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Show Review: Jessica Lea Mayfield Rocks the Croc

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An audience member stares wistfully at a television screen, modified to display “Evening Bell”

Above the restless crowd, Evening Bell entered the stage. Each of them brandishing their instrument of expertise, duo Hart Kingsbery and Caitlin Sherman stood confidently in front of drummer Jason Merculief and bassist Aaron Harmonson. The band picked up as the lights came on, harmonies ringing out over the Crocodile’s killer sound system!

Simple and sweet, the singers took turns leading us in song. Kingsbery’s guitar pierced through the air like jet streams in a clear blue sky while Sherman’s voice blended into the tone of her keyboard. The combination of her instrument and vocals created a clear contrast to the guitar’s distinct wavy-ness. Meanwhile, the keyboard’s piano-like tone generated a Jazzy demeanor above the Country-Western vibe.

Each song would begin with a guitar or piano riff, the sound of which would result in a cheer from the audience as they recognized their favorite tracks from this local band. While we sang and danced along to the frontmen, Merculief and Harmonson rocked out subtly from behind. Harmonson sported a cowboy hat and a big red bow tie, he smiled as his rhythms echoed through the small concert venue. Throughout the set, Merculief moved us through the various styles of music. His most amazing moments, however, stood out during keyboard and guitar solos. His beats reverberated below the dynamic synths and riffs, providing a solid basis for Sherman and her voice. Long instrumental moments also showcased the drums as they shifted in and out of focus.

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Evening Bell plays another hometown country duet

“Thank you so much for listening,” Sherman closed the show through a smile. “That was fun!” Kingsbury added. We cheered as they grabbed their television and left the stage.

As we waited for the headliner, the fog grew thicker and thicker. Seen through the haze, Jessica Lea Mayfield grabbed one of her five guitars and plugged it into her smorgasbord of pedals. Reverberating and intense, her guitar joined in with the bass until the entire band built to intensity. All the while, drummer Matt Martin, wearing a tattered collared shirt and drums, remained relaxed yet determined.

As the instrument turned up, Jesse Newport’s bass became distorted under Mayfield’s ever present guitar – her arpeggios ringing out between lamenting lyrics. They drew us in with inconsistent rhythm, possessing the presence of a poetry slam and the power of an arena show. Beneath her echoing voice, the three musicians rocked out to every chord progression under the sun.  

Their tone and musical expertise fit Seattle’s sound like an old glass slipper – their presentation like Nirvana if Kurt Cobain owned a pair of sparkly boots. 

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Jessica Lea Mayfield “and band” start off with a bang!

They played three songs in a row, each leading straight into the next. As a song would end the drums and bass would slow down on Mayfield’s cue. Turning around, she would play in tandem with her band – all three of them looking intensely at one another. As the last song fell to a silence, Martin and Newport quietly exited the stage.

“I’m gonna do a song by myself. It’s called ‘Party Drugs.’ It’s off my new record.” After explaining the origin to the song, she started back into the entrancing mix of guitar and vocals – sans bass and drums. A little more controlled, the solo song showed off Mayfield’s artistic control, manipulating the reverberation of her voice and guitar, relying on every resonating note to carry into the next.

After that song, the band joined Mayfield back on stage. She complimented the gentleman in the front for being so polite and, taking off her jacket and adorning another guitar, she amazed us as the lights reflected off her guitar strap and bright green eyes. Looking towards the audience, she saw through us all as we watched her emotions fly out above us.

After playing a new song called, “Seeing Stars,” Mayfield introduced Jesse Newport as her husband. As we cooed and Jesse picked up his guitar, Jessica lifted her head slightly to introduce the next song, “this is the first screwed up love song I wrote about him.” We laughed and cheered as we breathed the whiffs of red bull and vodka – a staple scent of the Crocodile dance floor. The lighting changed and Jessica’s melancholy lyrics picked up again with a song she couldn’t help but smile about. The two guitars layered themselves perfectly as Mayfield’s slow strokes accented Newport’s quick and rhythmic strums. “You’ve got a stranglehold on my heart,” she sang as she cleverly depicted the hardships of new relationships and their unforeseeable potential.

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Grunge rock and sparkles. Jessica’s studded strap shines brightly through the haze

In the front row, Jessica pointed out a couple who she thought was being particularly cute. “Looks like you had a good valentines day,” she said. “I’m gonna ruin that,” she quickly added. After our laughs subsided, she explained the meaning of her next song. “I spent some time trying to plan my death but then I wondered if I had enough time to do all the things I needed to do around the house first.” We laughed. “And that was enough time to write down a song about how ridiculous that was”

The music grew louder and the audience’s smiling and blushing diminished to head bobbing. The husband and wife stepped closer to one another, their instruments almost touching as they continued to play some “bummer shit,” as Mayfield later described. She played “I Can’t Lie To You” with her distorted black guitar. The guitar and bass shouted every note as each doubled the melody. The band broke into our consciousness with their impeccable song writing ability – each moment providing a dramatic contrast in sound from the last. The drums provided a segue between these distinct moments with their ability to move from loud to quiet with just one gradual cymbal.

After the song appeared to end – a short applause had followed – Jessica’s guitar tears through the speakers. The music picks up and continues until we’re begging for more. Unfortunately, there was only time for one more. The band played their last song, “No Fun” – their musical ability never faltering. The guitar seemed to have control over bass and drums, as each remained in sync with the Mayfield’s rhythm. The song ended cutely and cleanly as the musical married couple kissed during the last guitar solo.

In a true Valentine’s Day spirit, Jessica invited the cute couple she had previously called out up onto the stage. Nervously, the drunk audience members pulled themselves out of the crowed and joined Mayfield in the spotlight. She asked if they knew the words and the women nodded furiously in response. As the song began, however, it became obvious that her date may have forgotten a few lyrics. Mouth closed, he danced silently around the stage – at one point approaching the drums with a smirk, only to walk away sheepishly as the song subsided.

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Two excited audience members dance and sing along on stage for the encore performance

Through our laughs, Jessica closed the show. She even stayed around for a bit to drink with the crowd! Be sure to check out her website for new music, tour updates, and more!

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DJ Desman