Show Review: Laura Veirs @ Fremont Abbey

Laura Veirs @ Fremont Abbey – 12/12/21
Show Review by Meredith Smith

Humidity. A fact of life that Seattlites and inhabitants of the Pacific Northwest know too well. We live and breathe the marine layer, the way it lifts and falls, how it rises and fades. It settles overnight and then lifts by mid-morning. It taunts us, and our hair. And can provide some of us with enough talent with a unique view of the world — and songwriting inspiration.

Such is the case for long-time Pacific Northwest resident and acclaimed singer-songwriter, Laura Veirs, who brought her jazz-influenced alt-country act to the Fremont Abbey on Saturday, December 12th. Playing two nights of Seattle shows, the Portland musician played to a packed Abbey and wove a tapestry of stories influenced by her life in the Northwest and beyond. Playing literally to her roots with family and friends making up the audience and special guests including longtime violinist.

Back to the humidity. Veirs presents songs with an air of psychedelica and a down-home Americana that feel weighted, but not heavy. The rhythms and melodies permeate, but they don’t fester. Her songs bring meaning to metaphor. Lyrics are infused with deep longing and loss and hope. And the set list for her second night at the Abbey included a bevy of ballads and up-tempo numbers that spanned her vibrant discography. 

Laura Veirs – photo by Meredith Smith

As a longtime Veirs fan, I was more than pleased to hear a mix of songs from the whole catalog. Veirs has been recording albums since the early aughts, and her catalog includes releases from labels like the fabled Nonesuch and self-released recordings. Her collaborators are lauded indie talents like Neko Case, Karl Blau, and k.d. Lang. But it’s Veirs’ own experiences that fuel her passion for music, her passion for creating, and her passion for sharing her stories with those around her. Between songs, she shared her stories of creating, and finding inspiration, and her ability to create community and deliver a churchlike evening found a perfect setting at the Abbey, and there was hardly a dry eye in the house by the end of the night.

Veirs played the Abbey with a bright, full four-piece backing band, including a talented violinist and keyboardist, her multi-instrumentalist and rhythm guitarist, and jazz drummer that kept the band in sync. 

Her set list included Saltbreakers A-sides, singles from her previously mentioned collaborative efforts, and a tender interlude of solo songs with a cover of Elliott Smith’s Between the Bars, and the song that started this whole thread of humidity in the first place, “Lake Swimming.”

A song about swimming in Lake Washington.

It may have been dark and cold outside, but inside Laura Veirs brought that bright humidity to a head. The show was a break from the storm. The eye of a hurricane. The soundtrack was a driving mix of jazz and tender metaphors with vivid emotions. A heartfelt way to spend a Saturday night in December. 

Photos: Cowboy Junkies @ the Moore

Cowboy Junkies @ the Moore – November 19, 2021
Photos by Lisa Hagen Glynn

Toronto’s Cowboy Junkies achieved something really awesome in 2021: an authorized biography called Music is the Drug hit stores in February. Not many bands get to do this. Last time they were going to visit Seattle, there was a snow storm (yes, in Seattle), which led to a waiting time. . . but they returned! Led by Margo Timmins, the band performed songs from their cool career, including the track “My Little Basquiat,” with the words: One day they’ll be older/Maybe bolder perhaps than me/One day they’ll be rising/Maybe living perhaps in peace. Here’s to peace.

Cowboy Junkies – all photos by Lisa Hagen Glynn

Show Review & Photos: Thundercat @ the Paramount, 12/4

Thundercat @ the Paramount Theater – 12/4
Show Review & Photos by John Rudolph

Thundercat – photo by John Rudolph

Thundercat’s fans loved this show at the Paramount.  One fan joked with another fan, “if Thundercat were an anime character, he would have wielded a bass and killed us all.”  The sentiment with most fans was that he slew the audience with his fierce bass riffs.  

I expected to see a dazzling performance, and I wasn’t disappointed.  My dear friend, Tammy, said Thundercat has a modern-day Parliament vibe, and yes, he does. Parliament is known for their far out “Funkadelic” stage presence and knows how to wow the crowd.  Thundercat was different from Parliament in his way, wearing a Gucci adornment in his hair.  His stage lighting had a very Parliament/Funkadelic vibe to them.

Stephen Bruner (that’s Thundercat!), played a six-string bass, and the backup guys played a masterful set of jazz fusion, funk, with a heavy dose of R&B.  I loved that sense of the drummer, the keyboardist, and the singer all playing slightly offbeat in a cool jazz kind of way.

I like when entertainers share some personal anecdotes about their lives. Bruner shared how his mom named him after Bruce Lee (full name: Stephen Bruce Bruner). He even wore an outfit styled after Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon.  

The crowd danced the entire night, hopping and groovin’ to melodic beats that pounded the chest with heavy bass. They couldn’t get enough.

Later, Bruner laid down a bass solo as I’ve rarely heard, except maybe from Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea. The crowd began clapping in unison during the intense solo and stomping their feet.  The volume was deafening and the floor vibrated with every strum of the bass.  Bruner put on a fantastic show worthy of the moniker “virtuoso.”  I didn’t know much about Thundercat before the show.  Now, I am looking for more music from the master.

Thundercat – all photos by John Rudolph

SETLIST

Lost in Space / Great Scott / 22-26

Innerstellar Love

I Love Louis Cole

How Sway

Overseas

Dragonball Durag

Satellite

Existential Dread

Black Gold

(Flying Lotus cover)

A Message for Austin

Lone Wolf and Cub

A Fan’s Mail (Tron Song Suite II)

Them Changes

Funny Thing

Photos: Band of Horses & Miya Folick @ the Paramount

Band of Horses & Miya Folick @ the Paramount – November 8, 2021
Photos by Lisa Hagen Glynn

Time for some Band of Horses! The Ben Bridwell-led quintet headlined the Paramount in Seattle on November 8th. The group, who will give fans album six, Things Are Great in March 2022, released an amazing video for the album’s first single, “Crutch.” As for opener Miya Folick, you can check out her vocals on American Football’s version of Mazzy Star song “Fade Into You.”

Band of Horses – photos by Lisa Hagen Glynn

Miya Folick – all photos by Lisa Hagen Glynn

Photos: All Time Low & Kalie Shorr @ Showbox SoDo

All Time Low @ Kalie Shorr Showbox SoDo – November 7, 2021
Photos by Charitie Myers

Rock band All Time Low, plus Kalie Shorr, made their way to Seattle on November 7th. They’ve released two albums in the last few years, and songs with Pale Waves and Demi Lovato. In an impressive 2019 turn, All Time Low debuted their own Pinot noir, called Pretty Venom.

All Time Low – photos by Charitie Myers

Kalie Shorr – photos by Charitie Myers