John Dwyer and Miles Rozatti
  • K.C. Fennessy
  • John Dwyer, Miles Rozatti, and Mike Shoun's sleeve

I knew I wouldn't be going to this year's Capitol Hill Block Party, and I make an effort to catch Thee Oh Sees every time they come through town, so I decided to check out their AllSaints in-store performance on Thursday (to date, I haven't attended CHBP once, and I'm dedicated to maintaining that spotless record).

More pictures and a recap below.

The line stretched past Urban Outfitters
  • K.C. Fennessy
  • The line stretched past Urban Outfitters

AllSaints Spitalfields, full name of the British retail chain, which draws from the worlds of goth, steampunk, and couture, often records musicians for podcasts, but I don't know if they book many in-stores (something I did when I worked at Cellophane Square back in the Paleolithic Era). In any case, the downtown Seattle location hasn't done many—or any—but it wasn't as awkward as I expected.

Bass player Petey Dammit looking always
  • K.C. Fennessy
  • Petey Dammit (and Robin) looking as sharp as ever

I was enticed by the offer of free music and drink, but I'd never attend an event just because it's free. Time is money, and I don't have much of either, but this gig was worth the wait (TOS concentrated on material from 2011's Carrion Crawler/Dream, like "Chem-Farmer" and "The Dream"). The Bay Area band, which records for Los Angeles label In the Red, have maintained an association with Sailor Jerry Rum for awhile now, so that's the spirit they served at the store. I don't normally drink rum, but the ginger beer concoction they were distributing was just as potent as it was tasty (a lemonade version was also available).

Petey in action
  • K.C. Fennessy
  • Petey in action

I've written about independent bands and corporate sponsorships* before, and I'm not unilaterally opposed, not as long as the artists are making the music they want to make, and as long as the product is consistent with their sound, image, or philosophy. In this case, I felt they were sending out a mixed message. On the one hand, Dwyer has some Sailor Jerry-styled tattoos—the swallows on the back of his arm—but on the other hand: the band was drinking Coronas.

* As someone who's worked at major corporations—Nordstrom, Amazon, and Microsoft—I believe I've never really been in any position to criticize, even if I now work primarily as a freelancer.

  • K.C. Fennessy
  • Also hidden behind Dwyer: Brigid Dawson

I wasn't able to get any good pictures of keyboard player Brigid Dawson, which is unfortunate, not just because she's incredibly talented, but because she couldn't have been nicer when my friend Tim and I spoke with her before the set.

  • K.C. Fennessy
  • Kicking up a ruckus in a fancy store

As for Miles Rozatti, he's an Olympia musician filling in for Lars Finberg, who's on tour with his main outfit, the Intelligence, but I couldn't say whether it's just for these Northwest dates or not (Rozatti plays percussion, rather than drums).

Signature swallow tattoo
  • Signature swallow tattoo

Brigid told us the band was also entitled to free clothes, so Miles picked out a black blazer with hand-stitched lapels, while she was eyeing a beaded dress.

  • K.C. Fennessy
  • Dwyer's Sailor Jerry-style swallows

There will always be music lovers who oppose all forms of corporate sponsorship, and I understand their position, but it can be difficult for mid-sized bands like Thee Oh Sees to avoid, especially those who: 1) want to make a living at this thing, 2) don't want to (and don't have the time to) work a day job, and 3) refuse to sign to a major label—and I sincerely hope they never make that move. At the very least, I'd rather see them align with Sailor Jerry's than, say, Chick-fil-A.