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Monday night I went to High Dive to see Airiel, a band I'd been hearing on KEXP 90.3 FM and was curious about. Also on the bill were The Jake Shaw Trio headlining, and White Helicopters opening, two bands I knew nothing about. As it happened, the show was part of NadaMucho.com's "New Music Monday" series, so it was appropriate all the bands were new to me.

White Helicopter are a quintet, with a female singer, two guitars, bass, and drums. I arrived late and missed some of their set, but I heard enough to form a good opinion of them. Their style was modern rock, but they had some interesting touches. In one song they made a weird shift into a country-pop style for the chorus, which clashed a bit with the moodiness of the rest of the song although the transition between styles was smooth. In another song, "King of the Robots," the lead guitarist delivered spoken-word vocals, while for the final song he traded his guitar for a bouzouki (which the singer identified for the audience, saying "don't call it a mandolin, he hates that"). The lead singer had a good voice and the group played well together; I'd like to see them again.

Airiel are a quartet, the standard two guitars, bass, and drums, with one guitarist handling main vocals and the bassist being the primary backup vocalist. They are firmly in the shoegazer/dreampop genre and played a solid set full of swirling guitars, crooning vocals, and feedback. To complete the mood, trippy computer-generated video was projected over the band onto a screen behind them, giving them a space-rock feel. The first half of their set was continuous, with indistinct transitions between songs, while in the second half they had clear breaks between each song. They didn't seem to have anything new to bring to the genre, no distinct sound to make them stand out from other such bands, which left me feeling a bit flat. But still, they're very good at what they do and I enjoy a good shoegaze band, so I expect to pick up their album The Battle of Sealand.

The Jake Shaw Trio features its namesake on electric organ and vocals, Dave Gagnon on bass, and Grant Schroff on drums. They were quite a surprise after the shoegazer drone of Airiel, as they played groovy soul, jazz, and funk. Unlike Airiel's sonic wash and distortion, the Jake Shaw Trio was all about hearing the interplay of the distinct parts, and virtuoso solo turns for each instrument. All three musicians were clearly highly talented and gave great performances throughout their set. The whole club felt transformed into a hip lounge; as with FCS North at the show earlier this month, I could easily imagine spending an evening at a club with this trio performing a few sets. For the first part of their encore, they accepted the request of some random guy to get up on stage and sing with them, and he turned out to be quite good and deserving of the hearty applause. I really enjoyed their whole set, and I'd like to get some friends who don't usually go out to shows to come see them.



Next month Sky Cries Mary are playing Neumos on the 11th, I might try to catch them this time. And Freezepop are definitely in town and supposedly playing Chop Suey on the 23rd, although Chop Suey still isn't listing a show that night - maybe they're still trying to line up other bands. They're also playing Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade in Portland on the 25th, and if I have to, I'll drive down there to see them. In fact, I just might do it anyhow.


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