Review: decker. ‘Patsy’ Album Release Party
On Saturday, Feb. 21, local acts decker., Haymarket Squares and The Through & Through Gospel Review took the stage at Last Exit Live to celebrate the release of deckers.’s new album, Patsy.
The Through & Through Gospel Review (TTGR) started the evening by marching from the back of the venue, through the audience and up to the stage, while clapping and chanting about “seeing a light.” When they say “gospel” they mean it: Joel Marquard is ever so soulful with his beckoning “hallelujah” moments, while the other members clap and dance, and repeat Joel’s lyrics back to him. It was like being taken to church, like my grandparents would feel good about me being here because I was hearing the good word.
The stage held ten members, all of which oozed talent in whatever instrument they played, and the venue was about three-quarters of the way full. My friend Freddie Paull had mentioned to me, “Have you ever seen this place any busier than this?” Needless to say, the place was packed and the bar was flowing with alcohol and regrets in the morning. We were here to wash away our sins with beer, cigarettes and repentance. If you mashed together Hozier, Modest Mouse, and Fleet Foxes, you’d have Jesus‘ rock band: TTGR. The harmonies on one of the band’s last songs were absolutely phenomenal as they repeated: “I’m not dead, I’m alive, I’m looking / For a place to rest my head when I die. / I’m not dead, I’m alive, I’m looking / For a meal and a bed in the afterlife.”
When Haymarket Squares started playing, the curtains to Last Exit Live opened like it was Chuck E. Cheese. It had been a while since I had seen Haymarket Squares, so I was reminded of the satirical, political “punkgrass” musicianship of each member. The combination of the harmonies and high-energy playing pleased the ear and when they sang “Heaven is what we make of it right here,” you wanted to raise your glass and let out an “AMEN” or a “HELL YEAH” (whatever your preference).
They played covers of Tom Petty, Billy Ray Cyrus and Creedence Clearwater Revival. The band’s music, while controversial, made you wanna do something about something — if that makes sense. One minute they’re singing, “Sometimes I don’t give a shit about giving a shit anymore,” and then they end their set with a song called “Let’s Start a Riot.” Bottom line: to make a change, you either do something about it or you don’t. One thing I did notice about the band is that with five stringed instruments on stage, not a single one broke a string.
Everyone hurried inside for decker.‘s set. Having never heard of decker. before, I was blown away and the band exceeded my expectations. I had assumed that since the band is primarily from Cottonwood and since Brandon Decker looked like a modern-day Indiana Jones that it would be folk-based, but that wasn’t the case. The group reminded me of Arcade Fire back in its Neon Bible days: dark, atmospheric rock with heavy beats and soaring melodies. They had played a song called “ODB,” which after listening to the first verse and thinking “What song does this sound like?” I had found my answer– Elvis Presley‘s “Don’t Be Cruel.”
For two songs, on which Decker announced Steff Koeppen (Steff & the Articles) arranged the string compositions, Danny Torgersen (Captain Squeegee) took to the stage to spread his brassy love on Last Exit. I’ve seen Torgersen play trumpet many times in Captain Squeegee, Fayuca, and appearing as a guest for others as well, but never had I seen Torgersen play a soulful, jazz solo. I knew he studied jazz but had forgotten until he played it last night. When decker. played “Spades” it took my mind to Iron & Wine‘s “Peace Beneath the City,” which is very dark, swamplike zydeco-influenced. After leaving the stage, the sound engineer asked for the band to come back and play a couple more tunes, to which they responded by playing a cover of Depeche Mode‘s “Personal Jesus.”