Sonny and the Sunsets at the Funhouse

Sonny and the Sunsets, The Sandwiches and Seapony at the Funhouse, Seattle | 28 June 2011

I’m not sure if it was the music or the people, the Funhouse last Tuesday night was steamy as San Francisco’s Sonny and the Sunsets blew through their Buddy Holly/Everly Brothers/Modern Lovers inspired set. On record the songs are more subtle and less rocking, but live the band are downright rollicking. This came as a surprise when I first saw them a year and half ago, but I was ready for their power-pop alter ego’s this time. The guitars and bass are turned up causing you not to hear some of Tahlia Harbour’s harmonies but when you’re in a dive bar swilling Rainier tallboys, harmonies are not foremost in your head.
The band were tight. Sonny Smith, looking a little like Lars Finberg’s older brother, with his hollow-body guitar dealt out the riffs and the words. The rhythm section was solid. Kelley Stoltz on a break from making his own records played drums and made goofy faces. Smith is prolific songwriter having done a music/art exhibit he called 100 Records which he wrote and recorded 100 songs. So they had a lot of material to choose from, but the latest album Hit After Hit got the most attention. Smith’s amiable stage presence and solid band  made for a lot of fun, although the Sunsets may have been having the most fun. Their encore, which almost wasn’t until Stoltz coaxed Sonny back out, was lengthy. They played for another 20 minutes nearly clearing out the Funhouse as a lot of us had to get up Wedneday morning for our day jobs.

mp3: Sonny and the Sunsets – Home and Exile (from Hit After Hit on Fat Possum)

Fellow Bay area band the Sandwiches accompanied Sonny and the Sunsets up to Emerald city. They had a really cool look about them and their sound is definitely unique. I’m still not sure what I think of their album Mr. Jones Cookies, sometimes it tickles and other times it scratches. I couldn’t stop thinking they sounded like an Appalachian soul band if there were such a thing. Seattle’s Seapony also played and it’s always a pleasure seeing them. Their twee sounded good in Funhouse punk environs.

mp3: The Sandwiches – In the Garden (from Mrs. Jones’ Cookies on Empty Cellar)

Here are the remaining Sonny and Sunsets summer tour dates:

July 7, 2011 Soda Bar San Diego, CA w/ Wounded Lion*
July 8, 2011 Echo Los Angeles, CA w/ Wounded Lion*
July 22, 2011 The Empty Bottle Chicago, IL
July 23, 2011 Pike Room Pontiac, MI
July 24, 2011 Sneaky Dees Toronto, ON, Canada
July 26, 2011 Divan Orange Montreal, QC, Canada
July 27, 2011 North Star Bar Philadelphia, PA
July 28, 2011 DC9 Washington, DC
July 29, 2011 Mercury Lounge New York, NY
July 30, 2011 Tix Glasslands Gallery Brooklyn, NY
August 5, 2011 Pickathon Roots Musicfest Happy Valley, OR

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