As part of what was supposed to be the first week of shows at the newly established Barboza (literally below Neumos), Brooklyn’s Tanlines headlined a show at Neumos instead. Thankfully there wasn’t a show scheduled at Neumos that night anyway, so no harm done. It’s not like they had to move very far.
While I was looking forward to seeing the new Barboza club, I was just as pleased to be back at Neumos, because I’m disgusted to say that it was the first time I’d been to the Capitol Hill hotspot in over a year. It was definitely a great way to welcome myself back to one of my favorite places in Seattle – with local group USF and Brooklyn’s Rewards opening for the buzz band.
USF started off the show, with maybe 15 people in the club at that point. They played through several six-minute electronic epics, accompanied by some trippy backdrops. Their matching Macbooks operated it all, sitting on the table next to enough loops and synthesizers for a band of ten, let alone two. It was an interesting way to start out a Tuesday night, but a good one at least. USF’s music is definitely some that I will be plugging into this summer.
While Tanlines was the main event that evening, I went to the show because of the second act, Rewards, a.k.a. Aaron Pfenning. Pfenning has been doing his own thing musically for the last 2 years or so after leaving his old band Chairlift. For the last year Pfenning has been putting together his full-length album, while releasing a couple singles joined by the likes of Dev Hynes, Solange Knowles, and Alia Shawkat (yes, as in Maeby Fünke). I actually first discovered his music when he joined We Are Scientists on their last tour two summers ago, and I have been following his music ever since.
Now a duo, Rewards played an impressive set, starting it off with a song Pfenning said “they’d just written backstage.” I was probably one of the only people in the whole room singing along to any of Rewards’ songs, but they were certainly more complete than the last time I’d seen them live. Still dark and sultry, but with more synthesizer and instrumentation, Rewards’ music is fit for any mood. I loved it.
Once Rewards was finished, the room had filled up completely. It was warmer, sweatier, and smellier than two hours before, and it was about to get even more sweaty and smelly. Tanlines took the stage, and I was thoroughly impressed, because they sound so much better live than on record. And I mean most good bands do, but for a band that has heavy synthesizer as part of their act it can often sound flat live, but the mixture of the synthesizer, vocals, guitar, and percussion made for a perfect set and perfect sound. Percussionist Jesse Cohen actually admitted to it being their first time in Seattle, and that he had heard “Tuesday is Seattle’s Friday.” Whether or not that was true, Tanlines made a hard effort at making it feel like Friday.
I’d say they succeeded in that effort.