On a dreary February afternoon, I decided to book myself a flight to Seattle to celebrate the release of Four Lights’ sophomore LP, Kobayashi Maru. As the date grew closer, the opening bands were confirmed, the show became a joint record release party with Junebugs, and I needed a vacation more and more with each passing day. I landed in Seattle at 9:33AM on April 20th. That’s right, I – as someone who has no interest in anything having to do with pot and absolutely loathes weed culture – braved the Pacific Northwest on the greenest of high holidays. My day was instantly filled with nice weather, a chalk unicorn scavenger hunt, unsuccessfully trying to win a sex toy from a claw machine, the best cheesy bread in the world, and a tour of the Starbucks corporate office (*sings* well, I’ve got Shawns in highly caffeinated places). By the time I got to The Kraken, I was deep in vacation party mode, with a piece of pizza in one hand and a Tito’s & Soda in the other.
The show opened with an acoustic set by Burn Burn Burn‘s frontman, Drew Smith, who was adorned with newly blue-d hair for the momentous occasion. As he sang and shouted his way through the set, black and blue balloons – which were provided by Four Lights but blown up by the crowd members, specifically Erin Doyle and Nichole Czajkowski – floated through the air. Although it was relatively early in the night for me to be having one of these ‘out of body’ moments, I looked around and noticed that everyone in the room was smiling, laughing, and hugging. It was like the best part of a really great Chicago show, the part where everyone is happy and drunk and content, showed up the second everyone filed in through the front door of the pirate themed bar.
Next up was Bobby’s Oar. The last time I visited Seattle, I was sitting with my friend at a bar when I was introduced to Greg Hughes, a singer/guitarist. He has just moved to the city and was looking to or had just started a band, and that’s now Bobby’s Oar. Thanks to social media and my few PNW connections, I have been able to follow them and their successes over the last few years. However, tonight was my first night seeing them live. Hol.Y.Shit. The small stage exploded with energy as the five members broke into their first song. The set was filled with tracks from their November 2017 release, Not What I’m Looking For. The band contains guitar, bass, drums, horns. The songs are dancey, yet sorrowful. The lyrics are semi-political or at least socially introspective. So what are they? They’re good. That’s what they are.
It was time for the record releasing celebration section of the evening commence! Junebugs was partying about their new five song EP entitled Who Are You Now? The trio’s sounds almost as if a RVIVR-esque PNW band got all mixed up with some good ol’ Chicago Orgcore. At least that’s what it’s like to me. Upon first listen, the EP sounded familiar, but in all the best ways. Junebugs’ live set reflected this all the way down to their members. I had only talked to singer Steve via Facebook; but when I met him in person, I felt like we already had a good rapport. Plus I got to meet both of Steve’s dogs, including Erik the Pug who may be the cutest thing on the West side of the Mississippi!
It was during Junebugs’ set that I noticed that, while the whole of The Kraken was dancing and singing along, one blonde woman had broken free of the heard and made her way to the front of the stage. She was wearing a mismatching patterned shirt and skirt combo, draped in scarves, and belly danced like she was at Woodstock. She tirelessly moved like one of those tall air dancers from car lot grand openings until the set was over.
Last up for the night was Four Lights. As always, the four-piece were dressed to the nines. However tonight, they took it up a notch and were adorned in their newest suit jackets, royal blue velvet. Oh La La! They played Kobayashi Maru cover to cover and sprinkled in a few extra songs, including a cover of Foo Fighters’ “Monkey Wrench” that the crowd went crazy over. Somehow, magically, there were also still balloons that hadn’t been popped. Friends of the band bopped them towards different members and each tried not to faulter in playing their new songs. And I must not forget to mention that our very favorite blonde show-goer (who was lovingly dubbed ‘Dreamy Nicks’) emerged once more, placing herself right up front where she proceeded to dance her brains out despite a few looks and some light mocking from a few members of the audience.
Having first heard the new album months ago, having worked behind the scenes on promotion, I was so proud. Watching my three friends and Brian (okay, okay, FOUR friends… I guess but #brianstillhatescoffee :D) play their way through the new songs that they worked so hard to craft was an amazing experience.
While I’ve only been to Seattle two other times, it’s always strangely felt like a second home to me because of the people who reside there. I met Ali and Jenny years ago at the Gman Tavern when they were in Chicago for Riot Fest. Same with the McClungs… I think. Whenever they’re around, it’s a hazy Malort filled memory. I got to meet Erin Doyle in person for the first time earlier that day, even though she’s been writing for Bad Copy practically since the beginning of the site. I met Mr. Oliver Dawes when he was on tour merching for Success. I’ve known Dan for almost five years and, despite the fact we live thousands of miles apart, I talk to him more frequently than some people who live a few neighborhoods away from me in Chicago. (I know I forgot some of you. Shout out to Shane, Julianne, Tracy, Skyler, Tyler, and everyone else who made my trip amazing). Four Lights, The Kraken, and this sect of the Seattle scene is filled with those wonderfully rare people that make you feel like you’ve been friends for much of your lives, even if it’s been only a few months. But despite all of this, I didn’t share my cheesy bread with any of them. It was just too delicious.