Saturday, March 13, 2010

Live: Thousands, Seattle, WA 3/12/10

Thousands - Healthy Times Fun Club, Seattle, WA 3/12/10
Plus Guests: W.M.W., Shana Cleveland, Fancie

Those of you who have been loyal readers may have figured out by now that brevity is not exactly my thing, but today, in the interest of time, I had better try. As you know, I'm a musician myself, so I should probably be spending more time creating and practicing music than writing about it. With that in mind, this being my first "review" of any local artists, I want to preface this by saying my intention is to document the event, not so much critique it. First off, in hoping to gain a foothold on the local scene, I think it's best I avoid stepping on anyone's toes, not that I'll pull any punches if I come across anything really disturbing. I've been thinking of focusing more of my musical attention (and hence, this blog) on the local scene anyway, as indie-label reviews are already pretty well covered by the Pitchforks of the world (Yes, I read Pitchfork, and admittedly plagiarize its style a little... Bring on the anti-hipster backlash, I'm ready for it).

Healthy Times Fun Club is a somewhat exclusive, underground venue in the first place, and I'm hesitant to bring it too much attention, should it become too popular. I consider myself lucky to know about it, and I probably wouldn't if not for being fortunate enough to know some of its proprietors. Even mentioning it in such a light, I feel I risk attracting wannabes who just want to be there because they think it makes them cool, as much as I want to see it succeed. But given how little interest mainstream Seattle shows in its DIY subculture to begin with, and how exclusive my readership is in the first place, I think it's safe for now.

But yes, the music...

Mellowness has not been my forte of late, musically speaking, but now and again, it's nice to have a reminder that edginess isn't everything. Thousands is an acoustic duo - I'm told at least one of them is also a member of Heatwarmer, a very good Seattle band I've also seen in a packed HTFC, who amusingly describe their own music as "Phish-style noodling." This was their LP release party - I didn't bring enough cash to buy all the merch I wanted, but I will try to get my hands on it at a later date. Their sound is gentle and folksy, but they display excellent chops on their acoustic guitars, playing in overlapping arpeggios and singing in pretty harmonies. Mellowness and vocal harmonies were a common theme of the night, with W.M.W. and Shana Cleveland bringing a plaintive slowcore/sadcore kind of style. Cleveland's band featured some light percussion, electric bass and a clarinet, in addition to her acoustic guitar.

Not to discount any of the above artists, but to me, the most memorable performance came from Fancie, the project of Elisabeth Wood, a prolific and musically ambitious sonwriter and multi-instrumentalist of unknown origin (Berlin? Portland? California? Utah? Florida? Her MySpace page and website offer multiple hints but no definitive home location). I did have the opportunity to chat with her after the show, and she didn't mention where she was originally from, but she did mention that she's not from Seattle, she had been living, working and performing in Germany, and (I think) that she's going back there soon. Her MySpace page also has the longest list of band members I've ever seen, only 4 or 5 of whom were present at last night's show.

The mysteriousness Fancie brings to the stage only adds an untouchable mystique to her raw talent. She has a tremendous, unwavering, sultry, colorful voice, a command of the guitar and keyboard, a rock-solid sense of her own jazzy, folksy style, and a band of highly skilled accompanists. On top of that, if the size of her discography is any indicator, she possesses a fierce work ethic. She mentioned that music is still not her sole source of income - Making her accomplishments all the more impressive, but still a reminder that the business of music is not a fair one. But then again, it may well be that the unsung heroes are the most heroic of them all.

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