Live Review: Ivan & Alyosha with Passenger String Quartet, Motopony & Big Sur at the Neptune

David Yousling / August 29, 2012

All photos by David Yousling

In the Pacific Northwest we cherish our fleeting summers, holding on tightly to each day and always reluctant to let go even after the sun sets. It’s the memories of long summer evenings filled with smiles, long walks and generally passing the time outside. For many the summer is time for outdoor concerts, whether it’s the mythical Doe Bay Fest or a casual Artist Home bonfire on Sunday. However, if anyone skipped last Friday night at the Neptune because summer is reserved for outdoor concerts, it might be a decision they may soon come to regret.

It’s hard to recount all the wonderful moments packed into the Ivan & Alyosha with Passenger String Quartet, Motopony and Big Sur show. With a lineup fresh off the high that was Doe Bay Fest, this night was filled with anticipation. Big Sur kicked off the night with enthusiasm and genuine appreciation for playing to the crowd. The five piece group easily filled the beautiful venue with their lovely voices and melodies.

By the time Motopony came on stage the Neptune was packed out and ready to rock out. Right away it was clear that some in the crowd were there to get seconds after Motopony’s performance in the Yoga Studio at Doe Bay Fest. Motopony’s set sounded tight and reassured any doubt that their recent shuffle in band roster wouldn’t effect their sound as new members Andrew Butlter (keys) and Micah Simler (bass) performed like seasoned pros. As always, front man Daniel Blue‘s vocals seemed to reach out to each and every soul spurring over heard comments like “I’ve never heard them before but that was sooo good.” Of course it would be remiss not to give mention to veteran members Mike Notter (guitar), Brantley Cady (guitar) and Forrest Mauvais (drums) who’s spirited performances further charged the face-melting. Motopony performed “Seer” from their self-titled debut album second to last, seemingly as they never played it before and for the rest of their set to the crowd nothing else seemed to matter.

After Motopony’s soul griping performance winded down many could have called it a night as the hour was already late and a lineup consisting of Big Sur and Motopony would have satisfied anyones live-music appetite. But the real treat was still almost hours off, Ivan & Alyosha quickly setup on stage while being serenaded with the encouraging hollers and hoots of the crowd. The joy and intensity displayed by Ivan and Alyosha was practically contagious and hardly one song was played without enthusiastic (and often off beat) clapping of the crowd. It was clear by the size of the smiles on all the members of Ivan & Alyosha that Friday’s show was just as special to them as to all those in attendance. The music of Ivan & Alyosha speaks of familiar circumstances and recalls questions of the past. Their upbeat tempo encourages lots of foot stomping and the aforementioned clapping to the beat. Early on, just as the crowd was falling under the spell of Ivan & Alyosha front man Tim Wilson welcomed Passenger String Quartet to the stage. Led by maestro Andrew Joslyn, Passenger Sting Quartet played brilliantly along side Ivan & Alyosha making for an evening truly worth savoring.

At some point Tim Wilson announced something like “they said we can play till 1am so…” and the crowd went wild. STG Presents’ (Seattle Theatre Group) Historic Neptune Theatre really came through with this lineup of Seattle talent. Perhaps as no surprise the best was saved for last and in a final moment of merriment Ivan & Alyosha welcomed Motopony up along with many of their friends and family. Yes, it was loud and hot and crowded, but after the goodbyes and high-fives outside the temperature was perfect for a walk home filled with recounted memories of the perfect summer night.

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