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Island vibe, via Michigan

The Outer Vibe performs Monday night at the Checkerboard Bar. (Courtesy of Outer Vibe)
The Outer Vibe performs Monday night at the Checkerboard Bar. (Courtesy of Outer Vibe)

The Outer Vibe describes its work as a “musical vacation,” and hearing the surf-inflected sound on its latest album “Full Circle” (not to mention the colorful tropical fruit adorning the cover), you’d never guess the band hailed from Grand Rapids, Michigan. The five-piece, which adds Spokane to its travel itinerary on Monday, has devoted itself to transporting its listeners to an island paradise.

“We come from the cold heartland of Michigan, and it really influences our songwriting,” said bassist Andrew Dornoff. “We write songs about island weather, to keep us in that mood and to keep us happy. We like to say that we take people on a musical adventure. The experience is what they can count on with us.”

The members all met while attending or teaching at the music school at Grand Rapids Community College, and they’ve performed with various lineups since the early 2000s. The Outer Vibe’s current lineup has been in place for two years now, but several members have come and gone over the years. The band jokingly likens its early days to Spinal Tap’s constantly rotating lineup, though none of their drummers ever spontaneously combusted onstage.

“At one point, we had a horn section and a couple guitars,” said Lisa Kacos, who plays trumpet and keyboards. “We were a seven-piece band for about half a minute.”

The Outer Vibe’s style isn’t easily described, and their influences are appropriately diverse: They cite surf guitarist Dick Dale, the AOR rock of the Eagles, the spacey jams of the Grateful Dead, ’60s sunshine pop and early Motown.

“When I joined the band, we sat down and went over our influences and the sounds that we liked,” said drummer Noah Snyder. “After some experiments into different genres, we eventually landed on something.”

“We’ve had a lot of years of experimenting and playing different styles of music,” said lead vocalist Sean Zuidgeest. “We’re capable of playing rock ‘n’ roll, reggae, punk, surf. We kind of made this melting pot, and whatever the song calls for, it’s what we supply.”

“Full Circle,” which was released in May, is the band’s third full-length, but the members describe the LP as a stylistic rebirth of sorts.

“For us, it was like a new beginning, and a much needed one,” Zuidgeest said. “We kind of found a happy place with our band, with our dynamics. Everybody was really excited to write new music. To me, it’s almost like the first album of this Outer Vibe.”

But the band insists that its music needs to be experienced at a live show. A typical set promises to be as high energy as improvisatory, and certain songs aren’t necessarily going to sound the same as they do on the album.

“Some of the songs are going to be very similar to those three- or four-minute recordings,” said guitarist Nick Hosford. “Other songs may go to very different places. It’s our chance to show people as opposed to just telling them on the recordings.”

“The live show is what we do,” Snyder said. “The recordings are just a formality to get people to come and see the live show, because that’s really the knockout punch.”

Here’s a taste of the band’s live show:

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