The 29th of February only rolls around once every four years; thus, it goes without saying that one needs to celebrate such an occasion by listening to three of Seattle’s top rock bands at one of the year’s best all-ages shows thus far.
The Mission Orange opened up the dimly-lit venue to a small crowd in front of the stage. Originally a two-piece band, The Mission Orange, at least for their live performances, have added bassist Jesse Cohen of The Oregon Donor and Wesley Williams of The Cat From Hue and Us on Roofs. While known for their incredibly large and dynamic sound as a two-piece band, the additional two members add an entirely new dimension to The Mission Orange’s sound. Marcus Nevitt’s vocals, while certainly an integral part to the mix, took a bit of a back seat to the instrumental sections of the music, which was very reminiscent of The Oregon Donor in some songs. In comparison to the other two bands, TMO definitely had a bit of a harder edge to their sound, with a touch of a grunge aspect to it, but this edge fit perfectly with the band’s energy and stop-go style of playing. Overall, The Mission Orange was the perfect opener to a great all-ages show with their fantastic energy and impressive instrumental interludes.
Following The Mission Orange was the Camano Island/Bellingham band The Cat from Hue. The Cat from Hue is one of those bands that you don’t really hear a whole lot about, which is an absolute shame because the music is incredible. Gone are the acoustic guitars and hand-claps of the band’s former sound, which have been replaced with a masterful mix of electric guitars and breakdowns that will make you wonder how harmonizing guitars ever sounded so good. For example, in one of their opening songs, “Cinnabar,” the former chorus of “do-do-do-do-do’s” have been replaced with the harmonizing guitars of Wesley Williams and Nikko Van Wyck, simply compounding on the solid foundation of drummer Jase Ihler and bassist Evan Downey.
Many of The Cat from Hue’s songs are deceiving at first, beginning with a soothing, reverb-drenched intro, but then exploding into a crashing breakdown of guitars and cymbals, as seen in the song, “One by One.” In this song, Van Wyck opens with a calm guitar riff that Williams and keyboardist Matthew Ryan Olsen accentuate extremely well, further enhancing the shoegaze effect of The Cat from Hue. As the drums come in, one is fooled into thinking that the song will continue in a jazzy fashion; but this feeling lasts only seconds as the other instruments fade to emphasize the intricate guitar work of Van Wyck and Williams. Be on the lookout for The Cat From Hue on March 13 at the Sunset Tavern.
Rounding out this all-ages juggernaut of a line-up was Seattle/Gig Harbor quartet Us on Roofs. Us on Roofs is a band that I have seen countless times, and the boys from Gig Harbor only seem to get better and better. The band opened with the relatively upbeat song, “Oh Bright Song,” a track from their second EP, Some Unrecorded Beam. It was quickly apparent that Us on Roofs was going to put on a fantastic show as always, as they followed up with “Hiram Bingham,” a more recent track.
The melodic, shoegaze rock of Us on Roofs’ live sound is one of the most original sounds in the rock scene. While being very much guitar-driven, Us on Roofs isn’t afraid to push singer/guitarist Brian Fisher’s vocals above the mix, where his introspective, nature-oriented lyrics shine. These lyrics are solidly backed by the elaborate rhythm section of bassist Mikey Farrow and drummer Nick Blodgett. Last year’s addition of Wesley Williams to the lineup has taken Us on Roofs in an entirely new direction, as showcased in their live set, further transforming Us on Roofs’ sound into a much more sophisticated, refined sonic assault.
About halfway through their set, after the unveiling of a brand new song, Us on Roofs surprised everybody with their version of “Saria’s Song (The Lost Woods Theme)” from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. This quick 80-second post-song jam was a great addition to an already stellar performance thus far. Us on Roofs’ two new songs had more instrumental sections than older material, sounding a bit more jam/math influenced, but were still quintessentially Us on Roofs. You can see a video of “Saria’s Song” here, taken by Mr. Ryan Ohlemeier.
Many bands have a great album sound, but are unable to capture that same essence in a live performance. I am very pleased to announce that Us on Roofs is one of the few bands that sounds just as good as or better than their recordings. I can continue to heap superlatives on this band, but if you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing them yet, please, do yourself a favor and witness one of the top rock bands in Seattle. I can’t say enough about the talent of these individuals who have come such a long way from playing modified Squints Palledores covers. Be on the lookout for a potential Us on Roofs full-length LP later this year.
Oh Bright Sun