Rocking Portland Duo Helio Sequence

Article and Images Published w/ Filter

The Helio Sequence
Soundlab, Buffalo, NY – 05.25.08
Filter Grade: 89%
by April S. Engram | 05.29.2008

A small crowd gathered in Buffalo’s Soundlab to watch Portland, Oregon’s The Helio Sequence dazzle us with their synth-laced, reverb-drowned tunes and of course the duo delivered. This reviewer salivated for Helio to tread along the East coast after viewing their outstanding performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, thank God they did. Touring endlessly to promote their fourth album Keep Your Eyes Ahead Helio created a great album and it’s easily one of the best released this year. Under indie label giants Sub Pop, the upbeat album is a perfect blend on electronics, airy pop, sporadic, hypnotic drumming and smart lyrics. Those in the crowd this night who were not familiar with the sounds of Helio Sequence did not want the night to end as Brandon Summers (vocals/guitar) and Benjamin Weikel (drums/keyboards/effects) wooed the Buffalo audience.

Everyone lingered at the back of the venue for the opening act to finish their set. Yet, once they were completed Summers and Weikel graced the stage and the crowd swaggered closer; it was apparent who everyone was eager to see. With instruments in place, Weikel cued up the first song of the night on his laptop and Summers followed suit with his airy, echo-y guitar. From the first to last note that was struck, Helio Sequence sounded flawless and the duo sounded like four as they filled the venue with their music. The audience loudly applauded and cheered after each song as the two leapt into the next track, leaving little wasted time between songs.

However, Weikel briefly left the stage so Summers chatted up the crowd with a “filler” tale of their being lost in the Dakota badlands. “I saw my first prairie dog,” Summers admitted as Weikel again sat at his drum kit and began beating his snare. Not knowing where to go next with his story Summers laughed “I’m just basically tying to waste time while my drummer tunes his snare,” before posing to the crowd if anyone had questions about he badlands, he is now an expert. All settled again, they jumped into the next song and again sounded perfect. Weikel was an outstanding on his drums as he methodically banged away at his set and proved to be an eye catcher. One photogenic drummer, Weikel is the man with a thousand faces as he smiles, silently shouts and his hands reach for the heavens while he quickly pummels his set.

About halfway through their set and after another roar of praise and whistles even Summers admitted, “you guys are too nice.” So someone sarcastically shouted “you suck,” “there,” Summers laughed, “now it feels right…everything’s normal again.” What can you say; the crowd simply loved the show but they wanted more stories. Someone from the back of the room shouted “Storytellers,” “like the show,” Summers asked. He obliged and made up a dramatic tale—said with an equally dramatic voice of course—about meeting a woman while staying at the Chelsea Hotel when he was down and out and it was then that he wrote “this song…” and played the beautifully quiet “Shed Your Love.” However, the slower songs did not pervade the night as they played crowd pleasers “Can’t Say No,” “The Captive Mind,” “Hallelujah,” “Lately,” “Don’t Look Away,” and “Harmonica Song” among others. They closed the night with the title track from the new album and withdrew from the stage. Summers and Weikel did not get far as the audience cheered and shouted requests for an encore.

As Weikel sat on the stage to catch his breath, Summers picked up his acoustic and played “Broken Afternoon.” The delighted crowd showed their appreciation but shouted even louder when he reached for his electric guitar and Weikel again took his seat at the drums then they were official down for the evening. A great live act, The Helio Sequence put on a sound performance and rekindled my admiration for duos.

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