Celebrating and promoting the release of their fifth album, Capital (Continental Record Services), Nathan Singleton (vocals, guitar) and Jeremy Harrell (vocals, drums) made their way from Austin, TX, through Vegas and up the west coast with stops in L.A., San Francisco, Eugene, and Seattle before heading east for a few more gigs.
Playing second in the lineup on a Sunday night in Seattle is fairly ideal. Unfortunately, most of the local music scene gathered on Capitol Hill for the annual block party. The Fremont neighborhood, home of The High Dive, was quiet this night.
Although I interviewed Nathan Singleton back in April, it was so enjoyable to finally meet both of them in person and to see them play live. The music came to life as they pounded out their short set and pushed their instruments to their limits.
During the sound check, the people milling around by the bar suddenly rushed to the stage for a closer look as Singleton’s fingers flew across the frets on one of his three National resonator guitars. They dove right into their setlist with “AM in Chicago” from Persona, their first album as a duo. Whoever was left mingling in the back pushed up front, lured by the screaming guitar, Nathan’s gripping vocals, Jeremy’s rolling drums and crashing cymbals, all set at maximum volume.
Next came “Number One” the first scorcher from Capital, which sealed their fate with this Seattle audience, as mouths dropped open and heads bobbed along to the beat. Other songs from their latest album included “Two Guns”, “Winning Side” and “Let The Love Go Down”, all heavy, bluesy rockers (check their website or search No Depression for videos of some of the songs).
They also included a new song called “Things Past” which will most likely be featured on their album, and would fit right in on Capital.
Nathan introduced “Ain’t No Woman” from their self-titled album by telling us “it’s about a girl”. The energy was nearly palpable as rising waves of explosive sound fell into dark, undulating currents before surging back again. At one point, I stood near the stage, took pictures, and leaned against a post, in awe. Jeremy Harrell’s ominous drumming reverberated in my chest. I just kept repeating, “Shit!” …but in a good way. See the video below and turn it up loud:
They closed the show with “Prisoner” from their very first album (before the band evolved and whittled down to two people). Nathan ended up on his knees in front of Jeremy’s drum kit as their instruments chatted back and forth, playing off each other’s frenzied ad-libs. Nathan channeled Jimi’s performance in Monterey, and I half expected him to light that guitar ablaze–although it was mostly metal.
Nathan told me later that they enjoy ad-libbing and playing around with their sound on stage. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. This night, all seemed to come together effortlessly, although the amount of sweat they produced told a different story; their hard work paid off.
The Sideshow Tragedy gained several new fans tonight. I enjoyed watching people meet the duo after the show, completely blown away, thanking them for their performance and begging for their return to Seattle. Nathan and Jeremy don’t care how many people show up, as long as they show up. They deserve a bigger audience and a larger stage, but are satisfied just getting out to clubs and playing. They seem appreciative of whoever makes it out, especially on a Sunday night. They make up for any slow nights by staying at friends’ houses along the way, having solid gigs in larger venues such as Las Vegas, or playing private shows for corporate parties. It pays the bills and they get to do what they love: play music.
For more information, check out The Sideshow Tragedy’s Website or my interview with Nathan Singleton for No Depression. Purchase their albums and see their show. Support Independent Artists and Quality Music.