KEXP BBQ: The Helio Sequence

Dan Muller

review by Jason Kinnard

I’ll have to admit: I was worried there for a while. From the comfy confines of the VIP tent, I had just watched Common Market finish one of the wettest sets in BBQ history and here was my favorite band, The Helio Sequence about to go on. Their extended set-up time turned out to be a blessing in disguise as the clouds parted and the rain finally stayed away for good, perfect timing for a fantastic set from The Helio Sequence. It was the 2nd time I had seen them in less than a month (the last time was at SP20) and they continue to amaze.

One of the things I noticed from within the crowd at both shows is just how many people kept saying “Wow, these guys are so good!” like it was some sort of recent revelation. In all fairness, their live sound has definitely evolved over the years. Surprising to me, though, is just how accurate their live sound is — you can tell this is something they work on and it sounds just like the CD when they play. Guitarist and singer Brandon Summers had some initial issues with the vocals (feedback loud at times, too quiet at other times), but they worked it out after a couple songs to turn in one of the best performances of the day. As usual, Ben Weikel had his “drum face” on and pounded out the songs from their great new album, Keep Your Eyes Ahead. I was also happy to hear them play some of the old favorites too.

August of 2004 was the first time I ever heard The Helio Sequence. It was also about the same time I bought an IPOD. The 2nd song I ever added to my IPOD was “S.O.S.” from the Love and Distance album. Flash forward four years and about 30,000 songs later, and here I was watching them play that exact song. What’s the coincidence? I don’t know, but it sure sounded sweet.

Dan Muller

Ron Henry

Chona Kasinger

Ron Henry

Dan Muller

Ron Henry

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One Comment

  1. Jason
    Posted August 15, 2008 at 12:31 am | Permalink

    “Surprising to me, though, is just how accurate their live sound is — you can tell this is something they work on and it sounds just like the CD when they play.” This WAS a bit of good-natured sarcasm, yes? Because it shouldn’t be any surprise that their live performance “sounds just like the CD” considering that half of the instruments heard from the speakers were prerecorded and coming DIRECTLY FROM A CD.

    Yes, the music sounded pretty good, but Helio Sequence stacks the deck considerably in their favor when they use canned bass, keyboard and second guitar parts. It was more like a game of glorified ‘Rock Band’ than an actual live performance.

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