Wild Moccasins, The Eastern Sea, The Wiggins Walter's on Washington July 2, 2010
Friday night at a packed Walter's on Washington, the Wild Moccasins hosted a party to kick off their summer West Coast tour with friends The Wiggins and The Eastern Sea, and Aftermath wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else.
We even saw Indian Jewelry's Tex Kerschen leaning against a wall, smiling as the Wiggins performed. Kerschen had reason to smile; The Wiggins' performance was amazing, and the crowd was receptive, perhaps more so than the norm. His vocals weren't quite loud enough, Aftermath thought at first, but as his set continued, it became clear that his voice and lyrics were a backdrop to his guitar. For most bands, it's the other way around.
If it were up to The Wiggins, people would probably sing along to his guitar, not his lyrics. This being near impossible for most concert-goers (especially the ones who drink at shows, which includes... uhh... everyone), The Wiggins seemed content to dance in place onstage as his fans in the crowd followed his lead.
Next up, The Eastern Sea proved themselves an entertaining bunch even during their sound check. The members poked fun at one another and interacted with the crowd as they prepared their instruments and checked the levels of the mikes. But when their music started, the laughter stopped, and everyone began to listen intently.
By the band's second song, most of the crowd was clapping and cheering along. The Eastern Sea brought even the most avid smokers inside, and even though the band hails from Austin, its members doted on Houston a lot; enough to make us wonder what our beef is with Austin (and theirs with us).
"We love Houston. We are from Houston. We owe a lot to Houston" said Matt Hines, the band's lead singer and guitarist.
"[Houston] is where we built our musical muscles as a band and as individual musicians. It's not exactly our home; it's something else. [It's] like an old house that you drive by when you're older and remember as a much bigger place. Just like that house, Houston always seems to get smaller and smaller every time we come back."
Damn. Harsh but true? Maybe. We just report. You guys decide.
"Every time we compliment Houston, everyone seems to go silent and think there's a catch," Hines said. "Austin gets our music in a totally different way. We are a much more subtle in Austin, because it's a difficult environment to stand out in. You're one of many bands, and you have the opportunity and obligation to be a bit more adventurous."
This hurt our feelings, but we can kinda-sorta understand... we guess. Eastern Sea drummer Zach Duran had a slightly different perspective on H-Town, which made us smile.
"I will counter Matt by saying it is indeed our home," Duran said. "I grew up there. Checkmate."
To Aftermath's ears, The Eastern Sea sounds a lot like Death Cab for Cutie if all of that band's songs sounded like "I Will Possess Your Heart" - minus the annoying two-minute intro, that is. Whenever The Eastern Sea went on an instrumental aside, the music was exciting and without a dull moment.
The Wild Moccasins, who took the stage next, sound like the Shins in an upbeat kind of way, but the tandem male/female vocals really liven things up. The group's upcoming tour will give the western United States their first taste of our hometown heroes.
"Everyone is ready to get out there," said singer/songwriter Cody Swann. "It's easy to get excited about performing in a place we have never played before."
The Moccasins aren't new to touring either, so the band won't get overwhelmed by playing outside their hometown.
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"Before this tour, we had done two East Coast/Midwest tours. Probably the furthest away from home we have played is Albany, New York," said Swann. "Getting to meet all of the people that care enough to make your shows possible is the best feeling."
The Moccasins and the Sea will be playing more shows together, as often as possible.
How do we know?
"I knew Andrew from his Dumbarton days, so we worked out playing a show at Walter's on Washington... it went so well we did it a few more times. Now we run deep with the Moccasins," Duran said. "John even used my bag on tour. That's like brotherhood."