A converted church, the Fremont Abbey Arts Center is an odd venue. It has a small vestibule where they take tickets and supply drinks out of a big bucket filled with ice, and then it opens up into a rather roomy gallery space. Four large, stained-glass windows lined the front and back walls, and the stage was situated in between the middle two windows on the front side. It’s a perfect room for an art show or a wedding reception, but not so much a concert.
Due to the arrangement of the windows, there was light streaming directly into the Sinatras’ faces, and the small openings at the top of the windows were not nearly enough to keep the room cool on a relatively hot Seattle day. It was uncomfortable at best; a sauna at worst.
But, given the circumstances, the Trashcan Sinatras gave a stellar show.
The Scotland-based, folk/indie-pop band started playing right at 8 p.m., no small feat for any artist or venue to be on time. And, despite the heat, the Sinatras seemed calm and ready to play. The show was split into two halves broken up by a 20-minute intermission, and it was incredible to see the Sinatras hold the audience’s attention the entire time. From their folky tunes to their anecdotes about living together in their college years between songs, the Sinatras’ held their audience captive the entire two-and-a-half hours.
Their first set was solid, but the 20-minute intermission made all the difference. Due to the warmth and the sun, it was hard to really tune into the first half of the show without getting distracted by the stifling heat. During the intermission, the sun went down, and the atmosphere changed. The first set seemed like a completely different band, consistent with the vibe at an outdoor arena; the first couple bands go on when the sun it out and people are distracted, but once the sun goes down and the main act comes out, the magic happens.
Well, the magic came out in the second half. The Sinatras were visibly more relaxed, and the audience responded; it was like the entire room took a deep breath. While most of the songs in their first set were about the same tempo, the second set was much more musically diverse and went from crooning ballads to more soulful, rock-like tunes. The first set had some banter, but during the second set, the conversation flowed more naturally, like the band was having an intimate conversation with their friends (although it was sometimes difficult to parse their accents). The sun went down, and any hesitancy went away.
Overall, the Trashcan Sinatras did as well as or better than could be expected in a starting environment that would make any human want to jump into, well, a trash can. A setting where it’s too hot to even think about touching another human didn’t bring about an appropriately inviting atmosphere for the Sinatras’ intimate, mostly acoustic set, but the Scots managed to pull off a show that’s sure to stick in their fans’ minds until they meet again.
Photo credits: Peter Cozens