It feels a little guilty to see three hours of live party music on a Saturday night in downtown Seattle for $10. It just seems wrong. It IS wrong. Still, that doesn’t stop me from trading off nosebleed seats to Green Day for (who knows how many) months of local music where I also get to meet the bands afterwards. Seriously, this is one of the best kept secrets in Seattle. As I wandered into The Central Saloon, I couldn’t help but smile as tonight included both familiar and unfamiliar bands. The perfect combo.
Po’ Brothers kicked off the night with a string of easy listening American rock numbers, sprinkled with (I’m not kidding here) reggae, rap, country and danceable pop. This may explain the unusually high number of women in the audience. Made up of three beards and a baseball cap, these obviously good friends hail all the way from Indiana. How they ended up in Seattle is a mystery but we’re lucky they did. Their songs were easy to digest to the first time listener but interesting enough to hold your attention throughout. They were catchy and unpredictable, twangy one minute and roughshod the next. These fun, dodgy melodies had 20 or so fans expressively lip syncing and dancing close to the stage. If you want to know what the Georgia Satellites would’ve sounded like if they’d gone indie, check this band out on March 9th at Neumos where they (hopefully) will be releasing another CD.
Strangely Alright is a highly entertaining bunch who found a way to fit six people onto The Central Saloon’s postage stamp sized stage. Regan Lane (vocals) was the most expressive of the band but not by much. Wearing shades and sporting a fur-lined coat indoors, Lane made great use of his hands, delivering impromptu choreography that went well with their overall pop sound. Also, it would be downright rude to not highlight his tireless efforts at getting the crowd involved in any way, shape or form. Much of the crowd was content just sitting and drinking beer, but Lane consistently and humorously challenged the crowd to move up front, dance, chant and whatever else the hell he could coax out of them. A few F-bombs were dropped but in a non-confrontational sort of way. As they played their power pop rock set, random images of David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Boomtown Rats and Brian Adams (all from the 1980s mind you) came to mind. They provided a big, guitar-centric sound with a liberal use of keyboards and vocal “oohs” and “ahhs” to keep the small but vocal crowd hopping. This is a band who could adapt to just about any bill in Seattle and would probably the best house band ever if they decided to go that route.
Headlining the evening were four dudes from Tacoma, Mister Master. Playing a mix of bluesy, soulful, revival funk mixed in with good ‘ol smash-mouth rock and roll, this highly animated crew spun up a mosh pit just three songs into their set. Barefoot and sweaty, vocalist Ian Lowery appeared to be having a blast belting out a surprisingly wide range of highs and lows. Equally impressive is that he did it alone. In fact, every member of Mister Master seemed to make it their job to excel at their instrument. There was no blurring of lines here — the adage “two plus two equals five” comes to mind. Mark Christensen delivered a rapid blend of toms and cymbals while bassist Eric Phinney incessantly walked the fretboard and Brandt Parke twisted his guitar solos with depth and emotion. This young band is good. I mean REALLY good. In addition to their musicianship, their stage presence was impressive. They were never still and showed no signs of remorse instigating ADHD across the crowd. Check the photos, there’s proof. They probably made some new fans but the crowd was the largest of the night, always a good sign for an emerging band. Keep your eyes on this one, they’re going places.