Ivan & Alyosha Provide a Sharp Counterpoint to Swiftian Drama at Neumos
I have a day job which requires me to pay close attention to bullshit celebrity rivalries, which brings me, naturally, to Taylor Swift and Katy Perry. The two share some dancers, and enough of them purportedly chose Perry over Swift to piss Swift off. Both pop stars have also been romantically involved with the Grateful Dead’s new guitarist/high-end watch salesman John Mayer (if the Mayer-led Dead isn’t called Uncle John’s Wonderbland, I’m demanding a refund). So they’ve got “Bad Blood,” which is the single Swift’s set to debut at next weekend’s Billboard Music Awards.
But I’m not so sure. I think Swift and Perry are both probably very nice women who feel like cattiness sells; my bet is they’re still plenty chummy, and are playing pop-music listeners like puppets. The point is that, with Swift especially, it’s impossible to tell where the person ends and the persona begins. She’s polished to such a sheen that you’re at an utter loss to describe what’s under the hood.
Not so Ivan & Alyosha, which played a triumphant homecoming show last night at Neumos in Seattle, swift on the heels of their sensational new release, It’s All Just Pretend. Nothing they do seems particularly calculated and cool. There’s nothing cute about their sound–it’s unabashedly of a piece with ’80s U2 or ’90s Radiohead. They don’t hide the fact that they’re men of faith; at one point last night, lead singer Tim Wilson asked if there were any “smart, single, Christian women” in the audience who might be willing to date guitarist Tim “T.K.” Kim. (I’m sure there were. Guitarists are magnetic creatures.) And Wilson’s a father who leans on his brothers, admitting onstage that he might never have made It’s All Just Pretend had his bandmates–among them sibling Pete Wilson–not rousted him from a creative siesta wrought by paternal obligations.
Neumos was open to patrons of all ages last night, which meant that those who wanted to imbibe were relegated to the balcony. Peering down at the stage late in the show, I was startled to see a young girl sleeping atop a speaker. Not resting, mind you, but out. Something tells me it was take your daughter to work night for the band; hopefully she caught enough of the show to know that she should be really, really proud of her dad.