(Photos and video by Bebe Besch)
Along Rainer Ave S. in Beacon Hill, you will find one of the most under-appreciated venues in Seattle, the Columbia City Theater. Inside this venue last Friday night was a not-so-secret performance by Damien Jurado and band under the name “Jacket Summer,” presented by Sound on the Sound. The band playing with Damien Jurado was SPACE, which is made up of members Barry Uhl on keys (Brother Bear), Kyle Zantos on guitar (plays with Bryan John Appleby and many more), Brad Stemke on drums, and Josh Phillips on bass (both from Young Lions). No introduction was made as the band made their way onto the stage and jumped into their first song. The members exhibited some face-paint in white – with each wearing a different design. Jacket Summer hit us with some new material, and many songs that Damien said wouldn’t even be on the next release.
Damien’s folk-acoustic was met with powerful electronic guitar riffs and expressive drums from the band. For the band’s finale, Damien hopped off his stationary chair and praised drummer Brad Stemke on his knees. The crowd, of course, was ecstatic as Damien graced the stage singularly for his final song of the night and encore. He played a new song, which will be on his next release, he says, with the tentative title, “Working Titles.” A clear and somber voice with simple acoustic guitar complimented this delicate song, which spoke of viewing Washington through photographs from the distant location of Manhattan.
It’s undeniable that this was a special performance. Members from Say Hi and Pickwick could be found in the crowd as well as expected supporters and Sound on the Sound founders Abbey Simmons and Josh Lovseth. Damien announced this show would be the last he will play in North America until next spring, when his new music should also become available. Upon leaving the spectacular performance, there was a lingering feeling of excitement, and a noticeably larger amount of people sporting white face-paint.
Brother Bear took the stage before Jurado and co. for a demanding set. Piano and keyboards lined the stage where many took dual duties. Lead singer Barry Uhl played both piano and banjo, while back up singers Jeremy Wingfield and Joshua Rule both play guitar and keys. Their sound was reminiscent of other Pacific Northwest acts, such as The Decemberists, however their use of layered synths and keys gave their folk an entirely different feel and aurora. This concept really worked with the lyricism, as the band sung of subjects like witches and had the audience in a transfixed daze. Their classy and showy appearance with props like bowler hats (with playing cards tucked in the side), red flowers attached to the end of their guitars, and leg-warmer styles really helped offset the psychedelic of their set.
Taking the stage first was Culumus, which is fronted by Alexandra Niedzialkowski on lead vocals and guitar. The crowd started off several feet from the stage, but that changed as their set progressed, with Alexandra’s charm and laughter filling the room. Her refreshing vulnerability on stage made connecting to the sincere pop ballads come naturally. A particular favorite was one of her closing songs, called “Morning Coffee.” Her adorable dancing on stage followed her to the crowd as she joined the rest of us for the next two sets.