If anyone remained unconvinced that Everest had made it–after the tour with Neil Young, the numerous late night talk show appearances, the acclaimed record on Warner Bros.–there was ample evidence of the band’s success Thursday night at the Echo. For one thing, the fairly small venue was packed, with a line of eager fans extending down Sunset Boulevard. But plenty of modestly successful acts have achieved that. The real indication that Everest had hit the big-time was twofold: A long curtain veiled the passage from the green room to the stage and their merch table accepted credit cards. I had never seen anything like that at the humble Echo before. It could only mean one thing: these guys are stars.
And, it would seem, deservedly so. At this homecoming show, which followed a two-month tour, Everest fully displayed the songwriting and performance chops that have led them to such a promising point in their career.
But first there was a curious set by the local group He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister. Donning outfits that were more Topanga Canyon than Echo Park, they played a rootsy mix of folk and pop with an appealing blend of male and female vocals. The music, however, never really matched the exuberance of the performers and the true believers in the audience. A couple of lovingly constructed covers (of songs by The Mamas & the Papas and The Velvet Underground) left the remainder of the band’s set sounding toothless by comparison. And, in an odd twist, they performed alongside tap-dancer Lauren Brown, whose frantic tapping was rarely audible amid the ruckus of the band and the chattering of the crowd. It was a nice idea, but tap-dancing, when you can’t hear the taps, tends to resemble good old-fashioned spazzing out.
Things picked up when Everest emerged. Regardless of one’s feelings about Everest going in, one tends to leave their shows with a great deal of respect for what the band accomplishes night in and night out. Thursday night, even songs that sound bland under the polished production of the band’s latest record, On Approach, took on an undeniable vitality and urgency. And it’s not just a trick of the band’s studied, tour-honed precision, or the propulsive thrum of Elijah Thomson’s bass coming to the fore; truly, even their most downbeat songs are full of irrepressible life.
On songs like “I’ve Had This Feeling Before”, “Let Go” (which saw the impressively bearded front-man Russell Pollard moving behind the drumset), and “Rebel In The Roses”, the band’s myriad influences were apparent, from country and folk to soul and pop, all synthesized into something that might merit a name of its own but perhaps would best be called rock and roll. And, as befitting rock and rollers, they weren’t above indulging in the occasional solo, or posing with a fist in the air, or enlisting the audience’s hand-claps to supplement their rhythm section. What could have been inescapably lame was instead wholly appropriate, and quite charming.
And charm was, indeed, a major player in the band’s performance. Whether they were dedicating a song to a friend’s lost dog, or sincerely thanking their hometown friends and followers, they exuded a graciousness that made it that much harder to leave the Echo in anything but the highest of spirits.
Review by Greg Freedman
Photography by Glorioso Fajardo