Upstream Music Fest + Summit, Day 3: Versing

all photos by Bebe Labree Besch (view set)

On the last day of KEXP’s broadcast from Upstream, local four-piece Versing filled Little London Plane to the brim with post-punk perfection. Whether channeling the layered guitars of Built to Spill or the raw emotionalism of Modest Mouse, there was also something quintessentially Northwest about the group. Influences aside, their tense set afforded the crowd maximal release.

Session standout “Body Chamber” encapsulated the band’s appeal. While guitarist Max Salas hunched over his instrument, dredging deep growls from his red guitar, Kirby Lochner laid down a bass line simultaneously menacing and quietly funky, recalling classic art-rock acts like Gang of Four or, perhaps the closest comparison, Television. Salas bent to the floor to twist the knobs on his effects pedals, summoning a shoegazey wall of distortion (as well as a few pointed fingers from passerby’s outside who believed they’d located the source of the magic). Just when the layered jam seemed to reach its end, the band located another reserve of mangled sound. When they finally returned to a vamp and ended the song, Versing carried the momentum of several minutes of sprawling distortion with them. If listeners, who gave the song a thunderous applause, had their way, perhaps Versing would have played all night. Simply put, this is band to watch.

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