text and photos by James Bailey
Nearly a year ago, I was standing by the front of the stage at Neumos, excitingly waiting to see the Danish band Mew. Opening for them was a band I had seen only briefly once before the previous summer at the Capital Hill Block Party. One by one, the four members of The Anacortes, WA, band The Lonely Forest took their places on the stage. The band is made up of singer/guitarist/keyboardist John Van Deusen, bassist Eric Sturgeon, drummer Braydn Krueger and guitarist Tony Ruland.
They had run through the first few songs, when suddenly John stopped playing. He gave his apologies to the crowd, but he had to fix something before they could go on. I’d thought an effects pedal was malfunctioning, or the mic stand needed to be adjusted, one of the normal disruptions that often happen during live music. Turned out it was something much more painful than one of the simple nuisances.
He informed us the mic had been shocking him whenever he brought his lips close to sing. Before the sound guy could come up to check the connections, or fix the cause of the short, John simply bent down, pulled off a shoe, then his sock, and placed it over the microphone. They played the rest of their remarkable set, after a few giggles from the crowd, like that was the norm. Shocks or socks will not stop these guys from doing what they love.
Over the next few days I’ll be traveling with the band on four stops of their West Coast tour, taking photos and writing a bit about our daily adventures. Last night was my first show with the fellas. I met them in the basement green room of the above-mentioned club. I haven’t seen the boys since the Sasquatch Music Festival last May. They’ve been absurdly busy with a major cross country tour that is only now beginning to wind down. They have 11 shows left (touring with Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin) which will take them far down the west coast and into Texas, before they’ll come home to Washington in early December. After catching up, and reminiscing on some old stories, we all went up to see the first band playing that night. When we climbed up the stairs, even though it was still early, Us On Roofs were playing to an already crowded room. Once they were a few measures into the next song, John jumped up on stage and gave a huge hug to bassist Mikey Farrow, then stepped up to the mic to sing backing vocals with them. Singer/guitarist Brian Fisher (with a huge smile) thanked John after he had left the stage.
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin played next. Providing a greatly powerful sound, these guys from Springfield, Missouri, played to energetic fans. Looking through the faces I saw many lips moving in sync with the lyrics I was hearing through the speakers. After playing for a good hour, they retired from the stage to allow The LF to take their place and set up.
Standing in the side stage stairwell, I met Luke Burbank, of mynorthwest.com‘s TBTL podcast. He was greatly encouraged by The Lonely Forest to introduce them before they went on. He graciously agreed and went up to do his best. Saying the band was double booked with another show that night, they’d need a really good reason to stay at Neumos. A mix of many voices all shouted and clapped with a monstrous response, the boys ran up on stage all at once.
The night ended with flying guitars sent crashing into the ground. Many fans screaming for a second encore. Smiling faces throughout the venue. The boys said goodnight, they thanked everyone profusely for coming, but were tired and had a long drive home to their own beds in their small northwest town.
I’ll be driving up to meet with them in a few hours. We’ll then cross the border into Canada tonight to play a show at Vancouver’s Biltmore Cabaret. Please check back soon for many more photos from my second day on tour with The Lonely Forest.
View more photos here.