Live Review: Sea Wolf and Port O’Brien @ The EARL, October 23

[ 0 ] October 27, 2009 |

PortOBrienMicah

By Micah
McLain

The packed back room of The EARL welcomed two of campfire indie's
most promising up-and-coming bands to Atlanta Friday night. California-via-Alaska-based Port O'Brien was first up in support of their most recent
LP, Threadbare. The five members of the band employed everything from
acoustic guitar and percussive banjo to screamed vocals and kitchen utensils in
a successful effort to engage the audience and give new life to their folk rock
compositions. With his energetic guitar play and passionate singing, frontman
Van Pierszalowski is the undeniable leader of the band onstage. The band's set
was highlighted by standout tracks from their new album, including the haunting,
percussion-based "My Will Is Good" and the up tempo acoustic-strumming of "Sour
Milk/Salt Water." Port O'Brien closed their superb set by directing members of
the crowd to grab pots and pans to bang together before blasting through a
thumping, joyous 'scream along' of fan favorite (and Levi's
advertising-friendly) "I Woke Up Today."

The soon-to-sell-out (just
kidding, although their new track "The Violet Hour" will be featured on
the New Moon soundtrack…) Sea Wolf took the stage amid a collection of
various instruments including a cello, several keyboards, an air organ and a
marxophone. Vocalist and guitarist Alex Brown Church led the band through cuts
from each of the band's three releases, focusing on the 2009 LP White Water,
White Bloom
.

While the band's full, rich sound isn't difficult to create in
a studio setting, it is impressive to see how well the band represents such
complex orchestration in a live environment. Joyce Lee's cello is especially
critical, adding that extra ingredient that truly elevates the band's live set
to the next level. Older songs such as the somber "Middle Distance Runner" and
the organ and keys-led "Winter Windows" were hauntingly beautiful but the best
performance of the night came with White Water, White Bloom's "Wicked
Blood." Church's transcendent imagery was elevated by the thumping percussion
and surging strings as the crowd sang along with the chorus of "there's an ember
in the rafters and it's going to burn this whole thing down." Both of these
excellent bands were genuinely appreciative of the great turnout at the venue
and it was evident that the feeling was mutual by the audience's enthusiastic
applause at the end of the night.

Category: Live Reviews

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