Here are a few notes on last night's fantastic triple bill at The Comet.
Toby Marie Bannister Hard Drugs played The Comet on Wednesday, May 19 with Whalebones and ((lowHums)). It was their first Seattle show.
Whalebones: Singing from beneath well-conditioned hair, Whalebones frontman Justin Deary -- and the only member of Whalebones 2.0 who was in Whalebones 1.0 -- sang, "I wanna move to the country where less is more." In the case of his band, Deary doesn't have to go anywhere, he's already proved that by downshifting to a trio, he can maintain Whalebones' powerful sound and recreate a band with an already impressive catalogue into something even more exciting.
Whereas the band was once solidly in the alt-country column -- sharing bills with the likes of Jesse Sykes and Oakley Hall -- after nearly two years off, they're employing their Americana influences in a less ham-fisted way, playing them up tastefully in the same way the Rolling Stones* did on some of their sloshier moments ("Country Honk," "Loving Cup," etc.) And at least last night, Deary and company left behind some of Whalebones' most loved, country-drenched slow burners like "Don't You Know" in favor of new songs that are driving, pedal-to-the metal rockers.Hard Drugs: It took one song for Vancouver, B.C.'s Hard Drugs to realize that the boards beneath the inch of sticky on The Comet's floors were the perfect accompaniment to their jangle folk. "We're glad to be here," said Jeffry Lee, one half of this husband/wife duo. "This is a good floor for us. I know that doesn't make any sense, but if this floor was carpeted, you'd know what I was talking about."
It made perfect sense. Hard Drugs consists of Lee on acoustic guitar and harmonica, and Jenni Lee Nelson on tambourine. They both sang, and kept time stomping their feet. Their back-and-forth was charming in the best sense of the word, and proved yet again that a man, woman, and good pair of boots still makes more compelling music than a laptop.
((lowHums)): What started out as a good idea -- layered cello, pedal steel, and the usual fixings that's part stoner rock, part jam -- is starting to come into focus. ((lowHums)) aren't meandering in the netherworld, an easy pitfall for bands that don't adhere to rigid pop song structures. At least to the audience, the band appeared to know exactly where it was going. And if last night's crescendos of intensity, were any indication, they're heading in the right direction.
*The Stones were in the air last night. I picked up a copy of Between the Buttons a few hours before the show at Everyday Music, on the other corner of the block. And one fellow attendee was seen showing of his vinyl copy of Hot Rocks to his companion.