Seattle soul septet The Dip kick off latest tour at Madrid Theatre
A 21 song setlist flavored with blends of soul, R&B, rock, and indie-pop delivered crowd comforts on the eve of the Super Bowl Parade.
Seattle’s soul septet The Dip lucked out in having their “Stuck On You” National Tour’s first stop at the Madrid Theatre, February 15, on the eve of Kansas City’s Super Bowl parade.
Supported by Stephen Day for the first of several stops, this union of former University of Washington jazz students offered a satisfyingly balanced 21-song setlist flavored with meticulously layered blends of soul, R&B, rock, and indie-pop for several hundred fans who hadn’t the opportunity to see the eclectic instrumentalists perform live post-pandemic.
And make no mistake—these fellas were meant to be heard by the naked ear. Originally formed in 2013 to play campus parties, The Dip, now ten years in, is the sum of Tom Eddy (vocals), Jarred Katz (drums), Mark Hunter (bass), Jacob Lundgren (guitar), Brennan Carter (trumpet), Levi Gillis (tenor sax), and Dr. Evan Smith (bari sax)—with the latter three comprising the affectionately dubbed “Honey-Nut Horns.”
The group has three full-length albums: 2015’s self-titled debut, The Dip, 2019’s The Dip Delivers, and 2022’s Sticking With It. The latter is the band’s first under Dualtone Records, and was self-produced entirely within the group’s Seattle home-studio.
With a following that has now swelled to well over a million monthly listeners on Spotify alone, and a varied list of contemporaries that include St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Fat Night, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, and Busty and the Bass, The Dip have begun to see the recognition they deserve with their inclusion in the lineup at Bonaroo 2022, as well as with several appearances as an opener for the acclaimed multi-genre five-piece Lake Street Dive.
This long winded intro, if you got through it, is all meant as a preface for the one undeniable truth: The Dip is one of the best live acts I’ve ever seen. All seven members bring the energy to an even greater extend than one may already expect from larger, brass-supplemented lineups of this ilk. Every one of them had many moments to shine as the night progressed.
The first song of the entire tour was revealed to be the second track from their most recent release, “Sleep On It,” off Sticking With It. They will reprise this theme later on in the night just before the encore, but, in the moment, the trumpet solo here serves as a perfect preview of what is to come.
To the surprise of many, the guys opted to throw one of their heaviest-hitters in the two-spot, with “Atlas,” from 2019’s The Dip Delivers, offering a bit of everything that makes The Dip so enjoyable live.
Between some powerful horns and crisp riffs that have been stuck in my internal monologue for several days now, Eddy sings: “don’t put the world on your shoulder, honey. Cause you know it ain’t your load to bear.” I’m fairly certain every single one of us in the venue felt that on a personal level.
The guys continued with another new track in “Vacation”—standard, poppy fun, to be sure, but of a top shelf variety, no doubt, and a nice way to cycle back into some of the band’s more recent ventures.
A relatively obscure choice followed in “New King,” where a bendy bassline heads a jammy instrumental groove from the band’s 2020 EP The Dip Plays It Cool. The horns get a chance to shine from the get-go, while the bass plucks along in smooth waves. The first of a couple strictly instrumental jams that evening was a surprise to be sure, but a welcome one.
That sense of camaraderie and musicianship bled into the bluesy, bombastic intro of “Crickets,” from Sticking With It. “If it feels like the world is burning down, its cause it is,” Eddy sings as the winding, stringy rhythms resemble some of the iconic Southern bayou licks from which The Dip draws a great deal of influence.
“Ready to Go,” the final track from 2015’s The Dip, prefaced the fourth track from that same album in “State Line”—the song that very likely got me into the band years back and still worming its way into many of my current playlists.
“State line is 100 miles away, but I never felt so distant before,” Eddy croons, rather ironically, in one of the few places of the tour where this is least likely to be the case. The band is again at its best here across the board, serving up an aggressively catchy slice of fun.
The woos of endearment and the stray “Chiefs” chant or two from the crowd finally quieted into “Slow Sipper,” a proto-psychedelic, smoky groove that the band has described as a “barroom fantasy.”
The hook, “She’s a slowww sippuh… She’s taking it slowww…” flows as patiently as The Dip themselves appear onstage, plunky bass and shimmering horns keying off one another in perfectly coordinated uneasiness as the drums
This was followed by the new single, “Paddle to the Stars,” a melodic, upbeat soul jaunt that has quickly become their most streamed to date from Sticking With It. “Love Direction,” brought some hip rocking into the mix and paired well with “Anyway,” which added some dimly lit cabaret flair in a keen rhythm that plays to Eddy’s polished vocals.
Unexpected was the Madonna cover that followed, as the band had dropped a cover of Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” mere days before the tour hit the road. With “Beautiful Stranger,” The Dip took the Queen of Pop’s 1999 Austin Powers track and made it wholly their own.
Eddy then stepped back from the mic with his semi-hollow bodied guitar in tow for “Won’t Be Coming Back,” a triumphant instrumental treat laced with stringy melodies and soothing horns.
Next was “Apollonia“ a persistent, catchy, racing, psychedelic-tinged jam, which ended up being my favorite performance of the night. Delicious twangy guitar chords in the intro give way to a building pulse of horn and drum. An added bit of fun comes when Smith’s bari sax and Hunter’s bass jart offcourse to lead a jazzy breakdown just ahead of the final chorus.
A horn chorale followed, serving as a formal tip of the cap for Carter, Gillis, and Smith’s talented Honeynut Horns trio. They would get their own individual moments to shine throughout the set, but this was their time to rip some sweet sax solos off adrenaline and freshly emptied spit-valves.
“Real Contender,” the opening track on the tour’s titular album and another memorable feel-good piece, begins with a slightly Western-esque intro before morphing into more familiar territory on a catchy hook.
“She Gave Me the Keys,” from The Dip Delivers, is a sure nod to doo-wop and Motown, and the band, all white, pays a lot of care to wear these influences on their sleeves. These shades of 50’s pop, bolstered by contemporarily relevant lyrics bring to the audienced a welcomed mix of progressive nostalgia. A Gillis tenor sax solo is applauded wildly near the end.
“Sure Don’t Miss You,” a 2017 single that would go on to become the opening track on The Dip Delivers, is very likely the song through which many fans were first introduced to The Dip had “State Line” not already entered their ear canals. It was a thrill to hear live, and, like most of the songs played that evening, sounded just as good in person. Naturally, it was the official end of the night.
Chiefs chants began once the band formally left the stage. For a few moments, the familiar Arrowhead chant resonating in the Madrid bordered on surreality. With that, Eddy and Hunter came out with their guitar and bass, respectively, and reprised a stripped-down outro version of their set opener, “Sleep On It.”
There were a lot of options in the running for the final song of the night, but “Adeline,” a deep, bluesy melancholic love ballad, was an appropriate bookend for a show that, as many of us had forgotten in the Super Bowl fallout, also fell just one day after Valentine’s Day.
The more lively couples in the crowd swaying in adorable tandems as The Dip bid us adieu to thunderous applause and still a few more rowdy “Chiefs” chants before heading backstage to pack their gear back up for Des Moines.