Sunday, May 23, 2010

[review] Plants and Animals @ Crocodile (5-22-2010)

P&A Bring Rock & Roll to Seattle

For the Seattleites who braved the dreek and dreary weather and trekked over to the Crocodile yesterday evening, all were happily treated to a fantastic Saturday night special. Fans looking to see Plants and Animals got both wishes: stage support included Lost in the Trees and Frog Eyes.

Starting the night off with North Carolina septet Lost in the Trees, I could tell that there was going to be a good energy in the audience. Lost in the Trees somehow managed to fit all 7 members of their band on the Crocodile stage, including their full-band assortment of instruments (upright bass, cello, baritone, violin, drums, you name it). They apparently have a new album coming out this August, but they have plenty of music to discover over at their site (here). They really got a good vibe going, which led straight into Frog Eyes' set.

I had seen Frog Eyes years back during their '05 "Spiritual Animal Tour," which featured Whale Bones and Wolf Parade. At the time, I remember being a bit disappointed; however, I will point out that I hadn't developed an appreciation for Carey Mercer's spastic yelps of beauty. After a quick sound check, Frog Eyes really blasted fans with some of their heavy hitters. Half-way through the set, we were informed by Mercer's hysterical storytelling of his time spent at the L.A. Rock School. I won't try to re-tell it, since it will lose all its humor, but to sum up the lesson of the story: even when you're sick, you still put on a good show without telling fans how terrible you feel. In between songs, Mercer was coughing and wheezing while guzzling down water to aid his sore throat; however, during songs, Mercer sounded spot-on with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Frog Eyes are an acquired taste - unique styles of music are often misunderstood or underappreciated - but for those who are fans of the flavor, we were left with wanting more when the set concluded with "A Flower In A Glove," the first track off their new album Paul's Tomb: A Triumph.

After a short break, the arrival of Plants and Animals brought noise to the Crocodile. Hungry fans, tided over with incessant spins of their new album La La Land, were finally going to hear these jams in person. For those in the audience who caught their St. Patty's Day '09 show at Nectar, they may have expected a mellow set. But there was nothing of the sort this time around.

P&A kicked off the night with "New Kind Of Love," the slow-building song that climaxed with a Warren Spicer stage dive, mid-guitar riff, whereupon the lead singer finished the set-opener in the front row of fans. Fully feeding off the crowd's energy, P&A catapulted into "Fake It," my favorite groove-laden track from La La Land. Like before, Nicolas Basque - Qu├ębecois multi-instrumental extraordinaire - provided much of the complex sounds though frantic mid-song rotations between guitar, synth, and bass. Keeping the heart of each song rhythmically beating strong, drummer Matthew Woodley (aka the Woodman) slapped the sticks with a certain James Dean-swagger. Completing the power trio's tour-de-force, Spicer's howls cut straight through the chaos.

After three albums and one EP, Plants and Animals have developed a large enough repertoire of lead-heavy jams to fill a whole set. Guitar improvisation and song extensions throughout the night managed to adapt the band's lush orchestrations and works of beauty into an all-out rock concert. Highlights of the night definitely came when the band tore through new songs like "Celebration," "Undone Melody," and the cleverly titled "Tom Cruz." I was happy to hear With/Avec's "Lola Who?" but would have loved to hear "American Idol" or "Game Shows" - next time I guess. After blazing through "The Mama Papa" and waiting out a quick encore break, the band fittingly closed the night with Parc Avenue favorite "Bye Bye Bye."

All in all, Plants and Animals didn't disappoint. I'm sure after last night's performance there's bound to be new fans popping up all over Seattle. For a full set list, see below.

Plants and Animals Set List
(Crocodile, Seattle - 5-22-2010)

New Kind Of Love
Fake It
Good Friend
Tom Cruz
Feedback In The Field
Lola Who?
Undone Melody
Faerie Dance
The Mama Papa
Bye Bye Bye