Laura Veirs Live @ Fremont Abbey
May 18, 2018 in Seattle
By Lindsey Potter
In June, I experienced a couple of musical firsts. My first time seeing Laura Veirs and my first visit to Fremont Abbey. For singer/songwriter Laura Veirs, it was the first tour stop promoting her 2018 album The Look Out.
That it took this long for either to happen is hard to believe. I’ve lived in Seattle about seven years and, during that time, I’ve gone to a fair amount of shows. But Capitol Hill is my stomping ground, so I usually head to Neumos or Barboza.
I like the venues in Fremont and Ballard, but when considering a weeknight show my overwhelming feeling is “do I really want to go to that show ALL the way out in Fremont or Ballard?”
One of my best friends had gone to a couple poetry events at the Abbey and it felt like he was gushing equally about Andrea Gibson’s performance and the venue itself, which I found to be kind of surprising. I thought to myself, “isn’t it just one room? What’s so special about it?”
Now that I have experience a show at Fremont Abbey I feel like I finally get it. The church building is so beautiful in its simplicity. There are large windows that line the walls and strings of vintage lights that drape the beams above. When the music started, the sound was so clear and crisp it didn’t need to be excessively loud to drown out competing noise. Lovely.
The show opened with Astoria, Ore. band The Hackles. It was the first time I’d heard of them but by the end of the evening I wanted to be their friend. Maybe it was because they performed in this beautiful church with romantic lights? Or because they shared a mic while they perfectly harmonized on their sweet, folksy love songs? Or perhaps it was because Luke mentioned that one of the songs was about longing for home because he was away from his daughter for all of two days and he was sad about it? All of those things probably had something to do it.
Lucky for you, The Hackles released their album earlier this year, The Twilight’s Calling It Quits, and it is available on Spotify for your streaming needs.
Now to come full circle about my initial comment: I am not sure how I hadn’t seen Laura Veirs before. I was aware that her new album, The Lookout, was just released. It felt overnight that I noticed the vinyl cover in the window of a few of my favorite records shops. Even though I have known of her music for a while, I could not place when I first discovered her. Then all of a sudden it came to me. I was in college (aka the pre-Spotify addiction phase of my life) and it was one of those times that I was regularly checking on the new free song iTunes was offering for download that week. One of those gems was “July Flame” in 2010. I listened to that song for months. I love how she managed to make this really great folksy-indie, almost upbeat song about what I interpreted as summer sadness. How does one pull that off? I never figured it out, but I adore the song to this day.
When Veirs took the stage she was wearing a long-sleeved black dress with a big colorful flower print. It took me a second to realize that everyone in her band was wearing solid black, but all of them had pinned a large fake flower on the front of their outfits to match hers.
Initially, Veirs didn’t have a lot to say. She just rolled right into music from her new album, which wasn’t a bad thing. They were so prompt with the show…I appreciated that they did not waste any time between acts. It wasn’t until Laura was tuning her guitar that she engaged the crowd to explain that she lived in Seattle for 10 years “cutting my teeth on the music scene out here.” She explained that she did her first show on Vashon Island. Her hands were shaking so hard that she couldn’t play. It was then that she realized that she had a lot of work to do before she could perform in front of people . She laughed and said “hoped I have learned something in the last 20 years,” before she slid into her next song.
It is safe to say that she has learned quite a bit. Her resume includes a steady stream of albums since 2004, as well as collaborations with other big artists such as Sufjan Stevens, k.d. lang and Neko Case. I look forward to see what she will do from years to come.