Concert Review: Deep Sea Diver @ 9:30 Club (10/2/19)

Deep Sea Diver
Jessica Dobson of Deep Sea Diver (Photo from FB @thisisdeepseadiver)

I trust you arrived early to Joesph’s show at the 9:30 Club on October 2nd, and caught Seattle’s Deep Sea Diver. They are a very good rock band, and  are the main reason I trekked over to the Shaw neighborhood on a Wednesday night. I did enjoy the powerful harmonies of Joseph, but I wasn’t as familiar with them.

Jessica Dobson previously played guitar for The Shins for a few years, but quit the band in 2013 to focus all her attention on Deep Sea Diver, a project she had been working on for awhile. The band is Jessica (vocals and guitar), Elliot Jackson (guitar and synth), Peter Mansen (drums) and Garrett Gue (bass). They’ve released a couple EPs and two full-length albums so far, and have a new album on the way in early 2020. Jessica was especially grateful to everyone that did arrive early, but likely many were there already familiar with the band.

Deep Sea Diver kicked off the opening (too short) indie rock saga with “Lights Out”, sporting powerful reverb, foreshadowing the level of rock greatness we were about to experience. Then came “Wide Awake”, a track I couldn’t listen to enough back in 2016 (I also favored the toned-down, heartrending “Always Waiting” which was part of the set*). With liberal use of a maraca and fuzzy guitars, the opening of “Wide Awake” is honestly among of my favorites from any song, ever. Load their second album, Secrets, into your ear delivery system and select Track 2 and put the first 2:01 minutes on repeat. Then go ahead and listen to the whole album.

During the 8-song rock opus, they performed a few of their classics (as above) and a couple new ones like “Walking on a Switchblade”, dedicated to a friend on the streets. The song is a slow, piano-driven ode to life on the edge (pun intended), and complements Jessica’s vocal range perfectly.

“You Go Running”, from their first album, was the penultimate song and featured a solid drum solo and Jessica jumping down into the photo pit.

They ended with the new song “Eyes Are Red” (I think, but can’t find this song online), which Jessica dedicated to Natalie Schepman (one of the three sisters of Joseph) and to the hard year they had had so far. Jessica stepped onto the red and black Deep Sea Diver labeled box adorning the stage, and ended with a fiery blaze of guitar and sad lyrics.

They had been touring with Joseph for three weeks, but the 9:30 Club show was the last night they would open. Jessica likened the tour experience to school camp, lots of fun with a sad farewell. There needed to be an epic send-off, so during Joseph’s set, Natalie called Jessica back on stage (fresh from the glow of performing, she was often seen enjoying Joseph’s set stage left or snapping photos from the photo pit), and they both jammed together on guitars for “Presence”. The energy and joy on stage was palpable, and Joseph praised Deep Sea Diver with a shout out to Jessica’s passion project. Jessica stayed on to play and sing for a second song, a cover of Amy Grant’s “Baby, Baby”. Everyone took turns singing a verse, I’m sure Amy Grant would have approved**.

Now it’s your turn to sing along to Deep Sea Diver’s great rock songs. Be on the look out for their next trip to DC. It’s been a couple years, this was the third time I’ve seen them live (2016 and 2017), each time as the opener. Let’s help change that so they emerge as the headliner the next time!

Setlist
Lights Out (I think)
Wide Awake
Keep It Moving
Secrets
Walking on a Switchblade
Always Waiting
You Go Running
Eyes Are Red (I think)

* “Always Waiting” was my most played song in 2016 (according to iTunes)! And cracked the Top 25 in 2017 as well.

** ‘Baby, baby, the stars are shining for you, and just like me I’m sure that they adore you.’

Author: Jeremy Bailey

Writer and editor living in Washington, D.C.

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