The Duke Spirit at Nectar

The Duke Spirit at Nectar Lounge, Seattle | 26 July 2008

Photo from McMenamins' flickr. Also not from last night's show, it's from a Portland show back in May. My camera forgot to go with me.

The importance of a good opening band can only fully be understood when there is a.) no opening band b.) a really bad opening band, or c.) a really bad dj. Last night the answer was C. I seriously was wondering how the Duke Spirit would overcome the bad vibe going through the room that was conjured by playing the Doors, Dire Straits, Guns N’ Roses, The Romantics, and REO Speedwagon. To make matters worse he was speeding up the songs to match some drum beat he had on his laptop so he could fool us into thinking he magically synced the beats. Wedding dj’s should not open for bands.

So maybe for mere mortal bands this would have been a downer, but The Duke Spirit hit the stage and immediately made me forget my bad dream. Just looking at Leila Moss, could make me forget just about anything. She is an indie boy’s wet dream, or any other boy for that matter. But it wasn’t just her, the entire band hit the ground running. The double guitar attack Luke Ford and Dan Higgins over the top of Toby Butler’s sometimes melodic , but always ruthless bass guitar was the perfect foil for Moss. The band make a wall of sound that is reminiscent of feedback bands like the Jesus and Mary Chain, but where the Mary Chain and other bands from that time stole from girl groups and the beach boys for their melodies The Duke Spirit have a more blues based set of influences from a different breed of 60’s artists, like Jefferson Airplane, Nico and Janice Joplin without really sounding like any of those bands. But with a siren like Moss, the vocals are certainly not buried beneath the guitar noise. The dual guitar onslaught was formidable, but Liela was having none of it.

Most of the set highlighted how strong their new album Neptune is. It really is light years ahead of their first one, Cuts Across the Land, but they seem to have rethought some of the songs on the first record because the highlight of the night was easily Red Weather from Cuts Across. It overshadowed everything with it’s ferocious climax of guitars, cymbals, lights and Leila jumping and kicking like a pixie seducing the audience to participate and partake in the band’s cathartic, manic, rock n’ roll energy. The Duke Spirit are easily one of the best shows I’ve seen this year, I only wish they would have played the somewhat slower You Wake up the Love In Me, that would have made it just about perfect.

Set List: Send a Little Love | Lassoo | Dog Roses | My Sunken Treasure | The Step and the Walk | Into the Fold | Sovereign | Hello to the Floor | This Ship Was Built to Last | Red Weather | Love is an Unfamiliar Name. Encore: Neptune’s Call | Cuts Across the Land

Catch them at these remaining US dates:

Jul 28 Amoeba Records Los Angeles, CA
Jul 30 Webster Hall w/ Supergrass New York City, NY
Aug 1 The Saint Asbury Park, NJ
Aug 2 Download Festival Camden, NJ
Aug 4 Ottobar Baltimore, MD
Aug 5 T.T. The Bear’s Cambridge, MA
Aug 8 All Points West Festival New York
Aug 9 New American Music Union Festival Pittsburgh, PA
Aug 10 3rd and Lindsley Nashville, TN
Aug 12 The Basement Columbus, OH
Aug 13 Magic Stick Detroit, MI
Aug 14 Empty Bottle Chicago, IL


  1. joel · August 6, 2008

    was the show well attended? i couldn’t believe Duke Spirit was booked at the Nectar with some crap DJ.

  2. Toby · August 6, 2008

    It wasn’t packed, but there were quite a few people there considering that the capitol hill block party and seafair were going on that night.

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