The Sea & Cake - The Scala, London  -6th of March 2013

The Sea & Cake – The Scala, London -6th of March 2013

The Scala’s thorough security checks seem a little out of place for tonights gig. You have to wonder what the security guards think the fans of the legendary Chicago post-Everythingers would be packing under multi-layers of winter clothes.

Not that suspicion matters to the three quarters full Scala crowd as the four studious looking men walk on stage and subtlety unleash an hours worth of blissful noise to the hardcore devotees of the band who are eagerly gathered in attendance.

With ten full lengths on seminal Chicago label Thrill Jockey and two band members who also share duties in Post-Jazz Experimentalists Tortoise (Touring bassist Doug McCombs gets a cheer of recognition from the audience when he is introduced) The Sea & Cake have more than enough songs and jaw dropping musicianship to fill up their set tonight.

As Multi-instrumentalist Archer Prewitt’s Electronic bleeps and reverberated guitar notes cascade over singer Sam Prekop’s Breathy vocals and guitars it becomes apparent of how much of The Sea & Cake’s effortless blend of genres has influenced the majority of modern indie rock. From the dream-pop of ‘Weekend’ to the percussive afrobeat of ‘Exact to Me’ if you closed your eyes it could be any number of faceless, Pitchfork approved bands up there and not four middle aged, conservatively attired men.

It helps that the remarkable musicianship contained in those four men make the genre hopping of the Sea & Cakes music effortless. McCombs and Drummer John McEntire (who have played together for years in Tortoise) are almost tuned in to each other, McCombs tight bass-lines locked in with the perpetually gurning McEntire as he displays that kind of prowess on the drums that make each fill and smack of his snare land with precision timing. its that musicianship that makes ‘Pacific’, one of many songs from the bands stunning 2012 album ‘Runner’, explode in kaleidoscopes of gorgeous sound

If there is a (very minor) complaint its that The Sea & Cake are almost too good. Each song sounding so perfect that a set ending extended jam comes as a relief because it contains the spontaneity that you would want to see from any band containing each musicians pedigree. McEntire’s drums become a barrage of powerful, jazzy rhythms that make Prewitt look like he is battling against them as he crouches into the amps to extract piercing feedback from his Guitar. If the band hadn’t encored it would have been a perfect end to tonight’s set, a stunning display of improvisation, rather than a methodical encore of great but mid-tempo songs.

Small complaints aside, tonight was a near perfect example of progressive experimentation without the negative connotations those two words would bring up when used in the same sentence.

No gimmicks, no fuss, just gorgeous songs and great music.

Lewie Peckham

The Sea and Cake – Harps from Thrill Jockey Records on Vimeo.

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