TVD Live: Deep Sea Diver at Neumos, 11/30

As I was navigating around people on Friday amid dripping rain on my venture toward Neumos, I was thinking to myself that the house was probably going to be pretty full tonight. Everyone in Seattle loves their local musicians, especially the ones we’ve gotten to know over the years through their musical escapades with other well-known bands, such as one of Seattle’s finest up-and-coming acts and a recent Weekend Shots contender, Deep Sea Diver.

Deep Sea Diver first made waves through my headphones back in July when I was researching the line-up for this year’s Bumbershoot, and to say I was musically smitten is a bit of an understatement. I was totally hooked.

Deep Sea Diver is composed of Jessica Dobson, husband Peter Mansen, and Michael Duggan. Dobson, who has toured with local favorites, The Shins, and the ultimate hipster, Beck, formed the band a few years ago after leaving behind a solo project with Atlantic Records. Finally having the ability to take total control of her musical path, Dobson with Masen and Duggan, self-released History Speaks in February of this year. Beautifully emotional and influential, the album received positive reviews and a following arose.

Dobson’s voice is deeper than most female musicians popping up these days and is stunning when challenged by the rhythm of the band’s beats. Her lyrical skills are also precise and creative, with Dobson drawing on her struggle growing up within the underworld of musicians. These emotions are displayed on the album, but when Dobson and Co. take the stage, their personalities and musicianship shine.

As I was waiting for Deep Sea Diver to take the stage at the favorite Capital Hill venue, I was surrounded by people who were still reeling from the surprisingly gripping set that openers Wild Belle had delivered, and hadn’t even noticed the gear swapped out in preparation for the main event.

The lights dimmed and Jessica Dobson walked out solo on stage. Exuding a very-feminine Johnny Cash vibe in all black, she walked over, picked up her guitar, and began plucking away at chords. It wasn’t until she began singing that I realized where she was going—a spare, solo “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” a perfect, slow-tempo’d start for the darkest and rainiest city in the world on the last day before December.

After Dobson finished her festive opening song, the rest of the band came out to lend a hand on the balance of the performance. The band revved right into “Keep It Moving.” The lyrics refer to a girl who is unmovable, and the band was in perfect form to show that they are anything but. Dobson struck down hard on the keyboard, pushing her voice to new and differing depths while Mansen pounds on his drums with his face so exaggerated that he’s almost unrecognizable.

Deep Sea Diver followed up with the equally-engrossing “Weekend War,” the eerie and piano driven “The Watchmen,” and upbeat fan-favorite “You Go Running.” Simply stellar during each performance, the band shifted between instruments and engaged the crowd, but what I enjoyed the most about seeing them live was the collaboration that was noticeable between the members. Dobson may front the band, but each person brings their own uniqueness to the mix. Whether is Mansen on drums, Duggan on bass, or their guest musicians on sax and guitar, they all have a style of their own that gels seamlessly. On top of that they are all know how to support Dobson’s voice in a live setting.

This show ended their 2012 tour in support of History Speaks and the band finished the year off quite well indeed. Deep Sea Diver impressed me with their album months ago, and witnessing them live solidifies the feeling. This is a well-rounded and solid band who is certainly destined for recognition beyond Seattle and the West Coast. Here’s to the future!

Photos: Kristina Sperline

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