For thousands of years, human beings have followed the movements of the moon, stars, and other celestial objects to keep track of time and seasons. The full moon, which occurs when Earth is directly between the sun and the moon, marks the turning of the month in most lunar calendars, and has a history of being associated with various behaviors—particularly, insanity and insomnia (science doesn’t back up these phenomena, but the stories are still great to read). Last week, on January 12, the Wolf Moon graced us with its presence, signifying the howling of hungry wolves, as Greta Morgan of Springtime Carnivore and Eric D. Johnson of Fruit Bats performed to a sold-out show of patrons hungry for good music.
This was my first time attending a show at the Tractor Tavern, despite my efforts since turning 21 last year. Now that I’ve been, I can easily say that it’s my new favorite venue in town. The signature skull, tacked between the two T’s, is burned in my memory for good.
I’ve been listening to Greta Morgan only since she started singing under the moniker Springtime Carnivore, after hearing “Name on a Matchbook” being played on KEXP during the summer of 2014. That year was particularly emotional, for a variety of reasons, and I’ve found that music I listened to during that time has stayed with me more deeply than most.
Morgan, along with Kathleen Cruger on piano and Dasha Shleyeva on bass, started their set with two singles off Springtime Carnivore’s 2016 release, Midnight Room. “Raised by Wolves” and “Midnight Room,” both catchy, upbeat, reflections on departing a significant relationship, were met with cheers from the audience—many of whom made it clear they were there to see Springtime Carnivore first and foremost. Just as I thought I couldn’t like this artist more, Morgan engaged in some between-song-banter about being alone and listening to true crime podcasts to which, without thinking, I responded by yelling, “MY FAVORITE MURDER,” one of my favorite podcasts at the moment. Out of context, I can see why I was met with confusion, but if you talk about true crime in my presence, I lose a bit of foresight and filtration. The show went on after my little outburst, as the trio played a few more songs from both albums, including “Double Infinity,” “Keep Confessing,” and “Name on a Matchbook.” When Morgan announced they had one more left, “Face in The Moon,” several people cheered for more, to which they were met with a stripped-down performance of “Other Side of the Boundary,” an echo-y ballad of love and longing. A pseudo-encore for an opener shows how invested the crowd and artist are during a show, so with luck, we’ll see Springtime Carnivore back in Seattle soon, headlining her own sold-out show.
The Fruit Bats’ stage was adorned with flickering, electric tea lights, gathered in bunches around various instruments, reminding me (strangely) of votive candle racks in Catholic churches. There was also a big suitcase-style “Fruit Bats” light box (partially visible in the image above). The band jumped right into “From a Soon-to-Be Ghost Town,” the first song off their new record, Absolute Loser, which ranges from soaring ballads in “Baby Bluebird” to pure Americana in “Humbug Mountain Song.” After breaking up a few years ago, the performance Eric D. Johnson and his band put on last Thursday was drenched in nostalgia and a sense of release. Between songs, Johnson exclaimed, “You guys are funny and cool. I like this,” mentioning that Seattle was the first city Fruit Bats did really well in (while signed to Sub Pop Records). “[You’re] bedrock super-fans.” When you compliment a crowd of Seattleites on their superb music-listening history, you bet you’re a** an encore will be cheered for.
Other songs performed included “The Rock Doc” from their Record Store Day release, The Glory of Fruit Bats, and “Dolly,” an upbeat tune from Tripper during which Johnson traded in his guitar for a tambourine and made his way onto the floor, dancing with the euphoric audience. Fruit Bats ended the night with cult favorite, “When U Love Somebody.” I left the Tractor Tavern with the refrain, “When you love somebody, it’s hard to think about anything but to breathe,” roaming around in my head. I had a hard time thinking about anything but the musicians I love, playing to an appreciative audience.
EMMA PIERCE | A lunar lunatic | KXSU Music Reporter
*All photos are by Emma Pierce.