By Mandi Kimes
I made my way to Ballard to experience the Sunset Tavern, which I heard from many sources was a great place to see a show. The cocktail lounge has the woodsy dive-bar feel in the front with memorabilia and decorations along the top surround the room, with Christmas lights on the ceiling and a photo booth off to the side. The next room contained the venue, which was dimly-lit and had a disco ball near the stage to create the moody ambiance.
Fauna Shade started their set with a tumbling bass and a riveting guitar. The venue was packed, maybe somewhere between one-hundred and two-hundred people? But it's a small place. The first song was an introduction piece into the second song, “Jane,” from their Baton Rouge release. Scotty Smith's voice is even more snarling live. The studio sound is great, but the live sound is great in a different sense. They’re both so good. I especially love the descending bass line in the second verse, which has the crowd in front of the stage dancing.
In between songs, Smith confesses, "If tonight could be every night, it would be heaven," in regards to the talented music they had before them from Great Spiders and Spirit Award. They went into “Marzipan,” their single, which sounds exactly like the album. “Marzipan” went straight into my favorite song "Sanctions" without a break. This song reminds me a lot of Surfer Blood's "Saber Tooth & Bone," which I also really love. The live version is more amped up than the recorded version; in fact, "Sanctions" is way more intense live.
After playing what they called a “new song,” Fauna Shade smoothed their way into “Delirium.” Derek Johnston’s bass and Richie Owens’ drumming are more present on this song live.The melody written in the instrumentation is truly beautiful. "Delirium" moved straight into "Lux," the album opener. This version was different because it started softly with just Smith on guitar and vocals. TheThe whole band kicks into high gear after the first chorus.
They played another new song where the guitar melody sounded like it was straight from a psych-influenced spy film. This new song is most kickass song of the set, allowing people to head-bang and bop their bodies along with the beat. The next song had lots of people dancing even more. This tune contained the same chord progression the Alvvays song "Atop A Cake". The last song they played was 100% grooving; the front row people were moving along with Smith. It surprised how people in Seattle actually move their feet when they dance; Phoenix needs to take notes on dancing.
It was great to meet new people and experience a wonderful venue. I hope to see Fauna Shade in the valley of the sun in the near future.