Friday, February 24
Columbia City Theater
Deep Sea Diver had a hell of a weekend--their record release show for their first LP,>"/>
Deep Sea Diver had a hell of a weekend--their record release show for their first LP, History Speaks, sold out the Columbia City Theater on Friday night; that same day, History Speaks became the number one top seller on Bandcamp. (It's currently still sitting pretty at #5). At the show, DSD frontwoman/Reverb Monthly cover girl Jessica Dobson appeared on stage looking smoking in a tight black minidress; she was joined by her husband/drummer Peter Mansen, bassist John Raines, and a few extras--a guitarist, a keyboardist, and for two songs, a three-piece string section.
Dobson's band is meticulous. Nothing is done superfluously; every vocal harmony is placed exactly, and Dobson and Mansen are so in sync they barely needed to make eye contact. (As a side note, Mansen is one of the best drummers I've ever seen live; especially during the songs that Dobson played the keyboard off to the side, he threatened to steal the show. The drummer I would most compare him to is Animal, the Muppet.) The way Dobson closes her eyes and waves her hand, measuring out the beats during the songs, you can tell she's excited to hear the way her songs have come together.
In my writing about Dobson, I've only talked about about her guitar-playing, but it turns out she's equally impressive on the piano; she actually played about half of the songs on Friday on the keyboard. The set standout was one of those, "NWO," which Dobson recently played an acoustic version of for us on 97.3 Seattle Sounds. The band's version on Friday night sounded like a completely different song; this is a song with a beautiful, malleable melody that can be bent and pushed in a number of different directions. Dobson and I recently joked about "NWO" (which does stand for "New World Order") having gangster-rap origins ("As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death..."); realistically there's nothing thuggish about the song. The keyboard melody and the backing vocals turned it into something sonorous and elegant. Towards the end, Dobson got up from her seat, snatched up a tambourine, and closed out the song banging on it in front of the stage, gasping, "I gotta catch my breath after that!" Dobson as a frontwoman reminds me someone whose backing band she's played in, Karen O--bold, giddy, and unafraid.
Also during her appearance on Seattle Sounds, Dobson modestly tried to deny being a "shredder," a description we tagged her with for her killer guitar skills; she effectively proved her denial to be rubbish during the band's encore of David Bowie's "Let's Dance," (which included a saxophone solo), during which she busted some moves, sang out the familiar words in a booming voice, and, yes, shredded on a tantalizing, extended guitar solo. Dobson's the most awe-inspiringly talented and exciting lady playing music in Seattle right now. I'm nothing less than proud to be sharing a town with her.