All good things come to an end, and such is the case for Seattle pop wonders Friday Mile, who’ve decided to call it a day after five years of sterling recordings and consistently faultless live performances. The band headlined a satisfying night of music at Columbia City Theater Saturday, July 16, and true to form their final show was as polished, energetic and sweet on the ears as ever.
The bittersweet but positive vibe received immeasurable stoking from two strong preceding acts. Local combo M. Bison brought forth winsome Beach-Boys-inflected pop, a bit more stripped-down than their studio recordings but no less sharp. The band leavened the sunny sweetness of the melodies with a welcome tinge of Ben-Folds-ish humor, and they looked right snappy on stage (these things matter, you know).
Two Sheds, meantime, made a trek north from their native California to occupy the middle slot of the bill in smoky and slow-burning fashion. Their atmospheric sound filters dusty country and folk through a laconic shoegazer’s ear; equal parts open-hearted and mesmerizing. Singer/guitarist Caitlin Gutenberger possesses a lazily bewitching voice that adds substance to her observational lyrics, and subtle sensuality to the band’s examinations of romance. And unlike a lot of outfits that mine a similar narcotic groove, Two Sheds boasts a great rhythm section in bassist Johhny Gutenberger (Caitlin’s husband) and drummer Rusty Miller, both veterans of Cali rock band Jackpot. They kept the pulse alive, even when the tempos slowed to a swoonsome lilt.
But the evening belonged to Friday Mile, who provided the enthusiastic crowd with a final dose of sunny, smart pop that just made their imminent split all the more bittersweet. Their last recorded hurrah, Good Luck Studio, is one of the most lush and warm local records of the last five years; an unlikely but faultless distillation of alt-country, Beatles-esque songcraft, and enveloping California warmth, and damned if they didn’t deliver a good deal of it with passion to match the precision and tightness.
Guitarist/principal songwriter Jace Krause and keyboardist Hannah Williams have always harmonized sublimely, and they brought out all the vocal stops Saturday (Williams, especially, shone bright during her solo belting on “I Took It All”). Obviously energized by the urgency of the farewell show, the rest of the band delivered as well: Jake Rohr and Chad Clibborn provided a versatile rhythmic anchor for the tunes on bass and drums respectively, and guitarist Phil O’Sullivan threw down some great interplay with Krause on the more uptempo numbers. The band finished the night by gathering a score of fellow musician friends onstage for a rousing and heartfelt encore of John Lennon’s “Instant Karma,” with Williams, Krause, and O’Sullivan each singing their hearts out on a verse. During the chorus, Krause turned the mic to the audience, and soon the entire crowd was exhorting the good vibes. We all shine on, indeed.