The Two Tides, Deb Montgomery, and Trusty Sea Creatures create a full meal out of music
On October 25th, three local artists unloaded their gear onto the stage at Tim’s Tavern, and in the blanket of the final credits of the just-finished trivia game being projected upon their backs, the anticipation started to kick in.
First to take the stage were Maddy Smith and Sarah O’Dea of The Two Tides, a contemporary folk group with influences of jazz and hints of country. As soon as they struck the first chord on their acoustic guitars, you could feel their connection, and it spread across the whole room as if they were casting a fishing net into the crowd, reeling each one of us in.
The first song came in with a four chord progression that set a warm tone to ring in our ears. As O’Dea played the main melody, Smith would break the chord up into little embellishments that twanged through the air. This, accompanied with their vocals, drew images of high altitudes and being enveloped in the sun’s warmth as you soar through the infinite spaces above and below.
There was a switch to an edgier, darker place, like encountering a thunder cloud, but it quickly resolved back to the main melody. Then came a breakdown that introduced us to the hook that would close the song: “I am loved by you” repeated over and over and over and over again. Happiness, conflict, and sweet relief. Their whole set followed a similar trend, making it feel like a full emotional cycle, safely landing back to solid ground, ready to take on another adventure.
During a short intermission, a six-piece drum set consisting of a high-hat, a splash and a ride cymbal, bass drum, snare, and floor tom was arranged very snuggly alongside a bass, keyboard and lead guitar.
Deb Montgomery entered the stage and lulled us into her first song. No keys, no drums, no bass — just a woman and her guitar. She slowly finger picked the metal strings on her burgundy red electric. With each note escaping the speakers, she let out a few words that entangled with the melody, pushing a foggy narrative upon us.
The first song bled into the second, which continued with an intimate acoustic set where each word landed upon our shoulders and whispered images of a wet and gloomy morning, peace that’s found inside a silent moment surrounded by bare trees. The further you walk, the more intense the journey becomes. Then, the energy picks up, the guitar gets more aggressive and loud, vocals start screaming — letting off any and all weight on the shoulders, releasing all the demons that once lingered, from which, peace is attained once again.
After the little sampler of what Montgomery can do with an acoustic set, her band jumped on stage and the whole sound was transformed from a singer-songwriter, folksy vibe to a hard hitting rock concert in a matter of seconds.
The first thing you notice is the sound of rolling thunder flying out of the ride cymbal. After another measure, the bass came in with a very simplistic melody, focusing on three to four notes throughout the whole song. Lastly, the keys entered with a distorted, scratchy sound. Momentum picked up, and we slowly started to lose the vocals in the sea of sound until the instruments started playing hide and seek. Montgomery would sing her verse with a gentle hum behind her, and as soon as the last word floated out of her mouth, the instruments came in full blast, carrying the melody, thrashing against the walls, again and again.
Montgomery softly pulled into each song, gently building up more and more complexity with a dominating sound and her alluring and inviting lyrics. But by the end of the song, it felt like you went along for a ride in your ex’s car and they decided to kick you out of a moving vehicle at a random street corner. The song would be at full speed, and in an instant, it would be over. I always craved a little courting before we were set free, but alas, the romance never came.
Lastly, Trusty Sea Creatures, aka Jonathan Mahler, walked on stage. He unpacked his briefcase full of different loop and effects pedals. He set up his amp, plugged in his guitar and picked us up at the exact corner where we were just left off by Montgomery. He extended his hand, picked us up from the ground, cleaned off our tarnished jackets and kept us in good company all the way home.
Trusty opened up with a brand new song. He sang, “I think I just need some time to be sad a while / give me a few days I know you’ll see me smile again.” As summer draws to an end and winter comes upon us, many people are doing the all too familiar dance with depression and general sadness. Trusty gave us a gentle reminder that sadness isn’t a “bad” emotion. He reminded us that there are lessons hidden in the dark crevices of our experience, and if we are brave enough to sit with them and feel them, our smile will come back in no time.
Aside from his touching lyrics, Trusty’s ability to create a soundscape to rest his poetics upon is equally remarkable. Through the use of different pedals, he achieved a sound that would become the soundtrack of your next dream — a full sound where four, five, sometimes six different layers combine to fill the space that engulfs the listener in a trancelike state…and that’s only the guitar. He loops melodies and sews them together into a quilt on which his words fall gently, to live only as long as the reverb will have them linger. There is nowhere to go, nowhere to be, only the thought of being submerged in the waters ruled by the creatures in your head, but, thanks to Mahler, they’re trustworthy.
Overall, this show felt like a full meal: a nice, light, and touching appetizer that really hit the spot and a full main course that shattered expectations, yet left just enough room for a dessert that would occupy all the senses and leave the brain tingling with satisfaction.
-written for Dans Tunes Seattle