The first few raindrops of the evening were beginning to fall when we pulled up to the Exit/In to catch Sea Wolf last night. We entered and easily made ourselves comfortable on the club's surprisingly sparsely populated floor during the tail end of the Jealous Girlfriends' set. It was a wash of shoegazer tumult, reminding us a little of a more rockin' Mazzy Star, mostly due to singer-guitarist Holly Miranda's heroin-achy vocals. Sea Wolf took the stage soon after, and played a pleasant set of moody indie pop.
The crowd filled in a little more as the rain picked up outside--the perfect atmosphere for Sea Wolf's brand of fireplace rock. We saw the band open for Nada Surf a few months ago, and the sound then was crystal clear. Tonight, the mix was a little muddled and a little feedback-heavy, and for the first few songs, the band said little until they asked for more vocals in the monitor.
The set was heavy on tracks from their debut full-length Leaves in the River, opening with "Song for the Dead," then following with "The Cold, The Dark & The Silence." Having seen them three times now, The Spin can say that Sea Wolf are nothing if not consistently reliable performers. It's not the sort of music that's gonna get you bouncing around all that much--though live, it's more rockin' than on record--but it has a hypnotic, atmospheric quality that makes for a good few-beers-and-a-zone-out kind of vibe.
Finally singer Alex Church addressed the crowd: "Thank you. We're Sea Wolf, and we're from Los Angeles. Well, and Portland."
They played a few songs off their EP, "The Garden You Planted" and "I Made a Resolution," then played a song the band recorded for the audio book of Augusten Burrough's memoir, Running With Scissors. By then, the crowd, which never filled the club more than half full, seemed to dwindle a little, though we counted around 30 people huddled up at the stage.
With songs like "Winter Windows" and "The Rose Captain," the sound had returned to the clarity we'd expected. And if you expected a band like Sea Wolf to play their "hit" last, you'd have been disappointed. They played their catchiest number, the melancholic "You're a Wolf," but saved the gypsy folk-rocker "Black Dirt" for last. All in all, it wasn't an electrifying set, but it made for an enjoyable reverie on a wet spring night.