Soundscapes. Saturday, March 6, 2010.
A warm Saturday afternoon giving an early promise of spring made for a fine time to stroll down to Little Italy to visit beloved local music shop Soundscapes. Just as I was about to turn onto College from Grace, a guy leaning out one restaurant's kitchen door waved to his counterpart across the street, who shouted back: "it's too nice to work, eh?" For a moment, everything seems possible, suspended in warm-air delightfulness.
There was some similar excitement inside the store, where I wasn't the only one arriving early to do some browsing prior to snagging a spot as the band set up towards the back of the store. Being timely worked out well as by showtime, the store was well-packed, all the way back to the doors.
This would serve as the end of a big week for Zeus, celebrating the release of their debut full length Say Us, landing on the cover of one of the weeklies and generally making quite a respectable media splash. Although in theory a relatively new band, the rock classicists of Zeus have been on many a local stage, emerging from predecessor bands Paso Mino and the 6ixty8ights and best known in their evolving role as Jason Collett's backing band. Playing for the Soundscapes crowd, the band was in good spirits, presenting their songs in a longer-than-expected set stretching out for about forty-five minutes. The three songwriters — Mike O'Brien, Carlin Nicholson and Neil Quin — shared lead duties and rotated between bass, guitar and some dangerously-ungrounded keyboards while Rob Drake stayed in place behind the kit. They were all in a relaxed mood, freely bantering with the crowd between songs, keeping their frequent instrument swaps from becoming mere dead time. Carlin Nicholson was perhaps the most gregarious, pausing to ask what music people in the crowd had been buying and investigating the Parlovr disc that had accidentally been knocked from the shelf.
The band is obviously very comfortable in their influences and not too worried about being "cool" — this is, after all, a band that covered Phil Collins-era Genesis on their Sounds Like EP. Their vintage equipment helped to give them a classic, sweet sound that could have leave the listener with the impression they're hearing a lost nugget from Badfinger or some such band. All told, the band played nine of Say Us' twelve songs, throwing in the non-album "Permanent Scar" (about which I cannot dig up any information). Well enough to leave a fab feeling in the crowd dispersing back out into the cooling early evening.
Listen to a track from this set here.