I still get small chill each time I walk into The Fillmore. The music venue gifted made legendary by Charles Sullivan, and then Bill Graham is a mainstay in the San Francisco music scene. It has played host to many memorable shows. A glance around the poster room displays the secrets of the unassuming building sat on the corner of Fillmore and Geary. Wilco’s sold-out five-night residency may in years to come go down as one of those great moments.
And on the day Wilco’s 10th album, Schmilco, was released Deep Sea Diver made a detour on their US tour to open for the much loved Chicago-based rock band. Deep Sea Diver are a four-piece band formed by Jessica Dobson. The songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is a stalwart to the US music having toured with The Shins and Beck in years gone by. In 2014 she decided to focus on full-time on Deep Sea Diver. This focus lead up to the release of their sophomore album, Secrets, earlier this year. The album is an ode to intricate guitar riffs and open songwriting. Indeed, it is quoted as one of the best albums of the year by Kevin Cole at the start of the KEXP set I discovered them on.
Much like the Fillmore presence on Geary, the band was somewhat unassuming as they made their way on stage to a still filling up Fillmore. The bursting guitars as they opened up felt like they woke people up. “Creatures of Comfort” did it’s best to shake the crowd with its fighting guitars and catchy chorus.
There was a concentrated urgency to their music as they played. The Seattle-based band is one which rewards you the more intently you listen. The music is full of contrasts and patience. “Great Lights” was gentle yet strong in its delivery, it held you firmly and drew you in. The space to breath in the slower songs made for engaging listening. The way “Always Waiting” built from a gentle strum into a bold sound was quite satisfying.
It was ultimately these contrasts which made the set work. The sonic peaks, like the intense guitars at the end of “Body on the Tracks”, contrasted so well with the more moving moments, it was a performance that sucked you in and left you wanting for more as they left the stage.
Mid-set Jessica asked if anyone in the audience was at their last San Francisco gig (at Rickshaw Stop). I think one person shouted some form of agreement. Following this set opening for Wilco, if she asks “so did anyone see us play with Wilco,” I’m pretty sure there will be a chorus of people shouting back, “yes!”