Dressed For Success

BOAT, Pickwick, Concours D’elegance at the Tractor, Seattle | 25 March 2011

Some bands wear their influences on their sleeves, Seattle’s BOAT choose to put them on the cover of their record.  Album number four, just released last week, Dress Like Your Idols contains D. Crane’s renditions of some of the band’s favorite records.  Before you even hit play you know where they’re coming from, and that is a slightly odd corner of indie rock nestled up here in the upper left hand corner of the US. A place where a band like Boat can exist with a lack of light, an overabundance of diet coke and lots of pizza. That’s the fuel for the engine, what comes out are slightly idiosyncratic sometimes emotive songs that are immediately catchy and almost always containg big choruses  If any band in Seattle could be called the direct descendants of the Young Fresh Fellows Boat are it.  Like YFF, Boat nimbly walk the line of humor and emotion in their songs.

On record and live Boat come across as guys having a blast at what they are doing.  Enthusiasm and a good time is the rule of the day. On record you can hear their enthusiasm and good nature, live you actually experience it. Friday’s show at the Tractor was their record release party, and a sold out one at that. I’ve been to a lot of Boat shows but I don’t ever remember one selling out.  Late Friday afternoon when I heard that the Tractor had sold out, my first thought was: impossible. My second thought after confirming it was: Oh shit I don’t have a ticket. I headed down to the tractor hoping that there would be someone at the door who had an extra ticket. Hanging out in by the door hoping for an extra ticket was beginning to look fruitless when I spotted D. Crane of Boat. Soon thereafter some fortuitous Boat magic occurred, my friend Jonathon and I were temporaily members of a soul band and somehow transported inside the Tractor for the show.

The band had made a banner at the back of the stage that read BOAT: Poppy Slop All-Stars with a big picture of Ringo Starr in the middle of it.  Starr along with Pollard, Smith, Reed, Vedder, Moore, Spenser Malkmus and Marsh are the patron saints and the band and Boat delivered a set to make them proud. The new record was on display front and center and as their writing gets better and better I wasn’t disappointed with the focus. They did step back a couple times, once for Greased Hariclip form their first album and another for I’m a Donkey for Your Love from their second.  Crane dedicated the short and sweet L-O-V-E to his mom and they hit all of the highlights of the new record including Forever In Armitron, Classically Trained, King Kong and Landlocked. The last one they had to do without the Help of the Long Winters‘ John Roderick who guests on the recorded version. They did get some help from audience members inviting them up for another song.

This being their first ever sold out show, the band were kind of surprised and joke about how it must be because the Police were playing after. There were no cops but Pickwick who opened seem to have quite a following themselves with their Commitments brand of soul.  Singer Galen Disston kind of looks like like a spectacled version Epstein from Welcome Back Kotter and a voice that is guaranteed to make women weak in the knees.  The folk band turned soul have three singles out to date and the next time they play they probably won’t be opening.

With Dress Like Your Idols Boat continues their move towards higher fidelity that they began on Setting the Paces and the new record contains a batch of their best songs yet.  You get the feeling that they are firmly in the lead (after previously setting the paces). It has elements of a concept album starting with Changing of the Guard, and continuing the theme of taking over for their old masters by the records sheer quality. They may not be eclipsing their idols in record sales, but their songs and live show are continuing  on a trajectory that for me equals many of their idols.

mp3: BOAT – Forever in Armitron (order Dress Like Your Idols on vinyl or CD)

Set List: Kinda Scared of Love Affairs | Greasedip Hairclip | L-O-V-E | Forever In Armitron | Friends Since 1989 | Bite My Lips | The Name Tossers | (I’m A) Donkey for Your Love | Frank Black Says | We Want It! We Want It! | Classically Trained | Landlocked |  Lately | Dress Like Your Idols | King Kong| Encore: Children of the Revolution (T. Rex)

Upcoming BOAT Tour Dates (Look out east coast and Chicago):

4/09 MERCURY LOUNGE – NEW YORK, NY (Early show)


  1. Ben · March 29, 2011

    I like Boat, but, man, that song sounds so much like The Clean’s Draw(in)g To A (W)hole.

    • Toby · March 29, 2011

      Damn, you’re right. They shoulda included the cover of Vehicle on their album cover.

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