Unlike Jonathan, I just wasn’t moved by last night’s CSS show. Maybe it was partially because I was in the 21+ pen in the back—last time they played Neumo’s I was right up front, and it was awesome—but the wild energy the band had last time through town was this time around replaced by a more practiced professionalism. The band’s been touring non-stop, playing giant festivals, fulfilling their absurd song lyrics by actually meeting Paris Hilton, dating Klaxons, and they seem to have become a lot more confident as big entertainers, even if that means they seem a little less like an scrappy rock band. They’re more like a kids tv show’s approximation of a rock band—muppety in a bad way—and I just couldn’t get myself into it this time around. The “zany” outfits, the synchronized hand-clapping, the crowd-surfing all just felt too pat. And I actually like the album (although, their songs sounded kind of flattened last night, keyboards and vocals turned way down, bass thump and guitar fuzz turned way up).
But, watching them last night, what really started to bug me was the same thing that got Tony Ware worked up in his interview with the band—their unwillingness to take a stand on anything substantive, their apparent vacuousness. The music is single-mindedly “fun,” but ideologically apathetic, and I’m just tired of “I don’t give a fuck” being the prevailing attitude of the musical counter culture. It’s just such a limited platform.
I’ve never been to Montreal’s Mutek. It comes too close to the Detroit Electronic Music Festival, and that always gets my attention despite thinking that someday I’m going to go. Well, according to the blog basic_sounds, this year was not the year to attend:
The deal breaker of the night was Candie Hank, who bombed. Break-core crap mixed with allot of talking. Some spectators said it was a joke, but I wasn’t laughing. His music cleared out the venue, and I left as well, having endured too much pain to stay for the last act.
The whole post is filled with critiques. I still want to hear more on Matthew Dear’s live performance, so please comment if you see a post or saw it yourself.
Also, I never posted about the last day of DEMF. You can just read the recap for those details, but let’s just say Booka Shade stole the show. They’re great live, and I really hope someone in Seattle books them.
Here’s a short vid:
The rest of my DEMF videos can been seen here, and my pics from the event are here.
DJ Marc Sense/Lifesavas
June 8 at
Lifesavas Jumbo the Garbageman gets a written warning from Florida Highway Patrol.
Saturday, May 26 - Washington, DC
Another great perk of travelling across the country comes when you get to reunite with people who you came up with. Lifesavas and Black Anger both come from the same true school generation of Pacific Northwest hiphop artists. In fact, the groups played on the same bill, along with Source Of Labor and Silent Lambs Project, back in 2000 at the Paradox as a farewell to Black Anger members Kindu and Sayeed moving back to Virginia.
Du and Sayeed made the four-hour round-trip from Richmond to catch the show, which served as a reunion of sorts. The brothers who together as Bedroom Produksionz notched the classic singles “S.E.L.F” and “Non-Fiction” have taken a break from music and focused on their respective families and community-building.
Though Sayeed’s kids stayed home, Du brought his son, who seemed to have fun. By the end of the night he slept in his dad’s arms after a long night of hip-hop. We gave our farewells and headed out to the telly for a minimal four hours of sleep before a 10-hour drive to Atlanta.
Sometimes I have a bad day… or bad days… or bad months—hell, all of 2006 was sorta fucked. But one silver lining of having bad days is that I am a pro at knowing how to deal with them. I tell ya, I throw the best fucking pity parties in town. Sometimes they involve friends and cupcakes and the laughably ridiculous movie Vertical Limit, and sometimes invites only get sent out to me, myself, and I.
Those are the worst pity parties. Those are the pity parties that involve listening to songs like Jawbreaker’s “Kiss the Bottle,” the Hold Steady’s “First Night,” and Smashing Pumpkins’ “Mayonaise” over and over again while guiltily eating ice cream and watching muted re-runs of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air on Nick at Night.
The key to a good pity party, though, isn’t so much about the songs you choose to wallow in. You can listen to anything slow—anything with weepy strings, dark haunting bass, or heart-torn vocals. The only requirement is that it punches you in the gut many times over. What you have to do to throw yourself a successful pity party is choose the right songs to pull yourself out of it.
I mean, yeah, if you want to you can listen to “Bankrupt on Selling” 800 times, go for it. Whatever gets the job done. But what you can not do, is leave it on that note. You can’t let Issac Brock have the last word. You have to win, you have to own the fucking party, you have to blast the Clash’s “I’m Not Down” before you go softly into that goodnight.
Slog is having ‘Freaky Friday’ and the commentors have taken the helm. David Meinert has made his own post on Webcaster Royalty Rates. A very informative piece. Meinert is the one who made the post, you can make comments to it.
It is getting juicy. Someone is calling him “Lord Volde-Meinert.”
Few things are more noxious than a whining hipster, but last night’s suddenly sold-out CSS show at Neumo’s left plenty of kids stranded in neckerchiefs and stunna shades and no tickets.
Wouldja believe I had never heard the Brazilian six-piece before last night? Sometimes a band catches so much blog buzz that I turn away, pre-tainted, and CSS was one of those. Last night they showed up and wrecked a supremely packed house, one segregated into 21+ in the way back and everyone else thrashing up front.
From the start the band made it clear they love Seattle; by the second song lead vocalist Lovefoxxx had whipped off her t-shirt to reveal a blindingly sequinned rainbow-colored top and was crowd surfing over the front rows. CSS sounds not dissimilar to early, punky Go-Go’s, bubbling thick with layers of synthesizers and shout-along vocals, sung in cutely-accented English. Lovefoxxx bounded around the stage like an overcaffeinated Muppet, arms unhinged and flailing, wet-swept hair sticking to her face. Balloons floated out over the crowd as confetti blew out from the stage. The band played with unsane energy, enough that they seemed combustible, though Poster Midget Matt swore to me they were crazier during their last Neumo’s appearance.
Foxxx introduced one number as “a love song” and then proceded to wax romantic about alocohol. They crashed through L7’s “Pretend That We’re Dead,” a mostly-girl band covering an all-girl band, this version done with gnashing of disco-punk teeth. A few songs later—here they veered into a more guitar-powered direction, there sticking with disco-driving synths, switching from lock-step drum machine beats to aggro real-drum pounding—they were finished with their short set. The crowd—sweaty and dance-mad—wasn’t having it.
They came back out for a three-song encore, unveiling one new, never-played-before track before closing with “Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death From Above,” which I was informed is their sorta-hit. Of all the songs last night, it was the most ragingly funky, the hardest-rocking, eschewing the bubbly electro-pop for downer and dirtier aggression. It was the only number to earn disco-ball-illuminating status. And it worked. The song segued into a dark, drone-heavy breakdown, all buzzing industrial bass, before blowing up and lighting up again. As ecstatic as the band had been all night, they fully erupted and topped themselves, going out with an even bigger bang.
If all the records that came in the mail were as cared for and visually appealing as this one, I’d probably listen to a lot more of them*:
The band is Decomposure, the album is Vertical Lines A. Decomposure is really just Caleb Mueller and here’s what he did to make the record:
With a stack of 60-minute cassettes and tape recorder in tow, Decomposure (spare time musician/art guy Caleb Mueller) followed his average day around to capture and preserve its unique sound signature that would otherwise have simply evaporated. Over the course of the year following that recorded day, he worked through a detailed process of digitally deconstructing each hour-long slur of sound into hundreds of individual clicks and thumps and pings. Then he built songs from them. Or song-ish things, anyway.
I’m still trying to decide how I feel about the song-ish things. It isn’t bad. It’s actually interesting. I just can’t say yet that it’s really good. There is a lot going on, as you could imagine—tons of various noises and beats all stripped down to be only a second or less of what they originally were and then pasted back together sometimes in patterns and sometimes what sounds like little whirls of free-for-all chaos.
It’s sorta Onelinedrawing meets the Postal Service meets some indie rapping/fast-talking thing meets Pris. You know, Pris, the local Burke Thomas sound collage disguised as pop rock.
*Which isn’t to imply that I don’t listen to the majority of the music sent to me. I do. It’s just that I get a lot of this, which causes me to immediately go against the “Never judge a book by its cover” rule and throw them in the “free” bin by my desk before their stink can get on my desk or me.
Last night, beloved Capitol Hill bar/evil hipster coke den the Cha Cha had itself quite a little blow out party before it migrates to its new digs on 1013 E Pike. DJs Porq and Damaged Goods played their favorite slabs of brit pop, electro, hip hop, and (ironic, really!) Top 40 to a packed crowd of Cha Cha regulars and assorted young folks. Almost all the booths were gone, which made for a nice little dance floor downstairs, and revelers were gleefully ripping decor right off the ceiling as they danced, donning the previously purely ornamental sombreros. Somebody soaked the crowd with beer when Damaged Goods put on “Since U Been Gone.”
It was a fun send-off for the old Cha Cha, but it was really more like a preview for Pony, the seedy gay disco that Marcus Wilson will be running in that space until its demolition. While the Cha Cha had the occasional DJs and one odd live show, Wilson plans to have DJs on the regular as well as frequent live acts in the downstairs (the upstairs will have pinball and video games reminiscent of the old High Score arcade). If last night was any indication, it’s going to be a hot, sweaty summer at Pony.
I never realized it until yesterday, but I have the same thing going for Radiohead that I do with Jawbreaker; I can’t decide if Kid A or The Bends is my favorite record, just like I can never really choose between Dear You and 24-Hour Revenge Therapy.
The Bends, ultimately, has some of my favorite Radiohead songs on it. (But every time I say that, I have to wonder if “Just” and “The Bends” are only my favorites because of nostalgia. Either way, why’s not the point right now. For argument’s sake, this very moment, we’ll say they’re my favorite Radiohead songs because they’re the best Radiohead songs [even if they aren’t the best because admittedly my favorite anything is rarely the “best” anything because I also like Temple of Doom more than Raiders of the Lost Ark. I will not apologize for that.])
Kid A, as a record, is much more cohesive than The Bends. I mean, duh. It’s also more innovative and interesting, but the band was in an entirely different point of their career, so there’s a lot of experience behind it, unlike its sophomoric predecessor. But if you want to catalog Radiohead’s discography from best to worst, it’s the better record, right? So why, then, do I always jump to The Bends’ defense whenever someone claims that Kid A, OK Computer, or even Amnesiac is the best Radiohead record?
I tried to make sense of it by turning Radiohead into Jawbreaker despite the fact the two bands have absolutely nothing to do with one another. That’s where the “Megan thinks about things too much” curse comes into play. I have to make it make sense, I do what I do to make it make sense. So as it stands right now, my blueprint goes something like this:
He’s Jim. Jim Anderson, the man who has been the sound man at the Crocodile Café for 16 years. He’s on Lineout today to talk about sound at the Croc.
Jim is a pre-grunge stalwart who has made the room one of the better places to play, anywhere. He’s a rolodex of technique, specs, and experience. His demeanor is patient and waiting. He knows his gear, the room, and he knows how to use the gear for the room. He is a master and a historian.
He quotes a Surangama Sutra, “Things are not what they appear to be: nor are they otherwise.”
Before the Croc, Jim was at Pioneer Square’s Central Saloon. The Central was the place to play. There he ran sound for Soundgarden’s Screaming Life release show in ’87. Other Central shows were Mojo Nixon, Rank and File, Camper Van Beethoven, and Meat Puppets.
** Jim will be monitoring this post, so if you have questions, ask away. He says:
It’s a bass trap in my corner, so I mix accordingly. I think live sound should be mixed for the room instead of a mix position. I listen to the whole room to dial it in. I’m wireless now, and can roam. Sound is about balance and placement, it shouldn’t hurt. If it hurts my ears, I know it will hurt everyone else’s ears a lot worse.
Local alt-country outfit the Maldives played an opening slot for the first night of Noise for the Needy at the Tractor Last night. I only caught four songs, but they were enough to hook me on the band’s Band/front porch blues/Buffett reel and sway. The singer had a rightly wearied voice, but it was really the nimble lead guitarist and what looked like a middle-aged bearded hobo sitting and playing banjo that really sold me.
The six-piece band was tight enough for songs to come together naturally but loose enough to ride them out shambling. First song was far more country than alt-, knee-slappin’ with banjo, fiddle, and strummy guitar, but the next number, riding smoldering slide guitar, took off into more rocking territory. Hobo switched from banjo to keys to accordion for each song, beefing up and diversifying the sound as needed. Their final tune—a sad, sweet, slow ballad—was their most powerful, evoking early-era Jimmy Buffett in its country-cum-folk easiness, the singer’s vocals and lyrics (“By the wind, sailor”) elevating the low-key arrangement.
Yes, I said Jimmy Buffett, and yes, that’s a good thing. I have a soft spot for twangy songs about sailboats.
Mind you, as one commenter proclaimed, they have used the talk box before, but the guitar solo on this track was way over the top.
As for whether I really like this song…
Ironically, yes. Personally, no. Bon Jovi of the ‘00’s will never ever match Bon Jovi of the ‘80’s. However I wouldn’t shun a cut-up, blog-house re-edit of this track if they took out some of the retardo lyrics.
Has anybody read about his new album? It’s apparently “Bon Jovi goes on a road trip to Nashville”, complete with a duet with Leanne Rimes. Blech. Reviews say the first half is all southern bar rock, a la ZZ Top, like the quiz song, incidentally titled We Got It Going On. Then the second half is all power ballads (hence the duet with Ms. Rimes).
Sounds horrible. But no doubt will go multi-platinum as Jon and Richie are invited to perform on every Country Music Awards show (and have you noticed there are as many of them as there are for pop music?) on TV.
It seems a lot of folks would like there to be a giant controversy regarding Poster Giant and Colin. Although the timing would seem suspect we would like to reiterate that the two having nothing to do with each other.
Colin was let go for purely financial reasons. The truth is that Chop Suey endorsed his position about Poster Giant. Both Colin and myself, as the owner of Chop Suey, discussed and agreed that we should sever our relationship with Poster Giant. When he said it was Chop Suey’s decision, he was correct. We will continue to choose not to do business with Poster Giant as we are unsure of the effectiveness of postering as a promotional tool.
Colin was very good at booking shows that were great shows from the public perspective. I had always been happy with the quality of the shows that Colin brought to Chop Suey. The problem is that such high quality talent brings a high cost, especially in Seattle’s competetive market. The cost of talent plus staffing and other costs were not being covered by the revinue he generated, so changes were needed.
Chop Suey’s finances are stable and in the black, but to remain in the black required this drastic option. Chop Suey is ever looking forward and will continue to book high quality talent and also remain a profitable business.
Joss Stone/Sean Paul / Kings of Leon / Gym Class Heroes / Rodrigo y Gabriela / Andrew Bird / The Frames / Ted Leo and the Pharmacists / Ian Ball (of Gomez) / The Greyboy Allstars / Art Brut / Norma Jean / The Damnwells / Anberlin / Barrington Levy / Zap Mama / Bouncing Souls / Mae K’NAAN / Mocean Worker / Rosie Thomas / Honeydripper All-Stars / My Brightest Diamond / Seaweed / Rose Hill Drive / The Watson Twins/Stars of Track and Field / Honeycut / Ohmega Watts / Ian McFeron Band / Schoolyard Heroes / Bloodhag
Oh yeah, and here’s some of the comedians and speakers, too!
SNL veteran Fred Armisen/NPR commentator Andy Borowitz/comedic musician Jonathan Coulton/comedian, writer, actor and filmmaker Eugene Mirman/actress, comedian and activist Janeane Garofalo/ Jeremiah Smallchild and Gideon Lamb’s God’s Pottery/comedian, writer, and DJ Craig Baldo /comedian Brent Weinbach.
And some good news for the local comedy champions…
Bumbershoot has even more laughs with the addition of a THIRD Comedy stage devoted to the best of the Northwest, including People’s Republic of Komedy and the Cody Rivers Show.
Keep it coming, B’Shoot!
Three-day passes are now available at bumbershoot.org for $75 thru Friday, August 17 and $95 thereafter.
$30 date-specific tickets will be on sale Friday, July 13 thru August 17, and $35 thereafter. Please note that date-specific tickets will be made available after the Festival schedule is published and are good only for the date specified on the ticket.
I sat down with Blake Lewis for a good hour or so yesterday, and following our interview the very game, very good natured almost-Idol came by the Stranger office to give us a little freestyle/shout-out.
Stay tuned for a Q&A with Blake coming up on Line Out.
Clone Records Presents: Vintage Future - Mixed By Serge
I purchased this cd a month ago, listened to it a couple of times, then it got lost in the space between my car seats. I just fished it out a couple of days ago and put it in again. It has been rocking my car ever since.
The selections on this cd go as far back as 1983 with the infectious, dark-disco Crazy Gang track Every Sunday (Crazy Gang was a pop side project of Claudio Simonetti of Goblin fame), and are as contemporary as recent releases by Lindstrom (I wish I knew how to make that little o with the slash through it in html!) and Black Devil Disco Club.
Retro vocoder Disco and Electro mix, mingle and bump up to Nouveau Disco cowbell jams in such beautiful harmony that I find myself looking at the track listing and production notes for every song as they come up. Every time the retard-edly rare Hasbeens tune Make The World Go Away comes on I think, “What rare ‘80’s Euro-disco gem is this?” (only 250 copies of this one-sided 12” were pressed!) The notes tell me it’s only a year old. But Damn! It fits into the set so well with the old ‘lectro-funk of Egyptian Lover and Crazy Gang I just can’t believe someone made something so raw and beautiful so recently!
As it starts to wind down it blends slightly squelchy acid house redux with bass heavy Detroit sounds. It finishes off with, what for me is a fairly week track, the House To House Feat. Kym Mazelle track Taste My Love. I wish it had ended a little better, but the rest of the CD makes up for that in spades.
The vibe on the first 4/5ths of this comp shows you that today is as vintage and retro as yesterday was post-modern. And that, my friends, is something the future can bank on.
Two of my favorite tracks from the comp (including that super rare Hasbeens track) can be foundhere.
Hey, wanna see Pretty Girls Make Graves this Saturday for free?
Yeah you do!
The Stranger is giving away tickets to this Saturday’s 5 pm show at Neumo’s, so if you wanna go, e-mail email@example.com to win. That’s all you gotta do. It’s an all-ages show, anyone can enter. If you’re chosen, you’ll receive an e-mail from us letting you know you’ve won.
I’m listening to the Vaselines. For the first time. Ever.
I know, right?
I can’t really explain how I managed to avoid them for my entire life. I like Nirvana, I like the versions Nirvana did of their songs “Son of a Gun,” “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam,” and “Molly’s Lips,” and I even knew they were Vaselines’ songs. But I never got around to listening to the actual Vaselines. My secret came out last week after I mentioned one of the Nirvana covers, and both Grandy and Schmader laughed at me because of it.
Well I’m finally getting my poop in a group; I’m listening to The Way of the Vaselines. Favorites so far: “Lovecraft,” “Rory Rides Me Raw,” and “Molly’s Lips.”
P.S. to Grandy: You’re totally right. Their version of “Son of a Gun” is totally better than Nirvana’s. I think the plinking piano is making my heart beat faster.
Kickball and Clara Clara @ the Greenhouse
June 5 at
posted by Jeff Kirby
I went to a house show deep in the Central District last night at a charming little abode called the Greenhouse, which was funny since most of the houses on that block are painted green. They hosted Olympia’s Kickball, who are just beginning their tour across the country to promote their new album. They were joined by French trio Clara Clara, new friends from Kickball’s recent trip overseas.
Clara Clara were a great keyboard, bass, and drum operation, all instrumental spare some occasional group chanting. They were described as “dance, love, and chaos between Deerhoof and Lightning Bolt,” and frankly that description was pretty spot-on. They had huge energy, their songs built to intense climaxes, and they looked like they were having a great time. Stoned Jaime, who was standing up front, told me, “Dude, I closed my eyes and there were like, galaxies…” Killer.
The only downside to the set was not their doing (maybe), something I am coining D.I.Y.B.O. There was a stench something fierce in that small, warm room, and frankly, I find that a bit selfish from whomever was responsible. Whether you don’t tend to this problem because you’re lazy or dirty, or because you honestly don’t realize how bad you smell to others, or maybe even because no matter what anyone tells you, you’re sure Tom’s of Maine is a front for Procter & Gamble, either way it’s rude and it sucks for people trying to enjoy a band. Never upstage a band with your stink; if people have to pay more attention to their mouth-breathing method than what the performers are doing and it is your fault you have failed as a concert-goer.
Kickball are not only talented songwriters and performers, they’re also adorable to watch. The singer, Jacob, is how I might have imagined Rivers Cuomo before his soul caught fire and disintegrated. The drummer Lisa comes up with inventive beats and rhythms with lots of clicks from the rims of her drums and the side of her snare, and also she’s pretty to look at. The two of them went to the woods, found a bear, and taught him to play the bass guitar. They performed most of their new album, Everything Is A Miracle Nothing Is A Miracle Everything Is, some cuts from their last album, and agreed with crowd demands to play their song “Party,” which had everyone chanting along one of the best lines ever: “Do you think about my naked body? / Does it make you hot? Does it make you want to party?”
For more on Kickball’s music check out their CD review in this upcoming week’s paper.
I’m now correcting an egregious lapse in the musical knowlege of a select few writers on staff here.
A few weekends ago, while carpooling to Sasquatch with a number of Stranger writers and bloggers, I came upon the unfathomable gap in our understanding of prog, when I got blank stares from everyone in the car to my query:
“Don’t you guys love the Aphrodite’s Child album 666!?!?”
“Aphordite’s Child! You’ve never heard of Aphrodite’s Child?!?”
Aphrodite’s Child: A pre-666 history.
Original Band Members: Vangelis O. Papathanassiou, Demis Roussos, Lukas Sideras and Anargyros Koulouris
Formed in Athens in 1967 Aphrodite’s Child recorded a two song demo and sent it to the Philips label, then a bastion of European prog and psyche bands. Philips invited the band to London to record and album, but due to Koulouris needing to fulfill his military service requirements and due to general unrest in Paris, en route, the band decided to stay put in the city of light and record their first album, End Of The World. Part Psyche-Pop and part Symphonic Pop in the vein of Procol Harum.
The hit off the album was a rock reworking of Pachabel’s Canon called Rain And Tears.
Aphrodite’s Child - Rain And Tears
In 1969, growing in popularity the band was invited to London’s Trident Studios to work on their second album, once again without Koulouris, It’s Five O’Clock. The album spawned lots of pop songs and ballads most notably the Moody Blues / Procol Harum sound-alike title song.
Aphrodite’s Child - It’s Five O’Clock
The band went on tour, without Vangelis, who didn’t like how the band sounded live. He holed himself up in his Paris studio and started work on what would become one of the most monumental monoliths of Prog Rock, 666.
Working in Paris with a different lyricist, Costas Ferris, the band began to fall apart as the album was being recorded. The rest of the band wanted to head in a more pop vein and try for world domination, but Vangelis had come up with his most psychedelic work to date. 666 is a modern re-working of theBook Of Revelations. Koulouris, was able to join the band again and his crazy rocking guitar work is all over the album. And lyrically the album is more a set of mantra’s or short poems then anything resembling “songs”. Upon delivery, the record company executives were aghast at how different the album was. From the odd “live” tune, to songs like Do It which wholly consists of amped up drum solos and fuzzy guitar reverb, and tracks of nothing but an old man speaking bizarre gobblety-gook.
The track that really made them scared was Infinity, in which famous Greek actress Irene Papas repeats the mantra, “I am. I am to come. I was.” over and over as she has an orgasm. (Myth has it that the original track is almost 40 minutes and was cut down to just over 5 minutes for the album.) The grunting, moaning and audible thrashing (in awesome stereo, mind you) was nearly too much for the exec’s to take.
They delayed the album. Roussos, Vangelis and Sideris had all released solo projects in 1971, and due to their popularity the last Aphrodite’s Child album was finally released. Even though, by now, the band had totally broken up.
Post Aphrodite’s Child:
Demis Roussos would go on to become one of Europes most famous crooners, eventually working on a few tracks with Vangelis later in the ‘70’s.
Vangelis, of course became, VANGELIS. He would release one more prog album before becoming one of the worlds best selling artists. He would also go on to virtually create the genre we now call New Age. He worked again, twice, with Irene Papas on albums of Greek Odes put to music.
Koulouris worked with both Vangelis and Roussos during their solo careers.
Sideris tried to have a solo career, but his never really took off.
Props go to the new Northwest hiphop blog Raindrop Hustla, recently launched by Stranger contributor Larry Mizell, Jr. and wish-he’d-contribute-more Andrew Matson, plus a couple other local scribes. The blog’s archives go back a while but it looks like they just kicked it into overdrive.
It’s a surprisingly fertile field, with recent posts highlighting a classic NYC street rhymer from the early ’90s (a gravel-voiced dude named Nine), hiphop and homophobia, and an awesome double comeback/epic video from UGK and Outkast. Nice look all around.
My favorite player on the Raindrop Hustla team is venerable Staff Polka Editor Larry Dalla$, who weighs in with a hard-hitting essay about the new breed of Seattle “hip-hopper showstoppers that no doubt will change not only the way people all over the world think about rap singing- but will alter the fabric of time & space itself.” Dude’s the truth!
Really though: It’s great to see this kind of knowledgable and playful coverage of hiphop local and national. These guys are working on several levels at once, which is what makes Raindrop Hustla more fun and more entertaining than your average blog. It’s hard to have a scene without someone talking about it, and thoughtful commentary can be both validation and inspiration to any active creative community. Thanks for caring, fellas.
What is the best sounding room in town? Big or small.
Is it ever way way way too loud? Even with earplugs? Is the low end ever so crushingly too much that your ears can’t take it? Is it ever so muddy, it makes you want to leave?
Conversely, is the sound ever so crystal and perfect, the show transcends expectations? Do the vocals ever come through so well, the lyrics take on new meaning? Are you ever surprised at how good a room sounds?
There are factors. Where you stand, how loud the bass player has his amp, the inherent acoustics of the room itself, stage volume vs. room volume, and the quality of the sound system / sound person.
Maybe you aren’t in a room, maybe you are outside.
Today Pitchfork posted their review of Blue Scholars’ Bayani. They give it a respectable 6.8. Is this the first time Seattle hip hop’s scored an album review on the site? Well, no. But it’s still a pretty big deal.
Pitchforky (that’s a real adjective) prose:
They play up their otherness as a nationally known hip-hop group from Seattle, dropping evocative regional references from 1980s Sonics fixture Xavier McDaniel to front-line accounts of the World Trade Organization demonstrations, while their ethnicity (MC Geologic is Filipino-American; DJ/producer Sabzi is of Iranian heritage) stands out as a prospective dialogue-starter in such a race-conscious genre. But while there’s admirable intent behind their working-class solidarity, the album could use a bit more levity and funk for fans still riding high off the party-political momentum of last year’s brilliant Coup album Pick a Bigger Weapon.
Colin Johnson, who’s been Chop Suey’s booker/talent buyer since Steven Severin left the club August 2006 to buy into Neumo’s, was “let go” today. Kris Kierulff, of Aero booking (USE, Death Cab For Cutie) and recently acting as Chop Suey’s local booker, will be taking over for Johnson.
“There’s some changes going on at Chop Suey,” says Kierulff. “Colin has been let go due to internal restructuring. It was a decision made by the owner, primarily for financial reasons. That’s about all I can say.”
Kierulff adds that the decision “does not” have anything to do with Johnson’s recent statements against Poster Giant. “Tension’s basically been building up. I know it looks strange with the recent controversy with Poster Giant, but they really don’t have anything to do with each other.”
It was a purely financial decision, according to Kierulff, who adds: “I don’t want people thinking that the club is in any sort of financial state. The owner was just looking at the numbers and needed to make some changes, and he thought that this was an appropriate change to make.”
“Roy and I are going to take on calls and holds and handle any business that needs to be handled in the meantime until we figure out exactly what we’re gonna do for a next step.”
From Chop Suey’s press release:
Due to some internal restructuring and a decision made by the owner John Villesvik, Colin Johnson is no longer employed by Chop Suey. The decision has nothing to do with the recent Poster Giant controversy, but a decision made by the owner to keep the club relevant to the community. It is not a reflection of the work done by Colin Johnson. He is a hard worker and tireless promoter and everyone at Chop Suey wishes him well.
we are so so sorry to say that due to reasons we prefer not to go into, we will not be playing our shows in Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver. these shows are still going to happen and be awesome without us so go out and have a crazy time.
we will resume the tour in salt lake city and continue as scheduled.
we love portland and seattle and we were really excited to go to vancouver for our first time but we looked at all possible options and due to the circumstances, there is no way we can make it work. so we’ll surely be flying out to make up these shows in the summer.
again, huge apologies and see you soon.
(Matt & Kim were scheduled to play this Thursday at Neumo’s with CSS. The show will go on without them.)
While Unpaid Intern Jeff was suffering through Mob Law at the High Dive on Saturday night, I was at the most excellent house show I’ve been to in what feels like forever. It went down at a place called the Rabbit Hole. I never met any of the residents, but I wanted to thank them for the awesome show. Thank you.
Kaz “PWRFL PWR” Nomura opened the show with a set of his quirky, disarmingly personal avant-pop songs. Just returned from a trip to Japan, Kaz played the same set he’d been playing there, right down to the Japanese banter between songs. In Japan, he said, audiences often missed the jokes and meanings in his mostly-English language songs, tonight the audience was presumably missing out on some zingers in between them. Those lyrics are occasionally precious, playing up or perhaps with, American anime-cute stereotypes, but they’re also imbued with absolutely sincere emotion—the lines about faking a lost cell phone to get someone’s number and wondering what their hair smells like are on some Pinkerton levels of potentially embarrassing but ultimately winning self-revelation. And it can’t be stressed enough that, all cuteness and humor aside, Kaz is a phenomenal guitar player. He sneaks all kinds of experimental noodling and classical picking into what might otherwise be basic pop and folk songs, all without ever losing the pop plot. A friend remarked how happy they were to see Kaz playing “songs” instead of just experimenting, and, while the two aren’t totally exclusive, I know what he means. Kaz is the kind of lovingly kept secret that makes me feel lucky to live in Seattle and go to shows like this.
Catbees tour-mates and fellow San Franciscans Birds of Every Flavor consist of one guy on bass, another on keys and vocals, a girl on vocals and effects, and a little bit of sequencing. The dual vocalists delivered syrup-stoned raps, distended moans, and fuzzy shouts over busy inhuman drums, barely audible bass, and cheapo toy organ keys. Some songs had a druggy bossa nova swing to them, while others were more punk pogo. The crowd, it has to be said, was awesome. Kids were dancing to everyone but Kaz, and the whole scene was super friendly—even the jocky looking bros that eventually showed up just shared their beers with everyone and danced along. It was the ideal utopian house party, everyone setting aside petty (aesthetic?) differences for the sake of a good time.
Little Party & the Bad Business know all about the utopian good time. The band’s party starting mission hasn’t changed any since the last time I saw them, but it must be said that their PMA dance attack works a hell of a lot better in a sweaty, drunken basement than it does in a sober, supervised rec center (sorry, Vera; we still love you).
Seattle’s prodigal Casy & Brain/Catbees have apparently been busting ass since they relocated to San Francisco a year or so ago. Their songs are tighter than ever—approaching the kind of aerobic electro of Catbees precursors Dalmatians or fellow Bay Area synth punkers Numbers’ early efforts. The band are still a little loose on the drums live, and they sometimes miss their microphones, but their energy and skill have both increased since they’ve been gone, and their once hometown crowd was obviously, violently excited to have them back.
Vancouver BC’s Twin Crystals headlined. The band, featuring former members of the relatively obscure Channels 3 & 4, melts moog synth and delayed vocals into evil, psychedelic drones and explodes live drums and guitar into wild thrashing fits. The crowd (or at least I) was pretty drunk and hot by this point, most people sat this set out in the yard, and Twin Crystals’ noise was pretty overwhelming, but those of us who stayed in kept things lively enough.
It was an awesome show—tons of all types of kids rocking out together, ample beer, even more ample enthusiasm—and like any decent party, the cops had to shut it down.
Brooklyn band Pela are playing tonight at Chop Suey. I haven’t listened to their new album Anytown Graffiti (streamable from their home page), but the band opened for one of Rainer Maria’s final shows and I was thoroughly impressed. I’d never heard of them before, but the band’s animated stage presence won me over. That show was recorded, so you can download that night’s set here and judge for yourself whether it’s your thing or not (IMO, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t see this band live - one of the best surprises I’ve had in a while).
Tonight, the Seattle city council will meet to discuss council member Sally Clarke’s draconian new nightlife proposal (see Erica C Barnett’s Slog post for more info). The most important thing any Seattle area music fan/musician/dj/promoter/etc can do tonight is attend this meeting and make their voice heard on the issues involved. The meeting starts at 5:30pm at 600 4th ave, 2nd floor; show up early to sign up to speak.
I tried to convince some friends to go with me to the show at the Trashies house around 10:00 Saturday night, but everyone was too tired to want to go out. “Sorry man,” they told me, thinking they were ruining my night. “Not to worry,” I responded, I didn’t need them to come along to have a good time - I had friends I knew would already be there.
I didn’t know anyone at the show. All of the friends I was sure to see absolutely weren’t there. I drank half a beer awkwardly milling around looking for acquaintances, then handed the bottle to a Trashie (already double fisting) and took off.
I got home expecting tired friends to still be hanging out, waiting to welcome me back in my failure, but they all had left. Sulking to my empty room, I resigned my Saturday night to killing giant bugs on my X-Box and drinking beers alone. My roommate Endless Mike came downstairs to see what I was doing, and noticing my sad state invited me along with him and his girlfriend Sheena if I felt like it. They were going to “Some bar in Fremont to see a band” for Sheena’s sorority sister’s birthday. This was a tough decision: X-Box, beer, and mild loneliness, or unknown bar, band and sorority girls. I decided it had been too long since I got drunk with strangers and jumped in the back of Endless Mike’s car.
Fremont was way more happening than I would have expected. Every bar we passed was filled to capacity with lines coming out the doors. Patios were crammed, smokers virtually sharing one giant cigarette. I learned our destination was the High Dive, where KEXP was putting on some sort of a benefit show. I had been listening to the live feed earlier that evening in my car, and was shocked at how awful the band was. It was the type of music you turn to KEXP to escape from, not to hear. The band was, if this is even possible, trying to out-Sublime Sublime, fusing together reggae, funk, rock and punk like a body stitched together with all the limbs in the wrong places. I couldn’t wait to hear what the rest of the show had to offer.
We killed some drinks at the much less crowded bar next door and met up with the sorority girls. Two of them, blonde and wearing virtually the same outfit in different colors, were both named Amy. Easy enough. We got in line at the High Dive.
The headlining band had just started. The door guy let us in for half price but not for free since it was a charity event. I asked what the charity was and he said something about youth. I chanted, “USA! USA!” as I handed him three dollars and made my way to the bar. The band that was playing was instantly terrible, and it didn’t take long for me to realize that Mob Law, the headliners, were the same terrible band I heard on the radio earlier that night. Their music defied shirts, and looking at the sweaty front-men I was magically whisked away to a BOD-Man fragrance commercial from years past. During songs I was berated with a constant, “Make some fucking noise!” to which the audience was always more than willing to comply. The drummer spat out reggae flows, the occasional “Budda-bup-bup-bup-BUP!” The guitarists chanted choruses everyone seemed to know. The bar was full, people were dancing and having a great time, and it seemed me, Endless Mike and Sheena were the only people who noticed how mediocre the band was. I looked at the patrons; of the first five men I saw, three had goatees. I turned to the man next to me waiting for a drink. “What do you think of this band?” I asked. “Mob Law? These guys are fucking AWESOME!!! They’re the whole reason I came out tonight!” His goatee was full and well manicured.
Then from the stage came something I didn’t expect, but was not surprised by: “Ladies and gentlemen, MR BLAKE LEWIS!!!” He joined in on the next song, reggae-scatting, making sounds appropriate to the genre. Everyone screamed like crazy and he waved appreciatively as he left the stage. It was then that I was struck by the power of Mob Law. More people know Blake Lewis than most of the presidential candidates, and he was willing to join this band on stage and share his shining light with them. Millions of Americans love Blake Lewis. Millions of Americans would love Mob Law. They are a sorority girl’s birthday party; they are two blondes wearing the same outfit with the same name. I’ve never watched a full episode of American Idol. I drank faster.
Outside the bar Endless Mike and I made up a song called “Knife Rhythm” and danced around each other like in the Beat It video. The sorority girls asked me to take their picture and I demanded that they be jumping and hi-fiving in it. After three unsuccessful shots, blonder Amy accused me of trying to focus the pictures on her breasts. I bought a 24 of Mexican beer from the corner store at 2:03am and was driven to the after-party – at the house of the UW baseball team on Greek Row. The athletes were sprawled out on their many couches, cranking 90s R&B and watching Sportscenter with the volume off. I was out of place once again, but I rolled with it. I challenged the 3rd baseman to darts and drank until they made me go home.
AriSawkaDoria played Saturday night at Neumos as part of Breaks & Freaks II. The show was in surround sound, adding a dimensional layer. There were clowns, juggling, acrobats, and FIRE, provided by PURE Cirkus. A real live girl, put real live fire in her mouth.
AriSawkaDoria meshed it up huge. Jungle jazz, space dub voodoo. Kevin Sawka drums his d n b slant, Ari Zucker plays virtual jazz guitar, and Joe Doria is on keys with his Hammond B3. It’s fusion: organ jazz, electronica, d n b, and groove. A deathstar steamroller, with the added features hooked in and fully operational.
They have a new release, Chapter One, out on Wax Orchard Records, available in Seattle now. A national release is set for August.
American Idol man, Blake Lewis, did his thing on a couple songs during ASD’s first set. The band spoke excitedly about what’s to come.
Blake has tapped AriSawkaDoria to be his backing band.
JUST ADDED: SATURDAY KNIGHTS, JOHN VANDERSLICE, MIRAH, GABRIEL TEODROS, THE GIRLS, D. BLACK, SHACKLETONS, THE TRUCKS, CANCER RISING, SUNDAY NIGHT BLACKOUT, SIBERIAN, TEAM GINA, KAY KAY AND HIS WEATHERED UNDERGROUND
See the whole lineup including SPOON, SILVERSUN PICKUPS, BLUE SCHOLARS, BLOOD BROTHERS, AESOP ROCK, AGAINST ME!, GIRL TALK, LESLIE AND THE LYS, THE CRIBS and tons more at www.thestranger.com/blockparty
Capitol Hill Block Party happens Friday and Saturday July 27-28.
Advance tickets are available for $15 at the Neumo’s box office and at Seattle Urban Outfitters with no service charge.