Last Night: The Cave Singers at The Independent

Categories: Last Night
Joseph Schell
Cave Singers, Lightning Dust
The Independent
October 6, 2009

Better Than: dancing on graves while doing body shots.

It didn't take long for the Seattle-based Cave Singers to get nearly everyone at The Independent stomping their feet last night. That's probably because the long, rolling beats behind the songs the band played -- most of which came from the Cave Singers' latest album, Welcome Joy -- are hard not to stomp to.

Bathed in red mood lighting, lead vocalist Pete Quirk belted out brooding anthems his with eyes closed and hands clasped in front of him (when they weren't clasping a guitar, melodica, or shaker). Beside him, lead guitarist/pedal bassist, Derek Fudesco (formerly of Pretty Girls Make Graves), rocked back and forth on his chair with eyes locked in concentration at the complicated picking he kept up throughout every song. Even more than the rolling drums, Fudesco's riffs acted as the rhythmic fulcrum for most of the Cave Singers' songs. Audience members stomped but there wasn't much dancing going on -- most appeared to prefer standing with half-smiles and open-mouths in quiet appreciation.

Joseph Schell
Quirk may have the soulful voice of a holy-roller, but his quirky stage presence -- his occasional booty-shakes, head scratches, and casual banter -- balanced out the intensity of the band's music. When we cornered Quirk before the show, he told us he thought this tour has been their best yet. The band played a short set last night, ending around 10:30 p.m., because, we imagine, playing with that kind of energy requires some serious endurance. The group produces a lot of sound for having just three members.

Plus, the Cave Singers currently have just two albums, and their songs on both aren't long. Just as each individual tune builds into a climax, last night's set also felt like a steady climb to the Cave Singers' most foot-stompin song of them all, "Dancing on My Grave."

Joseph Schell
Lightning Dust
Although they played a dense set, the Cave Singers definitely weren't all business last night, pausing to accept a round of tequila shots from their openers, Canada-based Lightning Dust, to celebrate their last night of touring together. The two bands are known to inter-mingle their talents. Last night, Amber Webber lent her haunting lead vocals -- which are as striking as Beth Gibbons of Portishead -- to one Cave Singers tune. Lightning Dust played a short, mellow set of songs that were less lively and more brooding than their headliners, but equally enthralling for the wide-eyed crowd.

Critic's notebook: We didn't stick around long enough to see whether Quirk made good on his promise to take body shots with the audience after the show. Anyone who did should immediately relate any crazy, drunken Cave Singers antics stories from last night in the comments section.
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