By Hannah Leone
If only every lunch break was this wholesome.
Hundreds of people of just about every age (and a dozen or so dogs of just about every size) gathered at noon Friday, Sept. 13 to hear Hey Marseilles fill Freeway Park with orchestral folk-pop.
The Seattle-based indie band played about 15 songs from their recent record “Lines We Trace,” along with selections from ”To Travels & Trunks” in the free show, part of Downtown Seattle’s “Out to Lunch Concert Series.” Hey Marseilles had played the annual series three times before.
“It’s always nice to be able to play shows not at midnight and for people who got in for free,” frontman Matt Bishop said in between songs.
Out to Lunch coordinator and Seattle Pacific University graduate Brian Fisher estimated about 1,000 people total attended, capping at about 600 at a given time. Typical turnout for most of the free shows at Freeway Park is about 500, he said.
Each of the band’s six members was independently entertaining to watch. Between them, a viola, cello, drums, bass, keyboard, accordion, a couple guitars and vocals all got breakout moments. Violist Jacob Anderson was perhaps the most energetic, with grandiose and occasionally dramatic bow strokes.
The star performer, though, was a young boy wearing over-ear headphones nearly the size of his head and a blue T-shirt ornamented with a green dinosaur. He toddled up to the stage with a miniature guitar and mimicked playing along for most of the second half of the show.
Cellist and bassist Samuel Anderson, Jacob’s brother and the youngest band member at age 23, edged a tambourine on the stage toward the boy, who picked it up, shook it once, did not seem impressed and set it back down.
“Sam has historically terrified children, so you’re all witnessing magic,” Bishop informed the crowd.
Bishop asked the boy’s name, but then realized the headphones prevented him from hearing properly.
“That’s good – your ears are sensitive at this age,” Bishop said.
The audience seemed even more actively engaged after the boy captured everyone’s attention and the show went on with a clapping introduction to “Rio.”
Kids are common at afternoon shows because they have nowhere else to go, Bishop said.
Hey Marseilles opened with the title track from “To Travels & Trunks,” and only took two more songs to get around to my personal favorite from the two albums: “Heart Beats.” The Anderson brothers played an extended, captivating viola and cello solo leading into “Tides,” which was musically shown up only by the final, “From a Terrace.”
Bishop and guitarist Nick Ward, the most stoic of the six, unofficially started the band in 2006 when both attended the University of Washington, where they picked up most of the other members. Ward – the only band member who has been to Marseilles, France – ran an “eclectic indie” show at UW’s radio station at the time. Ward’s family is from New Caledonia, but he’s lived in Seattle his whole life, he said.
The band members stayed afterward to mingle with the audience, dole out signatures and receive their fair share of gratuitous compliments ranging from “I like your glasses. And your shirt. And your pants.” to “I’m just really inspired by your music.” The whole affair was remarkably well-mannered.