Henry Mansfield and the Bearded Scooter Gang w/ Pale People, Waking Things, and Coyote Lovely
Vera Project, Seattle, WA

The crowd at always all-ages Vera Project was small, but full of energy as they were treated to an eclectic variety of rock by some talented young musicians.

First to the stage was Seattle’s Coyote Lovely. A three-piece outfit with Chris Clarke Johnson (bassist for Henry Mansfield) at the helm. Their sound had a raw garage quality that transitioned to jam band-like moments during which they would just riff on stage. Johnson was very expressive with his movement on stage and his voice had a Morrissey quality to it. The chemistry between the members was evident and it opened the night with the right amount of energy.

Speaking of energy, let’s talk about the Pale People. Hailing from Missoula, MT, they came to Seattle to return the favor to Mansfield for playing there earlier in the month. Lead singer and keyboardist Mack Gilchrist opened the set by describing his first song, “This is a song about if you were to be kidnapped by a serial killer.” From there, the song themes ranged from Tetris champions named Jason to the reality-TV star Honey Boo Boo. To call their set theatrical is an understatement as their energy and peppy piano rock brought the crowd to their feet.

After we came down from the Pale People’s set, a projector came down and started playing Indiana Jones with the words, “Waking Things” across the screen; the next band was ready to go. Chris Sicard was very engaging with the crowd, especially after he asked everyone to come close to the stage because they were filming the performance and he went into stories about how he would see some his favorite bands on that very stage. They also had a sense of humor by being topical with their cover of the Pokemon theme song and offering Mario Cart 64 at their merch table. Musically, this band is very talented with their brand of hard rock, reminiscent of the days of Drive Thru Records that incorporated interesting rhythms and riffs, as evident during their song “Pretend.” Boundless movement and intensity on stage only added to a stellar performance.

It was approaching 10pm when Henry Mansfield and the Bearded Scooter Gang took to the stage. Within the first 20 seconds of hearing his opener, “Two Day Shipping,” all I could think of was this is Ben Folds’ bearded younger brother. His piano licks and rhythms were Folds-esque along with his tongue in cheek lyricism. However, he is more punk rock/ska Folds than solo piano pop Folds. Again, another band having fun on stage. They launched stuffed pigs from the stage purely for amusement and organized an interpretive dance-off by splitting the crowd into two teams during “Ocean.”

It wasn’t until about 10:30pm when Mansfield described “Roseland” as “…a song I wrote for my high school graduation, which was a couple of months ago…” that I realized that this was a farewell concert as Mansfield said that he was off to college in a couple of months. The highlight of their set was “The Diamond Dog,” a high-energy, hard driving tune where he brought up his friend Serena Dominguez to play bass (and she shredded). Everyone had a shining moment during that song and the crowd could not stop dancing.

At the end of the night, I still could not believe Mansfield and his crew were either in or graduating from high school. He has songwriting skills well beyond his years and his band clearly has an enormous amount of talent. It just goes to show you that the smallest venues can sometimes lead to some great moments. Good luck to Mansfield and the rest of the Scooter Gang as they go off to institutions of higher learning; let’s hope that the gang gets back together for a reunion jam, back where it all started.

Review and photos by Phillip Johnson

Henry Mansfield and the Bearded Scooter Gang w/ Pale People, Waking Things, and Coyote Lovely