I've yet to be disappointed with a Brick and Mortar show, and the Moondoggies concert was no exception. When the Seattle rockers came on stage last Thursday night, they dove straightaway into bluesy rock songs.
Frontperson Kevin Murphy's vocals were pleasant and warm, but they stood in contrast to his expression, which most of the time was apathetic.
The group's seductive hooks, pulsing bass lines, and somewhat-ominous piano chords went over well with the crowd, people were swinging their hips, drinks in hand.
Bassist Bobby Terreberry, head bobbing, calmly plucked away, facing the side of the stage most of the set. And Jon Pontrello's spastic, weaving dance moves with his guitar and tambourine proved a comic contrast next to Murphy's uninvolved position behind the mic.
Drummer Carl Dahlen also brought some needed energy to the stage. Lost in the beats, Dahlen struck the set with an affable urgency, his fire-red hair swinging in his wake. And keyboardist Caleb Quick was anything but, taking his time to strike each chord with what looked to be a deep and somber intent.
No matter any critique you may have of the group, it's impossible to say its lacking in fullness, in totality. When the vocals become hushed, the heedlessly playful guitar riffs meandered to new heights. When the percussion and bass toed the line of "background" music, the group's harmonies became impressively bold.
The result was a striking sense of balance. The beauty was in their distinctions as performers: Murphy swaying and singing; impassively cool behind his caterpillar-like mustache, Terreberry zoning out to resilient bass lines, Pontrello a feisty hot mess.
Dahlen was buoyant behind the drum set and Quick gave the performance a tasteful poignance.
One highlight was "Midnight Owl," off their latest album Adios, I'm a Ghost (Hardly Art, 2013), which came out of this August with plenty of critical praise. It was also where Murphy shone the brightest -- or darkest.
Murphy crooned the soft chorus wearing a yearning expression while shuffling uncomfortably, "She's a midnight owl, ain't seen her yet/ She's an early riser, ain't gone to bed."
Their set seemed to go buy too quick, always a sign of a good show.