It’s Monday night in Seattle, and people are not in Chop Suey. The last couple shows I’ve been to in this town, make me feel like I’m back living in San Diego, where nobody goes to shows. One benefit to a sparsly attended show is that the band usually hangs out, giving one the opportunity to pester them with conversation/questions. I was hanging out outside between sets and had the opportunity to bother Eamon. I got to ask him about Brighton (his home town), Electrelane (heard about your band), Camper Van Beethoven (they do a cover) and getting stuck at the border coming back from Vancouver earlier in the day. Apparently the band got detained by the US border patrol for having tour shirts that were made in Haiti. I later found out that they were also driving a Winnebago. That’s probably a red flag to the Border Patrol, English guys in a Winnebago with t-shirts made in Haiti. A guy was telling me how they got this Winnebago off of Craigslist (it’s quite nice, as I saw it parked on the street on my way out after the show) instead of a van or bus. They’ve totally mapped out their cross country tour/road trip doing gigs in Salt Lake City, Denver, Omaha, Minneapolis, Chicago, into Canada and ending in NYC.
Eamon Hamilton, has this stage persona that gives you the impression that he could be a mad man, or at least a man possessed. You can tell he is a guy of conviction, not by just his delivery, but by his songs too. The band have an intensity in their playing, but keep things a bit silly with the between songs bantering back and forth between themselves and the audience. Brakes songs seem to fall into one of three categories, they’re either punk rock like Chenny and Porcupine or Pineapple, country like If I Should Die Tonight and On Your Side and straight ahead pop like Beatific Vision and All Night Disco Party. There’s also a fourth which is a combination of all of the above. The band handled all these styles with aplomb, easily shifting mood from the smart-ass punk of Heard about Your Band to the beauty of No Return. Eamon brought up a girl from the audience to sing with him on Jackson and they even threw in another cover, Camper Van Beethoven’s We Saw Jerry’s Daughter. Which I thought was a perfect choice of a cover that totally fit their personality.
Brakes songs are not long so we got a good helping of both albums. They even did Cheny three times, getting members of the audience to count the start each time. If you havent’ heard that song, it’s about 10 seconds long and consists of Eamon shouting Cheny a bunch of times and at the end yelling ‘Stop being such a Dick!’ It’s funny in a elementary, low brow way (right up my alley). Tom and Alex White of Electric Soft Parade did double duty playing a set as ESP and then playing Guitar and drums respectively for Brakes. Tom likes his guitar turned to eleven, because my ears are still ringing. At one point during the ESP set, his brother asked him to turn it down a bit, but to no avail.
The Electric Soft Parade set was something of a disappointment with them only playing 6 songs, one from their first Mercury Prize nominated first album and the rest coming from the new record, No Need to Be Downhearted. The Whites didn’t seem to be in a good mood and the set suffered from it. Too bad, because I like their stuff and it’s rarity for them to play the US.
I missed local band the Hands, but you can read a review of the set they did last weekend at the Georgetown Music Fest over at Sound on the Sound. I did see Pela, who hail from Brooklyn and remind me a bit of the National and Buffalo Tom. They seem to be getting a lot of play from KEXP right now, but don’t see the infatuation.