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March 26, 2014 at 7:05 AM

Gloom-punks Weekend keep it cryptic | Concert preview


Weekend — from Brooklyn, via California — plays Barboza in Seattle Thursday. Photo by Eli Marias.

When Weekend first emerged from San Francisco five years ago, its somber, reverb-heavy sound clashed with its West Coast origins.

The trio’s 2010 debut “Sports” didn’t conjure images of lush, green expanses or pastel-hued houses so much as desolate industrial yards, far-flung train stops and dimly-lit backrooms.

It’s appropriate, then, that bassist-vocalist Shaun Durkan, guitarist Kevin Johnson and drummer Abe Pedroza have since relocated to New York. They’ll headline Barboza Thursday in support of their recent second LP, amusingly dubbed “Jinx.”

“If I could afford to live in the Bay Area, I still would,” Durkan says via telephone, on a break from his Brooklyn graphic design job, “but it’s become really hard to survive in as an artist or musician. All our friends were moving or getting kicked out, and we were beginning to stagnate… so it felt like the right time to try something new.”

With the cross-country move came a partial reconfiguration of Weekend’s approach. The new album holds onto its predecessor’s steely, nocturnal atmosphere and New Wave Goth trappings, but where “Sports” had the urgency characteristic of first releases, “Jinx” is patient.

While majestic tracks like “It’s Alright” and “Mirror,” below, feature strong hooks, they require commitment, revealing themselves only after repeated listens. Layered guitars and vigorous rhythms remain essential, but Durkan’s sullen vocals sit higher in the mix than before.

“I’m still not a great singer,” the frontman sheepishly admits, “but I’ve become more okay with how my voice sounds. Whereas the vocals were indecipherable on ‘Sports,’ I’m no longer hiding behind walls of reverb and delay.”

One thing Weekend’s kept up is its spartan presentation, which extends from monochromatic artwork to short song titles, matter-of-fact lyrics and even the band name itself.

“Back when we started,” says Durkan, “we chose that name because it was so anonymous. We liked that it didn’t give the listener a preconceived notion of what to expect. I think there’s still value to keeping a distance between listener and musician. It allows the art to live on its own, rather than associating it with real people… keeps it in a fantasy world.”

The group’s live persona is similarly enigmatic.

“When we’re onstage, we focus on the task at hand. Talking to the audience kind of breaks the spell. It’s really loud, and the songs come off more aggressive, more primitive… more punk.”

8 p.m. Thursday at Barboza, 925 E. Pike St., Seattle; $10-12 (206-709-9442 or

Comments | More in Rock/Pop | Topics: Barboza, Brooklyn, Post-punk


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