Lightspeed Champion @ Chop Suey, Seattle | 17 June 2008
I walked into Chop Suey last night expecting to hear the summery beach (boys) sounds of South Carolina’s Explorers Club, but instead it was the unknown sounds of the Train Chronicles. Apparently the Explorers Club were exploring Billings, Montana where they were awaiting the repair of their van after hitting a deer. The Train Chronicles is the endeavor of Lightspeed Champion bassist Martin and he was accompanied by Lightspeed violinist Mike Siddell. He only played a very short 15 minutes, but it was one of those times where you walk into a place and even though you have no idea who’s up on stage playing, you stop in your tracks because it’s so good. His songs reminded me a little of the Wave Pictures but Martin’s voice is not as reedy as David Tattersall’s. In talking to him in between sets I found out he plans on recording some songs with a full band and putting out an ep when he gets back from touring with Lightspeed Champion. It’s not often that I’m so blown away by the random opening act, what a pleasant surprise.
mySpace: Train Chronicles
mp3: Lightspeed Champion – Devil Inside Your Soul (Train Chronicles cover)
Dev Hynes, who is the mastermind behind Lightspeed Champion, is an interesting character, with his big black rimmed glasses, furry Russian hats, and love of Star Wars. He’s come up with a winner of album in his debut Falling Off the Lavender Bridge. It’s got gorgeous country-esque pedal steel guitar, beautiful harmonies from Emmy the Great and best of all, songs that are tinged in country and folk styles meshed with a theatrical flair. The album is subtle and often sublime, so I was curious how the sound would get rendered in a live setting. For starters there was no Emmy the Great, no surprise there, but drummer Anna Prior ably provided backing vocals. Vocals aside, this incarnation Lightspeed Champion is much different from the album, it rocks out a bit more with a more straightforward guitar-bass-drums complemented by violin. So I was a tad disappointed by the delivery, but the songs and Dev’s gregariousness more than made up for it.
A talkative fellow, he had something to say between each song, covering the Euro football tournament, and asking where the ‘original’ Starbuck’s was and then telling everyone to meet him there in the morning. Humor wasn’t only in his stage banter, the Star Wars theme was tacked on to the beginning of No Surprise/Midnight Surprise as kind of a send up. Though with the Star Wars sticker on his acoustic it could have been serious. He also played a handfull of new songs which sounded just as good as the stuff they did from Lavender Bridge, but like everything else a bit more rocking. The highlight of the set for me was the the rendition of Devil Tricks for a Bitch, with it’s plucked guitar and violin accompaniement. It started out with just Dev and his acoustic guitar, but built up with the violin and then slowly adding bass and finally the full ensemble for the finale. It was the perfect combination of the subtle that is indicative of the record and the more rock direction he seems to be taking on this tour.
mp3: Lightspeed Champion – Devil Tricks for a Bitch (from Falling Off Lavender Bridge)
And because I need very little excuse to bring up Jason Falkner, how much does Devil Tricks sound like this Jason Falkner song from his first album Author Unknown?
mp3: Jason Falkner – Before My Heart Attacks (from Author Unknown)