Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Radiation City - Deep Sea Diver -- DC9 - Feb 29 2016

by John Miller

Deep Sea Diver - I am suspicious of tonight’s audience. The simple mention of Seattle elicits such a strong and rousing response that at one point even Deep Sea Diver questions their generosity, “Are you really from Seattle?” There is lots of flannel tonight too. I count no less than 3 people that I could reach out and touch. Everyone is showing real support for these west coast natives and I can appreciate the sentiment but I'm not too sure that I'd feel any better if I were surrounded by moderate, conservative suits somewhere far away from Washington D.C. But the effort is noted. Both, Deep Sea Diver and Radiation City are on tour supporting new albums, Secrets and Synesthetica (Deep Sea Diver and Radiation City respectively) just came out less than a month ago; so there is a certain feeling of uncertainty, anticipation, and general excitement that the two play with.

Some may be familiar with tonight's opening act, Deep Sea Diver. Jessica Dobson, one of the creative forces behind this west coast band, also moonlights as a touring member of The Shins and Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs. Do the three sound anything alike? Maybe? Any pedigree, regardless of the situation is going to help interested parties make a more informed decision. Deep Sea Diver does play with a measured ferocity that her other side gigs lack. The fuzz and feedback are closer to something from earlier Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs releases but as mentioned earlier, less frantic. Recently I have been having serious trouble making the necessary connections that music criticism demands. While simple description; fuzz, feedback, intensity, are important, it is those connections to similar acts that, honestly, really sell a band. The worst part is the way in which any similarity heard is always just out of reach. The feedback, the fuzz, the tone, it's all connected but I can't remember how. I know what Deep Sea Diver is playing is excellent but I cannot fully contextualize those feelings and I return again to Jessica Dobson’s earlier work. I am leaning on it, even though Deep Sea Diver isn’t. Regardless of my feelings of failure, they, even without the pedigree, would still sound the same, the audience (despite my suspicions of their generous nature) would still go insane at the prospect of the set ending, and Deep Sea Diver would still play an excellent show.
Radiation City - I am surprised with how quick both sets are performed tonight. Unlike last week’s show, which felt like a never ending series of breakdowns and intermissions, last night’s show was a lesson on how to do things right. There was this sense of intimacy and familiarity that Radiation City played with; the way they casually suggested to the sound guy that levels needed adjustment, often calling him by his first name or the way they would effortlessly switch leads. It would lead you to believe that they were a lot closer to home.  Generally, I pick shows based on my availability so the aforementioned pedigree had no bearing on my decision to come out tonight. To be honest the main reason I chose tonight's show was Radiation City; it's a cool name. The image of a glowing, green city got my imagination going; nuclear war, monsters, slime, you know the really cool stuff. I'm not too hard to please. Ultimately, this long winded explanation about pedigree and process is to show that usually the stuff like who knows who doesn't really matter. And in the case of Radiation City that holds true. They are interesting in that they seem to pick and choose influences as opposed to lean on one specific band or genre. You can hear the 70s in the way that the keyboardist constructs her sound design, the 60s of the steady drums and rhythmic guitar, and there is even a little 80s as some of the compositions remind me of Sade. They seem to rely less on complex song structure and more on the way the music moves, both physically and metaphorically. And those rhythms; I wouldn’t call it dance but you can certainly dance to it. Sometimes a monstrous hook will come out of nowhere and you can't help but just swing your hips.

No comments: