Dead Feather Moon – An Infectious Live Sonic Ride

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Dead Feather Moon is a captivating live band prone to bouts of bluesy, alt-country rock jams that make a bold statement night after night on stage. Within the last few years, they have been tearing up enough venues across San Diego to put them right up there with the preeminent bands this city has to offer. Their deep catalog of solid, well-written original material is easy to latch on to live and is played with enough enthusiastic conviction and fervor to make them hard to forget. On Thursday, March 8th at The Belly Up, they open up for another San Diego heavyweight The Silent Comedy for what is lining up to be some of the best homegrown music you will hear this year. Bass player Chris Bowling gave me a few minutes and a few thoughts about Dead Feather Moon’s live experience and approach.

Your band has been together for a while. How do you feel that Dead Feather Moon has evolved as a live unit?

I feel we are constantly growing as musicians, and with that, becoming a tighter band musically in our live sets. We feed on the energy of the crowd, and it’s made us livelier on stage. The inhibitions are out the window the second we walk out there.

Your album Dark Sun has been out for a while now. How have the songs evolved live? Can you give an example–is there a specific song that has taken on a different life of its own?

Well, the band seems to agree on the philosophy that each album we write is a snapshot in time. We have elaborated on a few songs but our focus now is what we put out next. My feeling is that our songwriting is evolving rapidly and we all get anxious to finish a song that we feel is one of our best works. But one song we’ve changed for example is “Everything I Haven’t Said.” It has a new ending that has a little more behind it than what’s on the album. It seems to please the crowd so we haven’t changed it.

What new song is your favorite to play live? Why?

My favorite song to play live…this is a tough one. I have so many. But if I had to choose one it would be “Dark horse.” I just love seeing the crowd sing along with us. It pumps me up.

I have seen you as an opening act and I have seen you as the headliner. What is the difference in the way the band approaches the two slots live?

Our sets are usually packed with our harder songs in our opening sets. Short, sweet, and to the point. In our headlining sets, we like to take the audience for a little sonic ride of moody slower songs mixed in with the more raucous ones.

How much improvising do you guys do during your live show? Are there specific songs that you  stretch out more? If so, are they rehearsed or do they just grow out of the feel that night?

There have been some shows with the unexpected elongation of some songs. It’s definitely a feeling out thing. It usually has to do with Justen being intimate with the crowd. It’s not something we ever rehearse, but we free jam all the time. It’s how a lot of our songs are born.

Is your set list the same every night or do you change it up, and if so, how much?

The set list is always reworked. Mainly the order of songs, but we like to add in things that we’ve put on the shelf for a while. It keeps it fresh.

What is it like to play the Belly Up as opposed to other venues? Anything different or special about the club?

I can’t speak for everyone in the band, but the Belly Up is like our home turf. We’ve had some really awesome shows there. And I think that’s the place where we started coming into our own. I love playing there. The sound is always great, they treat us well, and the all-around environment has an awe inspiring feeling to it. It’s a magical place.

Dead Feather Moon and The Silent Comedy – March 8th at The Belly Up. Tickets are $15 and available here.

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