Words by: Dennis Cook
Big Light/Everest :: 03.04.10 :: The Independent :: San Francisco, CA
Rock 'n' roll is alive and well, and I know this because of another faith affirming night at The Independent. There's so many winning, pleasure inspiring aspects to rock as it is that often the best times occur when bands simply rub our noses in all the musky, tormented, turned-on, foot stomping things that keeps the genre rolling along. However, this only really works if the participants onstage truly believe rock has the power to liberate us – a potential beyond merely putting together songs and playing them for folks. And the sweat and strut of all three bands on this bill announced that they'd long ago committed their souls to the cause and were ready to take the rest of us along with them.
Watching Everest writhe dexterously it was hard to escape the feeling that we were witnessing the ascent of one of today's great rock bands. Loaded claim but everything about these Los Angeles vets screams "classic," right down to their rumpled, charismatic look and everything-on-the-table energy. While only officially a few years old, this band boasts guys who've been chasing the dream for years in different bands before coalescing in Everest in 2008. Russell Pollard (lead vocals, guitar, drums, lyricist), Jason Soda (guitar, keys, vocals), Joel Graves (guitar, keys, vocals), Elijah Thomson (bass, vocals) and Davey Latter (drums, percussion) offer quality craftsmanship in songwriting, musicianship, studio savvy and live execution, a callback to a time when band's earned their stripes and honed their individual sound through long miles, constant vigilance, naked musical curiosity and unrelenting dedication to bettering their music at all times. Little wonder that they've attracted the attention of Neil Young, whose Vapor Records put out Everest's debut, Ghost Notes, and will release their stunning sophomore spinner On Approach on April 20, 2010.
While the crowd was packed with Big Light's hometown faithful, those that tuned into Everest mostly wound up wowed and a touch slack-jawed. Heavy, befuzzed new one "I've Had This Feeling Before" piled on triple guitar goodness and was one of several numbers that felt like future concert staples likely to evolve into extended, shattering workouts. The sense of barely tapped but enormous potential lurks within all the new cuts, and the dovetailing evolution of the earlier catalog feels like everything is coming into sharp focus for Everest. As Ms. Penny Lane once said, it's all happening.
Everest understands the power of amp shaking bigness and the smaller potency of pop shorthand, often exhibited in their concise track lengths and lyrical bent, which anchors universal lines like "I need time to make this right" or "It's good to be alone" to fully developed melodies textured with care by the entire band. With one of the finest, most versatile, least guarded lead singers going and an interlocked group unity, Everest was by turns lovely and shaking, aggressive and feather light, jangly and mean, jammy and focused. If you met them even halfway during this set you found rockers who represent the whole package. Won't be long before they're not opening for anybody anymore, if there's any justice.