review by Katy McCourt-Basham & RJ Cubarrubia
photos by Hilary Harris
Last week, the Vera Project was brimming with anticipation for the first full-band performance of Fruit Bats that Seattle has seen in years.
Opening was Seattle’s own Moon Pulls the Ocean, who started the show with a friendly vibe. They’re a young band, both in appearance and in content, and their charismatic frontman sang about things like seeing a girl on the way to class. Their set relied heavily on a kind of generic college “bro-rock” sound, but this is not to say that they aren’t talented. In fact, they played very well and seemed to have a lot of potential. Musically, Moon Pulls the Ocean genre-hop a lot, pulling in elements of jazz and Americana that didn’t really fit with their overall sound. One song, though, “Angels of the Archipelago,” stood out as one of their best and displayed their skill as musicians.
With her set change, Sera Cahoone brought on a significant change in crowd as well. The audience, now a little older (and a lot calmer), seemed to really enjoy her brand of sweet twangy down-home style music. Sera played a lot of newer songs, including the title track of her latest album, Only As the Day Is Long, and a song so new she hadn’t recorded it yet, but she also didn’t leave her older songs in the dust and hit many of the apparent fan favorites like “Last Time” from her self-titled debut. In all, it was an enjoyable set on its own and a very appropriate opening act for the Fruit Bats.
Fruit Bats were greeted by a very house when they hit the stage. They opened with a song from 2005’s Spelled in Bones, “Canyon Girl”, and then played a few newer songs, but not before bandleader Eric Johnson asked for permission first, saying “We’ll play some old shit, I promise” and joking that they would “play all four albums in a row, plus a mystery album of your choosing.” After a solid set of newer songs (some of which they also performed during KEXP’s Bay Area broadcast), they pulled out a few revamped classics, such as “Seaweed” (with added harmonica) and “The Little Acorn.” They followed up with a few more new songs that were equally impressive. Behind Eric Johnson’s distinctive voice, a change in style was prevalent in the new music. Although he never gives up the band’s signature pop and twang elements, the songs were a bit more sprawling and mined a similar vein of classic rock as Grand Archives and before that Neil Young. Fruit Bats finished with a couple of classics, including “The Rainbow Sign” and “When U Love Somebody.” It was a great show, and we’re looking forward to the next time Fruit Bats hit town… and to the new album we hope to see later this year!