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The Weepies Concert Review

Tractor Tavern – Seattle, WA 5/17/06


The Weepies Live in Concert - Seattle, WA

The Weepies (Steve Tannen, Deb Talan)

(© Kim Ruehl, licensed to About.com)
Artist: The Weepies
Opener: Datri Bean
Venue: Tractor Tavern – Seattle, WA
Date: 5/17/06

Seattle's Ballard neighborhood used to be a town of its own, full of Scandinavian immigrants and various industries that require boats. Since becoming integrated into the city limits of Seattle proper, and particularly over the last few years, Ballard has metamorphosed into an aging hipster haven – which, in terms of the Northwest, translates into "folk music club central."

Still, Ballard's Scandinavian community remains quite lively and intact; and on this particularly lovely evening, mainstreet Ballard is just beginning to recover from a Norwegian Independence Day parade.

In other words: there's nowhere to park, and people coming into Ballard from other parts of the country (ie. The Weepies) and other parts of Seattle (ie. The Weepies' surprisingly hefty local fanbase) are at a bit of a loss.

As a result, local/Texas-transplant old time pianist/chanteuse Datri Bean has managed to get her set pushed back a bit, opening the night up a smidge later than planned, thankfully.

I've only seen Bean live on one occasion – when we shared a small, somewhat-impromptu showcase billing at a basically unknown neighborhood coffeeshop. Since then, however, I've become a fan of her latest record Slow Down Summertime, which sets to music perfectly what it feels like to spend a summer in the bayou country of Texas and Louisiana.

Unfortunately, playing the piano doesn't allow for as much bodily freedom as does playing the guitar, but Bean doesn't let that get in the way of her seemingly inate ability to charm a packed house into quietude with infectious tunes about sweet tea and tamales.

When she casually ends her set announcing "That's it," the crowd is able to entice her into an encore – her lovely cover of Randy Newman's "Louisiana."

After not much of a break at all, The Weepies hit they stage, and my first thought is: they're adorable. Tall and lanky with hair like a troll doll that's been shaken too hard, Steven Tannen is full of energy. His female counterpart, singer/songwriter Deb Talan, is a third his size but equal in energy and stage presence.

They kick the night off with a string of tunes from their recent release Say I Am You (Nettwerk, 2006), including the toe-tapper, "Take it From Me," and their hit, "World Spins Madly On." This is followed by a well-chosen set of songs ranging from the depths of their rescpective solo careers to the two albums they've recorded together.

Highlights include "Vegas Baby" from 2003's Happiness CD, Steve's own "Sing Me to Sleep," and "Not Your Year," which Deb introduces as "upbeat, but kind of a downer."

Alternating guitars and turns with the lead vocals, The Weepies seem to have this whole performing together thing down pat.

At one point, Tannen stops to say, "You give us so much love ... and in return, we will rock you" – which is exactly what they do, right down to the gorgeous encore.

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