Words & Images by: Scott Galbraith
Everest :: 10.25.08 :: Hotel Utah Saloon :: San Francisco, CA
Everest is a band poised to make it big. They are in the middle of the first leg of a national tour, playing to thousands of screaming fans every night. Okay, so the fans are actually screaming for the headliners of the show, Neil Young and Death Cab for Cutie, but Everest is opening for them, which is still a huge milestone for any band to reach shortly after releasing their debut album.
So, as a band what do you do when you achieve one of your dreams, i.e. being invited to open for a musical icon on a national tour? Imagine playing stadiums and arenas, gaining thousands of fans a night across the country. Would playing a small bar in a big city seem like the next logical step to acquire a fan base? For most bands it would seem like a huge step backwards, but for Everest it was just another chance to do what they love most – play live music.
Everest was clearly still on a Neil Young tour high, as the energy they projected from the tiny 15-foot wide stage at the Hotel Utah was at levels you would expect from an arena. Unfortunately, it was almost too much for the Utah to handle. The 30 or so people crammed into the small club almost didn't know what to do with the wall of sound erupting from the Vox amps onstage. I have been to a number of shows at this venue and this was the first time I was actually impressed with the sound. They must have it so dialed in, as the sound guy (who was also the busboy) only had to make slight adjustments a few times throughout the show (while he was in the vicinity of the soundboard to pick up empty drink glasses).
The lackluster energy of the crowd didn't stop Everest from putting everything they had into their show, and the songs were played to near perfection. Not the type of perfection that would make you think, "This is just like the CD," but the type of perfection where you can feel the same emotion that was put into the songs when they were first written. This is what makes Everest unique and refreshing - they don't stop where most rock bands would. Nothing is rushed, nothing is forced and everything is from the heart. Singer-songwriter Russell Pollard belts out his stoic lyrics in a way that makes you not want to sing along word-for-word but rather harmonize in the background, letting Pollard carry the primary feeling of each piece. Songs like "I See It In Your Eyes" stretch out to 8-10 minutes with multiple sections most ordinary bands would just leave out. It's refreshing to hear a band that can write a great song, and then make it even better live.
There is a reason that the leaders of the rock establishment are picking this band up and taking them under their wings. My Morning Jacket took them to Europe, Neil Young, Death Cab for Cutie and Wilco are taking them all across the country and all the way up to Nova Scotia. It's because Everest is the type of band that people become instant fans of after hearing them for first time. Their music is accessible, comfortable and leaves one yearning to hear more. Maybe it's Russell's unwavering voice or the connection the band members seem to have with each other – something makes you immediately feel like you have been listening to these songs for years, even when it's the first time. I would imagine a number of people walk away after each of their shows thinking they have just found the next Dr. Dog or Cold War Kids. Regardless of comparisons, one thing appears to be for sure, next time Everest come to town they'll be playing a bigger room to a larger crowd who knows all the words.