X. "Dolour and The Catch @ Pianos, NYC, Sunday May 29"
A few months ago I read a review of an Interpol show. The band had just played somewhere in North Carolina, and the reviewer said the band was a perfect representation of the urban sound of New York City. Okay. That must have thrown most of North Carolina for a loop. "Perfect" is a tough word to use, especially when one is comparing a musical sound to an abstract thought.
But while I would argue that Carlos D. and friends represent more of the idea of what New York City seems to be – i.e. a conglomeration of exceptionally beautiful people in monochromed ties with Joy Division-esque voices that only occasionally break from singing to smoke a clove – than the actual reality of the city, I would say that even if a band captures a feeling of a city, it is only in a subjective conjuring of memories through which the event really occurs that the event really causes the band-city bond.
Seeing The Catch and Dolour in New York City was odd, a misaligned moment where two seemingly different worlds collided. The bands were being matched with the wrong city. It's like when college friends meet high school friends – two entirely separate spheres suddenly collapse and overlap onto each other, trapping you on the inside ellipse of a Ven diagram.
I haven't been back to Seattle since New Year's, after which I came back to the East Coast and haven't been further west than Knoxville since. But I miss it something awful. Hearing that Dolour and The Catch were playing at Piano's last weekend – I was in a bar and met someone graduated from Seattle University a few years ago – made me think for a quick bit that I was sitting in Chop Suey talking about an upcoming show. It was great. Bottle that moment with a lemon-lime or vanilla-cherry flavoring and you've got a winning new 2-liter pop for the summer.
The Catch is on first. You've been sitting out in the well-lit front bar of Piano's, a lovely lower eastside haunt on the day before a holiday. Sunday night and you don't have to work tomorrow. Somewhere in George, WA a cleaner-upper is gathering trash from the slumbering Sasquatch! festival.
Sundaynightmistyurbanconcreterain. Get out of the F train and turn south off Houston St. on Ludlow. See Piano's up ahead with a long line out front. No, you get closer and it's just half the bar outside smoking. New York is going to take some getting used to. Every bar look crowded because of the group out front smoking.
You walk in and order a Guinness. Another Guinness. Give it some time and wait around and listen to conversations about how happy people are that they don't have to work tomorrow. Fuck the Westside stadium. Bloomberg is awesome. Bloomberg is a tool. So far it's not unlike any other concert you've been to, in Seattle or New York. It's comforting. Music here is music there. Guinness here is Guinness there.
Enter the back room through the soundproofed door and sit at a candlelit bar to watch The Catch rock fucking out for their friends. Only about 20 – 30 people have turned out for the show, including some of the bands aunts and uncles. Almost every song is dedicated to a fan/friend. And thanks is given where it is due for the people who rent the floors the band will sleep on that night.
But wow, The Catch's new record, Get Cool is freaking awesome live. The band is like Visqueen with a little more melody, a little less dirt, and throw in some keyboards and harmonies and memories of Saturday mornings with Josie and the Pussycats. Four women who rock their keyboards and distorted guitars in an homage to dirty Seattle rock with a glimmer of cuteness glazed over all of it. Their overall image is that of, "Yeah, we're hot. We know. So fucking what? Shut up and listen to this kickass Van Halen cover."
All poise and flirt, like a bratty 16 year-old younger sister to the head-cheerleader in high school, they open their set with "Get Cool's" "Hofmeister." The line "You don't have to play cool with me/ I'm cool too, it's not easy but I'll still return your smile" sums up well the coy attitude of the band. Their name comes from the "oh he/she is such a catch!" but you get the feeling they aren't about to (permit me the overused pun) be caught by anyone. The Catch does, and will always, subscribe to that indelible mantra of the ages: Hos before bros.
Now Dolour is busy setting up and you have another Guinness and look around. It's not Seattle, and it's obvious that two of the prototypical Seattle bands, who could easily get a strong and loyal sell-out crowd at the Crocodile (go! Friday! TIG turns 3!) are having a rougher time across the country. But for those few people in the crowd that just happened to turn out and hadn't heard the band before, the loss of their innocence is resulting in screams of "You guys are fucking awesome!" and, when The Catch announces their last song, "NOOOOO!!! We want more of YOU!" There is a reply of giggles.
Dolour's newest record, New Old Friends, was named one of the best local records of last year by TIG readers, and not without reason. New Old Friends is a record all over the gamut of "sounds like this" music critiquing. The creative mind of Shane Tutmarc brings out the best of pop music in his studio-sculpted stylized pop, and in the live setting he and some friends show that even with just a two guitar, bass and drums set-up (add occasional piano) Dolour's songs are at their very heart and soul just plain and simple good songs. How many groups can that be said about? When the song is good however it is presented?
Shane and co. started out with some stuff off the older "Suburbiac" record, and then made their way through to the New Old Friends record, my personal favorite, "Big Party" sounding wondrous in the live setting.
You smile the whole set. There is little to say about Dolour but that the music is simpl good music. The songs are good, and their varied presentation between the live setting and the studio just shows the quality of the songwriting.
And after the show there is the "nice show" parting line to give to the bands as they tear down their gear. Moving out of the venue, past the Guinness tap and past the smokers outside, it's back into New York after the brief visit to Seattle. Music isn't about a place, it's about a person. It's adhesive between a person and a place. Listen to Pearl Jam in San Diego for years and Pearl Jam might as well be from there. No place actually has much to do with it. Music is about the people who make it and the people who hear it. Pearl Jam is Seattle because more people in Seattle listened to them there than did people in San Diego. Same with the Pumpkins and Chicago, Lou Reed and New York.
For me, however, seeing Dolour and The Catch, even if in New York City, will always be the best part of Seattle. Pop music to be loved.