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Archives for 09/02/2007 - 09/08/2007

Saturday, September 8, 2007

I Wish We All Were Schmader

posted by on September 8 at 10:38 AM

David Schmader’s live screening of Showgirls at Triple Door this past Thursday was incredible and incredibly genius. I don’t know if I have ever had more fun watching a movie. There was duck and pilsner. Schamder was in shamanic oratory form, pausing the movie to interject commentary and pontificate on how beyond bad the movie is.

Pinpointing the scenes and breaking them down inside a collective societal context, Schmader said this is why it’s bad, and this is how bad it is. I choked on my duck twice laughing. Schmader turned the bad movie into good. In essence, David Schmader gives all bad movies hope.

I had never seen Showgirls before. The music in a couple scenes is from Prince’s The Gold Experience. Not Prince, but the Artist Formerly Known As. Anyway, it got me thinking about early Prince. The Dirty Mind Prince and Controversy.

prince1.jpgControversy was originally released in 1981 but Warner Bros. re-released it in ’83. I had an older brother who bought the cassette. My mother confiscated it. With songs like “Sexuality”, “Do Me, Baby”, “Private Joy”, and “Jack U Off”, I now understand why.

The best song is the title track, “Controversy.” It is skuzzy dance funk and hits a dance floor hard. Mom’s don’t understand. This is necessary education for a musical child, sans the skuzzy sex of course. In the song, Prince sings:

People call me rude, I wish we were all nude I wish there was no black and white, I wish there were no rules

I guess my mother was right. Nude with no rules would not be ok for a child. Then the songs, “Do Me, Baby” and “Jack U Off”, those are definitely for adults. Maybe Prince could release a G rated version for children who want to learn certain types of dance funk.

Maybe “Have Some Ice-Cream, Baby”, or “Jack, U R a Nice Guy”? And instead of Controversy, call it Mr. Prince & Friends Eat Snow-Cones. I don’t know, G rated early Prince is tough.

And even earlier Prince:

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Friday, September 7, 2007

Club Cabana is Tonight!!!

posted by on September 7 at 4:03 PM

Just another friendly reminder that tonight is the second installment of Club Cabana at the Solo Bar (200 Roy Street, lower Queen Anne). I will be turning the Solo Bar into a 1970’s Discothèque, spinning rare classic italo and disco gems all night long. I guarentee a great night of drinking, dancing, and great music.

Here is a recent Todd Terje edit of Herbie Hancock’s 1981 jazzy dance single “Magic Number” which originally was also part of the Magic Windows LP that came out that same year. I can’t recall if this edit has had an official release or not, however one thing can always be certain, if Terje is doing the editing, then you know it has to be good. On this edit, he turns Hancock’s jazzy dance track and turns it into a disco stomper without losing the jazz. A very nice blend.

Herbie Hancock - Magic Number (Todd Terje Edit)

Deerhunter & Grizzly Bear @ Neumo’s

posted by on September 7 at 1:25 PM

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I’d been waiting to see Deerhunter since Cryptograms came out in January; appreciating the murky, dreamlike progression of the record, the unrelenting energy from start to finish, is easy enough. But you want to be there. Beaten down by the weight of those heavy bass hits, and lifted back up by Bradford Cox’s delicate wailing. I figured I’d be off the “intrigued” fence and into the “definitely into” corral once I saw them live.

And I wasn’t disappointed. I’m now happily grazing with the other supporters (yeah, that’s sort of an awful analogy, but whatever).

While too many predictable cadences can get tired, for some reason Deerhunter totally rules those tried and true suspended major chords, mastering the sort of driving expressiveness typical of really epic movie soundtracks but without John Williams-y kitsch or the anticipated climaxes. It’s haunting without being too dark to navigate. There’s delay and whispery reverb but not as a crutch, and it’s possible that for once the muddy sound at Neumo’s, at least prior to the deafening mid-set feedback, actually might have contributed to the overall effect. Either way, I am totally sold on this band.

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Grizzly Bear, per usual, played impeccably. I’d seen them twice before (once inside, once out) and it’s always mind-boggling how adaptable their sound is to any environment, whether filling a field of festival-goers or a packed club. Indoor the individual instruments and harmonies were more easily distinguishable, and it’s more obvious how resourceful each member of the band really is, juggling glockenspiels, flutes, and recorders with their usual instruments and two, three, or four-part vocal harmonies. But as talented as they are, Grizzly Bear’s dreamy, dizzying set was nothing out of the ordinary for the band, nothing to pull me out of the Deerhunter-induced exhaustion, (although they did a cover of Carol King’s “He Hit Me” and it was pretty much amazing).


Jan Hammer - Don’t You Know

posted by on September 7 at 1:09 PM

I don’t know who said it, but Jan Hammer is the bomb. Yeah that’s right, The Bomb!

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Well before he donned the white suit of Miami Vice instrumentalist, which made him more famous than I think he wanted to be, Jan was a talented jazz synthesist (is that what you call someone who plays the synthesizer as their main instrument?). In 1977 he released his breakthrough album, Melodies.

Now I’m going to be honest with you here and tell you that I like a lot of music, but I really don’t like jazz. I like some, but I’d say for the most part I could do without it. Period.

This album definately falls into the “pop/rock jazz” camp. I’m not convinced of the album as a whole. Some tracks are “funky” some are “rock” with little blues licks thrown in. Although there are some interesting tracks, like What It Is, which has the blues line taken up by an electrified violin, with nice soulful keyboard chord progressions behind it, layered over a funked out drum beat. Reverbed vocals by Tony Smith make the track sound more like a psych/rock jam. But for the most part the album dilly/dallies with tracks in an endless circle of noodling on songs that would be better if they were cut down to their basics.

Then there is the track, Don’t You Know. Last summer I was rifeling through some stuff at Jive Time and this track was playing. I was blown away. What is this? Jan Hammer? Wow.

It’s like chillout music, before there was chillout music. It’s perfect, they didn’t take it and go off on any progeressions, they just kept it real simple. It is just right. I put it on hold, and they were nice enought to keep it all summer for me. So now I’m passing it on to you.

I’m also passing along a recent cover of the song by a group called Beauty Room. It’s from a 10” series called the Vanity Project, where bands get to cover one of their favorite tracks, then have it remixed. Hefner does the remixing and it’s a nice little minimalist techno take. The vocals still float, though slightly distorted, but the song is cut apart and re-assembled into a new structure altogether.

You can check them out at my blog, T.M.L.

2.27.05. Today I didn’t do anything. I went to dumbass work. Came home and fell asleep.

posted by on September 7 at 1:06 PM

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Ben “Snakepit” White has been keeping a cartoon journal of his life for years now. It’s a “reality” comic in every sense - every day he does three crudely drawn frames of things that happened to him and chooses a song as it’s representative soundtrack. He does the same things most days: goes to work, gets drunk, gets stoned, practices with bands, kisses girls, eats burritos. His life is slightly more interesting than a normal person in that he is in bands that go on tour and put out records (he’s the bassist of J Church, Party Garbage and Bloodbath and Beyond, as well as being the original bass player for the Sword). There might be pages and pages of strips that read like this: “Went to work. Hung out with Greg. Got really stoned.” “Dicked around at work. Ate some tacos. Went to Sword Practice.”

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There’s no story to be followed other than what some band dude who lives in Austin, TX does day to day, which might seem boring, but actually turns out to be engrossing. Everyone has a friend like Ben, or is like Ben themselves, so it’s pretty effortless to relate to his comic. There’s no pretension to his strips - he’s just a man with all his glorious imperfections trying to have a good time. There’s something refreshing about a guy who’s willing to put every part of his life onto the page, whether the stories are mundane or hilarious. His new collection My Life in a Jugular Vein from Microcosm Publishing spans the last three years of Snakepit’s life. It’s amazing to think of all the things you’ve done in the last three years, and how if they would have been compiled daily into a volume like White has done it might actually be a good story, banal minutia and all. In perfect “get to know me” form, the book comes with a mix CD compiled by Snakepit to be played “loud and drunk.” Check out Microcosm’s website, they’re putting out a lot of cool stuff lately.

George Jones to Play Seattle in October

posted by on September 7 at 12:59 PM

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Obviously George Jones is a Line Out fan—I see he’s playing the Paramount on Sunday, October 7, which means he must’ve read my Line Out post from back in January that chastised him for not booking any shows in the Northwest this year.

It’s at 7:30 pm and rather expensive ($44–$55—not including exorbitant fees—through ticketmaster.com), but it’ll be completely worth it. It’s George Jones! C’mon! He’s the best.

Drum Fills the Cheetah

posted by on September 7 at 12:11 PM

wardrum.jpgDrum fills in certain songs make the song. When the beat is tripped up in a certain way, it sticks in your head. The power and punctuation of the drum fill is a storied and important facet in the world of music.

Technically, the type of fill I’m talking about here is similar to the “double-stroke roll.” It’s played with hits alternating between the left and right hands.

When a drummer runs his sticks down the toms, volcanoes are unleashed. It is a primal, tribal connection to the listener and crowd. Think back to the time of cavemen. They communicated with drum skins, similar to today’s tom drums. Evolve out from that and drum fills are used to announce war. Marches are accompanied. Battles are directed.

When Neil Peart slays through his endless line of drums on “Spirit of Radio”, he does more than emit testosterone, mathematics, and agility - he calls the audience to war, and there is a victory feast of rhythmical deciphering.

Hell yeah.

What are your favorite drum fills? What drum fills or rolls make you and the song scream?

John Lennon’s “Instant Karma” has one such snare fill. It’s not so much of the testosterone variety as it is catchy. It’s a snare shuffle and hesitation. Lennon is above it, screaming, “Why in the world are we here / Surely not to live in pain and fear.” Can you hear it? Then Lennon goes, “Yeah we all shine on / Like the moon and the stars and sun.” He’s straightforward on the meter of the piano, but that snare fill turns it upside down and brings it back around. It sticks in my head forever.

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Trans Am’s “Tesco v. Sainsburys”, Track 9 off of Sex Change, has a drum fill for the ages as well. Actually, the song is basically one sustained fill. Gyroscopes are on fire. Drummer, Sebastian Thompson, weaves an anvil. The tom hits are doubled by the bass and keyboards flair off. The pattern is locked and crushes. Inside the piston is a scene – a cheetah moves on a kill doing 60 mph. The rudder tail cat thinks meat and leaps.

If there was war, it would be won. Sebastian makes us safe.

This Week’s Setlist—Better Than Ever!! (SRSLY!)

posted by on September 7 at 11:41 AM

OMG! Setlist this week is so bomb-diddly-awesome that it breaks my heart to only be able to share the experience of listening to it. Why is it so freaking awesome? Because we have a guest, the world’s most perfect human being: Eli Anderson!

Eli is the assistant booker at Crocodile Cafe, and on this week’s Setlist he picks the bands and tells you what you have to do to get a show at the Croc (synopsis: don’t be a jerk). Tune in to listen to me and Megan swoon and let someone else do some of the talking for once.

Some of the bands Eli picked that you will enjoy listening to:
The Quiet Ones
The Moondoggies
Tall Birds
Fleet Foxes
Siberian
Throw Me the Statue

and much, much more (we mean it!).
Go here to listen!

What Will You Do?

posted by on September 7 at 10:38 AM

I’ll be trying to split my time between the following:

SING SING W/JUAN MACLEAN DJ SET, DJ MEL, FOURCOLORZACK, PRETTY TITTY

(War Room) Poor Juan Maclean. In the long shadow cast by charismatic DFA honcho James Murphy, the former Six Finger Satellite technician born John Maclean toils and dubs and discos in relative obscurity. But if he lacks Murphy’s profile, it’s certainly not for lack of talent. The Juan Maclean’s productions boast all the bass-and-drums beef typical of DFA joints, but they also delve deeper into classic Detroit electro and early acid house. His DJ sets dig deep too, unearthing the myriad influences so seamlessly synthesized on his slept-on debut album, Less Than Human. ERIC GRANDY


CLIPSE

(Neumo’s) Seven months is a long time in the quick-turning dog years of hiphop. In seven months, Clipse could’ve drowned in an avalanche of white powder and plastic dime bags, but instead they spent that time touring hard and working on a new mixtape, We Got it 4 Cheap Vol. 3. It was back in March that their show at Chop Suey proved that the Virginia Beach rap duo more than lives up to their humungous hype. Flexing hard in front of an audience of Seattle hiphop hardcores and all-over-printed hipsters, brothers Pusha T and Malice rocked tracks from their 2006 album Hell Hath No Fury at seismically banging levels. That was seven months ago—they should be even more off the Richter this time around. JONATHAN ZWICKEL

Dirty Projectors, YACHT

Dirty Projectors’ new album, Rise Above, begins with a fun premise: cover Black Flag’s Damaged (which main Projector Dave Longstreth hadn’t listened to since middle school) from memory. The result is acoustic and choral, a beautifully faded impression of a punk-rock classic. The Dirty Projectors’ set will be a pastel reverie; YACHT’s will be a hypercolor explosion: Wizard-spaz Jona Bechtolt will dance, sing, give some motivational speeches, and probably hug somebody. (Vera Project, Seattle Center, 956-8372. 7:30 pm, $8, all ages.) ERIC GRANDY

THROW ME THE STATUE, THE CATCH, WALL PAPER, BLACK BEAR

(Comet) Throw Me the Statue and Black Bear both hail from the hive of creativity that is Baskerville Hill. The local record label/house/collective specializes in sweetly lo-fi bedroom pop, ranging from the Microphones-inspired four-track wanderings of Black Bear to the perfect, deceptively simple summer cruising rock of Throw Me the Statue. Black Bear’s The Cinnamon Phase is a serialized journey around and away from a fantastic Seattle haunted by lost loves and fond, faded memories. Throw Me the Statue’s Moonbeams is a diverse yet cohesive collection of unpolished pop gems. If Baskerville Hill were Seattle’s Elephant Six, and there’s every indication they could be, then Throw Me the Statue is their Of Montreal. ERIC GRANDY

Confidential to Kevin: I might be a little late getting up for that bike ride tomorrow.


Thursday, September 6, 2007

Dyme Def, “Three Bad Brothaz”

posted by on September 6 at 3:14 PM

Dyme Def’s latest video features all the rap-tastic shit that that other NW hiphop crew’s doesn’t: switch flipping, bootie smacking, gin dranking, and a Beastie Boys sample.

For contrast, here’s Blue Scholars’ “Back Home.”

Two ends of the Seattle hiphop spectrum. I like ‘em both.

Hat tip to Raindrop Hustla.

Today In Press Release Inanity

posted by on September 6 at 2:44 PM

Hello! Just wanted to give you a heads up that the new [BAND REDACTED] record, [ALBUM NAME REDACTED] went out in the mail to you last Friday, should be there by now and is slated for release next Tuesday, Sept 11 (the 7th anniv. of nine eleven). The new songs slay in the same ol, fantastic, driving boogie machine [BAND REDACTED] way. Please let me know if a review for [ALBUM NAME REDACTED] will be up soon!

Oh my Christ. Do people seriously not remember when 9/11 happened? HONESTLY??

[Normally I would not redact the name of the band and record, but this record’s probably actually pretty good and it’s not their fault their publicist is an idiot.]

Old World Vs. New World Pt. 2

posted by on September 6 at 2:34 PM

This week I’ve got another German for you. This time though we’re starting out in the 20th century.

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Carl Orff is probably better known for his dance and choral suite, Carmina Burana, but today’s piece comes from a series of sketches he wrote before WWII for children. They were meant to introduce young children to rhythm and poetry, through very simple, and frankly minimal sounds. Collectively they are called Schulwerk, or School Work.

Some are arrangements for recorders and wooden blocks, some are for vocals and snare drums(!), but the most famous of his Schulwerk is his the first movement of his Vier Stucke fur Xylophon. The moment you hear it, you will instantly recognize it. These pieces for xylophone were used in the film Badlands. For these pieces Orff had special little xylophone’s made for children, and each child learned a specific part, so that when played together they made a unified and powerful whole. I actually think these are too hard for young children to learn, and especially after you hear the intracasies when professionals play them, as below.

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To that mix I give you the minimalist German techno group, To Rococo Rot. They are powerfully steeped in contemporary classical European music, and I think it really shows in their piece here, Cars.

Carl Orff - Schulwerk
To Rococo Rot - Cars

Last weeks installment of Old World Vs. New World is here.

Spoon @ the Showbox

posted by on September 6 at 2:19 PM

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Photo from heyrocker’s Flickr

Last night Spoon played an epic-length set to a sold-out Showbox. I’ve been a bit of a Spoon apologist in the past, defending the verve and wit of their albums over some underwhelming local festival performances at last year’s Bumbershoot or this year’s Capitol Hill Block Party.

The performance was a kick-off of sorts for the band, beginning a proper club tour after a summer of similar outdoor festivals and teeming crowds. Overall the band was in fine form, obviously comfortable and in command on stage. Part of this ease could be credited to the fact that half the band now resides in the Northwest, with singer Britt Daniel living in Portland and bass player Rob Pope living here in Seattle.

Starting the set off with “Small Stakes,” the band was soon joined by the horn section of openers Black Joe Louis, for “I Got Yr Cherry Bomb.” A guitar solo during “My Little Japanese Cigarette Case,” snarled and thrashed out of the delicate boundaries of the song before lapsing into the longing of “Someone Something.”

Throughout the show, Jim Eno’s drumming was crisp, tasteful, and nuanced. Eno really knows how to get the most out of each hit and his control was evident on songs like “The Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine,” where the tempo subtly flexed at the seams of the song; speeding up slightly and then hanging back on the beat, in synch with the song’s musical dynamics. An extended encore pulled upon songs from Girls Can Tell, ending the night with an extra R&B swagger to Spoon’s sharp rock and post-punk edges.

The evening’s openers, Black Joe Louis were flat out awful. Obviously capable musicians all, their flat take on the blues was a trial to endure. There’s only so much that can be done in the confines of the 12-bar blues and often the best relies on the old adage that “less is more.” With a full horn section and keys, Black Joe Louis were suffering from bloat with no real stand-out soloist to elevate the affair beyond the stale strictures of the pentatonic scale.

Skatebård: Nordic Italo

posted by on September 6 at 2:08 PM

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There is a new sound out there, in case you haven’t noticed. Besides over-achieving in the nouveau disco sound, the Scandinavians are kicking some serious ass on the dancefloor with their chilly version of Nouveau Italo.

With Cloetta Paris about to take flight, Johan Agebjorn and his protege Sally Shapiro the scene is really begining to thrill.

Topping the list for me at the moment is Skatebård. Everything this guy produces is so sleek, yet muscular; tight and loose. The bass is beautiful, creating lines that stay static and similar, yet never bore. Rhythm is held together with big bass beats, but stacatto pulses on high-hats and wood block flourishes with claps lend it this wonderful dark italo tone.

Right now Skatebård owns this sound. With Johan, Sally and Cloetta all going for the lighter side, Skatebård is trying to pull deeper images from techno into his palette. That’s probably the reason Kompakt has chosen to release some his singles off his new album Midnight Magic.

You can check him out for yourself at T.M.L.

P.S. on a design note, I’m loving his airbrushed images that harken back to the heydays of the early eighties. Just check out the “A” and “B” symbols he uses. Brilliantly sexy!

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Um…

posted by on September 6 at 1:28 PM

Anybody a Machine Head fan? Because apparently Disney hates you.

From a press release from the band’s publicist:

Disney Forces Machine Head Cancellation In a stunning last-minute move, Walt Disney Properties have pressured promoter Live Nation into canceling Machine Head’s performance tomorrow night at the House of Blues venue in Anaheim (on their Disneyland property). Citing violent imagery, undesirable fans and inflammatory lyrics as the reason, the diversity-impaired corporation began pressuring the promoter on Saturday to cancel all upcoming heavy metal concerts, placing Machine Head under an internal “review process” that took 5 days before bothering to convey their alarming decision to the band late yesterday - less than 48 hours before their Black Tyranny Tour was to kick off at House of Blues Anaheim on Friday night.

Whether or not you’re into Machine Head, this sort of fatwa is a problem because House of Blues is a major national chain, with 20-some venues in cities across teh U.S. So they ban a band in one, they ban that band in all of them.

Machine Head is not playing Seattle on its current tour.

Ivy & Georgia Clay

posted by on September 6 at 1:21 PM

inside_out.jpgAthens, GA Inside / Out is a 1986 documentary about the college town’s music scene hitting and happening. Bands like R.E.M. and the B-52’s were starting to get big and noticed nationally. They brought a spotlight to Athens and other bands fed on it. Bands like Pylon, Love Tractor, Flat Duo Jets, Time Toy, the Squalls, Dreams So Real, and Bar-B-Q Killers.

There was a convergence, of bands, place, sound, energy, and consumption. The bands wanted it, the people listening wanted it, and the town got wrapped up in it. Athens has a peculiarity to it, a beautiful, strange easy way, and that added to the spout. It was a renaissance. There was ivy, humidity, red clay, and people wanted to party. People wanted to take part.

Why does a music scene hit and happen? Is it simply synchronicity? Things must line up – bands in a certain place, and people who want to hear them and take part.

Is that what is happening in Portland now, minus the ivy and clay?

The film’s producer, Bill Cody was sitting on a beach north of Seattle when the idea to do Athens Inside/Out came to him. He had just finished working on Uncommon Valor, Red Dawn, and Rambo II. Red Dawn and Rambo II into a documentary about a music scene in a college town? :

I had this idea to do a version of the Erroll Morris film Vernon, FL with music. I had read about Athens in various publications at the time and decided that this was the only town in America that might fit the bill. I then contacted my good friend Tony Gayton regarding whether he might be up for such a project and he said yes - or at least that he’d consider it.

R.E.M. happened to be playing in Vancouver a couple of weeks later and I went to the show. I knew nothing about rock shows at the time and after it was over I really didn’t know how to approach them. But, I did notice that no one asked whether you had credentials if you were moving equipment (this was back when they used local crews at most places) so I got on stage and started moving gear. When Peter Buck exited the dressing room I turned to him and pulled out my resume. He told me to call R.E.M. in Athens and we went from there.

Trailer:



Stevie Wonder @ Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery

posted by on September 6 at 12:51 PM

Photos by Morgan Keuler

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Stevie Wonder’s concert last Friday at the Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery wasn’t just great, it was Greatness. He embodies talent, dignitiy, love in such a way that assigning an adjective to describe his stature doesn’t cut it; his Greatness is a tangible thing, not a condition. From the standing ovation that greeted him before he said a word to the Boomers dancing in the aisles in defiance of security to the raucous applause that lingered way after his departure from the stage an hour and a half later, the crowd keenly felt that Greatness. And Stevie emanated it with humility and mastery, not to mention a perfect voice and a kickass band.

We arrived late at the winery and were forced to the very back row of the lawn, up against the wooden fence barricading the place in. Holding 4,000-some people, it’s a good size, though moving to the front of the lawn was impossible as early-arrivers set up massive camps of deck chairs and blankets and travel tables and picnic baskets. Which I would do too, were I an early-arriver, and I spent $100 on a ticket, and this was the only show of the year that I attended.

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Stevie came out and, standing center stage with his daughter Aisha Morris, gave a long and heartfelt introduction to the concert, dubbed “A Midsummer Night’s Wonder.” He explained that following the death of his mother he went through a period of detachment and depression. After a while, her voice came to him and said, “You better get your ass back to work,” and he realized that he needed to do an outdoor summer tour to give back to his fans. He intimated that there was financial risk involved on his part, which is hard to imagine given the $60 general admission ticket price and $100 VIP.

And then he sat down at the keyboard and made beautiful music.

From the first note out of his mouth, it was clear that Stevie’s voice has only grown richer with age. No scuffs, cracks, or weakness; his voice is still the most classically tuned yet groovily accented in all of soul music. But I didn’t recognize the first song, which was weird.

What followed was a tryptich from Innervisions, my second-fave Stevie album (first place goes to Fulfillingness’ First Finale), starting with “Too High,” segueing into “Vision,” and finishing with a slamming version of “Living for the City” (damn, I just goosebumped while typing that). Stevie’s band consisted of THREE percussionists, two Latin-style and one kit durmmer, as well as a guitarist, bassist, second keyboardist, and a three-piece backing vocal section. They were, not surprisingly, total crack—whip-crackingly sharp, totally in-time for every song’s changes.

He blasted into “Master Blaster” and then blew into “Higher Ground,” iconic songs both outrageously funky and pointedly political. “Golden Lady,” one of his many fully-flowering ballads, was gorgeous, an anthem to love. Stevie led a killer group singalong to “Ribbon in the Sky,” a song I wasn’t familiar with, that had the men in the crowd doing one vocal part and the women doing the other. Stevie held the audience easily, joking about the men coming in too fast, that if they performed well they might get “a little somethin’-somethin’” later on that night.

“Overjoyed” is another one of those perfect love ballads, another chance for Stevie’s voice to linger long on notes, draw the most irresistable inflection out of his lyrics. An extended percussion solo started “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing,” perfectly executed and jazzy until the full-blown soul of the song’s crescendo.

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I made my way down to the VIP seats as “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” started, and the crowd around me went berzerk. Yuppies, parents, grandparents, IT guys, fannypackers, and a few 30-somethings were immediately up and dancing in the cordoned-off walkways, overwhelming event staff. Flashlights flared and voices were raised, but the crowd, partially wine-drunk and totally high on Wonder, were oblivious, lost in one of the grooviest songs of all time (I’m goosebumping again). “I said a lot of foolish things, that I really didn’t mean…” Better than good—Greatness.

As a coda, Stevie took the song into totally unexpected territory: “I think that song could work as a country song, don’t you?” The crowd wasn’t sure until the band fell into an oldtime Nashville swing session and Stevie, warbling like a good ol’ boy, sang “Sighned, sealed, deliverred, Ahm yers…” They played it out, country-style, which got a huge laugh from the audience and proved two things: 1. Stevie’s songs are so potent, so fully-formed and of themselves, that they can me molded into any form, and 2. Stevie can sing like a redneck.

He covered Chuck Berry’s “Memphis,” leaving out, according to the Boomer standing next to me, the best lyrics, “pure poetry,” according to this guy. Dude also told me that he last saw Stevie some 30 years ago when he opened for the Rolling Stones on the Cocksucker Blues tour. Now that’s legacy.

“My Cherie Amor” had everyone singing the “la la ls”s, a 4,000-piece backing band in perfect unison. “Sir Duke” is simply another one of the best soul/R&B/funk/pop/undeniably brilliant songs ever recorded, played, or performed, and might be my favorite Stevie tune of all:

Music is a world within itself

With a language we all understand

With an equal opportunity

For all to sing, dance, and clap their hands

But just because a record has a groove

Don’t make it in the groove

You can tell right away at letter A

When the people start to move

You can feel it all over!

(More goosebumps. Damn!)

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“Isn’t She Lovely” must’ve been gold to those aging Yups on blankets down in front with empty bottles of chardonnay and aging Yup spouses by their side, as was “Sunshine of My Life.” It’s hard to find better love songs in all of pop music, ones easier to remember and sing along to. “Superstition,” which I figured would be the set closer, was raucous, though in the back the keyboard intro—one of the rockinest in R&B—could’ve been a little louder. (It must be said, though, that the sound quality at the winery was superb, even out in the cheap seats.)

Before the finale, Stevie went into another monolog, this one briefer than his introduction, talking about our capacity to love and overcome the haters: “They can just die, I tell them. They’re not doing anyone any good.” He had led a chant of “Stop the war! Stop the hate!” earlier in the set, and though the banter sounded canned, he countered it with some hiphop inflected “wha-wha!”s and other slangly exclamations. And even Stevie’s canned banter cuts to the core. Dude should run for president.

“I Just Called to Say I Love You” closed out the set, another mega-hit that everyone and their mother and their nephew knows by heart, another pillar that holds up the pantheon of pop music. Like almost every song he played that night, it’s a song you’ve heard a zillion times in your youth, began to appreciate in your early adulthood, and finally ingested it as part of your thoughts, the soundtrack to your life, as you got older. Stevie’s songs are nourishment in the junk-food world of pop music, the songs that keep us fit and ready to carry on. Seeing him in concert was a feast.

Want Free Tickets to Clipse?

posted by on September 6 at 12:43 PM

Clipse @ Chop Suey, 3/13/2007
If you’re looking to score a free pair of tickets to Thursday’s all-ages Clipse show, send an email to info@neumos.com. First person wins, so this contest is rigged towards the constant page-refreshers. Clipse put on a damn fine show, and I’d definitely be there to show some love for my fellow Virginians (757 represent!) if I was in town.

Deerhunter - “News On Booze”

posted by on September 6 at 12:33 PM

The beer-soaked backstage interviews with Stranger reporters Dan Brockman and Susan Flowers…

(Deerhunter play tonight at Neumo’s with Grizzly Bear & Wesafari, 8pm, $15, all-ages.) GO SEE THIS SHOW

Grizzly Bear & Deerhunter @ Neumo’s

posted by on September 6 at 12:20 PM

Grizzly Bear - “Central and Remote”:


Somehow, Grizzly Bear and Deerhunter’s show tonight at Neumo’s got no mention at all in this week’s Stranger. Blame it on Bumbershoot fatigue. Blame it on the trains. But don’t miss this show. Grizzly Bear were an unexpected highlight at Sasquatch, but I feel like a lot of their nuance drifted away in the open air of the Gorge. To see them contained, their psych-folk and R&B reverberations bouncing off the Neumo’s walls, should be a distinct but equally rewarding experience.

And then there’s Deerhunter. I kind of got off on the wrong foot with this band, making an ill-informed and snide remark about singer Bradford Cox’s arresting appearance on this here blog (I was unaware of his serious medical condition). But something about their shit-blogging, juvenile erotica, and angry anti-critic letter campaigns makes me think that my gaffe was small potatoes to these dedicated noise art freaks. (In any case, I felt bad enough about it that I skipped their last show in town out of embarrassment.) Bu their live shows are reportedly face-searing assaults of digital delay and Dennis Cooper-ian creep. I’ll be there this time.

(Grizzly Bear play tonight at Neumo’s with Deerhunter & Wesafari, 8pm, $15, all-ages)

Viva Morrissey

posted by on September 6 at 12:08 PM

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NME reports today that former State/Reno 911 players Ben Garrant and Thomas Lennon are at work on a musical about Morrissey and featuring his songs.

Lennon told New York Metro: “I have an outline in my head, like ‘Mamma Mia’- type musical but with them (sic) music of Morrissey called ‘I’ve Changed My Plea To Guilty’. It’s for a very diehard set of fans.”

It is not clear when the musical will open.

(Hat tip to Idolator)

Thanks for the Candy, I Wish I Liked You More

posted by on September 6 at 11:43 AM

Look at what I just got in the mail:

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It came from a band called Golden Robot Army.

At first I was afraid to open it. I shook it a little—it didn’t tick, it didn’t smell like something dead or digested or poisonous—so I opened it.

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Candy! And with it, a letter that said “We are the Golden Robot Army! What are we like? Well, we play a sort of gypsy rock, and are heavily influenced by bands like Gogol Bordello, DeVotchKa, the Arcade Fire, Bright Eyes, the Polyphonic Spree, and Firewater.”

There was also a CD among the treats, and I’m listening to it right now (when you send a spraypainted lunch pail to me in the mail, you get to skip ahead in the “to be listened to” line). As much as I appreciate the enthusiastic press kit (I really do), the music’s not really my thing—I’m not a huge fan of Gogol Bordello either. Golden Robot Army don’t have the same chaotic vibe as the Arcade Fire, the Polyphonic Spree, and the other artists they’re inspired by. They’re not loud enough, not lush with an mini orchestra of instruments, and the one song, “Breakdown Lane” is a little to early ’90s grunge band for me to get into. But that’s okay because they’re a new band, and I think they want to get there. These things take time.

But they do put together a hell of a press kit.

The band has songs posted at www.myspace.com/goldenrobotarmy and they’re playing September 25th at ToST. Might not be my bag, but maybe you’ll be into it.

What I Want To Do

posted by on September 6 at 11:26 AM

This image got me thinking:
0819565725.jpg I have always wanted to do a poetic/philosophical exploration of the relationship between dub and death, echospace and extinction. Dub is the music of the dead, music for vampires, music for a black afterlife. Dub shatters the walls of oppression not in a political sense (LKJ) but in an existential one. It imagines life without a black body, without black matter. In dub you are floating in the remembrance of things past.

Tonight in Music

posted by on September 6 at 11:11 AM

Today’s Up & Coming’s suggest:

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DAN DEACON, BOBBY CONN, KARL BLAU
(Vera Project) You don’t really go to a Dan Deacon show for the music. The music is great, even occasionally mind-warping—a mix of synths, effects, and toys melted by AA battery acid and glow-stick goo, all presided over by Deacon’s demented chipmunk chatter and pixilated singsong. At his best, Deacon filters Animal Collective’s post-psych tribal thump through a summer afternoon of eight-bit Nintendo and Yo! MTV Raps. But the real draw is the freak show. Deacon is a neon-splattered mad scientist, or maybe junior-high science teacher, a game show host, a carnival barker, and an absurdist motivational speaker. His monologues are easily as much fun as his retard electro jams. ERIC GRANDY

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ELDER MASON, RED SEA SHARKS, 1-2-1-2, CHARLES LEO GEBHARDT IV
(Comet) It’ll be interesting to see what happens to the Comet if enough people show up to make for a dirty dance party during 1-2-1-2’s set. The walls might drip with sweat and there may be some clothing removal. As 1-2-1-2’s Stranger Band Page attests, they’re a “hot, sexy, sleazy band that will make you move!!!” Three exclamation points: They’re not fucking around. Recommended listening is the song “The Wiz” (go to www.thestranger.com/bands to hear it). It feels almost like the sadly defunct Black Eyes, if Black Eyes wanted to play horn-heavy dance anthems inspired by LCD Soundsystem. MEGAN SELING

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Get A Little

posted by on September 5 at 3:43 PM

Patrick Cowley, could be credited for bringing italo to the West Coast, San Francisco specifically. In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s Patrick Cowley produced some great italo gems, including “Megatron Man”, “Mind Warp”, “I Wanna Take You Home”, and “Menergy”. He also worked with other italo and disco artists like Paul Parker, Sylvester, and Donna Summer. Cowley was a staple in the San Francisco club scene and eventually joined forces with producer Marty Blecman to form Megatone Records in the summer of 1981. One of my favorite tracks produced by Cowley is “Get A Little” which was released as a 12-inch single through Megatone in 1981. That same year, “Get A Little” was also included on the classic award-winning LP Megatron Man. Even though Cowley’s musical career was shortened by his passing in 1982 due to AIDS, Cowley’s contributions to italo-disco and dance music in general will forever be monumental.

Patrick Cowley - Get a little (extended version)

PS - This Friday at the Solo Bar in Queen Anne, is the second installment of Club Cabana. I’ll be spinning rare disco all night long for you to dance to. Don’t miss it!

Club Cabana

RE: New Les Savy Fav Songs

posted by on September 5 at 2:19 PM

“What Would Wolves Do?”: Comparing Les Savy Fav (one of the greatest current rock bands alive) to Maritime (a nothing, a footnote to some great-to-middling Midwestern emo bands) or the Flaming Lips (good, but precious and over-rated) is just wrong. Les Savy Fav are their own awesome animal entirely. (Even Tim Harrington and Wayne Coyne’s respective stage antics put them at odds—Coyne’s shows are big, rehearsed, safely entertaining productions; Harrington’s are wild, improvisational, low-frills confrontations). But we can all agree, this song is the shit! Harrington tackles familiar, existential territory with his usual bluffing confidence (“The world may seem cruel/the world it may hate us/in time we will show the world why the world made us”), and it finds the band casually stretching those old post-punk muscles. It has me totally stoked for the new record, and confident that it can live up to their past work.

“The Equestrian”: Indeed a rocking song, and maybe a more exciting introduction for non-fans (especially if they come to the Fav by way of hardcore or punk), but I don’t think it’s better than “What Would Wolves Do.” Anyway, the best news about this track is the video competition the band’s having for it on the internets right now, which so far has yielded only these three not too impressive entries (although the one “performed in the key of Bunny” is kind of cute):

True Falsetto

posted by on September 5 at 2:10 PM

jerseyboys.jpgJersey BoysThe Story of Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons is playing at the August Wilson Theatre in New York City. John Lloyd Young, who plays Frankie Valli pulls off Valli’s ball-grabbing falsetto with Tony Award winning skill. He’s completely encompassing. Jersey Boys won the 2006 Tony for Best Musical.

You know Frankie Valli, think – “Sherry”, “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, “Walk Like a Man”, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You”, and “Oh What a Night”. They are doo-wop and sock hop, but they’re also from the streets of Newark, New Jersey. Seeing the songs performed within the grittiness of their story held it up. A well written, well cast, and well performed story.

John Lloyd Young’s Tony for best performance by an actor in a musical is apt and earned. The Valli falsetto, that ball-punishing falsetto is one of the more original vocals in music history, very difficult to imitate and perform. Young is right there with it, every note of the way.

The story effectively invests the viewer in the songs and the band. I found myself cheering not just because the actors nailed the songs, but because within the context of the story, the songs become underdogs and are triumphant in rising the band from obscurity. And Young singing that high without a constriction of his crotch, doing Valli justice, you have to cheer that.

Directed by Des McAnuff, and based on a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, the story is told from perspective of the four members: Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito, and Nick Massi. Late 1950’s blue-collar, struggling sub-gangsters who go on to sell 175 million records. Gaudio’s songwriting and Valli’s voice carved them their slice of prominence.

Smithereens drummer and musicologist, Dennis Diken says:

The same way the Beach Boys captured Southern California living, the Four Seasons encapsulated the Northeastern working class experience. Their records evoke the feel of New York City. They used innovative chords and changes in the songs to make the singles little worlds of their own, so different from each other.

There was a healthy competitive streak between the Beach Boys and the Four Seasons. There’s a very Valli-like falsetto tag in some of the Beach Boys sound. The Seasons responded by releasing a B-side called “No Surfing Today.”

Bach Hop

posted by on September 5 at 2:04 PM

The first three minutes of this violin and turntable performance are great:

Then it gets kind of dull.

Immaculate Machine at Sunset Tavern

posted by on September 5 at 1:35 PM

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

You might not know the name Kathryn Calder, but chances are you’d recognize her voice: The singer/keyboard player is one of the many talented souls who records and performs with The New Pornographers. But tonight, she plays Seattle with her primary creative outlet, the equally delightful Immaculate Machine, in support of the trio’s new album Immaculate Machine’s Fables (which features guests including Owen Pallett of Final Fantasy and Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand). In between mouthfuls of yogurt, Kathryn fielded a couple questions for “Line Out” before hitting the road.

What is the biggest difference between what you do in the New Pornographers and Immaculate Machine?
Immaculate Machine is my band, and I’ve been in it now for five or six years. I do a lot of the songwriting. It is more of a creative project. In the Pornographers, I show up, and I play, and have a good time. Somebody else deals with most of the songwriting; Carl [Newman] is usually the one in the control booth, flying the ship.

How did your song “Dear Confessor” come about?
That was one of the first songs we had for the new record. It was written almost immediately after we recorded our last record. That always seems to happen. You make a record, and then you have all this creativity flying around, so you want to start writing songs for a new record. So that was one of them. It was written by Brooke [Gallupe], but we all collaborate. I wrote some of the words for it, and my keyboard and bass parts.

(Curious? Listen to “Dear Confessor” here.)

Did you have specific goals for this record, as opposed to the earlier ones?
Yes. This time around, we wanted to have more instruments. On almost all of our previous records, we tried to bang out some sort of facsimile of how we play them live. We didn’t put on too many arrangements, because we were concerned with creating things live. On this new record, we had a lot more time, and more instruments to fool around with. We were more concerned with the record being its own thing, and figured we’d change the songs around however we needed to, in order to play them live.

So you had to learn how to perform all the new songs live after writing them?
Yeah, most of them. Some of the string parts made it difficult. I have a real hesitation about playing strings on my keyboard. I don’t know why; I don’t find it bad when other people do it. But I like real instruments in general. But until you have eight roadies, it makes it difficult to carry along organs and pianos and all that.

What flavor of yogurt are you eating?
Just plain. Nothing. I used to hate plain yogurt, but now I quite enjoy it. Especially the Greek-style. I’m a big fan of that, maybe because there’s so much fat in it. Once on the road, I accidentally put some in the freezer, so it basically became frozen yogurt, and it was the best thing ever. We put it on pancakes. So I highly recommend storing your Mediterranean-style yogurt in the freezer.

Immaculate Machine play at the Sunset in Ballard tonight at 9 PM, with Tea Cozies and Mr. Gnome.

One Last Thing…

posted by on September 5 at 12:50 PM

I forgot to mention, on my wrap-up of Monday, about the off the grid show at the Claimin’ Space exhibit. When I dropped by, Fourthcity MPC freak ER Don was rocking a set of glitchy beats, juggled jazz loops, and futurist samples. This is an Akai MPC:

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This is what ER Don does with it:

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The magic man plays Broken Disco next weekend, Friday the 14th at Chop Suey, along with Alex Under, Dean Decosta, Milkplant, DJ dAb, and (full disclosure) yours truly.

It Really Is Oh So Quiet…

posted by on September 5 at 12:30 PM

A little Björk should fix that…

Nikki Sixx Has Bitter Falling Out With Drugs, Tells All In New Book

posted by on September 5 at 12:26 PM

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Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx just released a new memoir called the Heroin Diaries, a collection of journal entries he wrote in 1987 during the peak of Crüe’s popularity and the height of his addiction to drugs. It’s not about basketball. Here’s an excerpt:

November 25th, 1987 Lakeland Civic Center, Lakeland Fl Hotel, 4:20pm

I just woke up. I was up till noon doing blow. We hired a big conference room and just fuckin’ went crazy… Slash, Tommy, Steven, Duff, some crew guys, a bunch of whores and cases and cases of booze. We have a dealer here who just gives the shit to us. He gave us each an 8-ball and we did our best to do it all. It was insane… we piled it all up on the table. I’d never seen so much coke. Me and Tommy were trying to figure out how to freebase it but we didn’t have all the needed supplies. We tried our damnedest and ended up smoking it wet outta a glass ashtray. My fingers are fucking blistered. I got about two grams sitting here on the table next to me. I should just flush the shit but the guy will just bring me more so I might as well do a line and go to the chopper… fuck, I need a drink… my hands are shaking.

P.S. Suzette came to my room before the party and wanted to fuck me, Tommy was in here with me doing a bump and I told her to leave. She got all crazy and I threw her out the door and she slammed into the wall and started crying.

CHICKS=TROUBLE

Also released with the book is The Heroin Diary Soundtrack by Sixx’s new group Sixx:A.M. The stories Sixx brings forth in the book are pure entertainment. The album is, of course, pure KISW garbage-rock (Inside the cd there was an ad for the new Drowning Pool record! Let the bodies hit the floor! Siiiiick!). Motley Crüe’s best song – “Kick Start My Heart” - is already about Sixx being declared legally dead of an overdose before being brought back to life by adrenaline shots. That song is awesome. Every song on the “soundtrack” relies on cheesy sentiment and cliché, and might actually require piles of white powder to enjoy. Here’s some lyrics from “Heart Failure:”

Yeah, we had everything to lose
But we still lived like we were about to die
After all we were the Drug Scouts of America
I’ve begun evaporating
Right before your eyes
I just keep regurgitating
My own demise
I miss today, I miss the past
I missed my veins ‘cuz they collapsed

(shudder).

Unlike the Crüe’s group memoir, the Dirt, this book (and album) are loaded with the positive message of the negative effects of narcotics. Thanks Nikki Sixx. I’m sure this is finally going to be the conduit of change for a drug-addled nation. At the very least the book is fun to read - it’s hard to turn away from a 350 page car wreck full of 80s metal bands.

Tomorrow, Sixx is the featured speaker at a conference for National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month. “Sixx is the first member of the rock world to share his story of surviving addiction at such an event – a particularly ironic distinction since he was once viewed as one of the most wild and excessive men in rock.” I was stoked to see on the press release that the event is happening on Capitol Hill. I was all planned to go see the washed-up hairball in person, but upon further inspection have found that the event is on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. I am devastated. The only thing that might possibly console me now is a pile of sweet, sweet heroin.

New Les Savy Fav Songs

posted by on September 5 at 12:18 PM

Sorry it’s been so quiet here today. The music staff finally got some sleep after the Bumbershoot mindfuck. But here’s some good news!

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Les Savy Fav’s new album, Let’s Stay Friends, drops Septmeber 18th, and the band has a few new songs posted on the French Kiss site—“What Would Wolves Do,” and “The Equestrian.”

“What Would Wolves Do” is fantastic! Starts out almost like a squeaky clean Maritime pop song but then gets a little Flaming Lips-ish and embellished with some distorted electronic beats. My guess is wolves would start dancing if they heard it. Okay, that was a bad joke. Sorry. Clearly I haven’t gotten enough sleep.

“The Equestrian” is far more bad ass—my favorite of the two because I love it when dudes start screaming over thunderous drumming and wailing guitar.

I can’t wait to hear the whole album…

Clearly, Germany is Paradise

posted by on September 5 at 11:15 AM

Despite all that Third Reich stuff, the country continues to earn props as the place where adults can drink beer on the street, Scissor Sisters sell millions, and M.I.A.’s on the cover of Rolling Stone.

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Speaking of M.I.A., have you gotten her amazing new record yet? What the hell’s wrong with you?

(Thanks to Pink is the New Blog for the heads-up on the RS cover.)


Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Clan, In Da Front

posted by on September 4 at 4:40 PM

Yo, I feel like straight crap. Bumbershoot is all I’ve done for the last 3 days, with it’s shitty-bomb food, smuggled Old Crow, and desperation 4-dollar Miller Lights; my guts are pissed right now. I haven’t kicked it at the Shoot like that since high school- except instead of stamp-licking and fence-jumping, it was my lanyard on which hung a fresh-to-death BumberBoard pass. Baller.

Continue reading "Clan, In Da Front" »

Indeed, Wu Tang Were (mostly) Nothing to Fuck With

posted by on September 4 at 4:20 PM

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There’s already some pretty complete coverage of last night’s shows on here - but I figure a little more Wu-Talk can’t hurt. Before I get into the rap game though, I want to say I agreed with everything JZ said about Fleet Foxes in his recap. They were spectacular. I can’t wait to hear their full length.

I can’t profess to be a huge Wu Tang fan. Oh, I definitely like them – 36 Chambers is fer sure one of my favorite hip hop albums, and I’ve bought solo albums from ODB, Meth, RZA, and Ghostface and enjoyed them thoroughly. But I haven’t rocked Forever since high school, and I never even listened to the last one they put out, so I’m not sure I can be classified as a “big fan.” Also, I don’t particularly like hip hop concerts in general. I’ve been to my share, seen a few good ones, but I’ve left disappointed from the majority of them. I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to care about the shows on Monday’s mainstage, but both of them turned out to be really entertaining.

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Lupe Fiasco’s Food and Liquor was easily my favorite hip hop album of last year. In true white nerd fashion I caught an interview with him on NPR with clips of his songs and liked what I heard. Got his album and, bam, I was hooked. The man had no problem holding down the mainstage, with scores of people chanting the words to his closer “Daydreamin’.” He couldn’t quite pull of the “turn the music off so everyone can chant the words” trick as many times as he tried – after a few attempts it was jarring and irritating. Other than that though it was a great performance.

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Wu Tang had no problem dropping the volume for everyone to sing along. The whole stadium was chanting “Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nothin’ to fuck with,” it was amazing. There were some negatives: from the bleachers I couldn’t understand what any of them were saying because of muddled sound (or perhaps 8 simultaneous mics), and I kept listening for Ghostface and never heard him (didn’t know he wasn’t there until today). My biggest beef was with the lame a cappella version Method Man did of “Shame on A Nigga,” calling it “Wu-Tang 101.” Seriously, that’s my favorite song of yours. Perform it.

There were of course more positives than negatives. I was most surprised by Method Man, who threw down a lot harder than I though he was going to. He was the only one who got down off the stage to interact with the audience (three times), he danced and swaggered while he rapped while all the others just stood, and his flow was the strongest and most impressive. I just kind of assumed the years of mediocre releases and deodorant commercials would soften him up, but it didn’t. Seeing thousands of people hold up their lighters and chant the name ODB was probably the most massive public display of mourning for a crackhead I will ever take part in. I know I held up my cell phone light - I loved the shit out of that crackhead.

People were still holding up Ws out their sun roofs on the way to the freeway. Wu-Tang Forever.

photos by Justin Renney

A Healthy Dollop of Disco Tartar

posted by on September 4 at 4:06 PM

Lobster Disques is a new re-edit label that has already released three records this year,Le Disco Snip Snip EP, Eeling Groovy, and California Breamin’. The producer behind these re-edits goes by Secret Bob and he has cooked up some great re-edits, including new mixes of ELO’s “Last Train To London”, Stretch’s “Why Did You Do It”, The Jam’s “Start”, Gino Soccio’s “S Beat”, Doobie Brother’s “Jesus Is Just Alright”, Tamiko Jones’s “Everybody’s Talking” to name some of my personal favorites. Of course Secret Bob re-names the tracks with some ridiculous names, my favorite being “Jam Sandwich”, which is his re-edit of “Start” by The Jam. All in all, I think this is a great new re-edit label that is putting out some fine new edits that can really work the dancefloor along with your upcoming sunday seaside cruise. Plus, these mixes have been getting plenty action from the likes of disco vikings Rune Lindbaek and Todd Terje, so you know they must be of top quality. I highly recommend checking them out.

Here is Secret Bob’s edit of ELO’s “Last Train To London”:

Secret Bob - Last Train to Oslo

Okay, It’s Your Turn

posted by on September 4 at 12:47 PM

Given that there were thousands and thousands of people there each day, I know for a fact The Stranger’s music staff aren’t the only ones with something to say about Bumbershoot. So while we’re busy gushing about what we loved (and in some cases hated), consider this post your Bumbershoot open thread to talk about what you caught over the weekend.

Get to typin’, duders. I wanna read some good stories.

The U-men!!!

posted by on September 4 at 12:45 PM

holy shit…the U-men give me reason enough to laugh at what passes for contemporary local (and not so local) punk, indie or whatever the former sound of revolution is now called. And, if I remember the legend correctly, they once lit the WATER on fire at the Seattle Center. Nice.

Oh, and they loved Fallout Records also!

Letter of the Day

posted by on September 4 at 12:36 PM

This was just sent to Last Days, with a sideways smiley face in the subject line.

Hello! Would you do me a favor? How do I do for to talk with Peter Buck, How I make for find him? some contact or do you know anybody has it? I tried to talk with some peoples but I got confused with so many different ideas.. I am Danielli and I need to talk with Peter, Peter Buck. It is very important for me. Okay? Please I hope count on you. Danielli

Can you help Danielli make for find Peter Buck?

Monday

posted by on September 4 at 12:30 PM

Updated. Photos by Justin Renney

I’d never really gotten into Viva Voce before, but after their killer set on Monday afternoon I’m definitely going to dig into Get Your Blood Sucked Out now and their forthcoming re-releases due out in October. The husband and wife duo were more classically, viscously rocking than I expected, delivering psych metal drone as easily as breathy pop. Drummer/sometime acoustic guitarist Kevin Robinson pounds out rhythms, sings, and possibly loops some live percussion, and guitarist Anita Robinson just wails on that whammy bar. Sounds frequently came out of nowhere—phantom basslines, loops of feedback. Highlights included the scorched sub-country ramble “From the Devil Himself,” the sweetly spacey “Alive With Pleasure,” and the eastern dirge of “Believer.” At one point they said, “You Wu Tang Clan is here,” eliciting huge hollers and a few “W” hand signs from the audience. I’d see those “W”s at every show I went to all day.

Joan As Police Woman was pretty, sometimes sultry singer songwriter fare. Joan Wasser’s voice is impressive and wide-ranging but not showy. Both Kurt B Reighley and I felt like the band was missing some mystique that we’d associated with them, but that it was probably our mistake. Regardless, they sounded fine. What I think may have been “Christobel” was scornful, thorny and tense; and “We Don’t Own It” had a touch of Mt Eerie/Phil Elverum’s acoustic existentialist dread. Wasser asked the crowd, “Are you going to Wu Tang Clan tonight?” (I started wondering if it was a contractual obligation to mention them today or something) and those “W”s went up from the seated crowd at the acoustic folk stage. Nothing to fuck with.

IMG_4710.jpgTokyo Police Club at the KEXP Stage by Morgan Keuler

The next fuzz of the day was Canadian youngsters Tokyo Police Club. Seeing them live, it occurred to me that the band kind of sound like a more oblique version of their countrymen the Stills—their singer has a similarly flattened, anemic but still compelling voice, but Tokyo Police Club take a much less direct, poppy route with their songwriting. They were one of the more energetic bands I saw, bounding around stage, with the keyboardist hopping and flailing as though shackled against his will to his instrument. The band actually lucked out to be playing under the swollen gray clouds, because their dreary post punk and cool, ringing guitar echoes would’ve sounded totally at odds with a sunny day, their music better suited to cruising some arctic highway than to lounging on a summer lawn. There weren’t a ton of standout tracks, although “Nursery, Academy” was pretty catchy.

I wasn’t too impressed with Fleet Foxes. Maybe it was the crowd, or the asshole event staff at the EMP for that show (ego tripping bald dude, I’m looking at you), but I just couldn’t get into it. They sounded fine, Robin Pecknold’s voice alternately lost in the mix or standing clear and alone over just guitar, but it wasn’t doing it for me. Maybe next time I’ll get it.

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Lupe Fiasco delivered a blazing set on the Monday night, including a fun riff on Gorillaz’ “Feel Good Inc” and peaking with the punchy “I Gotcha” and the populist “Kick, Push.” The sound was great—Lupe’s voice was crisp and clear, and his DJ’s tracks were satisfying and bass-heavy. In addition to his DJ and a hypeman, Lupe was aided by Gemini’s R&B crooning and fast rapping for a few songs. But Lupe was perfectly capable of holding the Main Stage down on his own, which is no small feat. I don’t really understand where Lupe’s underdog mystique comes from. Is it ‘cause he skates? Because rapping about skating in the ’00s is only about as radical as rapping about basketball in the ’80s. Is it just because he has relatively thoughtful (“conscious”) lyrics? Whatever, Lupe is clearly on top of his world, nothing under about him. He even did Kanye West’s “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” one better with the choice quip, “Fuck George W Bush with a cherry on top and a space needle up his ass!”

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But the crowd was even more excited about Wu Tang Clan—I’d been seeing kids throw up their “W” hand sign at nearly every set I saw Monday. The air was charged. The question was: Would this be an excavation of the Wu Tang’s ruins (as Charles Mudede hinted at) or a full-on triumphant return of the Clan? Eight MCs is always gonna be a bit of a mess in terms of sound, and some rappers were in better shape than others—RZA sounded raw in a way that even ODB might not have liked; Method Man was, of course, a big goofy star; Raekwon was still sharp. But they tore through their anthems “Wu Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthin’ To Fuck Wit,” “Protect Ya Neck,” and even a version of “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” dedicated to ODB. Tonight was the last show of their tour, and who knows what they’ll do next separately or together, but their set at Bumbershoot was a definitely a triumphant return for the Wu Tang Clan. Only, you know, with no Ghostface Killah. (But you can catch Ghost solo at Musicfest NW—catchy name, that—this coming weekend in Portland).

And confidential to Jonah: Art Brut were better than Wu Tang Clan. Flame on, internets.

Also Seen at Bumbershoot (But Not One of the Reasons Why it Was So Great)

posted by on September 4 at 12:09 PM

I had no idea the Insane Clown Posse changed things up and started performing as a weird acid-jazz/circus freak/trapeze/burlesque sideshow… it was scary. But at least these guys weren’t spraying the crowd with Faygo.

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Best Song Ever (Right Now)

posted by on September 4 at 12:01 PM

I feel crazy. My head is still spinning and full of hundreds of things I could say about Bumbershoot, but my body is full of nothing but the strong desire to lay down and take a much-needed nap.

Appropriately, this song just came on at the coffeeshop I’m working from and it has never sounded better. Except when the Pixies played Bumbershoot in 2004. It sounded fucking fantastic then.

Reason Three: Seaweed. Seaweed, Seaweed, Seaweed!

posted by on September 4 at 11:36 AM

I tried to tell you all about Seaweed immediately after the festival on Sunday, but the stupid internet ate my long-ass post and I got too frustrated to post it again. So here it is, a day or so late and written for a second time, but I’m still giddy over how exciting it was to see my favorite band to ever come out of Tacoma again.

I stayed at the Seattle Center on Saturday to see Schoolyard play the Mainstage, so I missed the band’s pre-Bumber show at the High Dive Saturday night (heard it was great, though, anyone go?), but their Sunday night set at the Sky Church did everything my sixteen-year-old heart was hoping they’d do.

The setlist is a blur—I neglected to take any notes because I was just too captivated to even try writing things down, but they played for an hour to a grateful crowd that sang and jumped along to every beat and every word. Their list of songs spanned their entire discography—they played stuff off Spanaway, Actions and Indications, even Weak, and towards the end, as their shirts became soaked in sweat, they never got winded. They’re older, but they still fucking rock.

Throughout, the band was clearly having a great time and very excited to be back on stage together—it was evident by the many smiles they exchanged during the set. And new drummer Jesse Fox (of Polecat and Leuko fame) brought a hard-hitting, youthful energy to the low-end, refreshing many of the songs that are over a decade old. These are songs the band had been playing for years, but this weekend was the first time Fox ever got to play them live… nothing felt at all stale and their melodic, heavy, loud rock sounds just as relevant today as anything else out there.

If some 16-year old kid had stumbled across the show, not knowing Seaweed’s history, he’d probably think this is some new band doing it right straight out of the gates. Even the couple of new tracks they debuted are just as huge and strong as the older material—clearly the years haven’t worn on them too much.

If you missed it, you’re dumb. BUT, the band did say they’ll be playing again in Tacoma (their hometown, it’s only fair), in the sorta near future, so keep your calendars open around the last week of December because Seaweed still totally fucking kill it.

Reason Two: Michael Ian Black and Guitar Hero

posted by on September 4 at 10:41 AM

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Bumbershoot was great because Jeff Kirby and I interviewed Michael Ian Black before his show yesterday. The man is awkward. He never laughs, but he makes everyone around him laugh. He’s also not very good at Guitar Hero, so Kirby showed him how it’s done with an almost flawless version of a Dick Dale song.

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The video interview will be posted soon, so check back.

Roky Erickson at B’shoot - opinions from the peanut gallery?

posted by on September 4 at 10:32 AM

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Did anyone else catch Roky Erickson’s early evening performance yesterday? Given the man’s colorful psychological past, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But the only truly unsettling thing about his performance was the way he said “thank you!” after every number like that was the last song. Ever. The eccentric Erickson’s always been one of those figures I knew about, yet rarely listened to — I only really started to delve into his catalog with the release of the documentary You’re Gonna Miss Me — but I thought his Bumbershoot set was a hoot. (And the way his musical director/guitarist looked after him, even going so far as to towel off Roky’s brow when he got all sweaty, was genuinely touching.)

Would anybody with a little more knowledge or experience care to weigh in with their two cents about this show? I’m curious to hear what diehards thought…

Want Free Tickets to The Brunettes?

posted by on September 4 at 10:05 AM

In a few hours I head to San Francisco, both for my first trip to the city and to see Underworld (anything I should definitely hit up?). Well, I bought 2 tickets to The Brunettes show (Thursday @ The Croc, 21+) before realizing I wasn’t going to be here, and I’d rather they don’t go to waste, so I’m offering them up here to the first person to email me at donte@thestranger.com. Only catch is that you’ll have to come pick them up, but otherwise there are no strings attached and I’m sure it’ll be a great show. I’ll update the post when they’re taken.

SOLD. Have fun Alex.

Here’s their video for “Her Hairagami Set”

The Best Bumbershoot in a Long Time

posted by on September 4 at 10:00 AM

No, really.

Reason One: Ted Leo & the Pharmacists

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Ted Leo’s performance last night was the best, best, best way to end one of the best Bumbershoots I’ve been to in a long time. The band was having more fun than I’ve ever seen them have (which is a big statement, they’re always having fun on stage and I’ve seen ‘em tons of times). But they agreed that the vibes were unusually good. “This is the funnest show we’ve played in a long time, wouldn’t you agree?” asked Leo to his bandmates. “More fun, would that be gramatically correct?”

Everyone, of course, cheered and danced even harder as they then exploded into “Little Dawn.” During the long, monotonous “It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright,” breakdown, Leo gave a little love to Daft Punk. “One more time… one more time… we gonna celebrate… music’s got me feelin’ free….”

A few weeks ago Dave Lerner, long-time Pharmacist, left the band, so I was anxious to see who would be playing bass for the band. Turns out, it’s a dude name Jason. Jason is a skinnier (if you can believe it), younger, and sassier version of Mr. Leo himself (someone told me they’re related? I wouldn’t be surprised.), and his presence (and fight for attention) brought out a really playful side of Leo—there was more goofy stage banter, threats of “shred offs,” and huge guitar sounds rounded out by James Canty on second guitar. And of course Chris Wilson’s drumming was fantastic and on point. As always.

Everything was so cohesive and tight and it came to a head during the last song. The band fucking killed their huge and raucous cover of Cumbawumba’s “Rappaport’s Testament.” For many minutes the crowd hollered along with the band—“I never gave up! I never gave up! I crawled through the mud, but I never gave up!” Leo ended up at the edge of the crowd, face to face with the fans, screaming along into the mic with everyone who surrounded him. He had the biggest grin on his face.

After the Pharmacists left the stage, the audience was refusing to go home. They begged for more and Leo obliged—he came out, thanked everyone one last time, and then did a killer solo version of Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark,” which had everyone in the crowd doing the goofy skippy dance moves made famous by Courtney Cox.

Then the lightning started flashing in the distance, and minutes later, the rain started coming down.

Best Ted Leo show ever.

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(A sweaty, happy Ted Leo with local band and biggest Ted Leo fans ever, Speaker Speaker.)

Reasons two, three, four, five and however many more I end up writing are coming soon…

Booya!

posted by on September 4 at 4:04 AM

Wu-Tang pix ain’t nothin’ to fuck with…

Photos by Justin Renney

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Wu-Tang, The Video

posted by on September 4 at 4:01 AM

I Heart Bumbershoot

posted by on September 4 at 3:39 AM

For real: What an wonderful event, what a hard-rocking, hiphopping, local-loving, national-caliber feather in Seattle’s cap. This was my first Bumbershoot in 12 years and I can’t get enough. An urban music festival, a 30-minute walk from my apartment, in the middle of a beautiful city, with a lineup that appealed to every demo imaginable—truly something special. I’ve been to Bonnaroo, I’ve been to SXSW, and what Bumbershoot has going for it is the city of Seattle. I agree that Seattle Center is a weird and usually sad no-man’s land, but the way Bumbershoot occupies that space is symbiotic. It’s a shame there aren’t more Bumbershoots to keep Seattle Center righteously busy throughout the year. As sore as my feet are and as exhausted as my ears are, I still wish I were going back tomorrow.

Today was spectacular, weather-wise, crowd-wise, music-wise. Wu-wear was in full effect all day; every stage I went to people were throwing up double-wu hand signs in anticipation of their Bumbershoot-closing set. I’ll get to that in a minute.

IceCreamMan_Bumber2007_090307_3780.jpgThe writer and the Ice Cream Man by Justin Renney

Kelly and I did a video interview with Matt Allen, aka the Ice Cream Man, who told us he gave out some 2,000 fudgesicles, drumsticks, popsicles, and other delicious frozen goodness during Bumbershoot’s three-day run. Allen is a terrific guy for a terrific job, traveling the country, hitting music festivals, and giving out free ice cream. He told us he’ll be hitting children’s hostpitals and other non-profits next year, taking the good vibes where they’re most needed. Allen’s such a gregarious guy, and his crew is so nice, and his ice cream is so free, that I missed Lyrics Born because I was eating a choco taco at the ice cream truck. Look for the interview on Line Out in the next day or two.

IMG_5133.jpgFleet Foxes by Morgan Keuler

I already gushed about Andrew Bird and the Blakes; Fleet Foxes was the next set I saw, and it was awesome. They’re one of the current local crop that’s got me really excited about Seattle music right now. Their set at EMP was gorgeous—as pastoral and wintery as their sound is, the band was a little out of place in the EMP’s gigantic electrified stage, but they played strong and intimate to a huge crowd. Robin Pecknold’s got a voice of gold, and the songwriting is powerful, rich, hooky but not hokey. Many hours—and many Wu-beats—later, I’m still hypnotized, singing their songs… “My love, oh my love…” “I was following the/I was following the/I was following the/I…” Who’s gonna pick them up and release their long-awaited debut? Hardly Art seems a shoo-in, but given Sub Pop’s recent run of quietish, panoramic folk-rock, they could easily go there too. Kelly O’s got a video interview with Robin that you’ll find on Line Out in a day or two.

IMG_3340.JPGLupe Fiasco by Jonathan Zwickel

Lupe Fiasco was a crap shoot. I saw him a year ago in San Francisco and the show was awful (check out my man Sam Chennault’s Pitchfork show review); he had major issues with his hype man then and just seemed green all around, so I wasn’t sure how his Bumbershoot set would go. All doubting aside, his set today proved the kid is the truth.

To answer your question, Eric, the reason Lupe is under so much scrutiny and skepticism is simply because of his raw talent, his potential. Dude is in place to become a much-needed hero of hiphop, and hiphop fans take this stuff very seriously. His set at the main stage started strong, if not entirely transcendant. His 2006 album Food & Liquor has four certifiably great songs and a bunch of merely good songs, and the first half of the set brought only the merely good. Once he dropped “I Gotcha” halfway through it took off. He brought out Gemini, a Chicago accomplice and accomplished MC in his own right, and the two of them proceeded to run an enormous stage by themselves. “Kick, Push” featured new beats for every verse, a total reworking of his most familiar hit. “We On,” posted on his MySpace, a single either from Gem’s upcoming album or Lupe’s, was huge on the main stage’s massive soundsystem, and Lupe played “Daydreamin’” like the instant classic that it is. Yes, he’s got a Kanye-like messiah complex—Andrew Matson calls it “low-grade schizophrenia”—but he pulls it off. A couple new tracks—one about superstardom that was somehow universal and not self-conscious, and another about G.W. Bush and America’s war fixation—were huge metaphors pulled off expertly, with intelligence and badass beats. Thanks, Lupe, for keeping the hiphop dream very much alive.

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WuTangClan_Bumber2007_090307_3982.jpgWu-Tang by Justin Renney

Just in time for the Wu-Tang Clan to snatch that dream and blow it up into mythology. Tonight the Wu showed why they’re the cultural force they are. I was shocked at how many people in the massive, main stage crowd were rapping along to every lyric, Wu-hands held aloft song after song, heads nodding like metronomes. I’m really not even sure where to begin or end with this set—it was legendary on so many counts that it’s hard to parse. No Ghost and no GZA left Method Man holding down the bulk of the set, a role he easily filled. No, not easily—dude was working hard for every “ho” and hand-wave he got, stage diving into the crowd and rapping while being held upright. The longer they played the more into the music the audience was, the more into it the Wu was. They were obscenely tight and well-rehearsed, showing the confidence and skill that several dates on other large festival lineups will give. There was a lot of love for Seattle—the band shouted out the city, Bumbershoot, and Pabst Blue Ribbon. “Hotel 1000, afterparty,” Meth repeated towards the end of the set. “We’ll be getting drunk in the parking lot after the show.” The set ended mysteriously, with a track from the “upcoming” Wu-Tang album played over the PA as the lights slowly came up and the band slowly left the stage. Couldn’t figure out if it was the end or not. Or maybe it was just me not wanting it to end. A half-hour later, lightning was sparking the skyline and thunder rolled through post-party downtown streets. The Wu truly is a force of nature.

Bumbershoot hit all the right notes, and even after seeing three full days of music, I didn’t want it to be over.

More Fucking Awesome Photos

posted by on September 4 at 3:22 AM

All pix by Morgan Keuler

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Overheard, Day Three

posted by on September 4 at 3:20 AM

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“Damn those Pecknold’s have good genes.”

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“Does Andrew Bird play with his feet?”

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“Lupe Fiasco featuring Kayne West.”

Who Contends, Wu Like the Superfriends. Who’s Your Rhymin’ Hero, Wu-Tang rules again!

posted by on September 4 at 1:25 AM

IMG_5440.jpgWu-Tang by Morgan Keuler

I just got back from the Wu-Tang show, and it was great. I’ve never seen them live, and since they were announced on the Bumbershoot bill a few months ago I’ve been hoping for the best, but expecting the worst. Tonight, the much-rumored tension in the group was apparent.

As the Wu blasted through their catalog &mdash sneaking in brief snippets of classic cuts from Raekwon and Gza, and pausing for an awesome 10-minute ode to ODB &mdash Method Man repeatedly stole the show. Meth played the hypeman role all night long, filling in on most of ODB’s verses, and he tore through a couple of his solo tracks which seemed to re-energize the crowd. Meanwhile, Raekwon and Wu hanger-on Cappadonna lurked on the periphery of the stage, almost fading into the background.

Rae and Ghost are, depending on the day, my two favorite Wu members (Immobilarity and Bulletproof Wallets notwithstanding) and I was a bit disappointed by Rae’s minimal presence and Ghost’s absenteeism. I saw Ghost earlier this year at the Showbox and he was a monster.

I’m sad to say I accurately predicted Ghost’s absence after I heard he’d gotten a separate bus while the group was on tour. Tonight, his presence was sorely missed..

Even with nearly a third of the crew MIA, the Wu still put on a great show. I’ve heard horror stories about sloppy shows, with members forgetting the words to their verses or stepping on each others lines. None of that was apparent tonight. Hopefully they can get their shit together for their new album, allegedly dropping in November.

I don’t think I can take another Iron Flag.

(Confidential to Grandy: Art Brut got served.)

UPDATE: I’ve been informed that Gza wasn’t in attendance either. Weird. I swear I heard them do at least 2 songs off of Liquid Swords. Also, it would’ve been great to see the Wu perform with the lower-key El Michaels Affair. I feel like an old man for saying this, but the bass pretty much drowned out the first half of the show.


Monday, September 3, 2007

The Rest of the Story: Bumbershoot Sunday and Monday

posted by on September 3 at 3:47 PM

BRMC_Bumber2007_KEXP_090207_3308.jpgBlack Rebel Motorcycle Club by Justin Renney

After carousing until Sunday morning at the speakeasy, I got off to a late start in the afternoon. Couldn’t muster much enthusiasm for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s acoustic set at the KEXP stage, even though the sound was pristine and most of the room was going for it.

IMG_3030.JPGBarrington Levy by Jonathan Zwickel

A question to the hardcore reggae fans: Did Barrinton Levy originate the Flanders-esque “diddly-iddly-iddly-whoa-o-o”? He was tossing out the diddlies like he owned them, as well as haranguing the crowd repeatedly with “Seattle are you sleeping!?!?” It’s a weird question to ask a crowd; we’re used to saying “YEAH!” to any question thrown out from the stage, which in this case would be incorrect. I think. Still, Levy’s voice sounded rich and it was nice catching some reggae grooves as the sun set behind high clouds.

I opted for Art Brut instead of the last-minute Blue Scholars/Good Medicine show at the Green. Bad call—I heard the Scholars’ set turned into a major hiphop love-in. Pretty much every local MC was on-stage at the end, including our man Gatsby, who hopefully will put a few words up here about the experience.

ArtBrut_Bumber2007_090207_3536.jpgArt Brut by Justin Renney

Art Brut I mentioned in the last post. I’m glad I caught them just to settle my curiosity, but it sounds like the Scholars were the place to be.

unknown.jpgSean Paul by Justin Renney

Or Sean Paul, at least according to the huge crowd at Memorial Stadium. I was psyched to check him out but ended up disappointed with his performance. Sean Paul wasn’t onstage for a large portion of it, leaving the heavy lifting to his hypeman and a cadre of hot-pantsed chick dancers. He’d come out to intermittently to tell the crowd to put their hands in the air, twirl around a towel, do some laps around the stage. Songs from The Trinity didn’t translate well live; there was a band (guitar, bass, drums) that I couldn’t hear at all, and a DJ who was probably playing his iPod. I wasn’t into the overblown scale necessary to pull off a pop performance like that, especially after seeing so much good indie stuff all day. If I was reefed it might’ve been better, but I wasn’t.

DevendraBanhart_Bumber2007_090207_3595.jpgDevendra Banhart by Justin Renney

That happened later at Devendra Banhart’s set. Banhart came out looking like a thrift-store bumpkin dandy and his band of hair farmers matched well. From the first note of “Seahorse” the band’s psychedelic samba settled just right into the night, landmarked nicely by the glowing Space Needle spiring above the stage. Songs mostly came from Banhart’s new album, mellowed and textured with percussion and great group vocals. More than anything, it’s the quick, clever changes that come in the middle of Banhart’s songs that make them so enjoyable, so unpredictable.

Between songs he told the crowd, “We’re all artists here, right? Who’s got a song they want to sing?” A kid was lifted up onstage from the front row, and Banhart handed him his guitar, and the kid played it. Pretty well, too—he sang a song that was actually going somewhere but he cut it short. “I’m ruining the set,” he said, and called Devendra back to the stage. The band finished out the set with a couple electrified rockers from Cripple Crow; they sounded awesome played live. There’s something very real about what Banhart does, a rare honesty to his music, and I got the feeling last night that he and his fans are in for a long and fruitful relationship.

Now it’s Monday and I’m already missing Bumbershoot. I mean, I’m here and loving it, but I kinda wish it wasn’t ending today.

AndrewBird_Bumber2007_090307_3637.jpgAndrew Bird by Justin Renney

Caught Andrew Bird’s KEXP set, which was brilliant. That’s the way to do Bird: a sit-down one-man-band set in a dark theater. His last album is too dense, to impenetrable, but seeing him alone on-stage, doing his solo thing with all his bells and (literally) whistles reveals how outrageously talented he is. His voice is beautiful, his songs are complex but not overly so, and there’s a weird, ethereal sort of dusky soul in his music, the soundtrack to a romantic Western as played by the guy who was first-chair violinist in your junior high band.

IMG_3177.JPGThe Blakes by Jonathan Zwickel

The Blakes just rocked a huge set to an enthusiastic crowd. I caught the tail end, and “The Streets” is always a high-octane finale and the band at their brash, attitudinal best.

Wireless is sluggish and there’s music happening (Kultur Shock, Lyrics Born, Lupe, Wu oh my!) so I’m gonna hit the bricks. Like I said, I’m already rueing this thing being over, and there are still hours to go.

I’m Considering Blogging About Art Brut

posted by on September 3 at 3:21 PM

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Here’s where I officially become uncool: Art Brut is not really my bag.

Art Brut is a band about a band playing songs about songs. All very arch and droll and meta, but there’s too much concept and not enough substance. Grandy’s right—it’s a band of music nerds for music nerds, and I’d usually count myself as one of those, but in this case it’s all too Drama Club for me. The performance was fun, the songs were alright, and Eddie Argos is the! most! declarative! frontman! ever! But a band built around an accent doesn’t go deep enough for me. I know I’m putting myself on the outside of a very Pitchforkian inside joke, but that’s where I stand.

Eric just walked in: He says we can agree to disagree that I’m wrong. I disagree.

Sunday

posted by on September 3 at 12:18 PM

All photos by Justin Renney

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Ouch. Bumbershoot is now officially kicking my ass. Bumbershoot and booze. Kicking. Ouch.

Hey! Have I told you about Art Brut? Are you sick of me talking about them yet? Too bad, because unless the Wu Tang Clan just kill it tonight, I’m gonna call Art Brut as the best thing going all weekend. Better than the bike-powered rides. Better than shortcake. I saw a lot of stuff yesterday, and I guess I should still do the run down, but everything just pales totally in comparison to them. I’ll only talk about them twice more in this post, promise.

The Watson Twins played a breezy afternoon set of upbeat, golden AM country (“Two Timing”) and mellow, yearning ballads (“Fade Out,” “Old Ways”). Their four-piece backing band smiled and played like session musicians enjoying the hell out of themselves. A ukulele lent some songs a flamenco flavor, occasional “oohs” evoked Spector R&B or doowop, but slide guitar kept things grounded in country. The Twins traded duties on acoustic guitar and tambourine, breaking out a harmonica for “Old Ways,” and always singing in easy harmony.

From one pair of traditionalist siblings to another. The Holmes Brothers kicked off their set with some pat banter that made me think the old dudes might not know what time it was (“How you doing this evening?” “Feels good tonight”). Keeping track of time was not their concern, though, as evidenced by their first song, a wailing but one-million year long electrified blues jam on “Amazing Grace.”

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Hey! It’s time to talk about Art Brut again! I caught the band’s afternoon set for KEXP at the “Secret Location.” I didn’t think I could get any more excited about seeing this band, but I was wrong. As they launched into “Pump Up the Volume” and tore through “Bad Weekend,” I squirmed in my seat and tapped my feet, growing only more eager to see them that evening and do some proper dancing and jumping around. From yesterday’s comments: “Can someone explain to me why they like them so much???” I’ll try. Art Brut are amazing live. The band is tight enough to pull little musical jokes, for the Swedish-looking guitarist to pull faces and work the crowd, and mainly to back up Eddie Argos’ brilliant but not terribly tuneful lyrics and spoken digressions. And Argos is simply the greatest frontman this side of Tim Harrington. He looked like a dapper yet messy kid in slacks, dress shirt, and socks but not shoes. He ranted about the tragic deterioration of record shops (“They sell DVDs and video games! We want records!”) and told the crowd to stop listening to the advice of pop singers and to start their own bands. He jumped rope with the mic chord. He sang about the “secret location” on the chorus of the goosebump-inducing “Emily Kane.” They played: “Pump Up the Volume,” “Bad Weekend,” “St Pauli,” “My Little Brother,” “Post Soothing Out,” “Emily Kane,” “Nag Nag Nag Nag” (one better than Caberet Voltaire), and a mix up of “Direct Hit” and “Formed a Band.”

Next, I watched the beginning of Barrington Levy’s incredibly populist, crowd-pleasing, but not all that impressive set. Airhorns sounded, a hypeman talked Levy out onto the stage (“Barrington Levy is in the building”—what building?), and the crowd threw hands up, tossed beach balls, and gave off appreciative puffs of smoke. Levy skanked across the stage like a kid and led the crowd through some call and response and some impossible motormouth scatting.

Apples in Stereo were playing the same lawn where I saw Of Montreal last year, and I couldn’t help but long for that other Elephant Six band. Don’t get me wrong, Apples in Stereo sounded fine, just more traditionally psychedelic, jammy, and classically poppy than Of Montreal. Their keyboardist even wore a tin foil and rainbow jumpsuit/cape ensemble that looks like it came from the same wardrobe as Kevin Barnes’. But I’ve never heard an Apples in Stereo song that’s grabbed me that much. (Line Out readers, is there a song that would win me over?) They’re what I might describe as a great band to watch from the beer garden if I were a wag.

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What kind of a godless atheist would I be if I didn’t catch at least one satanic metal band at Bumbershoot? Book of Black Earth sounded just brutal on the EMP’s sound system, and I can even kind of get into the cheesy, computerized flame-and-skull motif happening on the led screen behind them. The greatest thing about Book of Black Earth, and Teen Cthulu before them, is their ability to combine seriously crushing metal with a rare sense of humor. TJ Cowgill delivered all his between song banter in full cookie-monster metal growl, lending an extra layer of funny to shit like: “Cast a 9th level spell against security if you have to” “This song’s about our booking agent, it’s called ‘Agent of Destruction’,” and, after a blond girl jumped onstage and bear hugged him: “My ex-girlfriends are crazy, and they’re everywhere.”

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Which brings us back to Art Brut! I stopped taking notes during their set for the first time all weekend. I planned on being way too busy rocking the fuck out, and I was. Alotted an hour and 15 minutes to play, Argos joked that we’d be hearing not just b-sided but pretty much everything the band ever recorded. While that wasn’t literally true (a shame), it was pretty close. I didn’t get a setlist, but if someone out there has one, send it in to egrandy@thestranger.com and I’ll post it. Highlights included “Bad Weekend,” “Bang Bang Rock’n’Roll,” “Emily Kane,” “Rusted Guns of Milan,” and the insane blow out of “Good Weekend/Formed a Band.” Argos’ leap into the crowd to wander around (still only in socks?) was pretty great, too. I was shocked—shocked!—that more people weren’t dancing and singing along, but there was a good little pack of kids up front that were into it. The appeal of Art Brut is twofold—they’re one of the hardest, slickest rock bands around, and they’re one of the smartest. You can dig Art Brut for their clever, inside-jokey lyrics, or you can just get down with their kick-ass riffs and rock show stagecraft. And if you can’t dig Art Brut or get down with them, then I just don’t know what to do for you.

Their set (with thanks to Chris):

1. Pump up the Volume
2. Bad Weekend
3. Bang Bang Rock and Roll
4. These Animal Menswe@r
5. Blame it on the train
6. Modern Art
7. St. Pauli
8. Rusted Guns of Milan
9. Late Sunday Evening
10. 18,000 Lira
11. I Will Survive
12. Moving to LA
13. Jealous Guy
14. My Little Brother
15. Post Soothing Out
16. Emily Kane
17. Nag Nag Nag Nag
18. Direct Hit
19. Good Weekend
20. Formed a Band

I missed most of Devendra Banhart set milling around backstage, waiting to do a brief interview with Argos, but I did catch their interpolation of Fleetwood Mac during one of their electrified new songs.

People were exiting the Memorial Stadium in droves, but Fergie’s set wasn’t done yet. A dozen people—dancers, hypeman, a band maybe—were bouncing around the stage, but Fergie wasn’t among them. The hypeman rhymed “Seattle” with “battle” (ooh!) and led the crowd in some kind of this side/that side cheering contest. Then Fergie took the stage, commanding the crowd to “raise your hands if you’ve ever been on Perez Hilton!” What the fuck, that’s got to be everyone in the crowd, right? That’s like Chris Rock says about “Mo Money, Mo Problems”: something everyone can relate to. Fergie’s voice is nasal and weak live. She was wearing latex (or rubber?—probably something waterproof) pants. I lasted about half a song.

Hey, did I mention Art Brut?!

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Sunday In Video

posted by on September 3 at 10:57 AM

Art Brut:

Devendra Banhart dancing and playing a brand-new song:

Apples In Stereo:

Andrew Bird:

BRMC:

Kings, Comedians, Loops, Freaks

posted by on September 3 at 4:11 AM

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Brendan was right, Seattle Center is pretty useless. But for those few days a year when Bumbershoot happens, the Center doesn’t seem like an archaic monument to “the future” anymore. However briefly, it’s actually bustling - alive with sounds and smells and people. It’s actually the center of something.

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photo by Justin Renney

Dude, Kings of Leon cut off all their hair and beards. I wonder if they were stoked to have their name bigger than Fergie’s on the Seattle Center marquee, and to be playing on Leon H. Brigham field. They breezed through a set of classic, southern infused rock, with nothing particularly notable to mention, but nothing negative either. The girl standing behind me noticed that they were missing little to no notes, and thus kept the band’s rock meter in the green.
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Singer Caleb Followill said about twenty minutes in to the set, “ You guys are cool. Feel free to sing along if you know the words, (under his breath) but I doubt you do…” They busted into their first single, “Molly’s Chambers,” which quite a few people actually did know the lyrics to. The mom next to me was dancing.

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Both of the comedy shows I saw were opened by Doug Benson, best known from Best Week Ever and his recent expulsion from Last Comic Standing. His first set was full of pot humor, including a very funny rant on how the best stoner food – McGriddles – are only available until 10:30, making them impossible for stoners to acquire. His second set was dirtier, with musings on the burning satisfaction of masturbating with Purell.

Fred Armison from SNL didn’t even really tell a joke for his short set, he just rambled incoherently about random newspaper headlines from that day. He came out later as experimental drummer Jens Hannemann, with a clear green drum set comprised of 3 kick drums, 11 (or more) toms, 11 cymbals, and a giant gong. He played a composition to a video of rainforest and insect shots being projected above him. I was later informed by my friend John that Armison was the drummer of rock group Trenchmouth in the 90s. He seemed somewhat proficient on the giant kit. It was mildly funny. When he took questions from the audience and demanded that the people walk up onto the stage to ask him it was funnier.

There were several great moments in Brent Weinbach’s set, a small, stern-faced man who doubled-fisted the mic while delivering and had one of the longest tongues I have ever seen. My favorite joke was his response to people accusing him of being “too creepy” on stage, in which he portrayed perhaps the grossest hunched-over sociopath imaginable. A key line: “You know what the problem with poo-poo is? God made it too delicious.”

Eugene Mirman was my favorite comic of the day. He repeated a few jokes from his album, but mostly came with fresh material and presented a great homemade video interviewing people from Massachusetts. Here’s a small clip of his set:

Everyone in Stella canceled except Michael Ian Black, so he performed solo with Todd Barry as his guest opener. Barry’s deadpan, monotone comedy is always funny to me, but I thought his set wasn’t as good as the one I caught at last year’s Bumbershoot. Nonetheless, I was chuckling through the whole thing. “I’m on the Myspace, why not? I’m only 43. You learn a lot from looking at those profiles. For example, I never knew that Donnie Darko was the best movie ever.”

Michael Ian Black said he thought his rendering on “the Strangler’s” Bumbershoot guide made him look like Sylvester Stallone with Down Syndrome. He started talking about bad PR, and someone yelled out “Hitler had bad PR,” which sidetracked Black into a slew of Nazi jokes. He particularly liked how the name “Nazi” combined the great flavor of nachos with the fun and strategy of Yahtzee!. Many of his jokes were self deprecating and emasculating, like how he wears long sleeve shirts and corduroy pants to the beach because he looks like a “13 year old Mexican transvestite” with his clothes off. In a bit about how jamming his finger inevitably sends him into an incoherent swearing fit, he made sure to clarify the jumbled words he screamed rolling on the ground: “For those of you transcribing this, I said, ‘Your cunt is a yogurt spoon.’

Andrew Bird has seriously mastered the loop pedal, making his three piece sound as full as a stage full of musicians. Bird starts out his songs building lines of violin, plucked as well as bowed, guitar, glockenspiel, and amazing whistling to top it off. In most of his songs, after he gets an intricately layered loop he cuts it off to start a new section, then always manages to tastefully bring it back later in the song only to add more layers to it. His set was wonderful - a great surprise as, somehow, he’d managed to stay under my radar until now.

Devendra Banhart’s six piece band was also fantastic, playing a lot of new songs from their unreleased album Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon. The new material had several long, smooth jams that moved Banhart’s trademark “freak” folk into an excellent juxtaposition with classic 60s stoner sessions, elements of reggae, and the incorporation of multi-part backing vocals. Live, Banhart’s low, vibrato soaked vocals sounded like a strange mix of Elvis and Jim Morrison, and were especially fitting over the jangly guitars of the new song “Lover.” (Listening to the album version of the song now I wouldn’t make this comparison at all, but live his voice seemed deeper and more soulful.)

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I knew there was probably a real Stranger photographer backstage taking quality pictures, but I wanted to get up on the side of the stage and snap a few myself. As I stood in line waiting to get onstage, a “professional” photographer looked over at me and asked, “Are you taking pictures up there?” “Uh, yeah,” I replied. “Where’s your camera!?!” She was referring to the pitiful, five year old Canon Powershot I was holding. “Oh no,” I started, “ This camera has 3.2 Megapixels!” She didn’t pick up on my sarcasm. “My camera has like 10.” “Well my camera drains the battery in like a half an hour if you leave it in there, even after you turn it off.” She stared at me blankly. I got up on the side of the stage and took some shitty pictures with my shitty camera.

Backstage, two of the Trucks were the only people dancing. Kristen and Faith were glad to report that they opened that stage earlier in the day to an already packed, energetic crowd. The Trucks, as was reinforced to me at Total Fest last month, are really into having a good time. They keep it very real.

Banhart pulled one of the funniest stunts I’ve seen onstage, asking the crowd, “Has anyone written a song recently that they’d like to play?” A few people raised their hands, and Banhart pulled a kid from the front and handed him his guitar. The drummer came out to join him, and the random kid belted out a grungish tune with real conviction. He stopped himself after a minute or so, well aware that, however funny it was, everyone was there to see Banhart and not him.

After that stunt, Banhart put his guitar away and the band played a swaggering version of Long Haired Child. Without the axe to hold him down, Banhart could wow the crowd with his flamboyant, exaggerated sway dancing. I’m not quite sure how to describe his moves - part interpretive dance, part Bollywood perhaps - but by the end of the set I found myself saying more than once, “ I really like the way Devendra Banhart dances.” He proved to be an enigmatic and thoroughly entertaining front man - more so than what I had expected going into the show.

People bitched about this year’s lineup sucking, and I guess across the three days it kind of did. But everyone I went with on Sunday ended the night ecstatic about everything we had seen, happily remarking that there wasn’t a single thing we went to that wasn’t good. For the second year in a row, days of sparse and separated good music acts were saved by a great comedy lineup - as long as you resigned yourself to the fact that you had to get in line an hour ahead of time to see any of the funny stuff.

Overheard, Day Two

posted by on September 3 at 1:30 AM

All photos by Justin Renney

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“What are these guys called? Book of Black Mirth?”

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“Doesn’t that guy work at Linda’s?”

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“It’s too bright out for Black Rebel.”

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“That guy probably spends 500 bucks just on his hair.”


Sunday, September 2, 2007

Scatter ‘Shoot: Sunday

posted by on September 2 at 11:59 PM

Though they didn’t ask for it, I think it’d be rude to use Clearwire’s free laptop kiosk without a shoutout, so, uh, hey guys. Lime-green shirts, huh? Hey, what doesn’t kill ya…

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: It’s obvious that the SF trio would’ve preferred a small, nighttime club over the opening 1:15 p.m. slot at Bumbershoot’s largest stage, and they tried to emulate it best they could. Ineffective: the surging lights behind drummer Nick Jago, the smoke machine above the massive stage. Effective: the complete meltdown of all guitars after one song.

At this point, a few shouts rose from the crowd: “GO ACOUSTIC!” Guitarist Peter Hayes already made it clear on their latest record, Baby 81, that their dalliance with roots tunes on Howl was short-lived, returning to the band’s signature VU-ey semi-drone blasts, but he addressed these shouts anyway: “Sorry, we do acoustic enough as it is.” Luckily, bassist Robert Been made up for Hayes’ obvious looks of disgust by pounding out a bass-only beast of a song during the tech snafu, and when the band emerged, so did the crowd, jumping up and down in vast numbers the only way a huge, outdoor fest can allow. Take that, intimate club atmosphere!

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Worth noting: During the one acoustic song that eventually unfurled, a swing dance-crazy duo took the tarp only feet away from the press bleachers. Even better, their swing continued through the next dark, dingy number—like Beck’s “Where It’s At” video in real life, y’all!

Victor Noriega Trio: Stopped by the Northwest Jazz Showcase after BRMC to catch a few minutes of jazz; I’m a hard-bop snob, so this Trio’s bassist, Willie Blair, and his groove-based play bored me to tears, but Noriega’s piano leadership was adept—a little too smooth for my tastes, possibly, but steps above what Mom would hope for at the Crusty Old Whitey Lounge, at least.

Kings of Leon: If Buckcherry and Terrence Trent D’Arby had an overrated love child. Am I the only person here who doesn’t get ‘em?

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The Fucking Eagles: Their set was my first within the EMP, and I wasn’t alone in feeling suffocated by the over-corporate feel of the room. Their introductory MC begrudgingly read aloud a corny, PR-written credo for Samsung—wonder if the dripping sarcasm came free with the pitch? And to further put the boot to the man, this MC added, “And now for the band Samsung is proud to attach its name to, The Fucking Eagles!!

Theirs was quite a rousing set of greaser-slash-surfer garage rock, and I’m looking forward to using a kiosk that doesn’t block Google searches with the word “fuck” in them, so that I might better give credit to TFE’s outstanding drummer. You ever hear someone compare a drummer to Animal from the Muppets? They need to be kicked in the mouth and put in front of this drummer. Yow.

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Stars of Track & Field: The most nap-worthy set of the day, complete with grey skies, soothing dual vocals and…what, wait? Neckerchiefs? COMPLIMENTARY neckerchiefs on both guitarists (brown and tan, tan and brown)? Not that whining about fashion is really worth the trouble, but, I mean, look above and below.
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Apples In Stereo: After losing (and rediscovering) my camera within the Seattle Center, I returned to the Apples set in time to hear “Ruby” off of Her Wallpaper Reverie—so much for worries that the Athens, GA popsters weren’t gonna dig into their deep cuts for this set. Robert Schneider was as red and jolly as ever, making new, candy-sweet pop classics like “Same Old Drag” fit seamlessly with “Go” and “Please,” though on-stage banter wasn’t his strong suit today (“That needle looks like it’s going all the way…to space”…groan).

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Art Brut: I managed to get backstage to watch these Brits pogo and stomp around the stage in the closest that Bumbershoot Sunday got to the intensity of Gogol Bordello. The last time I caught Art Brut was at this year’s SXSW, where their deadpan rock couldn’t overcome my befuddled state after four days of non-stop festing. Here, I was much more in the mood for stories about terrible lovemaking and a random decision by lead singer Eddie Argos to bunny-hop through the entire crowd (see photo above). Among the many memorable moments: Fan favorite “Emily Kane” was interrupted halfway through by Argos, who told a story about how he’d met Jay-Z and chided him for “misogynistic language.” He then issued a decree to the crowd: “Stop thinking about ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends.” Long pause. “NOW.” The end of the song resumed, in which he pined incessantly for his childhood sweetheart, with liberal use of a Smiths chorus: “There is a light and it never goes out.”

Andrew Bird: Though I’m a fan of his records, I noticed something after finally seeing the guitarist/violinist/singer in concert—Bird may be the very definition of an “indie jam” artist. To clarify: On stage, Bird loops tons of violin, guitar, xylophone and whistling noises (you’ve probably seen at least one other artist do this). And he’s quite good at layering separate loops and arranging them, more so than anyone I’ve seen—at least during the middle of a given song. But there’s something cheap about how he piles all of his effects on at once at the close, reaching his applause and cheers on the wave of an artificial swell nearly every time. Lord help me if the next MTV-friendly wave is full of folky bands that live and die by overused looping rigs.

Devendra Banhart: Video will be up tomorrow. Too tired to clarify any further, though I’d hate to go to bed without pointing out that Banhart’s hair/hat combo looked like a hippie version of Slash. Can’t say that it hurt his appeal tonight, at least.

Rock and Roll Time Machine

posted by on September 2 at 8:40 PM

There’s an amazing splice of rock DNA floating around online: An actual Alan Freed radio broadcast from early 1955 on WINS in NYC.

The show heats up about 30 minutes in when Freed plays some Mickey “Guitar” Baker, Ray Charles, and B.B. King.

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Here’s Freed with Little Richard circa 1955 with some teenage rock and roll fans.

Ryan Shaw Out, Blue Scholars In

posted by on September 2 at 5:10 PM

Bad news for Ryan Shaw fans (are you out there?): Shaw has cancelled his Bumbershoot appearance.

Good news for everyone else: Shaw’s been replaced by the Blue Scholars. The play tonight at 7:45 at the Esurance Stage at Fisher Green.

Top of the Pops!

posted by on September 2 at 4:52 PM

This is Eric posting on Zwickel’s laptop…

Just got back from the “secret location.” Art Brut = Best Band All Weekend! Possibly Ever. If there is any way for you to get down here in time for their set (7:30 on the Sound Transit Stage), do it!

The Gossip

posted by on September 2 at 3:40 PM

Rick Rubin can’t stop talking about them in this week’s New York Times Sunday Magazine.

Overheard, Day One

posted by on September 2 at 3:35 PM

All photos by Morgan Keuler

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“That f*cking Gogol show was better than Wu-Tang will ever be.”

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“The accordion player is supposed to come over to our house and smoke hash after the show.”

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“That Dyme Def guy shoulda won the producer’s battle at War Room on Friday.”

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“Are they (Rodrigo Y Gabriela) playing Metallica?!”

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“These guys (Gym Class Heroes) are clowns.”

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“Bert Jansch is the Godfather of freak folk.”

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“I think we’re going camping with the Cave Singers next weekend.”

One Reason I Hate Bumbershoot

posted by on September 2 at 12:49 PM

I’m sure I’ll find more by the end of the weekend, but…

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This was my view of Bert Jansch.

Everyone was being polite, quiet and reverent, when these to hipster assholes stood right in front of a crowd of people who had gathered early and were sitting on the ground (or more correctly, pavement).

At least five people behind me asked them if they could sit like the rest of us, so we could all see the stage.

They refused.

This kind of amatuer-concert-goer bullshit is what infuriates me about Bumbershoot. For most people this is the first/only time they get to a concert all year. So they come. With their kids who talk. With their cellphones that chirp. They come thinking Bert Jansch is some cool guy they have to stand for. Instead of the very mellow old folky playing exquisite guitar and singing in his gruff soft whine. They can’t be polite, because, you know, that would be nice. And they are too hip to be nice. So instead they infuriate all the people behind them by planting their two fat asses right in front.

Really, Bert Jansch was sitting right where this girls big ass is.

Aargh.

The really priceless part of this story is that 15 minutes into the show, they decide he wasn’t worth being there at all for, so they left, loudly, in the middle of a song. Real fucking nice, you dumb twats.

At least my view improved.

But I have no hope for tonight, when I take my son and his friend to see Sean Paul at the stadium. I am officially turning into the worlds youngest old fart. Sorry for the rant.

Saturday

posted by on September 2 at 12:40 PM

The Shins were playing “New Slang” as I made my way into Memorial Stadium, the wordless chorus drifting out over the huge crowd into the flat, warm air. Even though it was fairly full, it was easy enough to make your way up near the front, where there was a little shade from the stage, and the staff would occasionally hose people down with water. The Shins sounded great. As usual, they tended to rush things a little live, as if they’re still a bit nervous to be playing these great songs. Only James Mercer actually looks like he might actually be nervous; Dave Hernandez, Marty Crandall, and Eric Johnson (I couldn’t see the drummer from where I was) all looked totally stoked, especially Herndandez—he looks like the happiest bass player on earth. The band played what I think was a new song, old faves “Caring is Creepy” and “Know Your Onion,” the winning “New Slang” retread “Phantom Limb,” the heart-wrenching ballad “A Comet Appears” (which sounded sweet and stripped down), and a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Learning to Fly.” The Floyd cover got the biggest woops of all from the crowd, which says something about the touristy crowd, but also about the Shins for knowing the place well enough to drop in a cheesy, populist jam.

Passing by the Saturday Knights, I was impressed with their guitar sound. It was as big and gratuitous and deep-fried as the festival itself, exactly how you want the guitar to sound in your hip hop party rock.

Ben Clark of The Lashes greeted the crowd, saying “We really couldn’t be more happy to be here,” and you know he means it. Clark, in flimsy black hoodie and crisp new Nirvana t-shirt (“Sliver”), looks a bit of a charicature, but he acts like a total cartoon, or maybe just like a children’s entertainer but with the occasional swear. Point being, he’s got a lucrative career as some kind of on-air personality if the rock thing doesn’t pan out (say if they were dropped from their label or something). When an amp cut out—the band asked for foil from gum to fix the fuse—Clark’s banter proved entertaining enough on its own (he called Simon & Garfunkel “Douchebags,” asked “Who still feels groovy anymore?” and observed of his own banter, “I think it’s what the crowd start to come for”). The big news of their set was, of course, guitarist Eric Howk, who appeared on stage for the first time since his tragic, paralyzing accident in a wheelchair. He parked next to his amp, held a guitar in his lap, and proceeded to shred just like always. Howk can pretty much play guitar in his sleep, so sitting down is no real impediment. After the lull of the blown-out amp, the band launched into a song featuring a dexterous solo from Howk, and it was a touching, triumphant moment.

Portland’s best Christian avant jazz rock trio, Menomena, played in the afternoon backed by a thriy piece chorus. The chorus stood behind the band on risers and wore brown robes with (lightning bolts?) emblazoned on the front. At one point, a couple members broke ranks to join the band on bass and guitar so the regular bassist could sing or play sax, but mostly the choir just sang faint back up, swayed, and clapped their hands. The choir, and the band’s tight but sleepy orchestrations reminded of other churchy symphonic popsters such as Sufjan Stevens or the Polyphonic Spree, only with more aggressive drumming. Still, Christian rock blows—even artful, well-crafted Christian rock (I know, I know, and it breaks my hear about Stevens, Belle & Sebastian, et al). I appreciate the band’s talent, I even find myself embracing some of their jams, but some dude pining, “If only Jesus could wash my feet,” (isn’t the biblical code for sex?) to borrow from the Smiths, says nothing to me about my life.

Next up, the Avett Brothers. Zwickel loves these guys, so I had to check them out before heading over to the KEXP lounge to see Gogol Bordello run through some acoustic songs. They began with “Paranoia in Bb Major,” and with the lyric, “You can’t make everybody happy all the time.” It’s true, that old cliche, and I left after a few more songs not sure what the fuss was about and not really won over. They’re good at what they do, their voices are pretty and strong, and their songs do contain enough strumming acoustic stomp to qualify them as punk bluegrass if you like, but I like my banjo with a little more Old Time Relijun psychic terror. The Avett Brothers were pleasant performers, and they’re capable songwriters, but they didn’t blow me away. Maybe if I’d been up front, sweating it out to the end, they’d have gotten me.

Gogol Bordello played a short acoustic set for KEXP in the afternoon. It was indoors, with seating, and the sound was precise but quiet and clean enough for broadcast. It was my first time seeing Gogol Bordello, and I didn’t really get it. Eugene Hutz is certainly a charming, funny frontman possessed of a Eastern Bloc growl that’s equal parts silly and fierce, and his band are skilled, practiced musicians, but something was lacking. Seeing the band’s full set later that night, it became clear that what was lacking was half the band, some serious amplification, and a few thousand drunken, swarming revelers. Hutz is like the ringmaster of his own little gypsy punk circus, and without the that circus to command, he’s just a weird dude in purple pants with some funny little songs about lame weddings, alcohol, and global wanderlust. Without the surging crowd, the giant stage to bound around on, and the energy of their full show, their songs and jokes full of political innuendo (but only ever innuendo) come off as mere vaudeville. Their full show, however, is a truly impressive spectacle, even if their fiddle and accordion stomp and theatrical energy isn’t really my thing.

The Pharmacy were one of the day’s surprises, if only because it’s been too long a minute since I’ve seen them play. The old, scrappy punk band I remember is still there, especially in Scottie Yoder’s hoarse vocals and the band’s odd vestigial ska breakdowns. But the band has added new depth to their sound, featuring cello on a few songs and playing up the keys. The result ranges from punk stomp to orchestral pomp to synthy pop, and the band frequently incorporates all these modes within a single kinetic song. The crowd was pretty full and lively, at one point a kid was crowdsurfing while shouting along to the Sleater-Kinney-biting lyrics of “Tropical Yeti” (“In one more hour I’ll be gone”). The EMP Skychurch is a really silly place to watch a band like the Pharmacy; the geeky, screen-saver quality of the led backdrop is totally at odds with a messy basement band like these guys, but what can you do? (The EMP had the back of the room roped off so nerds could still go visit Paul Allen’s Sci-Fi Museum for fucks sake). The exception was the green and red flashes during one song that gave the band an eye-burning stroboscopic effect. Stick to solid colors and abstract patterns, EMP, no gears turning or clock hands spinning. The Pharmacy’s mix of ragged punk, easy pop, and classical touches has really come together recently. Here’s hoping they’re at work on a new full-length.

Bert Jansch was mournful and melancholy, if his heyday was acid-folk, then this was acid-burnout folk: sad, numb, and haunting. Jansch is a classically talented guitarist, his voice is rich and resonant, and his songs are slow, medieval ballads. I have a feeling Tiny Vipers might have been in the crowd for this one.

Finally, Grand Archives played a stellar set to a mostly empty EMP, shrugging off the low attendance with good humor (“Here goes nothing”) to play the fullest set I’ve heard from these guys yet. They played some new songs from their forthcoming Sub Pop debut, due out February, that hinted at a poppier, more rollicking side of the mostly mellow band. Their harmonies sounded perfect and crystalline on the EMP’s sound system, and the small crowd was totally hushed, letting even the quietest moments play out undisturbed. The band closed with the hopeful rush of “Torn Blue Foam Couch” (that, along with other old songs “George Kaminski” and “Sleepdriving” sounded even more gorgeous and powerful than I remembered them). It was the best show of the day—when these guys are on the mainstage opening for the Shins next year, the few dozen of us that saw it will have serious bragging rights—and a fine ending to a promising first day of Bumbershoot.

Bumbershoot Saturday: Laughter, Rock and Roll, Teary Eyes, and Broken Bones

posted by on September 2 at 11:59 AM

IMG_3059%20copy.jpgThe Lashes by Morgan Keuler

So much for live blogging at Bumbershoot, the internet in the press room was out all day so I couldn’t do any periodic check-ins for Line Out. Sorry.

However! I took good notes. In my head. Because writing things down at a rock show makes me feel like a goober.

The first thing I did Saturday was head over to the Intiman Theater to see Eugene Mirman, Fred Armisen, and some other funny guys tell jokes. The lines at the comedy stages can be out of control long, but if you can get in, it’s totally worth it. After the show, I was lucky enough to do a video interview with Mr. Mirman, so look for that to go up in the next couple days.

The Lashes show at the Sound Transit stage was absolutely packed. It was the band’s first performance since guitarist Eric Howk suffered a paralyzing fall earlier this year. The band sounded great—the huge clamor of kids in front danced, cheered, and sang along, and Howk took every guitar solo and nailed it like we all knew he could. At one point, everyone waved their fingers in the air—metal guitar solo style—as he wailed. He had the biggest grin on his face. I even saw a few teary eyes when the band first took the stage—fans were worried the Lashes wouldn’t be able to survive the tragedy, and they clearly proved them all wrong.

The band also announced that they’ve been quietly recording new material over the past couple months, and singer Ben Lashes said they have one half of a new record done, and they plan on releasing it in the next two months. The new songs were more of the same from the Lashes—crunchy and bright power pop.

Welcome back, Lashes.

Menomeno played after them and they had a 20+ piece choir signing with them. I can’t say how awesome it was because those kinds of words haven’t been invented yet.

As if the day hadn’t already supplied it’s share of “Holy fuck, this is the best Bumbershoot ever” moments, the evening came to it’s surreal climax when the Schoolyard Heroes played the Mainstage—Memorial Stadium.

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(3/4 of the band backstage minutes before the show.)

+44 canceled, so the Heroes were asked to fill in last minute, and holy shit did they do a fantastic job. I’ve watched this band grow up. I remember when Ryann Donnelly would wear jeans and an Interpol t-shirt on stage, and the boys weren’t wearing matching black outfits. They were a young monster-inspired punk rock band back then, playing to fifty people maybe, and now they’re a force to be reckoned with. Hypnotizing and mesmerizing thousands—it was the biggest show the band ever played.

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The crowd in front was so big there were times it had three separate mosh pits going. Kids were constantly being plucked out by security for crowd surfing or the threat of suffocation from all the pushing,

After the show Donnelly told me that she got to do everything she ever wanted to do on that stage. If a moment like that never happened again in the band’s career, she’d be content, knowing she lived it up as much as possible—she climbed the scaffolding, she sat on the edge, dangled her feet, and serenaded thousands, and she even jumped down over the edge, into the photo pit, and then into the crowd.

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To top it all off, when Donnelly went over the edge of the stage, a friend works with the band who was backstage, went over to make sure she was going to be okay. He ended up breaking his arm, though. Sigh. I guess if you’re gonna break something, you might as well do it by jumping off the mainstage at Bumbershoot, right? I’m a little jealous, now that I think about it.

I finished the day at the EMP Sky Church watching the Grand Archives. My feet hurt, my eyelids were starting to droop, and since the Grand Archives’ music is the kind of music sparkling, meloncholy music I’d listen to while falling asleep after an emotionally draining day, my body had to fight really hard to not to collapse to the floor and drift into sleep right there. I regretably left about half-way through. There were still two days left, after all, I had to save my energy.

Bumbershoot Photos Round One

posted by on September 2 at 11:43 AM

Sweet Beejesus. How do you even start with this monster of an event? Serious. It’s 10,000 tons of music in a 10 lb. bag…

Here are some photo highlights from Day One. Local Yokels. And Ex-Local Yokels. All photos by Dagmar Sieglinde

cops--2-DS.jpgThe Cops

shins-DS.jpgThe Shins

TSK-2.jpgThe Saturday Knights

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lashes-eric-DS.jpgThe Lashes

I wish I had a robot Kelly, that could sit here, and work all night, processing videos. I have great live footage and interviews with Gogol Bordello (WTF!), The Avett Brothers, Eugene Mirman, and Devotchka coming soon… stay tuned bitches

And Now For Something Completely Different

posted by on September 2 at 11:39 AM

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Michael Ian Black (The State, Viva Variety) was supposed to perform as part of famed NYC comedy trio Stella this weekend; sadly, his castmates bailed, but his solo show from Saturday held up in their absence, pleasing the capacity crowd of 450 and pissing off over a hundred people who stood in what had to be the longest line of Saturday’s events. Sadly, Black played to the younger crowd who only knew him from VH1’s Best Week Ever and those Sierra Mist commercials, and they reacted in kind, missing his more absurdist fare and enjoying his more overt material (such as the “Letters I Wrote To The First Girl I Ever Fingered” bit). Videos of his better moments:

Terrorists:

Emasculation:

I also feel compelled to give a nod Todd Barry’s surprise opening set. Enjoyed this rumination in particular: “You guys have Trader Joe’s, right? They just opened one in New York City, and on opening day, they had lines that wrapped around for four hours. I saw a buddy leave when I walked by, and I asked him what it was like. He tells me, ‘They have the best pizza.’ [pause] That’s funny, because you know who else has the best pizza? New York City. [pause for laughs] They should build a New York City in New York City.”