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original site launched April 1, 2004, .com relaunched October 1, 2004

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editor's note
November 10, 2007 - The Crocodile - Seattle, WA
by Nicholas Hubbard

Adam Baker walks out to loud cheers looking like a minstrel at a Renaissance Fair. He has no shoes on. He smiles and calls out, “Hey, alright!” waving at the crowd. He stands in front of two KORG synthesizers and to his left, on another KORG, is Anna Spence in a fairytale dress, ruffles at the wrist and cut short like a 60s film costume. Four others (Kenny Florence, Zack Oden, Mike Robinson and Nick Radford) with equally varied appearances, fill the stage to brimming.

When they’re prepped, the tension at the Crocodile is high and it seems hard for the Annuals to sync up on “Complete or Completing.” Their sound is, if you can imagine, even more raw than on album, and feels slower, more like a calliope at a carnival than rock and roll. As the song reaches its orchestral climax, they’ve picked up their energy and we’re all feeling great. Baker is playing drums, keys, and singing. “We’re Annuals, by the way,” he says, “nice to meet you.”

It’s blatantly clear how many instruments are involved in this band’s repertoire. They are an orchestra--a symphony--and they play like maniacs.  They play like maniacs on about three instruments each.

“Dry Clothes” is rendered as a spacey guitar opera, with keyboards possessed and all heads banging. This performance is becoming more and more physical, and suddenly the six players duck down really low and the song finishes in a murky sample of strange voices. There is this sense of the immense stylistic range Baker, Spencer, Florence, Oden, Robinson and Radford can cover in one number. 

“Fair,” their next, could be straight gospel, feels southern, gets at your heart. It requires furious playing, with four drummers and a wealth of harmonies.

They transition into a song from the
Git’ Got EP, “River Ride,” that’s like honky-tonk, ragtime. Baker is leonine, mouth wide and teeth bared. From here they traverse hip-hop, psychedelic guitar work--with Florence on lead vocals--and progressive rock. 

They give thanks to New Frontiers and Manchester Orchestra, “We love them and they’re beautiful,” and dark transition like something from “Thriller” leads them into “Carry Around.” It has synth effects that are something Perry and Kingsley would have approved; they’re glowing. The lights go dark and “Brother” is all about the details. Annuals are enjoying themselves and their artistry. Manchester Orchestra rushes on stage, backing on vocals and drums. The epic meter is way up in here.

After ten songs, it’s about time to head home. “We’re gonna skip the encore bullshit and just play another one for you.” Annuals close with Van Halenesque guitar heroics. They walk off and we all roar. We roar so much that they’re back in about thirty seconds. “We don’t usually do encores, ‘cause we’re bad at them.” Bullshit. The night ends with a soaring version of “Chase You Off,” and off we go.

More on Annuals: /