Seattle packed the Crocodile Monday night for a double bill featuring Emily Wells and Dark Dark Dark. Emily Wells, the talented multi-instrumentalist who as recently as a couple months ago headlined a show at the same venue, went on first with her one-woman band. She has quickly amassed a strong following here with her violin, beats, toy instruments and strong vocals, as she has become the queen of looping. Even her mother came to the show to see her.

The highlight of her show was a stripped down new song Los Angeles, a gorgeous ballad that simply featured an electric guitar and her vocals. Upon completion of the song, one member of the crowd authentically yelled out “nice” to which the rest of the crowd, and Ms. Wells, embraced it and casually mocked it for the rest of her set. She ended her show with a cover of Little Willie John’s Fever done in classic Emily Wells fashion, one part contemporary jazz, one part classical and one part hip-hop.

Dark Dark Dark are on the road touring to support their latest album Who Needs Who. The band’s innocent beginnings came when Nona Marie Invie and Marshall LaCount decided to leave their native Minnesota to fulfill their desire to go to New Orleans; both places collectively influence their first two albums. 

When talking with Mr. LaCount, he was humbled and honored with my comment that their music could easily pass as an audio version to photographer Alec Soth’s Sleeping by the Mississippi.

The basis of Who Needs Who is the break-up of Invie and LaCount while on their last tour. No track exemplifies the album as a whole as How It Went Down, a hauntingly beautiful song that will find its way onto some soundtrack soon enough. Listen to the track below: 

While the easy thing after the relationship ended would have been to break up the band, the common belief that heartbreak equals good art, or a great album in this case, holds true.

There’s no doubt that Invie’s voice is the forefront of the band’s sound. However, it was interesting, knowing the backstory, to see the dynamics of the band on stage. Walt McClements, the accordion player, stood center stage with the rhythm section behind him separating the founders of the now quintet. The physcal separation of the former couple, whether purposefully or not, made their sad songs touchingly tragic.

Whoever inaugurated the idea of Emily Wells and the Dark Dark Dark tour together knew what they were doing. It's a rare double bill for the venues they’re playing. The sophistication of modern experimentation fusing with classical music and hip-hop from Emily Wells got the crowd moving. While Dark Dark Dark followed up by allowing the crowd to absorb their straightforward old-world sensitivity.

Good show. Good night.

-James (J.D.) Scholten