Thursday night at Doug Fir, it was a trio of up and coming bands fronted by women. We've been big fans of Deep Sea Diver, whose debut History Speaks will surely find a spot on our best of 2012 list. (See video of the band's eye-opening performance in September at PDX/Rx.) I was also very curious to hear Wild Belle, the Chicago band fronted by sister and brother Natalie and Elliot Bergman.
The opening band Lemolo is a duo from Seattle, whose set tended towards the dreamy and downtempo, but started with a refreshing and uncluttered pair of piano/drum songs.
Wild Belle! Fans of Nomo can anticipate the sort of meaty funk and reggae business Elliot Bergman would be up to, with his baritone sax, keyboards, and what appeared to be an electrified kalimba. Wild Belle's guitarist and drummer are also in Nomo, and the shared history there perhaps gives the reason their performance was so tight and assured.
The revelation was Natalie Bergman. Though her stage presence seems more shy than the material anticipates, she possesses a wonderfully smoky and agile alto voice that kept putting me in mind of Amy Winehouse, gliding easily through the set's punchy R&B, ska and indie rock tunes.
This is definitely a band to see. Look for their debut full-length, Isles, out in March.
While touring much of this year as the guitarist in The Shins, Jessica Dobson's also been working more and more with her own band Deep Sea Diver, which she co-leads with drummer Peter Mansen.
Thursday night Dobson began the set with a solo version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," with a ripping electric guitar solo that was pure joy. If only you could hear this version in the aisles at Macys. From there to "We Go Running," the band cut through a selection of songs from their record, History Speaks. Mansen's drumming was in peak form, blasting out an extended ending on the title song.