Typhoon Engages the Crowd at VAC

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Typhoon plays a set at Visual Arts Collective.
  • Patrick Sweeney
  • Typhoon singer Kyle Morton charms the Visual Arts Collective crowd Wednesday night.

"Well ... that's never happened at a Typhoon show before," singer Kyle Morton said into the microphone Wednesday night.

Moments before, he had invited a member of the audience on stage to propose to his girlfriend. There were cheers when she accepted—a genuinely heartwarming moment—but there were even more cheers when the band cut into its next song.

The Portland, Ore. indie-rock-orchestra was in the middle of dropping a grip of new material on Boise, and it was on a serious roll, sounding more focused than on any of its previous Boise visits. It may have been that the band was rushing through its set to get something to eat—van trouble had put members behind schedule so they hadn't gotten a chance to dine before stepping on stage—something Morton commented on early in the set. Or it could have been that the band is hitting its stride after its wave of national success over the last year and a half, including an appearance on Late Night with David Letterman.

Either way, it was enough to win the attention of Boise's notoriously distracted audiences, something both the opening bands had struggled with in different ways.

Lost Lander, a '90s-pop rock band in indie rock clothing, pandered with a local shout-out.

"Have you guys heard of Atomic Mama? I'm wearing my Atomic Mama tank top today," singer Matt Sheehy said, pulling his guitar aside to reveal the Boise band's logo.

"I have two of them," keyboardist Sarah Fennell added in.

Folkster Laura Gibson took a slightly different approach with the local shout-out, mentioning that the natural beauty of the drive to Boise from Missoula reminded her of why Idaho is one her favorite states. But that did little to get the audience to hush up and pay attention. And with Gibson's music, paying attention matters. Her lullabies and whisper-soft ballads are all about the details, the light strums of her nylon acoustic and the delicate shifts in her voice as she coos lyrics about love and loss and the general wonder of life.

Lost Lander backed her up for much of the show, giving a little more punch to the act, but during one number towards the end Gibson asked the crowd to sing along.

"Do you think you can do it loud enough to win over that part of the room over there," she said of the parts of VAC beyond 12 feet from the stage. They did, but it didn't work.

The audience finally quieted down when Typhoon took the stage, beginning its set with members' collective hands in the middle of a circle like a sports team.

The new material it showcased featured Morton doing time on an electric piano and acoustic guitar.

The genius of Typhoon is in its seeming contradictions. It is a giant band with a delicate touch. It has epic instrumental arrangements with vocals like a hushed admission of guilt. A ukulele is strummed with a near-windmill motion. Even Morton's guitar seems bigger than he is.

And that was why the audience crowded around the stage and cheered more for an encore than for an engagement.

But that said, they really missed out on a lovely set from Gibson.

For a slideshow of the evening, click here.

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