Two of my favourite things in life: good food and good music. I got to gorge on both last weekend, thanks to an impromptu road trip to Seattle suggested by my dad. I’ll start with the foodie details, so please humour me!
First stop – dinner at Dahlia Lounge in the city’s Belltown neighbourhood. I opted for the wood grilled pork loin, savoury knodel (dumpling) and brussels sprouts in a grain mustard and rum raisin sauce, topped with whole hazelnuts. It was perfectly cooked comfort food with an emphasis on locally-sourced ingredients. So Pacific Northwest… and so damn good. The fluffy coconut cream pie was a thing of beauty as well. Overall, the price point for the entire meal was a little higher than what we’re accustomed to in Vancouver’s dining scene, but I’d definitely make a return visit.
Next Stop: The Showbox SoDo, a warehouse-turned music venue near the football and baseball stadiums. Lucky for us, The Dismemberment Plan happened to be headlining that night. The Washington, D.C. band’s 2001 album, Change, made a big impression on me back in my university days. Compared to your average indie rock rhythm section, bassist Eric Axelson and drummer Joe Easley were an unconventional duo. They played around with space, threw in weird accents where you weren’t expecting them and grooved like an r&b band at times. I could hear traces of The Police and Fugazi in there, but they still had their own thing going on. The crisp, clear production was a nice change of pace from the sludgy, muddy sounding rock of the late 90’s.
If you haven’t heard these guys, check out songs like “Time Bomb” or “The Face of the Earth” (excuse the lame You Tube video):
Despite the group’s acclaim, Change ended up being their final studio album and the quartet disbanded in 2003. Though I never had a chance to see them live in their heyday, I always had the feeling they’d be pretty rad. Turns out they are. Not only are The Dismemberment Plan still a tight-sounding band, they’re also charming and funny guys. (Guitarist Jason Caddell: “Hey, did you see my glasses fly off my face during that last song? How fucking rock and roll was that?” Frontman Travis Morrison: “It’s like your Grandpa got all excited.”)
The crowd was unabashed in its displays of affection. One woman threw her bra on the neck of Travis’ guitar. An excitable dude jumped on stage and planted a big kiss on the singer’s mouth. Dozens of people climbed on stage during the encore and bounced around joyfully. It was a giddy, fun atmosphere and a welcome respite from the rainy gloom outside.
Are Seattle audiences always this jazzed? Or is this specific to the band’s fan base? If any residents of the Emerald City are reading this, let me know what the deal is!