I’ll be the first to admit that I sometimes forsake some of the local bands and groups I see on a regular basis for the chance to catch a big, world-touring national act. I was presented with such a choice when Yeasayer’s main stage set time conflicted with Champagne Champagne’s Neumo’s performance Friday, and I initially went with the hip, non-local name. But after standing through the first half or so of the Brooklyn band’s performance, I found myself thoroughly bored.
I tried to stick around to see a few of my favorite songs live, but even those came off as thin, muted and even soulless. Since I had somehow secured a spot near the front of the beer garden I popped into Neumos to check out the Champagne gang, who I have seen live, in all seriousness, upwards of 10 times. What I found was a packed, sweaty mass of fans transfixed at what was going down onstage.
Pearl Dragon and Thomas Grey were straight killing, commanding the crowd with every move and uttered syllable while DJ Gajamajic mashed keys and tweaked knobs to provide the electronic canvas for the MCs to get crazy on. I heard a couple impressive new songs during the short time I was there, as well as some of their standard live material that boasted a more professional and polished sheen. Three Seattle dudes who are relative unknowns on the national scale completely outdid a Pitchfork-friendly Brooklyn band, and I’m glad I was there to witness some of it.
After thinking back on all of the sets I caught over the weekend, I realized that I saw a lot of local bands exceed expectations and a lot of national acts really come up short. Viva la musica de Seattle.
*** Champagne Champagne at CHBP 2010 photo by Jason Tang