Sweet Invicta: Do it for you

by Vincent Blackshadow

Sweet Invicta may be the only Bellingham band in 2016 that feels obligated to bring an enormous garment bag full of leisure suits on their very first jaunt down the West Coast. Nevertheless, they found room for it in the GMC Yukon, and were able to maintain their sharp-dressing reputation even in 95 degree weather, hundreds of miles from home.

Noah Dunn (drums), Ben Danielson (bass), Tanner Wallace (guitar), Kaleb Harrison (sax, vocals) and Vincent Blackshadow (guitar, vocals) set out in late July for shows in Oregon and California  – what modern day maximalist rock really looks and sounds like.

After three-fifths of the group finally graduated from high school in June, the young local alt-rockers decided to set up this road trip that included some stops in the form of house shows, web series appearances, and regular DIFY* gigs. It would likely be their last chance to do so, what with college looming right around the corner, forcing a temporary yet inevitable hiatus for the band.

Armed with songs from their well-received eponymous EP released in May as well as several newer tunes, Sweet Invicta first struck The Leak, a house venue in southwest Portland. Followed by a loyal entourage of friends, lovers, and loyal one-man road crew Zach Naf, the band delivered their high dose of versatile yet energetic music, stitched together by ironic arena-style presentation. They made a lot of new friends and gave away a few CDs.

The next reward came only after a 10-hour drive through all of Oregon and some of California, where the uber-rich suburb of Walnut Creek waited to get schooled by Bellingham’s closest thing to supersuave trashlords. And schooled they did get; the all-ages multi-purpose venue known as Red House were hardly ready to let the Invicta gentlemen leave even after what seemed like hours of schmoozing and merch-selling. Cha-ching!

Not even a super-successful Saturday night in Walnut Creek was enough to keep the morale up for the 6-hour drive down to the Plastic People Capital of the World known as Los Angeles. Thankfully, the band weren’t meeting with any washed-up executives or associating with whatever 2016’s version of a “record label” is. Instead, they hung out with emerging mobile concert gurus Jam in the Van, and recorded a KEXP-style web appearance in their solar powered, albeit hot-as-hell RV. Shortly after, the sweaty Invicta headed over to Blind Cover. The premise of this cool series consists of a band receiving lyrics to a song they’ve never heard, and then spending one solid hour trying to write music for the song. Sweet Invicta banged out a new tune from John Lennon’s “Nobody Told Me,” and then proceeded to croon their way through “Post Love,” a saxy track off the new EP, and improvised future Top 40 hit “Hang Out With Your Mom.”

The group retired at Jam in the Van headquarters after a well-deserved trip to their favorite restaurant (Pho), and were somewhat conscious by the time they got to the Boom Boom Room in a refreshingly cool San Francisco for the final show on the jaunt, dubbed the “Last Minute Mini-Tour.” Throughout the traditional last-show-technical-difficulties, the boys (well-dressed even though exhausted) kept the energy up and stuck around for San Fran’s Unlikely Heroes and new friends and possible future tour comrades Love and the Zealous (give ‘em a Like.)

Even though Sweet Invicta were only out on the road for seven days and six nights, they really got a taste of what it’s like to tour—hurling handfuls of blueberries at the other vehicle, backstage flat-ironing, “This Could Be Them,” changing clothes in a bar bathroom, long nights, early mornings, overheated brakes, broken strings, cutting summer sausage with popsicle sticks, feeling alive and well, and feeling nauseous and dead…

Life on the road is tough, as they say— but as our friend Scott Greene said on more than one occasion, “hey— this is awesome. We’re on tour.”

*Do It For You, as opposed to Do It Yourself