I fancy me some Texas music, and this is far from a surprise for a lot of people. Whenever Texas people get together in Seattle, especially DENTON , Texas people, you can count me in. Last night was no exception, as The Theater Fire and Robert Gomez strummed their Texas best at the Tractor Tavern.
I’ve seen The Theater Fire at small grimy clubs in Texas many times before and was excited to see them in Seattle at what I believe is the perfect venue for them, the Tractor. Their horn blaring multi-instrumental sound reminds me of Beirut with a country twist, but The Theater Fire has been playing these tunes for over ten years.
Even the slowest of their songs was peppered with upbeat horn blasts or hopping banjo pluckin’, their joyously old-fashioned style softening even the hardest hearts last night. In an energetic second, the washboard/horn player leaped off stage and scampered to the bar to beat on the legs of the stool in rhythm, and then pulled the washboard offstage and started scraping it like a mad man. The Theater Fire are a band that take their instruments seriously, and can all play several. They croon tales of ramblers and lovelorn criminals, of the dusty roads and dingy corners we find ourselves in. Their enthusiasm for their craft shone through like a beacon last night and they professed that this had been their best road show to date.
Robert Gomez, another Dentonite and a former acrobat and Cuban music student, brought his three man show to the Tractor as well. He was accompanied by a french horn player, which really fleshed out his intensely quiet sound, and a drummer/percussionist. Robert’s sound is lush, the mixing on his albums sometimes muddling his stunning vocals, and the same could be said for his performance live. His voice comes off as a Bill Callahan/CassMcCombs mix-up , yet he doesn’t quite reach the poignancy of those songwriters. Stunning and sparse, his songs varied between being slightly upbeat to deliciously moody and drawn out. His newest album Pine Sticks and Phosphorus is simply beautiful, I just think that live his sound doesn’t translate near as well.