Local music is based on location. Most shows you feel inches away from artists in your neck of the woods.
Lo There Do I See My Brother's tour kickoff August 22 at O’Malley’s Irish bar in Tacoma was literally in your face.
Openers A Lion in Winter two vocalists, Steve Covey and Steven Perez ran from end to end of the bar, laying down on tables in front of you, grabbing ketchup bottles and shaking them by your left ear while screaming into the mic on your right.
I was forewarned that they’re crazy performers, but it hadn’t sunk in until mic chords ran through the entire place.
The two vocalists for A Lion in Winter resumed their set with a vengeance. This was after they were told to stop performing because it was distracting patrons from the Seahawks game.
Starting things back up in the final quarter of the game by yelling “go hawks” they then smeared chalk, and kicked stools over while barefoot.
A good performance leaves scars. The clean-style vocalist for A Lion in Winter, Covey, had a bleeding ankle by the end of their set.
In between songs Perez said “No matter what [you do] with those e-cigs, you’re going to die. It’s going to happen” making social commentary about substance abuse.
Covey followed this by shouting “Hooray for death!” and then guitarist, Evan Hansch’s fingers flew in an oddly dissonant yet latin-like samba.
Vasquez ditched the guitar in preference to riding the wave, hands pantomiming a flying beat. He soared while on stage.
Some bands can reach out and grab you from videos or recordings, but live performances make you feel the music with your entire body. In the moment, they weren’t just some other band.
Even if you couldn’t hear the vocals, being drowned by the waves of music, it didn’t matter. The layers of sound were part of the experience, like the audience, holding a breath and exhaling willfully.
During the downtime, bands switched out gear, and Ahren Lanford from Lo There Do I See My Brother and I talked about the difference between music scenes on the East coast and the scene here in the Pacific Northwest. Coming from the close minded divisions that were genre driven between state lines, Lanford said that Washington state, while larger seemed open and free.
West coast states cover a larger geographical area compared to East coast states but you can also find a wider appreciation of music genres and influences among individuals. On the East coast, people tend to fall in one genre and stick with it. Here things blur.
I found this encouraging as I talked to other concert-goers about music and I finally had common ground with complete strangers.
Seattle band A Province of Thay played next and at first I was extremely turned off by the band. In their faces it was very clear that Seattle-itis (a.ka. the Seattle Freeze) was a part of the band, they seemed distant and detached from the audience before they started to play. Later, they mentioned how O’Malley’s was their first show out of Seattle. The cold disconnected first impression melted completely as soon as they started to play. The band spilled out onto the floor with the drums occupying the stage.
The cool thing about bands you haven’t recognized is instead of grasping for familiar patterns you allow yourself to discover new things and find enjoyment in the small things.like a keystroke resonating or a guitar line reverberating, chilling your spine.
Recorded, A Province of Thay sounds like gloomy doom metal with vocals that speak with smooth conviction. The ambience was less metallic and more emotive in-person.
The strangers and I murmured about national acts Caspian, Mogwai, and how we discovered Lo There Do I See My Brother as Lo There bustled about the stage. Their first chord brought me back to the KGRG FM 25th anniversary show, to their 7” release on Dead Air and the decision to start a radio show, The Post.
"Put your face down on the ocean floor" kicked off the headliner’s set.
Guitar tuning, and a disappointed bassist’s head hanging low made the crowd pause just a moment to realize who all was present. Some were hecklers, but most were friends.
Lo There, originally four-piece out of Tacoma added another member with a pedal board and keyboard/macbook set up. New to the group, Tor Caspersen, supplemented the vocalist and accented the band’s sound, to lessen vocal strain and augment/amplify the sound.
Some songs weren’t as heavy as I remember, with a lighter and refreshing tone , before diving headfirst into an ocean of builds and ambient echos making the same songs I knew seem new again.
The mic wasn’t used in the entirety of the new songs, Adam Wolbert chose to scream instead with the rest of the band jamming behind the green-plaided-frontman.
Right away he ditched his glasses by his pedal board. Cymbals crashing as the night came to a close. There was an ironic encore started that built up legitimacy in the ranks. “One more song” and the band answered “No more songs” and “go home” but the presence of the crowd was a clear indicator that no one wanted to.
Full disclosure: Ahren Lanford from Lo There Do I See My Brother asked me to be honest in this review.