The Lights + Red Sea Sharks at Wildrose, Seattle | 14 March 2009
This past rainy, cold Saturday night, I had the chance to catch two relatively unsung local bands at the Wildrose on Capitol Hill. The Lights, (not the Toronto band, the Seattle one!) haven’t been doing many gigs lately, and this seemed like an obvious opportunity as they were playing with Red Sea Sharks. I had previously blown off seeing the Red Sea Sharks a few months ago. It was late on a weeknight and they were the last band on four band bill at the Comet. I’ve done a lot worse I like to think, but after seeing their opening set for the Lights Saturday night at the Wildrose, I’m wishing I would have lost a little sleep to see these guys. Red Sea Sharks have got it. It more precisely defined, is ramshackle vocals that are reminiscent of Pete Doherty with a bit of Joe Strummer thrown in and guitar leads that are edgy and angular like those from some of the best post punk bands. Think Keith Levene of PIL or John McGeoch of Magazine or even Scottish outcasts the Fire Engines in places. I’m always taken a little by surprise when a Seattle band looks to the UK for its influences, since it doesn’t happen very often. These guys just ripped through their set with attitude and chops of seasoned veterans, not like a band with a few gigs under their belts, and nothing recorded except for the songs streaming on their MySpace. These guys definitely need to put something down on record!
MySpace: Red Sea Sharks
At some point during Red Sea Sharks’ set, someone from Wildrose yelled to the band, thanks for not drinking on stage. This was kind of funny since the Wildrose doesn’t technically have a stage. The ‘stage’ is really just the front corner of the bar. Seattle’s puritanical law of not allowing bands to drink while ‘on stage’ was honored this night. The Lights followed the letter of the silly law by pounding shots as they filed into the performance area of the bar. They played a short set (around half an hour) to a small but very enthusiastic crowd. The band’s fervent following is likely due to their ability to apply lessons learned from the Fall, Wire, Gang of Four and Jawbox to a brand of rock that you can really only describe as uniquely the Lights. It’s herky-jerky white noise with a bit of funk, and it had everybody moving to it. The vocals are mostly done by guitarist Craig Chambers with his weird drawl that give the songs an extra bit of strangeness. Their set was all too brief, but there will be another chance to catch them when they open for the Obits on a west coast tour in May. I’m hard pressed to think of a better band to open for the Obits. It’s been a few years since 2006’s Diamonds and Dirt, so let’s hope that this reemergence is some indication of a new album in the near future. The Seattle date with the Obits is 16 May at Neumo’s.
mp3: The Lights – Victims of the Pleasure of the Sense of Hearing (from Beautiful Bird, buy it)
Here is the full set of dates for the Lights opening for the Obits:
May 15 2009 Vancouver, BC
May 16 2009 Seattle, WA
May 17 2009 Portland, OR
May 19 2009 Sacramento, CA
May 20 2009 San Francisco, CA
May 21 2009 Visalia, CA
May 22 2009 Los Angeles, CA
May 23 2009 San Diego, CA