review: kaylee cole, lost lander, & lemolo at columbia city theater
First off, I need to give a big thank you to The Sound on the Sound, for the tickets Friday night. Were it not for their contest, I wouldn’t have made it to the sold out show to be able to tell you about it. If you’ve never visited their website, soundonthesound.com then you haven’t read their fabulous articles, or seen their unparalleled Doe Bay Sessions, or beautiful In Black and White Video series. If secretly-important can one day attain one tenth of the quality of The Sound on the Sound I will be more than happy. Thanks again.
It’s easy to become jaded about the music scene. It takes just one hipster with a bad haircut and ironic mustache to make a bitchy comment, about knowing a band back when they played in a bathtub on the abandoned beach of Neah Bay to arouse a sour taste in your mouth. For me it was arriving at the Columbia City Theater in Seattle, to find that the majority of those waiting to get in were sporting enough camera equipment to open a store. It’s that moment when you realize that any asshole with a camera and a mild love of music has a music blog. It’s worse when you realize that you yourself are one of those assholes.
As it turns out, once the doors opened it became exceptionally difficult to be jaded about anything. The three musical acts were about as unpretentious and down right genuine as you could get. It was the first of two “absolutely” sold out shows, celebrating the release of Lemolo’s debut album The Kaleidoscope. It’s impossible to be jaded around cupcakes, and this show had cupcakes. Yes, you read that right, cupcakes!
When I figure out just why her name sounds so familiar I’ll probably slap my palm against my head and let out with a dated “duh.” Kaylee opened the evening with her heartbreaker voice and a full grand piano. Because I know you’re going to google her after you read this article, let me point out the obvious. She sounds very similar to Regina Spektor. Sunday night my wife seemed to be playing the game “That’s Regina right?” I’d tell her no, that’s Kaylee. “Okay, that’s definitely Regina.” Nope, Kaylee again.
That comparison is really an unfair one to make, as it does only to reduce Kaylee to a mere sound alike, and doesn’t appropriately credit her as a beautiful pianist, a fantastic voice, and stellar songwriter. For being just a woman and a piano, she was able to accomplish a great deal with just her finger tips. At times I was glad it wasn’t I who’d written these haunting songs, not because they weren’t amazing, but because I wouldn’t have wanted to live what it took to bleed them out.
Her set danced between original music, her friends music, classic covers, and the best rendition of Kanye West’s Runaway you’ll ever hear. Eat your heart out Kanye, Kaylee just stole this song. In short Kaylee Cole was incredible. Once you hear her music you’ll wonder why she isn’t huge yet. That time will come, sooner rather than later. Head over to bandcamp and checkout Always Going Home.
There is a growing bias against the neo-folk movement that has been taking place for a few years around the PNW. I personally still love it, but that movement is also undergoing a kind of metamorphosis, and Lost Lander is a perfect example of that. Frontman Matt Sheehy recorded his first album Tigerphobia; a spacey-folk romp. Then he began working on a new album, for which the music had varied so much he felt it needed a new name, and was thusly christened Lost Lander.
Their sound is a catchy folk-rock laced with grandiose synthesizer. This is what I imagine the future of the folk movement will be, and Lost Lander is going to lead that charge. This Portland four piece was just another reason why the whole evening was so amazing to be a part of. It was obvious they were so thrilled to be there, they probably could have played two more sets.
They had a good following of fans, two of which were standing next to me. They reminded me how wonderful it is to see a band you love, who is just having fun playing their music up on stage. That it was a packed house seemed inconsequential, it might as well just have been you and them.
Of course this night belonged to Meagan Grandall and Kendra Cox of Lemolo. It’s entirely possible that they were more excited and happy to be there than the whole of the audience. I’d been obsessed with their songs Open Air and On Again Off Again all week, and couldn’t wait to see just how this duo would fair on the stage. Holy shit! I thought they were going to blow the bricks of the Columbia City Theater right out of the walls.
Lemolo is deceptive simple. They require just a guitar/keyboard, a drum kit, a synthesizer, and Grandall’s stellar vocals to create a massive sound. Even the songs are fairly simple, what they’ve absolutely mastered is the art of perfect progression. The songs organically grow from a vulnerable seed into an incredible blooming lilly, before they close and fade.
They played with unbreakable passion not only for their music, but for each other. They compliment one another like peanut butter and jelly, visibly admiring the best qualities in their musical counterpart. I was at this show alone, but on more than one occasion I was tempted to turn to the stranger on either side of me and say, “Can you believe this!? Kill me now!” That’s just how good it was.
The art of the encore has become a meaningless one. It’s become a part of the show, so often the fans expect it and the band knows they’ll play it that upon leaving the stage there’s just no reason to get all worked up. The artist will reappear after walking off stage to mixed applause simply because that’s what you do. Friday night was the most honest encore I’d ever been a part of. The audience pleaded for them to return to the stage. Lemolo were literally beaming as they took the stage again to play their final songs amidst a shower of silver confetti. This was their first encore, their first headlining show, celebrating their first record. Their love for what they do, and enthusiasm for doing it was such that I wanted to bottle it up and keep it for myself, opening it when I needed a pick me up.
It’s a pity they weren’t playing a larger venue. Both Friday and Saturday nights were completely sold out. How many more people could have experienced this amazing show if only there was more space? I felt exceptionally lucky to be there. You can and should buy their stellar debut album The Kaleidoscope, available July 3rd.