I had a great night of seeing music the night before New Year’s Eve. I was psyched to see Swale at Nectar’s, but got out a bit early on a slow work day, and got to make a cool stop on the way.
I arrived at Radio Bean with Samara Lark Brown playing ukelele and singing Time After Time. She was joined by Johnnie Day Durand who added some beautiful flourishes with her musical saw. It was pretty sweet, but was the last song of the set. At least I made it for that one!
Up next Aya Inoue took the stage with her acoustic guitar and was joined by husband to be, Eric Segalstad on electric guitar. His soft tone and gentle yet driving leads gave Aya’s strong songs a little extra fullness. Her voice is precise and powerful and I always have a great time when she is playing. They opened with Firefly then followed with Never Again. For the third song they brought Ari Bolles to the stage to sing the heck out of an Alison Krauss song that I did not know. They made it sound great. Ari left the stage and for the next song Aya told a story about the intensity of social work and how you need a release from the strain. Writing, singing, and playing is how she gets through, and the fourth song in the set, as yet untitled but might be called So It Goes, was a beautiful ode to struggling onwards to find the good parts of life. They followed with Come Breathe With Me, then Lions Den, and closed with something that sounds like it needs a full band, ’cause it can really rock.
When the set was done, Eric stayed on stage and was joined by Joe Adler. Joe said he was playing new songs, not any of the old favorites and they played a set of killer songs. The opener, Man Of Many Hats was fun, then Eric switched to Electric Mandolin for some powerful and delicate picking. Joe played the acoustic card deck guitar as they moved through Daily Chores, then pulled out a killer new song called Stratosphere. I think it may be one on of my favorite of his songs, after one listen. Coffee And Eggs sounded like it might be a little light, but was a solid song that I quite enjoyed. Joe said that Girl Behind The Glass was not about what you are thinking, but was about unobtainable love. Samara joined them to sing with Joe on Change In The Air. Back to a duo they played another cool new song then did a cover of Famous Blue Raincoat by Leonard Cohen. It was nicely done, and they had at least one more to play, but the clock on the wall said leave. I still had a great rock show to attend.
I arrived at Nectar’s just about 10, but it was about 15 more minutes until Swale hit the stage. Sometimes they start slow and moody and let it build, but not that night. They dove right into If You Get Lost and the show was afoot. Amanda Gustafson‘s voice was right on. Tyler Bolles and Jeremy Frederick held the rhythm tight and Eric Olsen had lots of room to work out his guitar. They continued on, staying with the last two albums. Soul Piggy Bank had a quiet intensity as it unfurled. Old School brought the tempo down for a bit, but a killer Jack Sharp knocked the energy back into the stratosphere. Edible smoldered and Popular Crowd rocked hard. I think that was where Eric broke a string. Amanda covered the guitar part on the keys while he grabbed another and got back into the song. After, Eric asked if anyone could restring his guitar. Sergei came out from behind the soundboard and spent the next song and a half restringing it. What a guy!! Swale kept on with a fun bouncy Waiting For You, then kicked out a seriously intense Fainteant. Joyless followed and rocked hard. They slowed things back down a little with Golden Crutch and Beaten Down then played a searing version of You Are Not The Photograph. For the first time that night they reached back to the Verdigris EP for a killer version of Good Medicine. It’s so slow for so long then builds into a super intense Eric Olsen guitar workout that always puts me over the top. Time was running low at that point, so they kicked out a killer Everyone Likes To and that was that.
I’m so glad I put in the effort and was rewarded with a staggering amount of joy that evening.