Hey Marseilles Live @ The Tractor Tavern
February 6, 2009
By Tyson Lynn
Conor Byrne was the first place Hey Marseilles played, but that’s not quite true. To be honest, they weren’t called anything really. You paid your cover by a sign that said The Matt Bishop Project. It’s what they offered up to the venue when they booked the gig.
Even then, back late 2006, some of the songs from last year’s To Travels and Trunks were already setlist staples, and while thearrangements were shifty, digging through different pockets everys night, people listened. Band members would put down strings to pick up basses, step back from keys to shoulder accordions, drop ukuleles to tambourine counterpoint. And Bishop, the guy who writes the songs,would push his plaintive voice ahead over shifting ground.
All of 2007, Hey Marseilles (they had figured out their name by then, and solidified their membership: that Bishop character on lead vocals and guitar, Nick Ward on guitars and the fancifully titled drumbourine, brothers Jacob and Samuel Anderson on the strings, Philip Kobernik on accordion and piano, and Patrick Brannon on trumpet and
bass) tracked their debut. This might have been a mistake; it certainly made for a long process of revision. Songs would be recorded and in the can when new parts would get figured, others excised, or the whole thing tossed.
But it was worth it to finally hear To Travels and Trunks in all its glorious subtlety. There was something resembling consensus about that last year: TTaT placed 7th in the Top 50 NW releases on Three Imaginary Girls, as voted on by their readers; the Girls themselves concurred, and Seattle Sound declared it one of the best releases of the year.
I could tell you it’s because the album is stuffed with evocative soundscapes infused with weight and movement, that strong melodic lines leave marks on the part of your brain given to thinking about what-ifs, that the rhythms sneak off the floor to swing your hips, and they do, but really its because of how the band makes something so grand sound and feel marvelously simple, like it’s yours. It is.
You’ll get the best feel of that this Saturday, March 6th at The Tractor (or, if you happen to be down at SXSW: Saturday, March 21 at the Palm Door) when Hey Marseilles winds troubador style through the crowd and deep into your heart. Be there to see them off; they’ll have a story to tell you upon their return.