Tuesday, March 8
The Posse of Sacha Maxim, Paul Witmann, Nick Heliotis, and Jon Salzman has>"/>
The Posse of Sacha Maxim, Paul Witmann, Nick Heliotis, and Jon Salzman has only been a band for a few months (they played their first show last December), but they're already headlining--and not having much problem drawing a crowd. Last night the Sunset was about a third of the way full when Posse hit the stage at 11:30, opening with "Raver Girl." Posse's tunes concentrate heavy guitars (Maxim and Witmann trade lead vocal duties as well as guitar solos) with loping, unhurried melodies in the style of Pavement. The vocals are sometimes chanting and monotone; Maxim's voice is muted, making the songs where Witmann sings lead a bit livelier. Witmann is tall, gangly, and wears thick black-rimmed glasses, so physically, he's already the poster child for the oeuvre of music he's chosen to play. But he's also got an interesting voice--he sings with the laconic drawl of Lou Reed--and comes off as friendly and endearing on stage; he spent much of the set trading smiles with bassist Heliotis (formerly of Hardly Art Records) and winningly singing lines like, "She wears me out / She's like a pair of jeans."
On "Satellite," Witmann and Maxim sing back and forth to each other, and at a sudden point, Maxim goes from softly singing to shrieking. The girl's not so quiet after all. Her amped-up vocals charge the song with a new electricity--the two guitars in Posse make the music sound thick and rich, but Maxim's newfound energy kicks things up a notch.
"Sarah," which Maxim says is about an old lady she once met ("It was not a good experience"), is the highlight of the set--the bass thuds, the chorus hypnotically chants around in circles, and although the song is already rolling along steadily, the best part comes, again, when Maxim starts screaming away her lines like a devil child. Live it up, girl.
Posse closed their brief set with a cover of Belle & Sebastian's "Me and the Major" (apparently their first time playing the song); their version was, of course, weightier and tougher than the light, lilting speed of the original. There's a certain substantial and captivating strength that Posse brings to the stage--the band is charming, rocks heavily, takes musical and stylistic cues from some venerated examples (Yo La Tengo and Sonic Youth are the obvious touchstones) and already has a loyal fanbase--nothing's impeding them from becoming a beloved rock staple of Seattle's live music scene.
Overheard in the crowd: Some samples of things yelled at the band: "Rock and roll!" "Nicely done, you guys rock!" "I know this song!" (You can hear four Posse songs on their Facebook page, although these recorded versions are considerably toned down compared to live performances).
BTW: Before Posse, a young girl from California took the stage, playing fuzzy rock music and inquiring into the mike, "Are you guys allowed to smoke weed in here?"--it wasn't Best Coast, but the Hardly Art-signed Colleen Green. Her music is buzzing with a roguish attitude; fans of Best Coast, La Sera, No Joy, etc. will dig it.