Show Review: Deep Sea Diver, Wild Belle, Sunrunners at Bottom Of The Hill, 11/27/12

by Dakin Hardwick on November 29, 2012

All Photos by Homirah Amiri

Deep Sea Diver is the current project from Jessica Dobson, who was first introduced to me via Beck. She was the guitar player on the Modern Guilt Tour, which may have been the last time I felt Beck truly enjoyed playing music. She had some pretty huge shows to fill in that band, and she did filled them quite nicely. In the five years since I last saw her play with Beck, she joined The Shins and also had been recording songs that she wrote as this project.  Earlier this year, she put out an excellent record called History Speaks, which as an amazing full length that was well worth the half a decade wait it took for it to come out. I was quite excited to see how she managed to pull it if live on the cold Tuesday night.

Opening the show was a group of locals named Sunrunners. No doubt, a huge portion of the crowd was here early to check them out. They certainly understood showmanship, as lead singer / pianist  Stephen Loase hit every beat when it came to working a crowd. He is full of charisma, and it made for a quite entertaining show. The music, however, is still a work in progress. Their blend of piano driven brit pop and shoegaze was a little too close to Snow Patrol and Keane for my own personal tastes, but this band is still quite young. Once they are able to move beyond their influences, they will evolve into a pretty good band.

This is the 4th time I’ve seen Wild Belle this year. And, somehow, it doesn’t get old. Every time I’ve seen them, the show gets a little bit tighter, they sound a little bit better, and they look like they are having even more fun. Lead singer Natalie Bergmann, when I first saw them in Austin back in March, was a very shy performer. She just hid behind the microphone and sang. In just 7 short months, she’s become a much bigger presence. She dances and works the crowd. She talks to us. She has become as big as her voice, which is reminiscent of a happier, sober Amy Winehouse. They are progressing sonically, as well. They are bringing African rhythms into the fold, and even introduced a finger piano into the mix.  The sound is now a blend of reggae, soft rock, classic soul, afro beat, and just a touch of Serge Gainsbourg. Their debut full length is coming out in March of next year, and I’m excited to see how much further this excellent band evolves by the release of that album.

Dobson casually walked on stage alone, and she started playing a single riff. She looped that riff, and the played another, fuzzier riff. She kept building upon this until she spun the song into the noisiest cover of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” that I have ever heard. (Happily, it’s available for free here.) The rest of the band came out, and the band went into full on rock mode, complete with Dobson killing on the guitar backed by a 4 piece ensemble with a drummer. bassist, and guitarist all wearing long sleeve denim shirts, while there was a gentleman wearing a plaid shirt and solid tie playing two pots. Thus kicking off 45 minutes of some of the best danceable, guitar based rock I’ve heard in a long time.

Dobson alternated between guitar and keyboards, playing each with amazing skill and energy. The played a large portion of History Speaks, the band’s debut full length, with a healthy smattering of brand new songs. Her band is fantastic, as well. The star of the show was her drummer, Peter Mansen. These songs are not exactly simple pieces, rhythmically speaking. Mansen’s playing is somewhere between Gene Krupa as an octopus and Animal from Dr Teeth & The Electric Mayhem.

My only objection to this set was that it was far too short. It seemed that the moment it started, it was over. And no matter how loud the near-capacity crowd got, they simply weren’t coming back for more. I guess a true performer always leaves you wanting for more. And I can guarantee you that every single person in that room will be bringing a new friend along next time.

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