Glass half full

Modern rock jam warms up cold night at LaSalles

UNCAGED <br>Deerpen vocalist Rett Mathews blurs the frets at LaSalles.

Deerpen vocalist Rett Mathews blurs the frets at LaSalles.

Photo By Tom Angel

Jack Shat and the Know-it-alls
and Deerpen
Wed., Jan. 14

“How would you describe your band?”

Bands hate this question because (a) it’s just plain hard to answer and (b) no one wants to be forever stereotyped into a single cold, hard genre. I won’t ostracize Deerpen into a specific musical genus, but I will say that its gimmick-free sound has remarkably improved since the last time I heard the band play.

Bassist Bill Parnell attests it is “a vocalist-centered band,” but the spacey, grunge-stained instrumentals proved to be the highlight of an 11-song set. Early-'90s Seattle rock makes just enough of an appearance, with stand-out bass lines and some rough-but-tender rock-out sessions, but it’s the collaboration with modern indie rock that assures listeners that flannels will not be coming back in style any day soon.

Radiohead fans would have appreciated “Good Reason,” the fourth song of the night and third on Deerpen’s self-titled EP, featuring a balanced melody topped off with Rett Mathews’ wavering falsetto.

My first reaction to the second band of the night was, “Wow! These guys sound just like Jack Shat!” This was before someone gave me a “duh” look and pointed out that Goldmind had cancelled its set and was being replaced by the hippy hypnotizing Know-it-alls. Most often, you can find this trio on the Stormy’s stage, playing its brand of happy jam to a crowd of dread-headed dirt-twirlers.

I must admit that it is rather hard to sit still when the band starts in on a bouncy reggae tempo with funky, blues-inspired solos. Something about Shat’s warm, inviting voice and the bare feet mashing on the worn wooden floors evokes the feeling of summer. His signature vocals were hearty and executed with ease, mingling perfectly with the perky guitar picking and general cold-glass-of-lemonade comfort of the band’s buoyant rock ‘n’ roll.