Jess and I had the opportunity to head in to Seattle to catch Los Angeles-based duo, Smoke Season, at Barboza and we could not pass it up. The last time we saw the electro-pop band, they were opening for The Peach Kings at the High Dive in Fremont and it was the first concert I invited Jess to see. Additionally, this was our second time going to the quaint, intimate venue below the famous Neumos. If you have never been to Barboza, it is a great venue for a small show. The maximum capacity of 200 people keeps the venue open without the need to be packed in like sardines. The stage is small and only raised above the floor by about two feet, so you can get an up close view of the show. It also offers a full service bar and limited seating in the back of the space for those that are intimidated by close quarters.
The line to get into Barboza was inflated a bit because Seattle’s King’s Kaleidoscope was performing upstairs at Neumos, but that was not much of an issue other than slightly sweaty and cramped space waiting to get downstairs. Once we descended to the lower floor, the room was spacious and gave us a chance to relax and grab a drink before the opening act.
Right on the dot at 8PM, the opener Gabe Mouer, better known as Patternist, dropped in bang. The Portland-based singer/songwriter has that feel of an electro-folk artist that relies on heavy synth, thundering percussion and a voice that is youthful and energetic that included his newest single, “Give It Up”. His performance was a great warm-up to the main events. And at 8:20, he abruptly stopped and was done with his set. I guess there was a schedule that needed to be followed and Mouer was keeping it exact.
After a quick stage change, Armors was up next with their club-inspired alt-rock. Initially, I was a little skeptical but as the band continued to heat up behind the strength of lead singer Olen Kittelsen’s falsetto, rock vocals, the band reached higher with their Orange County brand of alternative. If you are looking for slight comparison, their sound is akin to a blend of The Deftones and ODESZA. There is that alt-pop/rock foundation with an electro-pop flare thrown on top and their latest single, “Name”, is a banging track. You add in guitarist Kody Buxton and keyboardist Sam Beresford and you have a recipe for a high energy rock show.
Again after a quick set change, the reason for travelling to Seattle mid-week was about to hit the stage. The duo of Jason Rosen and Gabrielle Wortman is a beautiful musical partnership. Their sound has been evolving for years, but with new music on the horizon, the Los Angeles-based electropop band have morphed into a style that feels like
Fleetwood Mac that has been given an electronic upgrade. Smoke Season announced as they finalized their set up, that they would be playing tracks from their upcoming release, that included “Good Days” and the forthcoming single, “Wolves”, which is due out in October. Their high-tempo, dance-inducing sound is something that is unique and will continue to garner momentum toward a mainstream audience.
Their heartbreaking rendition of “Emilia” was haunting and heartfelt. With Rosen’s virtuoso guitar skills and Wortman’s energetic and powerful vocals, the pair are destined for stardom. Their set ended with a quick comment from Wortman about how quickly time went on their set. Then they broken into a brilliant version, and extended, version of “Good Days”, which was a perfect way to end the evening.
Smoke Season was an absolutely highlight during a the middle of a work week and getting a few minutes to chat with them post-show was a bonus. I highly recommend seeing Smoke Season, if and when you get the opportunity.