Without a word, the touring indie-folk quintet sailed straight into “You’re a Wolf” from 2007 debut album Leaves in the River. Alternating intro-guitar notes elicited screams and whistles before drummer Joey Ficken even dropped the first beat of the California outfit’s most recognizable song. It wasn’t until after the opener that frontman/Sea Wolf founder Alex Brown Church greeted the attentive, dense audience packed in Beauty Bar. “It’s good to be back so soon,” he said, referring to their October show at Vinyl.
Church’s mellow voice floated as fans clapped and sang along to the syncopated rhythm of “Priscilla” from latest record Old World Romance. Camera-phone flashes in his face didn’t throw Church off one bit during fifth song “Miracle Cure.” And the random drunk guy in the crowd yelling “Play ‘Wonderwall’!” was quickly drowned out by audience members chanting the band’s name. Cheers and applause were plentiful during keyboardist Lisa Federlander’s organ-effect intro on “Winter Windows,” as well as throughout the majority of the 14-song set. The crowd enthusiastically received “Middle Distance Runner,” and a Sea Wolf devotee in the audience yelled for “The Garden You Planted” from 2007 EP Get to the River Before it Runs Too Low. “Uhhh, all right,” Church said, smiling. The group honored her request before closing out the clean performance with the haunting ballad, “Black Dirt.” ★★★☆☆ —