Lounge on Fire at Rhythm & Rye

by Adam McKinney

If you saw a band list a collection of absurdly disparate influences, including System of a Down, Tower of Power, Modest Mouse, James Brown, and many others, wouldn’t you be inclined to think that the band probably sounds like a mess? Idaho-based outfit Lounge on Fire does just that, and perhaps the most surprising thing is that this unlikely stew actually works.

Lounge on Fire is a seven-piece group, with three of those pieces devoted to a horn section. Nathan Norton serves as frontman, playing guitar and presenting himself in the classic role of the “manic preacher,” similar to artists like Nick Cave, David Byrne, Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock, and Tom Waits. Morton leads the group like an unhinged carnival barker, taking the listener on a wild journey through funk, Latin rock, Eastern European folk, ska, and scrappy indie rock.

“We all come from almost extremely different backgrounds, but we have some overlap in things that we like,” says Norton. “Pretty much everyone likes Tower of Power, and a lot of the funkier influences. We can all agree on Beck and James Brown and what have you. We tend to work where someone will come to the table with a single riff, we’ll all digest it, and then just layer in our own pieces to it, until it sounds good to us. Sometimes it takes months to complete a song; other times it takes 45 minutes, or one rehearsal.”

Norton is joined by Josh Gilmore on bass, Matt Patterson on saxophone, Seth Hoffman on trumpet, Kevan Ash on trombone, Wade Ronsse on drums, and Alex Schwaderer on keys. Their latest album, Lips of Calypso, is at times reminiscent of the voracious genre-bending of spiritual predecessors like the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion or That Handsome Devil. Lounge on Fire’s live sets have become renowned for being crazed revelries, eruptions of energy.

“Our goal,” Norton half-jokingly says, “is to have a battle with the audience over who can get more excited.”

A percentage of the band’s merch sales will be going to the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline, an organization about which Lounge on Fire is very passionate. If you could help a worthy cause in exchange for some great, fiery tunes, why wouldn’t you?


Lounge on Fire, with Cedar Sap


Rhythm & Rye, 311 Capitol Way N, Olympia


9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 17


$10 at the door


Lounge on Fire online



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