Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Live from Seattle, Letters From Traffic

Good evening, minions!  Tonight, we're gonna talk about music and kick ass.  And I'm all out of ass.

So music being an important aspect of my little existence (and the cornerstone of more than one subculture), it is likely not surprising that I get out to the odd concert when I can.  Sadly, with recent trends in the music industry, it's not as often as I would like.  But we're not here to talk about that!  We're here to talk about Letters From Traffic.
So I only brought my phone.  Sorry.
Saturday night I headed over to Chop Suey in Capitol Hill to see the Band In Seattle concert.  It was my first time in that particular venue, and I will say that it has character.  I am also tempted to say they overcharged for the Malibu & OJ I had, but I also just got back from Colorado, and so I need to readjust to Washington State drinking prices.  But I digress.
In one of the stalls, ladies room, Chop Suey.
I must admit straight out that this is not the type of music I usually go to see.  These days the music I frequent is typically a little more synthesized.  That said, rock can be deeply satisfying.  We were running a little late, so we got there in time to catch the last couple songs of the Nicholas Russel Band's set.  They were pretty good.  I understand they boast a brilliant guitarist who is only 13 years old, but the songs I caught didn't really emphasize that.  The crowd was a little thin when we first arrived (it would more than double before we left), but it was far from empty, and they enjoyed a nice round of applause as they finished their set.

Next up was Gunn and the Damage Done.  Or as I dubbed them, Four Guys Off the Street.  Because that's what they looked like when they took the stage.  Seriously, maybe my standards are off or something, but baseball hat =/= appropriate front man ensemble.  In their defense, they knew their way around their instruments, and played well together.  Competent musicians, certainly, but they didn't really groove with me.  My favorite part of their set was their drummer.  I liked his enthusiasm and energy (even if I suspected he was a little drunk).

And then we had the reason I was there!  I knew of Letters From Traffic because I know their front man, Scott Concinnity.  I actually had the privilege of performing with him once a few years ago - he stepped up for me when my accompaniment left me high and dry.  Sadly, I did not get the chance to work with him again.  All that said, I had never seen his band, and so when it was brought to my attention that they had a show (and a CD release party, no less), I was all for it.  I have not met the other band members, but I have the internet at my fingers, so I can also tell you that they have Dennis Hart on guitar; Chris Couvillion on trumpet and flugel horn; Alex Gee on slide trombone; Bradford King on tenor & alto sax and vocals; Matthew Miller on drums; and Jacob Doss on bass guitar and vocals.

First impressions are important, and I will admit that one of the things I really liked about Letters From Traffic was they looked good taking the stage.  They didn't look like they'd just rolled out of bed five minutes ago, which I appreciate.  I mean, come on, I've seen bands go casual, and that's fine, but only if it looks intentional.  You can't look like you grabbed whatever wasn't stained off the floor. They were also comfortable in it - they had presence.  No awkward posturing or milling uncertainty.

LFT's brand of rock is soulful, bluesy, and animated.  What do I mean by that?  Well, they move with their music, and you will too.  You will doubtless argue that all bands move with their music, and you'll also be completely missing the point.  There are seven men in LFT, and they are into their music in a way I wish more bands were.  Scott took the mic with an impassioned fervor, his soul ringing in his voice.  Dennis and Jacob bent to their guitars like lovers.  Alex, Bradford, and Chris sent brilliant, brassy notes out into the audience and it was ecstatic.  I couldn't see Matt, but I like to believe he was pouring his heart into those drums.  My hips swayed, my feet tapped, my back arched, and for a moment I felt as if the ardor they brought to the stage washed over the rest of us.  Out of all the performances I have ever been to in my just-shy-of 35 years, I have only felt that way two other times.

As previously mentioned, Saturday was also when LFT released their new CD, Icarus Iterations.  I picked up a copy (like you do).  So far, I think my favorite song is Dirty.  Nothing can make you love a band like seeing them live, and I think I love Letters From Traffic now.  They're not my usual cup of tea, but there is definitely a place in my heart (and my hips, apparently) for their sound.

Two more bands followed LFT - The Dolly Rottens and The Bend - but I have to confess I didn't stick around for them.  The Dolly Rottens had taken longer than I liked getting on stage, and having already seen the band I went there to see, I allowed myself to be fickle and went in search of tea and comfortable places to sit.  Which led to leaving the bar, you see.  Anyway, I missed it, but I'm sure they had their own moments of magnificence.  Or not.  The world may never know.

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