of Ballard, tearing through a 30-minute set like a pack of pit bulls going at a side of bloody beef.

Theirs was a mighty combination of post-hardcore and trash-punk: Singer-guitarist Brian Burnside reminded me a ton of Fugazi's Guy Picciotto -- the tone of his voice, the angular chug he coaxed out of his instrument, his manic stage presence, the way he screamed into his guitar pickups. And Denise Maupin matched his intensity throughout, a blur of blonde hair and tattoos at center stage as she whipped around, howled into the mic, and added another layer of guitar fury for the first couple of songs, then strapped on a 4-string and locked in with the Hearts' stellar rhythm section for an especially propulsive barrage alongside Burnside's outbursts. It was one of those sets you wished could have gone on for another hour, quite honestly.

And, bummer enough, Burnside announced it was the Hearts' last show in Seattle for at least a few months while the quartet works on their next album. Former Catheter and Tall Bird Charles Leo Gebhardt opened the proceedings with a brief, ramshackle-but-charming set. The curly-haired, happy-go-lucky singer-guitarist -- joined by two friends who played snare drum and toy piano -- offered a sorta sloppy indie-blues that sometimes worked, and sometimes fell apart completely.

But with a silly grin on his face during the handful of songs he played, Gebhardt treated the performance as if he was in his basement trying out some new tunes for his pals, and at least some in the audience appreciated it.

 
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