Rubblebucket and Spaceface gave fans at The Crocodile in Seattle a wild summer dance party on a Tuesday night in February.
We live in stressful times – pandemic, sociopolitical chaos, violence, etc. – there is a lot of tension in the world and not a lot of release. This show, however, was pure cathartic release from start to finish, and by the reaction of the audience, it was much appreciated. While the two bands have very different sounds, their shared cathartic energy made it clear from the start why they belong on tour together.
The night kicked off with the Tennessee band Spaceface, whose blend of psych rock, disco, funk, and pop has been described as “Retro Futurist Dream Rock,” specifically by the band themselves. Whatever genre they were, they had an infectious energy and were a fantastic opener for Rubblebucket.
The group is led by Jake Ingalls, formerly of The Flaming Lips, and he has been accompanied by a consistent lineup since the beginning, with only one exception. Along with the original lineup was a new addition, Los Angeles-based Katie Pierce on bass and vocals. Despite being so new to a group, which has been recording and touring together for eight years, Pierce had great stage chemistry with the rest of the band.
About halfway through their 45-minute set, they played their 2017 single “Parachute,” which they accompanied with a literal parachute. In a throwback to everyone’s favorite elementary school memory, they had the audience spread out the parachute in the middle of the floor (no small feat in a packed venue) and lift it to form a floating canopy over what would become an impromptu dancefloor.
After Spaceface left the stage, the room was buzzing with energy waiting for Rubblebucket to start. Flowers were put on mic stands. Guitars and basses were joined by trumpets and a baritone sax. Finally, the band entered and the audience erupted.
They opened the set with the swaggering, smoldering “Earth Worship,” the title track of the album this tour is all about. The song began with the simple but powerful thump of drums, bass, and Kalmia Traver’s spoken vocals, “I’ve been coming a thousand years, you could call me the endless f***, I’m really scared but I have no fear, other than you my dear.”
Boldly vulnerable, passionately weird, in a flower-patterned wedding dress and a veil of tiny plastic animals.
It would be impossible to pin them down to one genre. The second song, “Morning in the Sun,” had a kind of Motown meets Funkadelic sound. Following that was “Donna,” a song that took them in the direction of post-1980 Talking Heads. They covered a wide range of sounds and genres but never lost focus – their unique sound was easily recognizable no matter where they took that sound.
For the song “Geometry,” they had the audience sing along for the chorus. While an audience sing-along can often come across as a cheap and arbitrary gimmick, they used it as a message of acceptance and compassion – “When you’re far out to sea in your personal hell, Draw a line to me, and I’ll draw a line to you.”
Spaceface made another appearance later on, coming out to dance along with the classic, “Came Out of a Lady.” As an old fan favorite, the audience needed no prompting to sing along.
After closing the main set with the sparkling, euphoric “Annihilation Song,” the band took a quick break before coming back for an encore, starting with an improvisation based on the ending of the first song, “Earth Worship.” After two more songs, “Party Like Your Heart Hurts” and “Lemonade,” the brass section spilled out from the stage, parading through the crowd, and finally ending with trumpeter and co-songwriter Alex Toth playing solo from on top of the bar.