Monday, October 22, 2007
Live: Daphne Loves Derby & This Providence
Saturday night I took the El into Chicago to see my favorite band: Daphne Loves Derby. I'm actually kind of surprised that it's taken me this long to write a post about them, but seeing as how they don't exactly fit into the rest of my music taste, I guess I'll go with that reason.
I used to cruise around PureVolume a lot, and one day back in 2004 while I was hitting the random band button Daphne Loves Derby came up. I listened to a few of their songs, and noticed that their entire 2003 debut album was available for download. They'd also put out a studio-produced EP called Closing Down the Pattern Department, which I picked up as well. For some reason, those songs struck a chord with me, and I've been listening to every song they've ever recorded since. I think that I've basically got every single track they ever put to tape, but I can't be totally sure.
The band is from Kent, Washington, which is outside of Seattle. They formed about five years ago when the members were still in high school. At the time I happened upon them, the band consisted of Kenny Choi (vocals/guitar), Spencer Abbot (guitar), Jason Call (bass/vocals), and Stu Clay (drums). Since then, Jason left the band to go on his Mormon mission, and was replaced by David Sparks on bass. They signed to indie label Outlook Records, which is owned by former Denver Bronco Trevor Pryce, and have released two full albums, On The Strength of All Convinced in 2005, and Good Night, Witness Light this past February. I have no qualms about saying that GNWL is one of my favorite albums of the year, I think it's just luminous.
They have a sound that is a lot like some other bands I know from the softer, emo/alternative/indie rock genre, mostly bands like Copeland. Even still, I think Kenny's voice is just amazing, and his lyrics are so layered, steeped in lush imagery, and so emotive that the band is one of a kind. They've really progressed from garage/punk mixed with solo acoustic songs into full-fledged arrangements over the course of the few years I've followed them, and the transition suits them.
On Saturday night they were playing with another Seattle-based indie/emo band, This Providence. The very first time I saw Daphne Loves Derby back in the summer of '05 they were touring with This Providence. That band has seen some lineup changes as well, but now have seen the release of two full length album, the most recent being an eponymous sophomore disc for Fueled by Ramen Records. They have a lot of great guitar work going on and some really good shout choruses, and I really enjoyed seeing them for a second time. They didn't play my favorite song "To Kill This" - which is essentially the theme song to my middle and high school years - but the set was really great. The venue was really small, so we could get up close and see the band, hear them perfectly, and not have our ears blown out.
Daphne came out at around 8:00 and played about a 45 minute set that included some new, some old, and some very old songs that I was glad to hear. I've now been to 5 Daphne Loves Derby shows, and I think the crowd last night was right up there with the best I've been a part of. Everyone was really into the set, the band was feeding off the energy of the crowd, and things just got better from there. Kenny played the acoustic gem "Pollen and Salt" from their debut, as well as older favorites "Guerra All Interno" and "Closing Down The Patern Department". They also threw in a great cover of Third Eye Blind's "Jumper", which was sort of the icing on the cake of the set. What I've noticed over the course of two years watching the band is that now instead of simply going straight ahead with songs, Spencer layers his guitar playing a lot more, and adds much more depth to the sound of the songs. Even songs that were on their EPs in 2004 now sound better with the hard work the band has put into sounding better and getting better as musicians. I'm really glad to have seen this band grow, and they're without a doubt my favorite band right now. Here are a few sample tracks from their career to give you an example of how they've progressed. If you like it, please go buy a record or see a show. I promise you will not be disappointed.
Daphne Loves Derby - Closing Down the Pattern Department
Daphne Loves Derby - Middle Middle (Post Post EP Version)
Daphne Loves Derby - Pollen and Salt
Daphne Loves Derby - That's Our Hero Shot
Daphne Loves Derby - Jumper (Live) [Third Eye Blind cover]