‘Twas the Night Before Deck @ Neumos, December 6th
Review by Chris Senn
Neumos was rocking on Tuesday night – but it was not around the Christmas tree. 107.7 The End’s ‘Twas the Night Before Deck largely lacked the festive spirit of the holidays. The only festive decorations happened to be a small strand of lights lining the railing of the upper balcony. No holiday backdrop, props, bands playing Christmas songs and no holiday music of any kind in between the sets. However, Neumos was packed for a Tuesday and the bands on the bill impressed while keeping the energy high on stage. The crowd took a little bit longer to get moving, probably still thawing out after coming in from the freezing cold, basically standing quite still during The Chain Gang of 1974‘s opening set.
Electronic programming combined with guitar, bass and drums created a synthesized wall of sound, adding elements to bring ’80s New Wave into the 21st century. Kamtin Mohager gyrated around the stage and at times made his way into the crowd to try to transfer some energy to the less animated members of the audience. “Hold On” from their recent release, Wayward Fire, was a highlight of the set.
The Lonely Forest, those local Anacortes boys, were up second. They’ve had a huge year with radio play and notoriety for their album, Arrows, through the roof. They opened the mainstage at Bumbershoot a couple of months ago and closed out 2011 with an energetic set at Neumos. Singer John Van Deusen’s vocals are clear and emotive. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to hear the words a singer is singing instead of just feeling like you’re listening to Charlie Brown’s parents. Their strong songwriting is evident in songs such as “Coyote” and “Go Outside.” The audience sang along to the catchy “We Sing in Time,” a song played on the radio loud and often by The End.
Grouplove pulled double duty for The End as the headliner of ‘Twas the Night Before Deck and the opener of Deck the Hall Ball the next afternoon. They are a party band, a tightly wound ball of kinetic energy, letting loose on stage and providing a fun time for all. They remind me of a stripped down, slightly funkier version of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. They were finally able to crack the last few holdouts in the audience and get them moving. ‘Twas the Night Before Deck ended on an energetic high note.
The quality of all the bands was quite impressive. I think the lineup one-upped ‘Twas the Night After Deck 2010. One request for next year … put the holidays back into what is advertised as a holiday show.