Matt Crowley/The AS Review
Underground Coffeehouse coordinators Nick Duncan and Lora Mednick have put together another packed week of entertainment for us: Denver-area band Dovekins and Washington eastsiders Buffalo Death Beam each will play shows this Wednesday and Friday, respectively.
At 8 p.m. on Wednesday, May 12, “hipster gypsy barnyard folk” (their words, not mine) band Dovekins will visit Western. The show, which will be opened by a member of the band’s solo project, will surely impress the folk fans among us.
“They are a band from Colorado, though some of them have roots in the Northwest,” Mednick said. “Their sound is folky and jam, but full all around. They were set up to play a house show on the same date, but Jessica [Sele] from [ASP] Civil Controversy was like, ‘This band is playing at my house but I think the Underground would be fitting for them,’ so we brought them over.”
Dovekins consists of members Blake Stepan, Stelth Ulvang, Griff Snyder, Laura Goldhamer, Nate Wheeler and Max Barcelow. All members are able to play multiple instruments, a characteristic that not only separates them stylistically but allows a greater range of sounds in their music.
“Griff grew up in the Northwest. … He’s been playing music for a long time,” Mednick said.
Thanks to this versatility, Dovekins is able to effortlessly go from delicate, breathy acoustic folk (“Raining Buttons”) to Bellingham-esque accordion-driven folk (“Broke Trombone”). For some bands, however, especially new ones, the lack of a defined sound can make it difficult to build an audience. Typically, bands will wait until they have a loyal fan base to start experimenting (e.g. Radiohead, Kanye West and more recently, Yeasayer and Minus the Bear).
But in this case, the fact that Dovekins can’t be pigeonholed works to their advantage. The success of artists like Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes have certainly attributed to a bit of a “folk revival” and the recent influx of folk-centric bands can make it hard for a new group to gain attention. Dovekins’ wide stylistic range certainly gives them a leg up.
“I think that Bellingham would be a good temporary home for Dovekins,” Mednick said. “I hope people come out because I think the community would really support them here.”
At 8 p.m. on Friday, May 14, Pullman band Buffalo Death Beam will make the trek across the Cascades to Bellingham. While their moniker may be a little silly, their music certainly isn’t.
“Their name would fool you; the music is on the lighter side,” Mednick said, adding that much like Dovekins, “they bring a variety of sounds to the stage.”
Buffalo Death Beam is only a little over a year old; members Curt Krause and Chris Kiahtipes met in 2008 while attending Washington State University, eventually recruiting Caitlin Dooley, Sean Knox, Tiffany Harms and Mike Marshal to round out the band.
“We have been in contact with them for a long time about doing a show, because they seemed like a good fit,” Mednick said. “They’re playing [without an opener] so they’re going to make a night of it.”
Despite their musical youth, the band released a self-titled EP in December 2009. As Mednick pointed out, Buffalo Death Beam’s sound is about as varied as Dovekins’, but in different ways. Whereas Dovekins almost crosses genres in its quest for individuality, Buffalo Death Beam seems to get the most out of the sound they already have. Driven almost entirely by stringed instruments, they certainly feel like a bare bones folk band and sound like one too. The combinations created with their fiddles, violins, mandolins, banjos and guitars doesn’t create an overwhelmingly full sound, but it does give each song, verse and note a certain depth that makes every listen a rewarding experience.
As always, the shows are free and open to the public.