In the wake of his fine debut, Cabinet of Curiosities, Jacco Gardner played Seattle for the first time on Wednesday (and I would've written about it sooner, but deadlines and computer problems have been eating up my time). The room wasn't exactly empty, but it was hardly crowded either, which is too bad. I think Seattle was just asleep at the wheel that night, because Dave Segal reported, via Twitter, that there weren't many people at Chop Suey for Tjutjuna either.
Fortunately, Gardner and his group played the kind of tight, well received set that's sure to lead to larger venues in the future—though I'd rather see most any band at Barboza when possible. Early on in the evening, I heard one audience member say to another that he's big in the Netherlands, but I don't know whether that's true or not. In the States, he's associated with the small, but mighty Chicago label, Trouble in Mind (Limiñanas, Night Beats, etc.), and his releases have been generating positive notices, but I haven't heard any airplay on KEXP, and that can make the difference between a half-empty room and a full one.
Portland's Parson Red Heads opened the show, and they were quite good. The next day I found myself humming Crosby, Stills and Nash's "Southern Cross," possibly because Evan Way (guitar), Sam Fowles (guitar), and Charlie Hester (bass) harmonize in a similar fashion (drummer Brette Marie Way rounds out the lineup). Oddly enough, I've never owned any CSN records—with or without the "Y"—so I guess I became familiar with the song through radio exposure. The Red Head's new LP, Orb Weaver, is out now (I missed local band Ephrata due to work).
Gardner's band included Keez Groenteman (guitar), Jasper Verhulst (bass), and Jos van Tol (drums), all of whom provided strong support. With his beard and denim outfit, Verhulst reminded me a little of Will Ferrell* in "More Cowbell" mode. He's certainly one of the more active bass players I've ever seen as he didn't stop bouncing once (his playing gave Gardner's pastoral psych a power-pop jolt).
* Ferrell, who just bought a bar in Edmonds, was knocking all around Seattle this weekend.
Gardner didn't take off that hat once, so I'd imagine he's rather attached to it
For those who put stock in such things, Gardner was one of the more gracious musicians you could ever hope to encounter. He shared some kind words about Seattle, to which he had never been before, and said "thanks" after every song, most of which sprang from Cabinet of Curiosities. He also played the new single, "The End of August," and returned after the succinct set for a two-track encore.
Groenteman was pretty great, and he sang on so many of the songs—all of them, in fact—that it wouldn't surprise me if he leaves for his own solo career someday.
Near as I could tell, the two ladies in front of me were crushing pretty hard on Gardner, who recalls Michael Quercio (the Three O'Clock, Rainy Day) circa the '80s. After the show, they waited patiently at the merch table, but hung towards the back, presumably in hopes of sharing a private conversation. Meanwhile, a Barboza staffer kept trying to shoo stragglers out the door, but Jacco and his band had put everyone in such a good mood that no one wanted to leave.