with Pacific Ocean & Victory By Sea
at the Middle East Downstairs in Cambridge, MA • January 30, 1999
The title of Seam’s new record, The Pace is Glacial , indicates the feeling of the wait their fans went through waiting for its release. This is also how I felt about catching them live again. I was not sure it would even happen. But it made my move to Boston well worth it!
The show, set at the local watering hole for indie rock, started with Pacific Ocean, who I believe is on tour with Seam. They looked as if they were all friends. Pacific Ocean is a trio riding on the cautiously dynamic rock style that holds true for bands like Bedhead or Mogwai. Not to say they sound alike, just in the same genre. They just had the stage presence of new rockers… boring but not bad. Just give them some time.
Local rockers Victory At Sea took the stage next. And they did know how to take the stage! I enjoyed watching them give it to ya’ and then take a step back… the same thing I was talking about earlier, that simple-chord thing and then a BLAST of energy! RAWK! I am going to risk it and say that VAS is a two-girl and one-guy trio. I could not quite see the drummer because “she” was really into “her” set! I had only heard of VAS by a Magic Eye Single 7″ I picked up once- good, but they are definitely for the live scene. Both opening bands kept it to a good 35-40 minute set, letting the Seam fans get what they had been waiting for years without having to be tortured.
So when Sooyoung Park, Chris Manfrin, William Shin, and Reg Shrader took the stage just to set up, believe it… it was rushed! We had all waited too long! They began the set with “Aloha Spirit”, including that great little guitar loop! It was really nice! Yes, NICE! I think one of the things people like most about Seam is their ability to kick-ass rock and also lay down some deep moods. It was great to see the same people with their eyes closed and head swaying for the first song also jump up and down when they kicked right into ‘Little Chang, Big City’, or at least tried to. It was funny, but I am sure also embarrassing, something went wrong with the bass guitar just as they exploded into the first few riffs of the song. Chris got out from behind the drums and gave a sincere apology. Then, they took off!
I will be honest, the first half of the show did not seem as energetic as the last. They started off good, but then got a little blah. I am not sure if it was because most of the first half was newer songs, but the crowd was into it regardless! They just wanted Seam! But once they began to play such great classics as “Sweet Pea,” “Hey Latasha,” and “Bunch,” the band seemed to get into it more, as well as the crowd. I was trying to take some pictures but was having a hard time standing still!
For the encore, Chris placed two chairs in front of his kit and invited two people up from the crowd onto the stage. Sooyoung blamed it on the alcohol, making a reference to the drummer that got kicked out of Pavement for getting too drunk. Chris continued to entertain his guests and provide them with beer, claiming that the rest of the band was ignoring him and he needed friends.
So all in all, it was a good night of rock ‘n’ roll! Two new bands got to give it a chance and get a few new fans, and about 350 Seam devotees got their prayers answered! We can only hope there will be more albums and shows to come.