Iska Dhaaf w/ Spirit Award and Kelli Schaefer
The Crocodile, Seattle, WA

The Crocodile was abuzz with a showcase of local talent for Iska Dhaaf, a band whose music you want to blast whilst navigating the city streets. Plenty of fans in Iska Dhaaf t-shirts filled the crowd in anticipation of the up-and-coming outfit, but it was a formidable opening bill with Spirit Award and Kelli Schaefer opening the show.  

Schaefer was a very unassuming figure on stage, with a hypnotic quality to her voice. As she swayed and got lost in the rhythms and tones of her fantastic band, there would all of a sudden be a burst of energy from her and her voice went from tender to booming. The band’s ethereal, dramatic pop music generated a genuine connection with the crowd. Schaefer played a big part, channeling her inner daredevil by balancing on the rail to the right of the stage while continuing to perform. Cat-like indeed. While a stark contrast to the energy of the headliners, Schaefer was well received.  

Next up amongst the smoke and lights, Spirit Award, sans drummer. Their set was tight and their musical prowess apparent, however lacking the energy of a rhythm section, it did seem a bit flat. With slick guitar effects and a complementary bass line, Spirit Award had a compelling story in their sound. I look forward to seeing their full-line up in the future.  

Lastly, the merry men of Iska Dhaaf. Rocking dual drum kits, the energetic members of this dynamic band were ready to melt some faces. With their new album, Wanting Creatures, released to the masses, the band had plenty of new material to complement their older tracks. Lead singer Nathan Quiroga had no brakes, flooring it from the start, especially during one of their new tunes, “Invisible Cities.” To a mix of acid beats and garage rock, Quiroga put on a dramatic performance to go along with the haunting lyrics.  

The band is an engaging bunch who likes to take chances. I have never seen a double drum kit before, but the two rhythmic maestros were in sync and did not miss a beat, literally. The supporting bass and guitar surrounded Quiroga, forming a musically solid foundation as he engaged the crowd from the stage and the floor.  

Energy was never an issue during Iska Dhaaf’s performance, the band’s unyielding fun infecting the entire crowd. Their last song, “Everybody Knows,” brought some great moments, from the massive sing-along to Quiroga giving the mic to a fan to sing the chorus. Finally, a dance party ensued that was a fitting close to the night.

Review and photos by Phillip Johnson

Iska Dhaaf

Spirit Award

Kelli Schaefer