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Concert Review: The Submarines – Chop Suey, Seattle

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It can be a little disheartening to the concertgoing experience when the main act doesn’t take the stage until well after midnight, particularly when the setup and teardown for the opening bands seems to drag on longer than their underwhelming sets. It can be hard to grit your teeth and wait it out for the only reason you came to the show – the headliner. And when you’ve never seen the band you like live, you can only hope that their live performance lives up to the albums and makes the seemingly interminable wait worth it.

Thankfully, The Submarines delivered and roused a subdued Friday night crowd at Chop Suey on Capitol Hill in Seattle. Local band The Color Bars made a minor positive impression, but the awkwardly named Bad Dream Good Breakfast registered little more than frustratingly long wait times for their many-membered group and lots of confusion over their name. The lead singer displayed little more than a large ego, and the sound guy just couldn’t seem to get the levels right.

Finally, Blake Hazard and John Dragonetti, the husband and wife duo that comprise The Submarines came to the stage. Hazard immediately exhibited the peppiness and joy that the latest Submarines album Honeysuckle Weeks is drenched in, a commendable feat considering the late hour and the long stretch in a tour van you know had to precede this.

Dressed in blue gingham and standing behind a xylophone draped in white flowers, Hazard stood next to her husband playing the guitar and they enchanted the audience for the next hour-plus with the majority of their two album catalog. Songs from their debut, the breakup album Declare a New State! meshed harmoniously with the new songs, despite the lyrical dichotomy. The lush, diverse sounds the band is known for were reproduced impeccably, with much of the electronic work pre-recorded.

Hazard and Dragonetti’s vocals rang out loud and strong even with the less than ideal acoustics of the venue. Whether engaging in the harmonizing mostly present on their first disc or singing in turn, the duo achieved a faithful reproduction of the album sound. There was nothing revolutionary or out of the ordinary about the performance, but The Submarines display a level of sunny enthusiasm missing from most indie pop music, and the sheer happiness that exuded from the songs and the husband and wife that wrote and performed them ensured that most of the audience left with a content smile on their face.

The Submarines’ latest album is a gem, and their live performance is no different. They support Aimee Mann on her tour starting at the end of this month, and unlike this show, you’d actually be interested in the opening act.

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About Dusty Somers

Dusty Somers is a Seattle-based editor and writer. He is a member of the Online Film Critics Society and Seattle Theater Writers.
  • What is it with Seattle, two opening bands, and late-night concerts? I had something similar happen when I saw Rilo Kiley at the Showbox last fall, but it seemed to be more that the band wasn’t ready until 20 minutes after the stage setup was finished. Or maybe they don’t like performing before 11pm? Whatever the reason, it seemed unfair to the audience to have to wait up so late to hear good music.

  • Valerie

    As member of BDGB and resident internet scourer, I apologize for the long wait that night. There were not one, but two faulty DI boxes and after we recognized the first one, we thought the problem must be somewhere else — which cost both us and you a LOT of time and goodwill.

    2 things, of which this is the first: Nick Jones? Super nice guy. No large ego. It was just a frustrating, off night for us, as you noted.

    The 2nd thing: Could you send me your contact info (e-mail, especially!)to info @ baddreamgoodbreakfast . com? I’ll let you know when we have our next concert and get you on the guest list to make up for the situation.

    We’ve had some awesome shows with some great reviews — we were the very first band of the week in the Stranger — and I personally am even prouder of the new stuff Nick has been writing.

    We appreciate your honesty and will definitely take your thoughts (and implicit suggestions) into consideration.