Live Reviews: October 2019
Motus, Mr. Feelgood & the Firm Believers
Aug. 30 • Wild Buffalo
The Wild Buffalo felt much like a family reunion. The venue had the same kind of energy that you feel when you run into a close friend you haven’t seen in months… but you feel so damn excited seeing their face that it feels as if no time has passed at all. There were a lot of long, tight embraces and catching up conversations between the bands, Wild Buffalo staff, and show-goers.
Major Sturm of Mr. Feelgood & the Firm Believers was zipping around prepping with a cameraman discussing camera angles. He stopped every now and then to say hi to familiar faces that came out to support the show.
Every member of Motus just simply walked on stage and took their places. Monica Parshotam greets everyone in a manner that is both collected and warm. She thanks everyone for attending their second to last show on their ambitious week long tour.
Without hesitation, they immediately start playing “?st For Love” for the first song. As usual, Motus owned the stage and made it their home for the next hour. Despite the slower, harmonious tone to the song; the energy coming from Daniel Lombard and Monica’s dancing brought this vibrant life to this mellow and catchy favorite.
It didn’t take long for the dance floor to fill up. It appeared that there was a good mix between fans, supportive friends, and first-timers. That engaging stage prescense immediately drew many people in, completely entranced by the set.
During “Peach Sunrise” the lighting had this pink foundation with bold yellow spotlights that matched perfectly with velvety soft vocals that soothed the entire room. Monica had a permanent and contagious smile on her face that you could hear in her singing that sounded light-hearted and warm.
As the set progressed into a faster tempo and a more funk-heavy vibe, there was a lot more movement from the audience. There were several groups of friends dancing and laughing with each other. There was an individual front and center of the stage, getting down without any shoes on. He didn’t stop shaking it all set and Monica pointed at him with an approving head nod.
By the end of the set, Motus had won the entire venue over. With set full of signature songs, new releases, and different sounds (some Hendrix-esque psychedelic guitar notes thrown in)— it was a treat to see so much growth from this well-deserved talented group.
Mr. Feelgood & the Firm Believers brought the same confident stage prescense with a different vibe. The upbeat, reggae sound made it impossible to not feel good. The percussion made toes tap and heads nod throughout the performance.
The mellow guitar paired well with vocals that created notes that vibrated heartstrings. Major and Carrie Bieber’s vocals had a powerful contrast to each other—Major’s gentle yet invigorating and Carrie’s powerful and capturing.
Deep within the set, Mr. Feelgood and the Firm Believers each took a shot and made a toast to “love and happiness.” The crowd seemed to be made up of dedicated supporters. They cheered and whistled during jams and song changes.
It was heartwarming to see a visual reminder of how much love is within the Bellingham music scene. Both sets received strong support from everyone in the room and it made the whole night feel special in a different kind of way. To be able to see local musicians continue to grow is one thing but to see them truly love what they do is an absolute treat.
Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, Levitation Room, Supermissive
Sept. 9 • The Shakedown
A Monday night with stormy skies and when Fall quarter had yet to begun was a predicable combination for a disappointing turnout at The Shakedown. But against the odds, it was the exact opposite.
Once again, Bellingham’s finest radio station, KZAX, hosted a show that was a shot in the arm for the heavy-rock scene.
Through their strategic use of online and on-air promotion, creative posters and booking monster acts who represent contemporary psychedelia, KZAX drew a mob of fans who overflowed the space.
Local psych-metal titans, Supermissive, took a quick break from their current tour to come home and strut their stuff; proving that the city has a high-quality act who can go toe-to-toe with any major label, fuzz-rock band in 2019.
Their last Bellingham performance was exactly one month ago at The Shakedown. It was obvious, more than usual, that there was significant growth in the band’s sonic and technical approach to playing. T
his is especially true for keyboardist, Aaron Kawaguchi, whose use of medieval church organ effects combines the bands origins in desert-rock with gothic sounds, very similar to the Swedish band, Monolord. The bridge section during “Enslaved,” is a moment where Supermissive excels in experimenting with funeral-doom.
Previously, the group’s instrumentation was at the forefront while vocals would peak its head at certain moments. Now the two equally complement each other and there is a greater force in Bartock’s voice that has only recently emerged from the shadows. It seemed impossible for the band to evolve even further from that previous gig but in only a month’s time, they have gone from garage band to having potential to perform at the Psycho Las Vegas metal festival.
Supermissive have proven once again the importance of touring. Whether you travel the country or drive across the coast, there is a level of maturity that progresses while on the road.
Following them was Canadian psych-rockers, Levitation Room, who have been the lead support for Psychedelic Porn Crumpets on their tour of America.
Their sound perfectly captures the period in music when 50s American dream-pop infused with the British distorted rock guitar of the 60s, layered with avant-garde lyrics. Their influences clearly come from groups such as the Kinks, Beatles, 13th Floor Elevators and the Syd Barrett era of Pink Floyd.
While the first two bands put the crowd into a hallucinogenic state, headliners, PPC, energized the crowd through robotic toned riffs played at supercharged speeds.
They have nailed down a production modeled from bands that came out the 80s desert-rock scene combined with contemporary indie-rock styles similar to Cage the Elephant. Their song’s, “Social Candy” and “Hymn for a Droid” contain head-banging riffs that you can easily imagine hearing on Queens of the Stone Age’s debut. They opened their set with the electrifying “Surf’s Up” which fondly remind me of grunge rockers, Mudhoney’s 1991 song, “Something so Clear.”
PPC played a 12-song set filled with intensity. Their hit single “Cornflake” was a major crowd pleaser as fans went from slam dancing to being in total awe of lead singer Jack McEwan’s mystifying vocals.
It didn’t end there. The band left the stage for a second (to take celebratory shots) only to return for a quick encore, ending with “Nek,” a song that answers the question of what Minor Threat would sound like if they played gypsy music.
There are certain shows where you witness an energy between the crowd and musicians that is impossible to ignore. This show was one of them.
Soccer Mommy, Rosie Tucker
Sept. 26 • Wild Buffalo
School just started and Soccer Mommy brought the high school vibes to the Wild Buffalo for the very first time. Nashville native Sophie Allison, known musically as Soccer Mommy, rocked out and brought hilarious anecdotes and emotionally provoking chords to the stage.
Rosie Tucker started out the night, getting the crowd warmed up with hard rock songs mixed with feminist anthems. At one point, lead singer Rosie’s knees met the stage in a final act of true musical talent. They joked about the musical dedication on stage before playing one last song to get the crowd pumped for main act Soccer Mommy.
The band came on around 10 p.m. to a smaller, more intimate crowd than those that often frequent the Wild Buffalo. Those who were at the show were serious fans; not too many people weren’t belting out the lyrics to her popular songs like “Your Dog” and “Cool.” I think “Last Girl” might be one of my favorite songs and it was a crowd favorite, one of her happier and lighter sounding songs.
It’s hard to believe that, despite how young she is, Allison and her accompanying band are ridiculously talented and share an amazing energy on stage. Supported by Julian Powell on guitar, Graeme Goetz on bass, Ron Haas on drums, and Rodrigo Avendano on guitar/keyboard, the band all knew how to collectively rock out and get the crowd going. It was evident they knew how to really put on a show.
Allison prefaced each song with a funny little anecdote to go with it, usually tales from the road of touring or about her mother accidentally leaking her newest album. She rounded off the night with a Bruce Springsteen cover, some solo songs, a new release “lucy” and an energetic encore. All in all, the crowd was small yet dedicated and my ears were blown away. This was a show I had been excited to see since it was announced and I was not disappointed.
Midnight Theory, Triple Mood EP Release, Ezza Rose
Sept. 7 • Firefly Lounge
It was a dark and stormy night in Bellingham, but that didn’t stop three badass bands from rocking out and keeping it mellow. After a late start due to the most insane lightning storm I’ve ever witnessed in Washington state, Ezza Rose started off the night at the Firefly Lounge.
They’re an indie rock band from Portland, Oregon who made the trek just for Triple Mood’s EP release show. Although their sound was very different from the mellow jazz that followed, they seriously rocked. The three band members were in tune with each other and main singer and guitarist ended the show on their knees, giving the audience their all in the power of music.
Triple Mood followed, previously known as the Kaelie Earle Trio. Per usual, Earle’s beautiful vocals floated effortlessly over her bass skills, on both upright and electric. The drummer and keyboardist playfully joined for what is always an amazing show. Their onstage chemistry is undeniable. I couldn’t help but smile watching them play together.
And, for what may have been one of the coolest onstage moments, the power went out right as Earle was singing a solo ballad whilst playing upright. She ditched the mic and gave the small audience a beautiful performance of a jazz classic, lighting and thunder loudly booming behind her strong voice.
To finish up the night, Midnight Theory proved they are the newest jazz fusion band in Bellingham full of talent and promise. With long solos and tight drum beats, they have it all. Bassist TJ and guitarist Nico (also known for his DJ skills as KLEFTO) beautifully round out the sound over drummer Sam and keyboardist Deniil.
All in all, it was an amazing night for those who bravely fought the storm to be immersed in some of the best talent the northwest has to offer.
Marv, The Screaming Multitudes, Smooth Kiwi
Sept. 14 • Gruff Brewery
Last weekend I decided to catch some tunes at Gruff Brewery on a drizzly Saturday, and I didn’t quite know what to expect. I had seen Bellingham’s own Smooth Kiwi perform at their first ever live show, and I was curious to see if they had improved since then. I never heard of the Screaming Multitudes, but based on the name alone I was thoroughly intrigued. By the end of the night, my bones were riddled in vibrations, my ears were ringing like the bells of Notre Dame, and my soul was cleansed of all stress and worry. Suffice to say, it was a hell of a show.
Smooth Kiwi’s funky, psychedelic sound was in full effect that night, which wasn’t a surprise to me in the least. What did come as a surprise was their well balanced sound. Even though the venue was small and the floors and celling were wood-based, they never felt too loud and each instrument and vocal could be heard at the exact right time. This was especially evident in their cover of “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers, which I highly recommend listening to on Youtube when you have a chance.
The Screaming Multitudes had a lot of passion during their performance, which is and always will be appreciated. However, as a band it is critical that you read the room you’re playing, in terms of space and audience as well. For example, since it’s a crowd that came to hear music, keep the talking at the crowd between songs to an absolute minimum. If your band is playing in a small venue, maybe tone down the demon screaming so you don’t blow out ear drums. And above all, unless you are playing to a sold-out crowd in a massive stadium, NO KNEE SLIDE GUITAR SOLOS! You just end up looking ridiculous otherwise.
The show had its ups and downs, but overall it was a wonderful experience that I encourage you all to seek out. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stick around for the Marv set but from all indications, it was fantastic. (Editor’s note: Marv is fantastic.)
P.S. Gruff also allows dogs, so feel free to bring the pups along.