I had a great time seeing music yesterday. It was a cool day with on and off rain but as the 2:30pm start time approached, it looked pretty clear. I caught a ride downtown with Christopher Larrow and we parked then walked down a lightly busy Church St. A jazz band was playing in the tent in front of Leunig’s and their music filled the air. It was nice to listen to, but as we passed and continued down the street, some rocking drums took over. We arrived at the stage in front of city hall and The High Breaks were playing hard. They are a trio with guitar, bass, and drums. They play instrumental surf rock songs and they do it very well. It was just after start time when we arrived so I think we walked in on the first song but it’s hard to be certain. I found a place to stand that was nicely out of the way and got into the groove as the Breaks plowed into their set. While they don’t have any lyrics, in between songs Matthew Bryan Hagen tells stories that introduce the songs, so as you listen you can follow the tale and use the instrumentals to let your mind wander and flesh it out any way you choose. It’s also fun to listen to Matt’s introductions and to try and figure out the title of the next tune will be. The first song I saw was Droppin’ In. From there the story came to life as we found ourselves out on a choppy sea so they played Sea Chopper. We then moved toward the land so they played The Coast. Matt had a great riff on this one and it was especially fun to watch and listen to him play his guitar. Kevin Lynam also had some killer bass runs on the song. He was great all afternoon long but his work on Coast really stood out. Up next we approached the coast until we found The Sandy Shore. On the shore was a boardwalk so they rocked out a fun version of Boardwalk Boogie. Of course, you have to be safe on the boardwalk so they encouraged us to Walk Don’t Run. We then moved from the boardwalk and took A Walk On Ballard Beach. Sometimes when you walk down the beach you might happen to fall. The next song was about the moment that you fall and hit the sand and some of the sand flies up. The song was called Sandblaster. Sometimes when you fall you might hurt yourself so they followed with Ankle Breaker. Even when something like that happens you mend eventually and get back in the saddle. Saddle Back followed. Of course, in these modern times we have traded in horses for cars. Sometimes they are old cars with wood paneling. The next song was called Woody. When you are driving around you can get air moving all around and it brings many scents. Coconut Breeze followed. At that point the story stopped and the light and steady rain from the beginning of the show had pretty much stopped as well. They pulled out a couple of covers to honor those who created the surf rock genre. Apache was great but the mix of the Pyramids song Penetration with a bit of Black Sabbath’s Sweat Leaf was just wonderful. They call that one Sweet Penetration. The story continued with our hero swapping out the car for a bike with a special seat. Banana Seat was really fun. Up next was the one we had been waiting for all afternoon, whether we knew it or not. The Big One rocked hard and sounded huge. A song called Rumble followed. It had some cool breezy meanderings with some breathtaking rock parts. From there we went back into the sea to catch a wave for the Surf Showdown. After such an event you need some food so Hot Dog was next. It looked like they were going to end the afternoon with Shifty but on the last note drummer Todd Gevry yelled out Wipeout and they rocked the song hard. Todd is a great drummer and was outstanding all afternoon but he really took center stage on that one.
It was so much fun to check out a whole show by the Breaks even if it was so damp and chilly. They are so incredibly talented it’s just a joy to hear them play. We headed out shortly after the show was done and it was nice to get home and warm but it was worth every drop of rain see The High Breaks.