Kerry Zettel's Deep, Droning Voice Was the Somber Star of See Me River's Set

Who: See Me River

Where: EMP Sky Church

When: 6 p.m.

There was a moment--just a few songs into See Me River's set--when it became how clear that Kerry Zettel's voice is his band's most important and most distinctive feature. The lead singer and guitar player opened a song by himself, just strumming his guitar and singing. In that deep, somewhat nasally, somewhat droning voice, he stoically sang: "I don't want no sugar in my coffee/ no, it makes me mean." Those few blues-y bars showcased what Zettel does so well: use his voice rhythmically and thematically, matching its haunting sound with his dark lyrics.

The trouble with the band's live show, though (and, to some extent, with their music in general), is figuring out that perfect balance between the rest of instruments and Zettel's vocals. See Me River has a distinctive, gothic style, and relying on a basic set-up of guitars, drums, keyboards, and bass doesn't always do the songs justice. At one point, they pulled out a much-needed accordion, but it's also possible to imagine how a stripped down version with just Kellie Payne's drums and Zettel's guitar and vocals could pack an emotional punch. Then again, the band proved they can find a happy medium: when See Me River performed their sole cover song, The Pixies' "Where Is My Mind?," the music finally felt balanced and measured.

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