Lonely Forest Choir ::: Photo by Josh
Most of the time, the shows I attend at the Vera Project are pretty mellow affairs, but from the second I walked in the door I knew this was not going to be one of those nights. As we walked down the stairs to main floor, the Lonely Forest front-man Jon Van Deusen intercepted us with high fives and a warm welcome before bouncing off to attend to other details of the what looked to be an already successful, at least attendance-wise, evening. The Globes already were pounding away on the stage with abandon, off on one of their signature instrumental tangents.
This might be the first time I’ve actually seen the Globes play an actual venue on an actual stage. I’m sure they have before, but previously I’ve only ever caught them in festival-ish or record store settings. It’s a pain not being able to hear everything, since they cultivate layers and instrumental dynamics in the way of Radiohead in addition to sounding simply a thoroughly modern and young rock band. The Globes are well situated to continue to mature as a band on the all-ages scene and beyond.
The New Faces on the other hand might just be the reigning champions of the all-ages scene at the moment, following a jam-packed calendar in banner 2008. In that time both Nico and Kyle have really picked up on the stage presence, moving around and having a whole lot of fun, feeding and feeding-off-of the very excited front rows. What the crowd couldn’t find in the Globes unconventional structures, the New Faces could deliver in spades, and led by a cadre of excited teenage girls(!) the crowd obliged with bouts of dancing and hyperactivity.
The Wild Orchid Children, after an extended sound-check immediately encountered issues with lead singer Kirk’s microphone cable. After instrumentally jamming for 10 minutes while the sound crew figured things out, the band was left with 10 minutes, and then time was up. The set was over as suddenly as it had started and a crowd that had been teased was left I think unsatisfied. I honestly felt sorry for everyone involved.
That the entire crowd still remained present and really was all there for the Lonely Forest wasn’t a surprise at all, and in fact I was pretty happy to see that a band I predicted had a ton of potential has been reaching it. Even way back when Van Deusen was manning the piano full-time I felt like these gents had something special, but now in addition to his natural charisma they’ve got some damn catchy pop songs and the overflowing energy to pull it off. Upon hearing lead single “We Sing in Time” on a homemade EP, packaged in pink cardboard paper and decorated with farting elmo stickers last year, visions of screaming masses freaking out were already entering into this band futures.
That this vision was brought to life on the night of the record’s release party only serves to reinforce that sense that the Lonely Forest experience will be around for a while. The new mini-community of adorers that they create each night when they play through anthemic sing-alongs and invite the audience to be their friend is just as much a part of the lure of this band as the songs themselves, and the promise of a return to that joyous-togetherness feeling will bring people back time and again.
Van Deusen was obviously beyond amped at the turnout for this night, and before the first song had even finished in a fit of wild guitar playing he had upended his electric piano. In the time since I’ve last seen the band they’ve added a second guitarist, and for this special show they recruited thirty friends from the hometown Anacortes High School choir to sing backup on selected songs. Whether dancing or belting out a chorus, it seemed like just about everybody was physically invested in making the set go off well in one way or another.
“We Sing in Time” was saved for last. After the crowd demanded an encore the curfew allowed for just one more song. The band passed cookies out to the crowd, and after downing a sugar shot he didn’t need, Van Deusen launched into the final number. Afterward as we allowed the room to empty, packs of teenage girls flitted from room to room buzzing about how cute everyone was. A lonely cigarette roller along with a nicely hand rolled cigarette lay at the foot of the stage, forgotten as the exhausted patrons filed out (I didn’t smell anyone light up). As they ascended the stairs, a smile and a copy of We Sing the Body Electric appeared to be almost the universal take away from the night. Could the Lonely Forest have asked for a better result? I’d have to say not.
The Lonely Forest ::: Photo by Abbey
VERA Crowd ::: Photo by Abbey
Wild Orchid Children ::: Photo by Abbey
New Faces ::: Photo by Abbey