Ruby Suns at Chop Suey, Seattle | 1 April 2008
There are some bands that have to be seen live to be truly appreciated, their recorded output just never quite measures up to what they produce live. Then there are bands that seem to create magic in the studio, but have trouble recreating that magic live. The Ruby Suns (formerly known as Ryan McPhun and the Ruby Suns) unfortunately fall into that latter category. I was really looking forward to seeing them live, their first album made my 2006 best of list , and their new album is even better. Sea Lion expands on the the trippy Beach Boys thing and adds in some world music and 80’s synth band influences to catchy effect.
Live though it just wasn’t happening. Having only three people to replicate the menagerie of sound was a real disadvantage. McPhun manically jumped from drum to guitar to keyboard, to looped drum pad and back again throughout the set, and it made me tired just watching him. He had two women assisting on bass, keyboards, flute, etc., but he really needed at least one additional person for guitar and maybe another for drums. I doubt it would have recreated the symphonies from the record, but add two more players and simplify the arrangements and it would have been a much better show. They weren’t terrible, Amee Robinson’s There Are Birds was nice and Oh, Mojave came close to capturing a good vibe. Just don’t go expecting to hear anything close to what is on the record.