Telekinesis! and Black Whales at the Tractor Tavern, Seattle | 22 October 2008
Seattle is so full of bands that there seems to be a new one each week that everyone is getting excited about, you’d think it was Brooklyn or something. While I’m not very good at predicting what band is going to be the next big thing, I would hazard a guess that either the Black Whales or Telekinesis! have pretty good odds. And as luck would have it they were sharing a bill at the Tractor Tavern down in Ballard last night.
Telekinesis! on paper is mostly Michael Lerner but he has a band for gigs. Lerner plays drums and sings which requires a different stage setup than the typical drums in the back. Last night the stage was arranged with the drums up front and off to the side, and reminded me of seeing Tom Vek a few years ago where he had the drums setup as the centerpiece. Having the drums up front always offers a different and interesting dynamic to a band. Lerner certainly doesn’t get lost behind his kit looking a little like Martin Carr of the Boo Radleys, he keeps the banter going between songs and is a genuinely engaging singer with a smooth boyish voice.Telekinesis have a power pop energy in songs like Tokyo and All of a Sudden, but there is a more esoteric to some of their stuff that reminds me of other NW bands like the Shins and Throw Me the Statue. Telekinesis! aren’t really breaking any new ground, but Lerner can turn a great pop hook and their set was pretty fun. I can only imagine that will get even better with more playing. Look out for a Telekinesis! album produced by Chris Walla in the coming months.
I caught the last song of Black Whales‘ set as I arrived to see Boat at the Reverb fest a few weeks ago. With that one song, I had heard enough to know I wanted to see them again. Black Whales have this warmth in their sound that makes it seem like they’ve been together much longer than they really have. The band seem to just really mesh with a sound that has elements of powerpop, classic rock and slight hints of country (I could be just making up the country thing, because of the western shirts three quarters of the band were sporting last night). I’m sure that front man Alex Robert with his boyish good looks will end up getting compared to Conor Oberst, but Black Whales remind me more of California power pop bands of the 80’s like the Plimsouls, the Rave-Ups and Wire Train. Black Whales played about ten songs and were joined for a few of them by Robert’s sisters to sing backing vocals. They have a four song ep that they were giving away for free. I’m glad I picked one up early because they were all snatched up by the end of the night. According to an interview the band did over on the Three Gigs blog they’ve recorded enough songs for an album and as evidenced last night they’re quality songs.