September 16th, 2008
Past Lives played the middle child of a three-band set a couple Sundays ago at Neumos (9/7), between openers Talbot Tagora and headliners the Dead Science, and easily solidified themselves as one of my favorite new acts. Hopefully you caught my review of their tantalizing 5-song debut, Strange Symmetry, because if angular, pin-pricked guitar, rambunctious drumming, and distinctive vocalism are assets of your favorite ear candy, then look no further. NO FURTHER!
This continually improving band looked and sounded even fuller and tighter than last time I caught their set during the Block Party, seemingly having used a recent West Coast tour to hone their prolifically slicing mysterioso punk rock. Lead guitarist Devin Welch, whose frenetic output is offset by Morgan Henderson’s chugging, baritone guitar, is a thrill to listen to live, his black beauty providing each song with both a chaotic and composed element.
One of my favorite aspects of their EP is the transition between the first and second tracks, “Beyond Gone” and “Strange Symmetry”. The group began their performance in the same way, with sometimes-keyboarder Henderson providing the unsettling backdrop for the first, and shimmying his feet along with the breakneck beat during the second.
I hadn’t paid much attention to Mark Gajadhar’s (Blood Brothers, Champagne Champagne) drumming the first time around, but standing in the balcony at Neumos was the perfect vantage point to witness his robotic and tireless percussion. Booming kick drum, staccato snare, and clickity-clack rims are all utilized effortlessly and equally. I’d venture to say he’s talented.
Jordan Blilie, of course, provides a bit of celebrité to the band, his characteristic disparate shriek and hunched position at the edge of the stage easily recognizable to Seattle music fans. It’s really like he has his own instrument up there, coolly switching between singing and screaming, adapting to the pace and attitude bestowed by his bandmates, and the audience.
See them at The Holy Mountain (a new warehouse venue that’s popped up recently) with Talbot Tagora Saturday, October 4th. In the meantime, listen to those first two tracks I was mentioning before (you have to hit play on “Strange Symmetry” real quick-like to get the effect):
Speaking of Talbot Tagora, these kids (quite literally) opened the festivities by working respectfully through a set of fractured art punk cuts that made me feel like I was listening to 80s punk while in the 60s. Huh? I know, it doesn’t make much sense, but just go with it. The lyrics are meant to be muffled, giving it that lo-fi aesthetic, but I just simply couldn’t hear them (it could’ve been my balcony position). I found myself impressed, however, with the splintered effect the band implemented within their brief, catchy songs; and the drummer, who regularly crossed tangents only to come back around to join up with the guitars, provided a welcome departure from usual beatkeepers. Keep an eye out for the raw stylings of this up-and-coming trio.
The Dead Science are all theatrics, replete with their own handpicked emcee, orchestral intruments such as a harp, stand up bass, cello, and violin, and of course, bandleader Sam Mickens’ disturbingly off-sync tenor croon. It’s not exactly my cup of tea, but I appreciate their defined uniqueness in a city saturated with local musicians. It was the seventh night of their Seattle “Villianaire Tour” (rhymes with “millionaire”), but I only stayed for the first few songs.
More pics after the jump.
The Dead Science