Home / Concert Reviews / The Dutchess and The Duke w/ Greg Ashley and Jaill @ Club Garibaldi
Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2009

The Dutchess and The Duke w/ Greg Ashley and Jaill @ Club Garibaldi

Dec. 19, 2009

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At some concerts, the musicians aren’t going to be the only ones telling stories. Sometimes performers actively encourage audience participation, but other times crowd chatter is less welcome. Saturday’s bill with Seattle’s The Dutchess and The Duke at Club Garibaldi was one of those nights where the audience ultimately overshadowed those on the stage.

Maybe it was due to the rollicking start-off by local garage poppers Jaill, who played to a sea of new faces wanting to catch the just-signed-to-Sub-Pop-band. Jaill, with strong stage presence and chops already honed from years of playing local and national stages, energetically turned out loads of new material, and ended their set with the familiar “Always Wrong” from their spring release, There’s No Sky (Oh My My). It seemed the boys from Jaill were prepping for a future of new material and new shows, but wanted to balance it out for their old fans, too.

The show lulled as California’s Greg Ashley (of Gris Gris) took to the stage with his sparse and delicate guitar solos. Ashley, a bit bleary and tipsy, was seemingly strumming to himself, his instrumentals more Spanish courtyard material than the blistering and mesmerizing psychedelic rock he’s known for. Many in the crowd just weren’t eager to absorb it.

When The Dutchess and The Duke took the stage, singer/guitarist Jesse Lortz said jokingly, “That makes us feel a lot better about ourselves,” jerking his head in reference to Ashley’s unsteady performance. Grinning broadly, Lortz and his co-singer/guitarist Kimberly Morrison pulled adeptly into their version of classic, slightly gothic ’60s folk, turning to both their first album She’s the Dutchess, He’s the Duke (“Reservoir Park,” “Strangers”) and their latest, Sunset/Sunrise, released last fall. Guest tambourine player in tow, the duo invited their customary Kinks/Stones comparisons even more in concert than on record.

Lortz’s easygoing tenor paired well with Morrison’s husky alto when she was audible. At times it seemed as though she struggled to match Lortz’s dynamics above the growing din of the crowd, which started with Ashley’s set and continued to grow as more people floated back to catch The Dutchess and The Duke. Lortz and Morrison’s sparse acoustic instrumentation and harmony-focused vocals, which emphasized soft-loud/loud-soft dynamics, were drowned in chatter for most of the show.

“Glad to see you’re all still here,” Lortz said good-naturedly, sensing the crowd was more interested in their own conversations than the music. If it hadn’t been for the three people onstage, one could have walked into the back room of Garibaldi’s and thought there was a party, not a show, what with the amount of audible conversation. Even during the pair’s last, sing-along tune, “Armageddon Song,” which encouraged participation, it was clear that a good chunk of the show’s audience would have been better off taking a seat at the bar in the other room. Fortunately, the small crowd gathered at the front of the stage seemed to be genuinely absorbed in the show, and hopefully got to catch it more capably.

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