Thursday, February 15, 2007

Sparklehorse is boring, Jesse Sykes is sexy

Please tell me this image disappeared.

Last night at the Showbox I almost fell asleep standing up. I couldn’t stop yawning; I’m lucky I didn’t gleek on anybody near me.

We showed up at just after 9pm, and Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter were already in full swing. They were playing a song I recognized, and the crowd seemed to be really into it. I was expecting them to be likable but boring — her first two CDs are slow, sleepy-time escapades into I was happily surprised by the energy and upbeat sounds of the new songs, of which she played a LOT. I only recognized 3 songs during her entire hour-long set: two old ones and the first single off the new one. The rest of the songs, all from her new CD, were great, guitar-driven Neil Young and Crazy Horse-type country songs. It was a great set, and quite a long one for an opening act. She was the only opening act, so it made sense for her to play for longer than your typical opener.

A quick digression: Jesse Sykes is as pretty on stage as she is waiting tables at Hattie’s Hat in Ballard. But there’s something about her on-stage presence that adds to her appeal. We all determined that “sexy” is the best way to describe her.

After a 45-minute break once Jesse left the stage, Sparklehorse came onstage and quickly slowed things down to a near stop. I’m not too familiar with their music. I have their new CD, and enjoy listening to it, but in this instance what sounds good in my headphones only puts me to sleep when played live. There were only 3 explosions of excitement, and they were all short-lived. “Shade and Honey” was done very well, and the song they ended on before the break, “Pig”, had some amazing guitar feedback that brought me out of my funk, but again it was way too short. Their entire set, including a 1-song encore, lasted no longer than 50 minutes. Jesse Sykes played a longer, livelier set than the headliner.

Another quick digression: Mark Linkous, lead singer of Sparklehorse, reminds me so much of an old acquaintance of mine named Jared. Same unkempt, whispy hair. Same mannerisms. Same stage presence. When the audience would cheer something he did on stage, he’d get a shy little smile and be very impressed with himself, in a “wow I actually did something good” that actually made the four of us burst out laughing at one point. It was such a funny emotion to show, by somebody who’s had their fair share of playing on stage.

All in all, it’s a shame that what’s on the new record didn’t translate well to the stage. I think if Steven Drozd from the Flaming Lips were on stage with them to fill out the parts he did on the record, it would have made for a much more dynamic show. As it was, the acts should have been switched: Jesse should have come after Sparklehorse. Or, somebody could have at least warned me that Sparklehorse was going to be so boring, and I would have gone home and slept.