Autumn in Seattle is not an hour in life that lends itseld to dancing. It is mid-November moving towards late when Canadian music makers Thunderheist and Winter Gloves take the stage at Seattle’s Chop Suey. Winter is knocking on the door, prowling the shadows and not quite ready to topple fall. Gold and brown leaves turn into a slurry beneath drizzling skies and thousands of shoes robbed of the proper, satisfying crunch of November underfoot. Many of those in attendance, myself among them, have spent our days answering upset phone calls, responding to innumerable e-mails, sifting through reams of arcane paperwork and entering numbers into forms laid out like quiet, well-groomed suburban neighborhoods. Our sort are scattered around the lounge before the show, looking like faded snap shots of Good Times.
We are not, one would gather, a crowd given naturally to the getting of down. If we are to dance, and we need to dance, all of us, some more than others, are going to need powerful motivation.
I should probably pause to clarify a point here. A reader could, at this juncture, infer that I feel ours is a region, or at least a bar, which is like a region, representing as it does a peculiar brand of sociological micro-climate, that is distinctly lacking in mirth. This is not the case. I am confident that, geographically speaking, we are possessed of as much mirth as any other place. It is just that some days, this one counting among their number, it is a sort of mirth that is harder to get to, an aptitude for merry-making accessible only after a long thaw.
If one was to make a list of things that most effectively speed that thaw, one would be remiss if they did not include the line item “Party Time Music”. This is precisely what Montreal-based openers Winter Gloves delivered. Their set, a blend of tunes from their debut About a Girl played like a soundtrack to reckless fun and occasionally questionable decision-making. Playing to a house that was something less than packed, Winter Gloves took the stage with joie de vivre to spare and a palpable love of being on stage.
Creating a landscape of swirling keyboards, swooning falsettos and driving drumbeats, Winter Gloves largely embrace the sensibilities of the Montreal pop sound, but temper it with a liberal dose of charisma and a refusal to take themselves too seriously. Perhaps borne out of their origins as a sort of “what the hell” side project that took on a life of it’s own, it’s comes across as a dedication to making the most of a performance. Going to town on keyboards and guitars, tambourines and glockenspiel, Winter Gloves live show is a great place to lose yourself. The foursome seems to naturally harness a live energy that a lot of bands never quite manage to capture despite their best efforts; the sort of performance in which playing a keyboard with your foot while slapping away at a tambourine seems like the most natural thing in the world to do.
After Winter Gloves set events and bodies throughout the club in motion, electro infused hip-hop duo Thunderheist took the stage and promptly made a scene not soon to be forgotten. Consisting of regulars MC Isis and DJ Grahm Zilla buoyed on stage by a talented percussionist, Thunderheist had the entire house dancing within moments, owning the stage with presence to burn and the endearing charm of someone who doesn’t know how well they’re doing something. Isis made for a commanding force on the mic, while Grahm Zilla’s beats consistently threaten to overwhelm the powerful lyrics, but always pull back at the last moment. Seamlessly transitioning from song to song, pausing only to occasionally carouse with the audience, Thunderheist were at their best manipulating the tenets of hip-hop and turning them to their own purpose, whether encouraging a crowd of people to put their hands down for a change of pace or singing the infrequently heard praises of “little booty girls”. The two great sets, along with a few strong drinks, proved just the trick for melting hard hearts and reminding a room full of folks of an old truth: the best way to fight off the cold is to move together.