June 15th, 2011
I caught Sightseer at the Skylark Cafe a month or so ago, but as I was there to see a different band on the bill and it being a hard thing for me to write about more than one band per evening, I made only the following note about them in my notebook, “Good band. Black Crowesy at times. Soulful at others. See them.” I finally got round to taking my own advice last Sunday. After a quiet day of editing the book, I needed some music because as much as I love writing, music is the one thing that can really cleanse my soul. I knew Sightseer was playing at the High Dive so I texted guitarist Jason Lightfoot to say I was interested in coming to the show and could he put me in the list. His reply was perfect. “Awesome, man! See you tonight.”
I got to the High Dive as Sightseer was getting set to go on. I situated myself at the bar, ordered a beer of course, started taking notes about the crowd, the band, the bar. The guy sitting two seats over from me was hitting on the bartender and seeming to make some progress. “If I can’t get the day off, I’ll call in sick,” she said to his delight. It made him bold enough to finally take her hand. She let him.
True to my note of the first time, the band was indeed Black Crowsey right from the get go by opening with the Crowes’ “My Morning Song” and doing a kick ass job of it. P.A. Mathison Brent can truly do the gospelesque rock thing that Chris Robinson has mastered. The band was in their element, and it roused the crowd, lifted the mood. The song ended, and there were cheers. “It’s still the weekend for a couple more hours so drink up!” More cheers.
They played a few of their songs next, and I noted they were bluesier, more rocking, more Crowsey so to speak, than they had been at the Skylark where the term of alternative-countryish rock would have been more appropriate. At the High Dive, the country element was subdued. I made note to ask about it, but I also made note that I liked it. They beefed up their originals. Songs like “Miss You Much” and “Ruin Me” pushed with more weight. I scribbled an almost illegible note, “Some B.C. feel!” I liked that they could carry the tunes a couple different ways, tailor the music to the audience or simply to their mood without losing something. Not every band can.
A few songs later, I got a tap on the shoulder. She was blond, pretty. She thanked me for writing about her band and then gave me a hug. This writing thing does indeed have its benefits. She then went up front by the stage to dance and groove but being a singer herself and a friend of the band, she was called upon to sing, “You should come up for this one since it’s your favorite,” Brent said to her. So she did. “This one’s called Read It and Weep,” and it was my favorite thus far as well. The two female vocals combined for a LARGE chorus after which there were heavy guitars and riffs. The band could surprise. Great tune. I rocked, grooved, drank my beer and took more illegible notes, but spent most of the song watching the guest vocalist.
Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks” came not long after that, and as with the B.C. cover, they nailed it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen another band play Levee, and to hear Sightseer do it, I don’t want to. They were ramping up the night. The power was there, but then in that odd way about music they closed with a mellow acoustic number, “Biggest Storms”, one of those soulful tunes that when done as a closer leaves the audience feeling not pumped so much as lifted.
The silence of this room is deafening
I can hear the creaking of my bones
I can hear the dust dancin’ in sunbeams
Lord, I wish you didn’t go
And ain’t it funny how
the biggest storms don’t make a sound.
We were all quiet. We swayed. We drank. Men held their women, and women held their women.
And who knows what tomorrow brings
A gypsy’s curse on angel’s wings
And no one can predict these things
And this is what I found
The biggest storms don’t make a sound
Afterward, I spoke to Jason Lightfoot and P.A. Mathison Brent, and to the blond. People were going to a karaoke place up the street. There would be drinks and conversation and singing. “And who knows what tomorrow brings…” No one at all. There is only ever tonight, so like the guy hitting on the bartender earlier, I got a little bold with the blond. “Can I buy you a drink?”
High Dive photo by Jeremy Snyder