Barcelona & Jesse Morrow: June 17 at The Wild Buffalo

Although they aren’t the hottest tickets in town, Sunday night shows often foster an intimate atmosphere far removed from the usual hustle and bustle that invades downtown Bellingham at night. Nowhere was this more true than the Wild Buffalo on June 17 with Barcelona and Jesse Morrow.

Despite a relatively small crowd, the fifty or so spread out around the venue were clearly there for a show and not just to drink. Sing-alongs and friendly banter were punctuated throughout both sets and the relaxed atmosphere allowed each and every song to reach its highest potential. From a technical standpoint, it was one of the best-sounding shows I’ve heard at the Wild Buffalo in awhile.

Michigan native Jesse Morrow started things off, filling both the venue and an eerily quiet Holly Street with songs old and new, including “I’ve Got You,” and “Something Crazy.” Though singer-songwriters sometimes have a reputation as being more somber or ethereal, especially live, the show was far from dull. Between la-la sing-alongs, jokes about playing with Barcelona’s Brian Fennell and some inspired dancing from a few fans, the mood was excellent and primed for the rest of the night.

Thankfully it didn’t take very much time for Barcelona to set up after Morrow and company finished, and before long the reverb-soaked lyrics of “Hanging in a Void” and “Slipping Away” filled the room. Fennell was joined by usual drummer Rhett Stonelake and guitarist Josh Jeter, filling in for an absent Chris Bristol. Like Morrow, Fennell had nothing but overwhelming praise for his fellow headliner, recalling “fond memories of recording him.” Fennell expressed plenty of love for the area as well, having recently returned from a long tour stretching from the West Coast all the way through Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Iowa.

After a few more songs, including “Slowly” and a couple sing-alongs, both band and audience became more comfortable, with the crowd moving closer to the stage and the performers engaging them in more banter between songs. To their credit, Barcelona did a fantastic job of keeping the fans engaged, providing fresh takes on their material and even busting out a couple covers.

Arguably the biggest (and most pleasant) surprise of the evening came when Fennell seamlessly weaved an impromptu performance of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” into one of his own songs. Though practically everyone is familiar with Jepsen’s chart-topping hit at this point (perhaps too familiar), the juxtaposition of the two tracks, as well as Fennell’s impressive singing ability, gave it an incredibly fresh feel, one that almost felt natural.

Those looking for a more relaxed live experience should consider checking out a Sunday show. It might not be the wild, raucous atmosphere you’re used to, but once you peel away the layers of noise and inebriation, you might be pleasantly surprised at how much fun can be had. Music has never sounded better.