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Saturday night at Neumos is a perfect example of why I live in Seattle. I love the city, our weather, the people… but I love our music most of all and all three bands that took the stage made me feel lucky to be here.
First up was Loving Thunder, an intense rumbly two-person band that started the night right, warming up the crowd and the venue.
Favorites Head Like a Kite were next, and as I watched Dave Einmo, I realized I have no idea how he creates their sound (beyond his precise guitar handling) and couldn’t match his synthed efforts to what I was hearing, so I gave up and enjoyed the great music. Guest singers Graig Markel, Zera Marvel and Barbara Trentalange joined HLAK onstage, as did Tilson of The Saturday Knights. HLAK’s set was over before I was ready – I pouted briefly before excitement took over. Sleepy Eyes of Death were preparing the stage.
As the opening notes to “Crushed By Stars” bled onto the foggy stage, a huge grin spread across my face. I knew at once this show was going to be different. I’d seen Sleepy Eyes live four times and had listened to Dark Signals for a week, setting the songs solidly. It’s easy to get lost in atmosphere at SEoD shows and I did, until that first song ended and the crowd all around me burst into cheers and applause, reminding me they were there.
Sleepy Eyes has stepped up their show, not just the lights and badass fog assault, but the music too. Familiarity certainly helps, but all elements seemed to align on Saturday. I realized their fog is not just a visual aid; it’s an ingredient to their overall recipe. The incredible music, the lights, the fog… all for the first time hit me as they should – perfectly balanced, cohesive and complete. Sleepy Eyes managed to turn invisible music into something nearly tangible that hit all the senses.
Every song from Sleepy Eyes’ powerful new EP Dark Signals materialized, as did four others. Near the end of their set, someone onstage (I couldn’t see who) asked if we wanted less fog or more fog. The photographer in me immediately yelled back, “Less Fog!” (I couldn’t see, much less photograph them for much of the set) but everyone else drowned me out, yelling for more. The fan in me agreed and cheered with the rest as a fresh stream of fog flowed over the stage and Sleepy Eyes finished their remarkable set.