Pickwick set The Independent ablaze on their way to SXSW


Seattle’s rising soul-rock band, Pickwick, have arrived and music fans of San Francisco have taken notice, selling out The Independent on a windy Friday night. The band is early in their first true American tour, spanning from their Pacific Northwest home to Eastern Canada, and it was evident to see that they are charging full speed, hitting every demographic they can. The timing couldn’t be better as the band is in the midst of releasing their first album, Can’t Talk Medicine.

Sandy’s provided local support, while Portland’s Radiation City took the second slot as the venue filled up to enthusiastic onlookers. The sound of Radiation City flutters between experimental pop and nostalgic lounge rock, featuring dreamy multi-part vocals and a mildly psych sound. Early arrivals signaled a band on the rise, a common theme for the evening.

Take a look at the Showbams review of “Can’t Talk Medicine.”

PickwickPhotos by Sam Heller at Hangtown Festival 10/27/12 Placerville, CA

It was time for Pickwick’s first sold out headlining San Francisco show and the expanded 6-piece group casually walked onto stage and began the show with the soul-churning track off the new LP, “Brother Roland.” Galen Disston, the vocal powerhouse and lead man, was not alone on vocals this night as it was evident that the secret of Pickwick is out and spreading like wildfire. Exuberant fans sang along in an impressive manner and number, showing that they are a big deal, even outside Seattle and it’s surrounding areas. It’s tough to ignore such passionate and engaging music when confronted with it, and there’s no reason why these guys should not gain waves of fans across the nation over the upcoming months.

The infectiousness of their songs come from many sources, giving the ability to clap, tap or stomp along with the beat, which seems to please the crowd. This rhythm is now further augmented by new 6th member, and album producer, Kory Kruckenberg. His inclusion on this tour takes the full sounding live act to an even higher plateau as he bounces between guitar, keys, even vibraphone.

Pickwick2Photos by Sam Heller at Hangtown Festival 10/27/12 Placerville, CA

Galen Disston is a true vocal force to watch and admire as he paces the stage, truly feeling every note that he sings, treating his voice more like an instrument than a vessel for lyrical content. “The Round” displayed this vocal instrumentation paired with a warm sounding Wurlitzer and grooving bass line for one of the highlights of the night. Lizzy Ellison of Radiation City joined the band for a spirited rendition of Richard Swift’s “Lady Luck.” This cover track, appearing on a Covers EP and the new album, originally features Sharon von Etten, but on this night Lizzy coupled her sultry vocals to Disston’s tasteful falsetto while Kruckenberg plays the rarely-toured vibraphone.

From there, the band played a new song which noticeably featured even singing efforts by Disston, guitarist Michael Parker and keyboardist Cassady Lillstrom. Album opener “Halls of Columbia” was a highlight of the set, as was longtime favorite “Hacienda Motel.” Both these songs are amazing examples of the dynamic nature of their writing, blending genres into a sound which is uniquely their own.

The art of the encore is not lost on these guys as they delivered a scorcher, leaving people stunned and gleeful on there way out the doors. “The Ostrich” has become quite the energetic cover. Originally by Lou Reed, it’s a driving riff took precedent while Disston pogoed and stomped his way across the stage. One can’t help see a little bit of Jerry Lee Lewis in Disston’s possessed stage mannerisms along with his booming vocals. “Window Sill” was to be the last song of the night, leaving with a bang rather than a whisper. Many of the opening band’s personnel came out bearing tambourines and various rhythmic instruments as this track’s beat can only be aided by more willing bodies. A warm keyboard hook led into Disston and Parker belting out lyrics followed by a section of shouted “whoa”s only to be volleyed by the enraptured audience. By the time the last notes rang through, the crowd was eating it up and hungry for more, but alas they’d have to wait till next time.

Having been a fan of this band from around the time of their inception, it is nothing but a joy to see them receive the success they have prepared for over the past couple of years. Can’t Talk Medicine is sure to get attention outside of their hometown, hopefully while blowing minds in Austin next weekend.


  1. […] Read Kevin’s live music review of the Pickwick show last Friday at The Independent. ~Kevin Quandt […]

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