Yesterday, buzz band Hey Marseilles got to play the Crocodile for the first time. That's a heck of an accomplishment in itself and a
Yesterday, buzz band Hey Marseilles got to play the Crocodile for the first time. That's a heck of an accomplishment in itself and a good sign that this septet is headed in the right direction as a band. New writer Hollis Wong-Wear was at the show and offers her musings on one of Seattle's biggest bands on the rise after the jump.
If you read Sara Brickner's recent feature on Hey Marseilles, you'll know the band has been dubbed "caberet pop," or Euro-indie rock. If you've been keeping up on Seattle's summer festivals, you'll know that Hey Marseilles is booked to perform at both the Capitol Hill Block Party and Bumbershoot. In my recent foray into the music industry, I've even heard whispers that Hey Marseilles is Seattle's best new band. I was disappointed that I didn't catch their set down at SXSW where they opened the Seattle showcase (but at SXSW, 11 AM might as well be 8 AM) yet all the feedback I heard was overwhelmingly positive. So last night I was looking forward not only to seeing Hey Marseilles but also my first ever show at the Crocodile.
I walked in ten minutes before Hey Marseilles went on (I was bummed to miss the opening act, Palmer Electric Co. & Cataldo, but people told me it was a good show) and the space was crammed with people. The gents of the band arrived on stage--all dressed in button-ups, flannels and jeans, in what I may dub Seattle coffeeshop chic--and proceeded to open their set with melodic clamor. Lead vocalist and guitarist Matt Bishop, who during the rest of the set would sing and play with earnest, manned a marching bass drum.
With a blend of optimism and melancholy like only Seattle knows best, Hey Marseilles played a comprehensive set that showcased their range from delicate to crashing, pensive to bold. The songs would get poignant but not sappy. What I loved most about their performance was the obvious enthusiasm of the band, from the un-miced guitarist that mouthed all the words to the cello player who delighted in twirling his instrument. [Pause!]
From their use of sousaphone to the accordion to their yelly choruses, the band demonstrated imaginative fancy, a sonic wanderlust. They've got that big, arresting sound of similar bands like Arcade Fire or Neutral Milk Hotel. Their dramatics and flair come less from a studied stage presence and more from their intricate and dynamic arrangements. "We're not good at encores, so we're just going to play two more songs, is that OK?" Bishop asked the audience. After a tepid, typical response, Bishop noted, "That was the most passive Pacific Northwest response," smiled, and launched into a swirling, sea shanty-ish tune.
Hey Marseilles has both the personality and the versatility to break out of Seattle in a big way, and I'm not sure they could be any better at what they're doing right now.
After the show, I caught violinist (and sousaphonist) Patrick Brannon smoking a cigarette by a tree outside. When I asked him how he felt about playing the show, he recalled two summers ago, when they had just booked their first show at the High Dive. "It was huge for us," he said, to move from the Skylark on Delridge to a bigger-time Fremont, even though he noted that some musicians scoffed at the relative size of the venue. "For me, playing tonight at the Crocodile was like playing the High Dive two years ago." A significant, collective, and exciting step up for some dudes who love what they do.
I jacked a set list from the stage, and this is what it read:
1.Be Diminished Intro 2. Rio3. Gasworks4. Cannonballs5. Cities6. Cigarettes7. Café Lights8. Pre-Terrace9. From a Terrace10. Travels11. Bojnir12. Hold the Morning/Someone to Love/Calabasas
1.Be Diminished Intro
7. Café Lights
9. From a Terrace
12. Hold the Morning/Someone to Love/Calabasas