Senex sum. That’s “I’m old” in Latin, for those of you playing along at home. Old enough to think that maybe I should have thought twice about going to the Pernice Brothers show last night, since it started at 9 and there were four bands on the bill. Rolling in at 2 am last night, with ringing ears, an aching back, and falling eyelids, my only thought was: totally worth it.
The Tractor Tavern, in Ballard just north of Seattle proper, is one of those real joys of a music venue: big square empty room with bare brick walls, split in two with the bigger rectangle for the stage and the floor. Intimate, in a “put your drink on the stage next to the set list and dance” kind of way. Even in the intimacy, the first act, Jose Ayerve of the Portland (Maine) band Spouse, looked small up on stage by himself, strumming his electric—until he started singing. Big voice this guy has. Some of the vocal licks on his English songs reminded me of a less arty Bono. Good songs too.
The second band, Sparrow, hailed from Canada by way of (apparently) Belle and Sebastian. With a nebbishy lead vocalist who sang barely audibly hunched over the keyboard, every song played in a mid-tempo 6/8, and a cellist who played five lines a song (you could only tell by watching her bow), I wasn’t too impressed. In fact, the best part of the evening was the bassist’s joke to the sound man: “Can we get a little more guitar in the monitors? And a lot more cello? … And can you give me a bigger penis, please? … And how about some more stage presence over there?” (this last directed at the vocalist). (Hmm: If Jessamyn is right, I’ll now find my site unreadable at libraries, particularly in Toppenish.)