Monday, April 30, 2012

The Very Most, Spondee and Sleepy Seahorse @ the Flying M Coffee-Garage (4/28/12)

I was excited about this show for a handful of reasons.  First, it featured Spondee, a wonderful Boise band that I hadn't seen in a little over two years.  Second, this would be my first show at the Flying M Coffee-Garage, which has been putting on some intriguing stuff for a while now.  Finally, it gave me an opportunity to explore Nampa, which I'd never really done before.

I showed up a couple of hours before the gig and wandered around.  If I'd grown up in Nampa, I imagine that I'd have been bored out of my mind.  Coming to it as a visitor, though, I found it surprisingly picturesque.  All of the circa-1910 brick buildings made me feel like I was in They Live By Night or Bonnie and Clyde.  I took a few pictures while I was there.  Here are the best ones:

I found that Nampa's Flying M shared with its Boise counterpart the same pleasant, mellow, thrift-store hip feel: big windows; warm, earthy tones; slightly ratty old couches; mismatched wooden tables and chairs.  Once I stepped inside the garage, I deduced fairly quickly that it really had been an auto garage once upon a time (the place had a big red plastic Firestone sign on one wall as well as a faint scent of oil and grease).  There were some more charmingly mismatched tables, chairs and benches set up, and on the wall around the entrance were autographs of musicians who've played there.

First up this night was Sleepy Seahorse a.k.a. Boise musician Joey Corsentino.  If the balance that he struck hadn't been just right--if his voice was just a little whinier, his delivery just a little less earnest, his guitar strumming just a little less assured, his ruminative lyrics just a little less well-observed, his melodies just a little closer to their sell-by date--Corsentino could have proved annoying if not unbearable.  As it stood, though, his music perfectly captured that point in life where youthful dreams and ambitions meet hard realities and compromises.  I'll have to keep an eye (and ear) out for this guy in the future.

After Sleepy Seahorse came Spondee.  An incident early in their set illustrated why I like this band so much.  After they finished their first song, you could hear a buzzing sound.  Frontman Clint Vickery called to the soundman and calmly told him that smoke was coming out of one of the speakers.  The soundman proceeded to rush about and swap out the burning speaker for a new one.  While he was doing this, Vickery asked the audience to give the man a round of applause for his good work.  "I do sound," he said.  "It's not his fault."

You hear that same mix of sweetness and savvy in Spondee's music.  Their bouncy beat, clean guitar jangle, warm New Wave synth, friendly lyrics and irresistible melodies and harmonies always guaranteed a good time whenever I saw them previously.  I don't know if their absence had just made my heart grow fonder, but they seemed to have gotten even better since they've been away.  Considering the new material that they played, which maintained their tuneful standard yet rocked hard enough to make their Built to Spill cover not sound out of place, that may well have been the case.  It's good to have them back.  And kudos to the new guitarist, whose sharp fills and soloing added a little extra spice to the band's sugar.

By the time that headliners The Very Most took the stage, the show had taken on an intimate, familial feel.  I looked around and saw a lot of parents, grandparents and young kids in the audience.  The Very Most's super-catchy indie-pop-rock suited this crowd perfectly: it sounded sweet and light enough to make it appropriate for children but was tough enough rhythmically and lyrically to keep Mom and Dad engaged.  Leader Jeremy Jensen's gentle, boyish tenor belied his slightly gruff appearance.  Holly Wallace provided some pleasant harmonies.  Lindsey Lloyd got off some good vibraphone solos.  Elijah Jensen's guitar, Jake Hite's drums and especially Brion Rushton's bass reminded me of all those Beatles and Motown songs that my parents played me when I was a kid.  Another local band I'll need to watch out for.

Going back to families, I have to share the most heart-warming moment of the entire concert.  After a few songs, the Very Most's throats started to get a little dry.  Jeremy Jensen asked if someone in the audience could bring them some water.  A few seconds passed, and then a little girl that Jensen identified as his youngest daughter walked up to the stage and handed him a cup.  Awwww.

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