RETROSPECT // DEEP SEA DIVER
Reviewed by Zach Frimmel // Photos by Amber ZBitnoff
The socialites were out, which meant the ornate tights, wide-rim, turtle frames and all things sartorial were in full effect. Of course, there’s the occasional outlier that still hasn’t understood the memo about baggy clothes being passé (joking of course), but that’s okay because all the Movember mustaches kept the fashion police entertained. Sadly, Movember is now over so all of you guys with itchy upper lips can finally shave off that mink-like creature below your nose and all of you proud supports who enjoyed the stache are just going to have to transmogrify your passion for facial gimmicks into campy, Christmas cult classics.
You’d be hard pressed not to find a scene like this on most Friday nights in Capitol Hill, so what makes this past Friday night special compared to any other? How about a Deep Sea Diver nicknamed Wild Belle searching for Pretty Broken Things on the ocean floor. Well, maybe that doesn’t work as well as I’d like it too, but what I’m getting at is that not every Friday night can promise embarking on an adventure, but when given the right ship, the right crew, and right latitude and longitude there’s definitely a looming surprise on the sunset.
So before leaving the harbor, Seattle’s own Pretty Broken Things prepped us for the journey with their folksy revivalism, large kick drum presence, and crowd participatory chorus chants. From mellifluous stringed instruments to lyrical arrangements, Pretty Broken Things stayed true to their name and gave us pretty broken things in musical form.
After the engine warmed and the ropes were untied from the bollards, the groovy outfit we know as Wild Belle stepped into the crow’s-nest to keep us sailing out to the open water. With their seductive soundscapes and throwback 60s eccentricity, one could almost see tie-dye sound waves emitting from the band’s aura, especially Natalie Bergman’s mouth as her sultry sounds rang out. And while there was still a faint smell of Mary Jane in the brilliant air, the stage mates finished with a canon ball bang and handed over the helm to Deep Sea Diver.
Now having finally reached the cerulean expanse that we’ve all been waiting for, Deep Sea Diver – nee Jessica Dobson – assumed position as the captain of her ship. How so? Her fearless stance, all black regalia and her clenching a sexy, wood-finished Fender beast by its throat. Unaccompanied, Dobson first tinkered with her loop pedal to kind of shake up the stillness in the air. The loop was initially an unfamiliar jingle but was quickly recognizable as she chimed the lines of that oh-so famous Judy Garland chantey, “Have yourself a Merry little Christmas…” It was a great way to enliven night and practically an ideal way to start December (though she was a half hour short of midnight).
With exuberant display, Jessica Dobson ratified herself as a trenchant, female rocker following in the footsteps of another aesthete such as Annie Clark (St. Vincent). Her lush nature as a singer-songwriter paired with her precision as a performer makes her a bona fide chanteuse. It really only takes listening to one of Deep Sea Diver’s songs to understand the organic richness and captivation of their music. Aware of my own bias, just hearing the beautiful, minor-chord progressions and pitches of “Why Must A Man Change?” profoundly coursing through the room was elation enough to call it a good night. Of course, their whole set was cordially compelling and musically mastered.
It was only a year ago that Deep Sea Diver was playing venues like The Comet so it’s no surprise that she’s slow making her way up to the surface. After digging around in the sand of the great blue, Jessica Dobson has brought back her discovered treasure to share with us all. We can only hope she goes down for another plunge soon. Maybe next time she’ll use a bathysphere and bring us back a priceless gem no one knew existed.
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