Justin Vallesteros of Craft Spells (All photos by Bebe Besch)
Seattle’s own Craft Spells were the main attraction for the first time at Chop Suey on November 20th. The indie lovelies were freshly home from a tour across Europe where they had been met with massive positivity and excitement. Here, the foursome was able to relax amongst locals and friends where each of their dream pop tunes were anticipated and received with appreciation.
Craft Spells’ nine-song set consisted of all songs found on their debut album, Idle Labor, except for opener “Love Well Spent”. Their singles were spread throughout, with many singing along to their latest, “Your Tomb”. Craft Spells’ lo-fi pop sound comes at a time where many others are producing similar attractions, however these four embody a sophistication that’s only found within previous indie idols like The Smiths. Singer/songwriter Justin Vallesteros’s voice channels Morrissey’s in both tonality and in context – the lyrics found in Craft Spells’ songs are easy to connect with as both sadness and enthusiasm live within them. These factors mixed with the fetching hooks on songs like “Party Talk” work beautifully in their live performance where the build up of the song sets an audience up to dance. Helping with backup vocals are guitarist Javier Suarez and Jack Smith on bass.
It was announced right before their closing song, “You Should Close The Door,” that it would be Craft Spells’ last show performed with their drummer Peter Michel. Though the announcement was both shocking and somber, the band made the best of their closing song in honor of Michel. Being a friend of Craft Spells, Michael Avishay from Ghost Animal also jumped on stage to help with the apex of the song with tambourine in hand. Nearing the end, Michel tossed his drum set over, and began staggering around the stage gathering hugs from the other band mates while saying goodbyes to the crowd.
Though Craft Spells is no doubt beginning down a new path in their musical career, their talents foreshadow success. With the loss of Michel, and their newly found fan support and hype, it’s unknown what we’ll see next from them. Luckily, they’re locals and we’ll hopefully be privy to all of their future developments.
1. Love Well Spent
2. Scandinavian Crush
3. Your Tomb
4. From The Morning Heat
5. After The Moment
6. The Fog Rose High
7. Party Talk
8. Given The Time
9. You Should Close The Door
Local darlings Seapony rounded out the openers, taking the stage right before Craft Spells. The indie pop group were excited to be performing songs from their newly released (this Tuesday) Sailing 7”, which is the first new material since their debut album was released earlier in the year. Jen Weidl wooed the crowd with her dreamy vocals, as her band mates Ian Brewer, John Bryan, and Danny Rowland swept us in twee, lo-fi melodies. Perhaps the only criticism to lend to this endearing performance was that many of their songs felt blended, as we experience one long and impressionable dream. Tempo diversity amongst their set list might have helped to reawaken our feet.
To say second performer, Devon Williams played a disappointing set would be an understatement. Chop Suey had begun to fill in and there was high support for the singer/songwriter and band in the audience, but something was off. Due to their drummer’s tardiness, who had been caught at the Canadian border, Devon Williams and team took the stage a little later than expected. Williams found it necessary to push forward with his set without their drummer and ultimately resulted in a very short, but sweet collection of songs. The audience received around five charming tunes, but the atmosphere was staggered by the bands’ obvious annoyances and feeling of urgency to complete their set.
When four bands line a bill, it’s pretty often that folks will take their time arriving to a show, especially on a Sunday night. What’s unfortunate for all of the people that didn’t get to Chop Suey on time is that they missed the highlight of openers. Wet Illustrated from San Francisco took the stage and blared some melodic garage punk for our deserving ears. Their live set was particularly impressive as lead vocals (which were mostly energetic yelling) came from drummer Robbie Simon, immediately capturing the attention of the few fortunate audience members. The quartet has been touring the West Coast with other opener Devon Williams promoting their latest full-length album, 1x1x1, which was released this month. Wet Illustrated’s genuine appreciation to be playing resulted in a high-energy set that left the audience satisfied and wanting more – a perfect way to pump up the excitement for their following performers.
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