photos by Laura Totten (in-studio) and Dan Muller (concert)
review by Jason Kinnard
Just when you think you know what a band is going to sound like live or how they’ll act when you meet them up close, they can surprise you. Glasvegas is one of those bands. Yes, they embrace the glitz and grandeur of their current position, but they also seem grounded in reality and enjoy poking fun at themselves in the process. Sometimes it amazes me just how accessible some of these musicians are, especially when they’re from a band blowing up the way Glasvegas are right now. Fresh off Sold Out shows in Boston and New York and having recently played on the Letterman Show just several night prior, it was almost surreal seeing James and Rab Allan (cousins, not brothers) hanging out in the tiny KEXP Studios.
The guys showed up with plenty of time to get things tuned for a small, stripped down mostly acoustic set and a brief interview. For their in-studio, James sang and played acoustic guitar while Rab played a quiet but moody electric guitar and sang backup. Hilarity ensued inside the booth when their manager informed us there would be a “minor” swear word in the song “Daddy’s Gone”. When we asked what the minor word, was he said it was “fuck” and we all laughed. He said not to worry as they had also brought along the man with the “magic finger,” their live sound engineer, who miraculously erased out the word on the fly during their set. After the performance, the guys spent a few minutes joking around with the staff and asking questions about Seattle music. James was inquisitive about what was being played in his headphones before the set (it was Faded Paper Figures) and even asked someone doing some video editing in the back what they were listening to. They spent a lot of time talking to everyone afterwards and were generally joking around, signing autographs, and having a great time. They seemed happy to know that most of us from the station would also be attending their show later that night and the day ended with them joking around in the parking lot and taking photos with us before heading off to the venue for their soundcheck.
Flash forward to later that evening. The opening act, Carl Barat, formerly of The Libertines, plucked away at some tunes to a filled room (and to a few screaming girls’ delight). Chop Suey is booked to capacity and everyone is anxiously awaiting Glasvegas to go on stage. It’s been a while since I can remember a much more anticipated show at Chop Suey (the last Editors show comes to mind). The mood was set up perfectly and before long the lights dimmed, the band walked on stage, and the place went nuts. There was a definite electricity felt by those of us in position up front. Gone were the hoodies, shades, and five o’clock shadows from earlier in the day, now replaced with fresh faces and black leather jackets. Caroline (drums) and Paul (bass) were now on-stage with the band and everything sounded great plugged in and amplified. Some previous shows reportedly featured a set of blinding lights, but Chop Suey had no such problems and the band opted for some cool side strobes and backlighting instead. That simple change added just the right effect on the small Chop Suey stage. As they played most of the material on their self-titled debut and a couple tracks from the Christmas EP, they sounded huge in that small room with their wall of sound and reverb. The crowd sang along loudly to favorites like “Geraldine” and “Daddy’s Gone,” and you could almost sense the elation in James when he heard the fans’ reaction. The band blasted through a quick 45 minute set with no encore. After hammering out the last song while sweating profusely at this point, they set their guitars on the ground and let the amplifiers wailing away. It was a poetic end to an amazing and memorable performance and a fitting end to a perfect day with Glasvegas.
Check out more photos here.