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The Cloves/Handful of Luvin'
July 23, 2005 - The Showbox - Seattle, WA
by Katie Sauro
                                               
As Michael Hochstatter of new Seattle band, the Cloves, began to sing, he tilted his face upward, he closed his eyes in a dramatic fashion, and clutched the mic with both hands, guitar slung over his back.  He looked slightly like a young Liam Gallagher (minus the unibrow and unbelievably bad haircut).  Hochstatter’s warm, syrupy vocals even sounded a little like him.
                    
From the band’s name alone, and now with the emergence of an Oasis-sounding singer, I half expected yet another group of faux-British popsters playing simple, catchy hooks, and I was ready to write them off.  But all too often, first impressions are deceiving.  And in this case, I was pleased to be dead wrong, as family and friends of the band, as well as the rest of the crowd (myself included), was treated to so much more. 
 
The Cloves, made up of vocalist/guitarist Hochstatter, vocalist/bassist Kevin Poleskie, lead guitarist Chris Walbridge, and drummer Jason Maybell (although they had a substitute drummer filling in for Maybell on Saturday night), released their debut EP entitled
Waiting for the World to Be earlier this year, and are enjoying the recent success of the album, as well as celebrating the fact that one of their songs has been getting airplay on local radio stations lately.  Their set consisted of much of their new album, blending an airy '60s sound with modern-day power pop, culminating in a fresh take on Brit-pop.
 
They played a great set, varying between harmonizing power ballads like “Am I Safe?” and “Ignored,” the blissfully danceable pop of “Prescriptions,” and an edgier, harder sound, like the pounding drums of their last song of the night, “Tidal Sun.”  The songwriting is undeniably passionate and cutting, and the musicianship of each member of the band is equally as powerful.
 
All in all, the Cloves put on a great set, not only with their musical talent, but with their stage presence.  Case in point, my favorite moment of the night – someone in the crowd yelled Kevin’s name after he had just finished singing a song.  He looked down into the audience, smiled, and simply said, “Thanks, Dad.”  
 
The openers were Handful of Luvin’, who, like the Cloves, had more than a handful of family, friends, and fans on hand to see them play an inimitably entertaining set of folk, blues, and even a little reggae.  They were a cute five-piece whose music seemed less akin to dark venues like the Showbox, and more so to a bright sunny day in a grassy field, playing to a crowd full of barefoot hippies, clad in sundresses and floppy straw hats.  Their foot-stomping, hand-clapping folk, complete with fiddle, as well as their on-stage tactics for audience-involvement, kept the crowd happy and energized, dancing (and I use the term loosely) and flailing about wildly, and made for a hyped-up, fun set full of great music. 
 
Saturday night proved to be an excellent showcase of local Seattle music, bands with decidedly different styles and influences, but both equally talented and praiseworthy in their own right.