Every time I see The Lonely Forest I am impressed by their ability to mix energy and exuberance with an impeccable control of the stage. Their live show has become a staple of the Seattle scene, perhaps the only staple the scene has to offer anymore. They are the biggest rock act in the city and have been since they emerged as Sound Off winners a few years ago. That is partly an indictment on Seattle’s lack of a viable rock scene – the Lonely Forest ascended with relative quickness and ease to become the best the 206 has to offer in terms of a real live rock band. More than that, it is a testament to what the Lonely Forest are doing. They offer intensity, chops, sing-along choruses, and a dedication to the craft that has paid off in a growing and diverse fan base. I heard more teenage girl screams directed towards frontman John Van Deusen than I have heard at any other show ever. Yes, the hipsters are still in tow, but more fans were singing along to the group’s latest album than were belting the choruses from their previous release. These guys are reaching a lot of ears. They had a massively successful 2011. More in store this year and beyond.
Speaking to tonight’s show in particular, I did have qualms with the Neptune’s sound. From where I was, the balance was heavily skewed towards the bass end of things. This is not the most compelling aspect of the Lonely Forest’s sound and I was left wanting to hear more vocal and lead guitar. The band was joined for a couple of songs by the Seattle Rock Orchestra, a fantastic idea that was not executed to its highest potential, again, because of sound issues. The orchestra was drowned out by the band for the most part. They provided for a nice visual and I’m sure they sounded great, I just wish that I had been able to be a judge of that. Other than that, the group were their usual selves, compelling and powerful. Perhaps my favorite aspect of the night? Singer John Van Deusen’s shirt. He was wearing a flannel, but peeking out from underneath was the top of a logo that I know very well – the classic 1980’s-90’s Vancouver Canucks black/orange/red/yellow skate. It’s exciting to know that Van Deusen shares my affinity for the Nucks. If only our boys (who lost 5-3 tonight) knew they had support from he and I (in my retro Canucks shirt as well) at the Neptune tonight.