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Toby Woodruff
Kristian Garrard and Luke Bergman of Thousands.
Tomo Nakayama, Thousands, Bad Luck

The Sunset Tavern

Tuesday, Feb. 11

When was the last time

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Thousands Play to Dozens Sitting Indian-Style

Thumbnail image for Thousands.JPG
Toby Woodruff
Kristian Garrard and Luke Bergman of Thousands.
Tomo Nakayama, Thousands, Bad Luck

The Sunset Tavern

Tuesday, Feb. 11

When was the last time you saw a show at the Sunset and had to tip-toe around a small, hushed crowd sitting cross-legged by the stage? This was the scene last night at the Sunset as I crept to the ladies room from the bar, watching out for knuckles and fingers. Seattle guitar duo Thousands--recently signed to indie label Bella Union, home roster to Fleet Foxes in the UK--have been playing a residency at the small tavern every week this month, and filled the bar last night with a modest handful of eager fans and friends, sharing the stage with Tomo Nakayama (frontman of Grand Hallway) and avant-garde jazz group Bad Luck.

Check out a slideshow of Thousands at the Sunset Tavern.

Nakayama played a solo set first and began suddenly, jolting the quietly stirring group to attention. His well-crafted arrangements and a voice at times eerily similar to Jeff Buckley--especially during his version of the oft-covered country tune, "Satisfied Mind"--were soft and intimate, complemented by his expert playing and a rich, reverb-y tone from his acoustic guitar. Nakayama seemed shy and barely looked up between his moving, emotive songs; Grand Hallway's "Seward Park" and his faithful cover of John Lennon's "Mother" fleshed out a tender performance.

A half dozen or so more filed in and huddled by the stage for Thousands. Luke Bergman and Kristian Garrard, each armed with an acoustic guitar, perched themselves on stools and played a series of songs off their forthcoming CD, The Sound of Everything. It was a concentrated and intricate sound, with delicate guitar interplay and hushed harmonies that call to mind Simon and Garfunkel or Elliott Smith. Between songs the two bantered briefly and awkwardly, more at home in their world of music than in engaging with an audience--who appeared to be mostly friends at that. But that's the only thing about the act that needed work--the songs themselves were seamless, balanced, and beautiful.

Bad Luck performed last, featuring the drumming talents of Chris Icasiano (who plays also with Bergman, and Cuong Vu, in local jazz group Speak) and the wailing saxophone of Neil Welch. It was schizophrenic free-jazz, Welch blowing into his sax furiously, Icasiano pounding on his drum kit. I caught up briefly with Garrard during their set, but he seemed more focused on their jams than chatting with me, giving me a glimpse into his tightknit music community. As I weaved myself out of the small crowd (now standing), Nakayama and Bergman were also zoning into the show, nodding along to Bad Luck's scattered beats and rhythms.

The Crowd: Music geeks and students, jazz heads, excited friends and family.

BTW: At one time Thousands was hand-delivering their self-produced album to anyone who ordered it off their website. (Probably not a delivery option after their remastered version hits the streets--it was mastered by Ed Brooks, who did the same for Fleet Foxes' debut album.)

WTF: Thousands played a Hattie's Hat showcase for Seattle Weekly's Reverb Festival last year - and Rick Steves showed up.

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Gwendolyn Elliott
The back of Rick Steves' head loves Thousands!
 
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