Thinkin’ About the Echoes
How Great Grandpa, KT Neely & Still January filled the room
By Lily & JP
Jake Kelly’s drums rumbled beneath the entire 300 capacity floor of Real Art Tacoma-- just prior to any paying body entered the room.
But something with those first drum beats hinted that this night was different. They say that a live music atmosphere starts with good vibes but maybe it's forgotten that they literally are vibrations that shake your whole body.
With a trio from Seattle, Kt Neely started her set with a playback of an emotional, tense conversation between two people which was followed by minimal guitar and sprightly vocals on “Coyote.” With drummer Kelly and bassist Cody Schuman from newbrighton sharing the stage and their most recent split with Neely filling out her band, the intensity grew steadily.
An audience member whooped when Neely introduced her song “Oranges,”, and Neely, charmed, laughed with her newfound fan.
“Sucker” was introduced as a song about vampires. While all of Neely’s songs were rich in distinctive imagery like “Your boomerang body/on the rectangle mattress” and “I cut my finger while slicing oranges,” the lyrics to “Sucker” fiercely stuck out: “Roses can grow from the dead body/You think gardens can grow from your dead body.” The last part of a performance is usually the most memorable, and Neely’s strong closer with the fullest-sounding instrumental yet was proof of that.
When Seattle natives Great Grandpa took the stage for their ‘rare’ acoustic set, they engaged in hilarious back and forth between songs, swaying the audience with topics ranging from Spongebob Squarepants to talents including cutting a banana clean in half.
The band’s new song “Bloom” referenced a departed classic rock great with lyrics “Thinkin’ about Tom Petty…” Alex Menne’s dynamic vocals gave chills and goosebumps. Menne and Pat Goodwin’s harmonies filled the room with an extraordinary dichotomy of spirited tranquility paired with raw power and emotion.
An acoustic performance by a grunge/snack rock band, the stripped down arrangement added more weight to their introspective lyrics, creating a meditative atmosphere.
The final set, performed by Still January, was relentless as they barreled non-stop through their set. They began with two electric guitars and an acoustic guitar--holding the rock torch responsibly.
The guitar and bass interplay on-stage was enjoyable to witness - the band members’ camaraderie created a sense of togetherness that the audience could share in. Rhythm guitarist Gavyn’s shenanigans worked to stir up the audience’s enthusiasm as he paused during a mid tempo song to raise his arms in the air and slowly wave them back and forth.
During one song, Still January’s lyrics were loud, clear and emphatic. Their own response to one of American youth’s most pressing issues: safety in school from gun violence. “Put your guns down/Won’t you look around/Can you hear it/Can you hear a sound?”
For quintessential alternative rock, there were some great guitar solos by Tavian which seemed to call back to ‘80s heavy metal. Their drummer Sulli contributed impressively to the band’s great rhythm section, never wavering even the couple of times the other band members smiled sheepishly at each other from a missed beat.
At the end of the night, some fans already clad in newly purchased merch left grinning. The friendly atmosphere and performances amplifying local artists and bands left no room for doubt Real Art Tacoma is where everyone should discover new music - close to home, right here in the south end.