I daydream a lot during most shows I go to. Don't get me wrong, it's not like I sit in the middle of the floor hugging my knees, or space out with the far-away cat stare in my eyes. I still very much pay attention and rock out to the best of 'em. But there are times during a concert that I'll get a flashback to a memory or person I miss tremendously. It is my belief more people do this than care to admit, and I am fully willing to say that some of my most profound reflections have come at live performances.
By nature, I am completely a nostalgic person. This is both amazing and treacherous because it means I have a pretty good memory that can shove some poignant and painful recollections in my face at any given time. It also means sometimes bands get assigned associations of the different periods in my life, whether for the good or the bad. It may be a disservice to give a band that power to be the epitome of an emotion, but it happens.
Sea Wolf encompasses this idea, but they also possess the nostalgia quotient themselves. As I was watching the L.A. outfit on stage Saturday, I ran over my show tally and my life with them in my head:
February 2007: fresh off a break-up and ready to party.
September 2007: trying to sort through the insanity of my work and school schedule.
Now it was March 2008, and "You're A Wolf" still resonates with me in the same way; the players in my life are different, and the circumstances changed, but that dreamy guitar at the beginning of that track and the rhythm strings that kick in softly but surely still gets nailed on spot. Singer Alex Church's voice is a calming force for me, a smooth and sophisticated noise that also ventures into a crooner's territory. There's a hint of longing in his vocals, a slight wistfulness of spark and reminiscence, which is maybe why I associate Sea Wolf with nostalgia. "Middle Distance Runner" had Church singing in a low, heart-struck manner, the words pouring out of his mouth in a slow stream of desire it's hard not to listen. And if I wasn't already in love, "Winter Windows" opened with an accordion, surrounded with grand percussion and strings, the lyrics "This is the world we live in/It's not the one I choose/It is the one we're given" filling the Fillmore auditorium. There is something so timeless and effortless about this band, it's not fair.
Nada Surf carried on the nostalgia vibe after Sea Wolf departed from the stage. Let Go came out when I got my first job while in college, and was settling into life in San Francisco; I had such a pure and optimistic outlook on what my future was going to be. Now, five jobs, two majors, four internships, two boyfriends, dozens of shows and six years later, I am back to square one in resettling into the big city with new people, and I still think in terms of positivism. For the Brooklyn band, it's been a similar journey: prolonged album releases early on in their career, then immediate success with that 2003 release, and a quiet period before a 2005 full-length and this year's Lucky album. But efforts like "Killian's Red" and "Always Love" still have the punch of good indie pop, and in a way, are everlasting tracks themselves. It was good to see a band get consistently better each time. Just like good wine.
We ran into people dressed like cowboys outside the Fillmore on our way to late-night Sloppy Joes and cheesecake at a dive bar, and the kids exiting the venue clutching the concert poster chatting about the magnitude of the show. Somehow, that dichotomy was a fitting end to the night.