Reunited slowcore band Codeine more vital with age
Codeine, a New York trio that existed from 1989 to 1994, has reunited to promote a six-LP box set on the Numero Group label. The band plays one more Seattle show Tuesday, July 10, at the Triple Door.
Special to The Seattle Times
Codeine8 p.m. Tuesday at the Triple door, 216 Union St., Seattle; $15-$18 (206-838-4333 or thetripledoor.net).
Concert Review |
The New York band Codeine existed from 1989 to 1994, playing carefully-crafted, soul-crushingly romantic rock songs at tempos so deliberate that critics at the time called the music "slowcore."
Reunited (albeit briefly) in support of "When I See the Sun," a six-LP box set on the archival Numero Group label, Codeine — bassist-singer-songwriter Stephen Immerwahr, guitarist John Engle and drummer Chris Brokaw — treated a small but appreciative gathering of fans to a stellar hour-plus performance Monday night at the Triple Door.
Taking the stage to some droning instrumental black metal playing over the house speakers (Immerwahr, apparently, is an aficionado of the genre), the unassuming, bookish trio hit the ground running — ever so slowly — with the sad, soulful "D," the first track from its 1990 Sub Pop debut "Frigid Stars LP." The band soon settled in for a note-perfect set that touched on each of the releases in its small but striking discography.
Translating particularly well in the live setting were "Sea," "Tom" and "Loss Leader" — gloriously overdriven tension-and-release exercises off the band's third and final album "The White Birch." Its decision to play the heartfelt, Neil Young-esque lullaby "Broken-Hearted Wine" shortly after the dark, cryptic and somewhat terrifying "Pea" showed surprising emotional versatility for a band sometimes criticized for an uncompromising sense of bleakness.
In the cavernous downtown supper club that is the Triple Door, the acoustics were flawless, and the seated crowd was respectful and attentive, rocking back and forth contently rather than talking over the music and waving iPhones around, as is the norm at so many bigger shows these days. The fact that the show was a bit undersold only served to make it feel that much more intimate, appropriate for the nature of Codeine's music.
Reunion tours often find bands phoning it in, but in Codeine's case, it was quite the opposite. Over the course of its set Monday night, the band sounded so focused, well-rehearsed and sonically full that one would never have guessed it has been out of action for nearly two decades. If anything, the trio has grown more vital with age.
Charlie Zaillian: firstname.lastname@example.org