December 15th, 2006

December concert: High Violets at the Comet Tavern

Last Friday night I went to The Comet Tavern to see The High Violets, playing with The Black Watch and Palodine. The Comet Tavern is a dive bar that hosts shows only occasionally, which is just as well as it's not well set up for bands. The sound wasn't great, but it was better than I expected. What did meet my expectations was the show attendance: there were 50 or 60 people at most in the bar at any time, including the band members, and the crowd was about evenly split between people who clearly came for the show and people who just happened to be at the bar and were largely ignoring the music.

Palodine were a quartet including a female lead singer, guitarist, bassist, and drummer. They played dark, moody rock, with songs that tended to be long and slow. Some of the songs had a strong strain of country in them, and it was no surprise to find on their webpage both Mazzy Star and Emmylou Harris listed among their influences. The vocalist had a strong voice and the band was reasonably good overall; they didn't win my heart, but I'd be interested in hearing them again. They did benefit from having the largest audience, undoubtedly due to being local as well as being first up in the evening.

The Black Watch were a trio on guitar, bass and drums. They played jangly indie pop, somewhere between the American indie rock of The Replacements and Weezer, and Britpop bands such as Gene. Their overall sound was much more upbeat than Palodine, and I quickly found myself getting into the music with a grin. This style stood out in contrast to both Palodine and The High Violets, but I was still surprised that the audience all but evaporated before they were a third of the way in to their set. I ended up being the only person standing and grooving to their music, with another four or five people sitting off to the side and perhaps another five or so in the other part of the bar paying some attention. Although they put on a good face for their set, the band deserved a much better audience than that, and I wonder whether they'll think twice about returning to Seattle. That said, I think they fell afoul of not really being a good fit with the rest of the lineup, as much as The Comet not being a notable (or good) venue.

The High Violets were a quartet with Kaitlyn ni Donovan on vocals and rhythm guitar, Clint Sargent on lead guitar and some vocals, Allen Davis on bass, and Luke Strahota on drums. With their swirling guitars and ethereal vocals, they were firmly rooted in dream pop, evoking bands such as My Bloody Valentine, Lush, or last month's headliners Asobi Seksu. Although they had a distinct enough sound, not merely imitating their influences, they were not particularly innovative either. They played well and were enjoyable, but didn't seem to have anything new to bring to the genre. Still, if they were a Seattle band, no doubt I'd make a point of watching out for their shows and catching them whenever I could. As it is, I'll be watching out for them to return to Seattle in the future.

This month's been pretty busy and I haven't even looked at the listings for January yet. Taking a quick glance now at the Three Imaginary Girls' Calendar, nothing's standing out, but then the listings are still pretty sparse. I'm sure something will turn up. I'd also still like to catch something in Boston when I'm home for Christmas week, but it's not generally a good time for shows; maybe I'll get lucky.