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Archives for 08/31/2008 - 09/06/2008

Friday, September 5, 2008

Mime is Money

posted by on September 5 at 9:11 PM

In the event that no one has ruined your weekend yet, allow me to present, courtesy of the mighty WFMU blog, and the 1978 Jerry Lewis Telethon, uh, and Skip Stephenson of Real People fame, and Richard Dawson of Family Feud… ladies and gentlemen: MANAKIN. (Warning: Not Safe for Any Living Thing)

The Ultimate Rick Roll

posted by on September 5 at 5:30 PM

Some kid submitted Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” as the school bell—they accepted.

Roll call Bell
15 mins interval
Period 1 Bell
52 mins interval
Period 2 Bell
52 mins interval
Period 3 Bell
52 mins interval
Lunch1 Bell
30 mins interval
Period 4 Bell
52 mins interval
Period 5 Bell
52 mins interval
Lunch 2 Bell
30 mins interval
Period 6 Bell
52 mins interval
End of school day bell.

I rick roll my school community 10 times in a 6 hour school day.

Deerhoof’s “The Tears and Music of Love”

posted by on September 5 at 4:20 PM

The first song on the forthcoming Deerhoof album, Offend Maggie (out Oct. 7 on Kill Rock Stars), is a beefily ethereal (or is it ethereally beefy?) rocker, with the beloved Bay Area indie band’s guitars sounding more robust than usual, like Keith Richards after an intensive weightlifting regimen. Pitchfork has the premiere of it, a live in Japan performance of the tune.

Also Tonight: Centro-matic / South San Gabriel

posted by on September 5 at 4:15 PM

The two-bands-in-one will perform separate sets at the High Dive tonight. Full disclosure: I’m biased as a Texan, but I implore you to at least consider their cover of Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long”, this version taken from a New Year’s 2007 show in Atlanta. Will Johnson rattles off the line, “We’re going to party, karamu, fiesta, forever,” like he was drinking a Lone Star on a hot August night and leaning against the grave of a dead wife. It’s a beaut.

This Week’s Setlist

posted by on September 5 at 4:10 PM

Plan on going on this weekend? Want to check out some local music? Listen to this week’s Setlist to hear music by Head Like a Kite, Don’t Tell Sophie, Thunderbird Motel, and the Band of the Week, the Raggedy Anns. Then keep listening and find out where those bands are playing this week.

Click to listen.

Triforce of Skerik: Calling the Bardo

posted by on September 5 at 3:43 PM


Sunday night at Lo-Fi it’s a trifecta. A triple mixed stack of performers coming together as one to form a triforce of power: Radioactive, Skerik, and Specswizard.

That’s Sunday, September 7th, 10 PM: Beat-boxing/rhyme scientist RADIOACTIVE on voice, live loops, and science. SKERIK on sax, distortion, Moog synth bass, Rhodes electric piano, and efx. SPECSWIZARD will be playing solo and then the three will perform as a trio. Skerik’s fingers will move over items, instruments, and various valves. They will all make sound. Beautiful sound.

The Triforce is a sacred golden relic that reappears throughout the Legend of Skerik series. These golden sacred performers were left behind by the goddesses of Power, Wisdom, and Courage; Din, Nayru, and Farore, after they finished creating the land of Hyrule.

Skerik says, “We will be calling the Bardo through an improvised collection of planetary beats. Tonight in Olympia at the ART HOUSE, Saturday night in Portland at the GOODFOOT LOUNGE, and Sunday at Lo-Fi. The Lo-Fi show features sonic scientist SPECSWIZARD. Check Specswizard’s new record on Abduction Records, for the latest brain-soul update available. Come hear what the bridge to nowhere sounds like, evolution sucks, fertility fuckin rules!!!!!!!!”

(Photo by Sarah Barrick)

Shoogie Wanna Boogie

posted by on September 5 at 3:30 PM

David Mathews' 1976 Shoogie Wanna Boogie LP

One of my favorite records that I picked up over this past summer is David Mathews & Whirlwind’s 1976 jazzy disco classic Shoogie Wanna Boogie. I heard of David Mathews (no, he’s not the same guy that plays in that over-rated hippie jam band) through an older unreleased Rune Lindbæk re-edit, as well as his solid production work with jazz-funk artist Idris Muhammad. From that point I was excited to hear what else Mr. Mathews had in store. I must say after one listen of Shoogie Wanna Boogie, I was pretty blown away by entire record which features mostly disco and funk covers of popular known songs like “You Keep Me Hanging On”, “California Dreaming”, “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)” and “My Girl”. The record has all of those signature elements that exist on most of the great records released by the Kudu label, great production and solid jazz-infuenced instrumentation over a disco-funk groove. In my opinion, this record is definitely a true masterpiece, especially if your one of those people like me who enjoy disco cover versions of popular known songs. I definitely look forward in the future to hunting down some more of this legendary producer’s work, however for now I’ll sit back and enjoy this rare and collectable treasure.

Download David Mathews’ 1976 disco-funk cover version of “You Keep Hanging On” and more by visiting this site.

Today I’m the Happiest Girl Ever Because

posted by on September 5 at 2:55 PM

Tomorrow I get to see this band:

Hot Water Music are playing as part of the MFNW in Portland. While I’m there, I will also probably eat a Voodoo Donut.

Tonight in Music: Polvo, Fucked Up, Ratatat, Nebula, a Concert for Change with Flipper and Tiny Vipers, and Oxford Collapse

posted by on September 5 at 10:44 AM

Polvo - “Fast Canoe” (1996)

Polvo has reunited and they’re playing Neumo’s tonight. In this week’s paper, Dave Segal interrogates Ash Bowie:

What criteria are you using when choosing songs to play during this tour?

We have chosen songs that we collectively liked the most, and then added a couple of the more-requested songs that we don’t mind playing. Actually, none of the songs has been particularly difficult to relearn, though we have reworked a few of them where we felt improvements could be made. Unfortunately, our first album is underrepresented in the current repertoire, but we can play at least a couple songs from all the other releases.

Will you be busting out any new songs for this tour? If so, how will they differ from previous Polvo material, if at all?

We do have a few new songs, and will probably play around two per show. I’m not sure how they differ from previous material. I think our older material spans a wide range of styles, from pretty weird to poppy, so it’s hard to say if there’s any real stylistic shift that characterizes the new songs.

Fucked Up - “Vivian Girls”
Fucked Up, Crystal Antlers, the Strange Boys
(Vera Project) It’s hard to know what to make of Canadian hardcore band Fucked Up. Their silly stage names (and band name), sense of humor in interviews (for a “what’s your day job?” type feature on Stereogum, one of their lot went into great detail about a totally fake job at a depressing lightbulb factory), cover of Justice’s “Stress,” MTV Canada set trashing, and lead singer Pink Eyes (who treads a line between HC tough guy and total bear that would make Rob Halford blush) all make Fucked Up seem like just a great gag band. But they sound real-deal enough, and that same singer goes balls-out (almost literally) at live shows. It’s hardcore enough to enjoy straight, but exaggerated enough to seem like satire. Their apparent fondness for the Situationists only complicates matters. ERIC GRANDY
Ratatat - “Mirando”
Ratatat, Panther, E*Rock, Copy
(Showbox at the Market) You know how in beer commercials, you’ll open a beer and suddenly your pool fills with water, your house swarms with attractive members of the opposite sex, and your life turns into a nonstop party? Ratatat records have a similar, if more subdued effect: Put any of their albums, such as the recently released LP3, or either of their sublime mixtapes into your sound system of choice and your apartment fills with smoke of both the weed and fog machine varieties; your car drops low and slows to two miles an hour (so everybody sees you); your life becomes, basically, unbearably chill. Live, Evan Mast and Mike Stroud’s guitar and synth fireworks are somehow less transformative, but they’re still satisfying enough. ERIC GRANDY

Nebula - “Giant”
Nebula, Totimoshi
(King Cobra) Tonight, pot calls the metal black. Or something. What I mean is, heavy stoner rock will be puffed in full force. L.A. brohammers Nebula wield a freaky fuzz tone, a flamboyant flange, a wicked wah-wah, and may indulge in more than just the sweet leaf, if their stratospheric psychedelic forays are any indication. It’s quite possible that Nebula have ingested from the same blotter sheet as Monster Magnet circa 1991 (when MM were blotter-sheet-metal gods). It’s not rocket science, but it’ll launch you spaceward. Fellow Cali trio Totimoshi work closer to Earth (the planet, not the band) and consequently are a less astronomically interesting proposition than Nebula. DAVE SEGAL

Tiny Vipers - “On This Side”
Concert for Change: Flipper, Tiny Vipers, Jinu Park, the Nextdoor Neighbors
(El Corazón) Barack Obama is truly the Great Unifier. One can only hope that he can unite the electorate in the same manner that this Obama fundraiser is bringing together completely unrelated musical acts. Is there really a crossover audience for Flipper’s unrestrained sloppy punk dirges and Tiny Vipers’ delicate acoustic minimalism? Adding a couple of hiphop artists and a cute electro-indie pop band to the event further pushes the envelope. But if we can all rally together for an event like this to put Obama in office, then maybe he can get the Bubbas and the neo-yuppies to join together in the polls. BRIAN COOK

Also tonight: Oxford Collapse play the Sunset. The band’s new album Bits got a three-star review in this week’s issue, read it here.

See all the rest of tonight’s shows and parties here.

Responsible Journalism

posted by on September 5 at 9:35 AM

I never claimed to be some kind of Nobel laureate.

But my powers of deduction were truly off-point last night. Having received an invitation to attend the Fuck Buttons and Mogwai at the Showbox, I pounced on the opportunity. With all my bills draining my total assets down to a measly $8, the chance to check out these two bands for free was not something I’d pass up. Mogwai was a band that I’d repeatedly tried to appreciate ever since 1999’s Come On Die Young, but it wasn’t until 2006’s Mr. Beast that the band really clicked with me. Since that time, I’ve been working backwards and rediscovering their work. Fuck Buttons, on the other hand, grabbed me immediately. Street Horrrsing is a remarkably catchy record, especially considering its ham-fisted electronics and rudimentary bedroom production. But it works surprisingly well, and I was interested to see how the duo’s noisy meditative numbers translated from the stage.

I checked the ad for the Showbox. Doors at 7pm. All Ages. Considering my lack of a car and my shortage of funds, I opted to walk downtown. Super sleuths should begin piecing together my mistake at this point. I arrived at the Pike Place Market around 7:30pm, figuring I’d still have a little time before the music started. But doors hadn’t even opened yet. A Showbox staff person informed me that doors were at 8pm. I grumbled about the ads saying 7pm, and went for a walk. When I got back, a line had formed for the show, so I grabbed a spot. From 7:45 to 8:15 (when the doors finally opened), I had plenty of time to take in my surroundings. I noticed, for instance, that foliage was obscuring the view of the marquee. “They should really clear that,” I thought to myself, “you can’t even see who’s playing tonight.” I also noted that Mogwai’s demographic was completely different than I expected. The crowd was remarkably straight-laced, with a few hippies thrown in the mix. I was also stunned that the show was sold out so far in advance. And then there was the dude in line in front of me that was so concerned about not having his ID to get into the show. I wanted to tell him to relax, the show was all ages, but figured he was just pining for a beer.

So doors open. And the sign posted at the entryway offered a little tip (for idiots such as myself): the Mogwai show is located at the Showbox SODO, a mile and a half down the street.


And with it nearly 8:30 at this point, and my $8 wholly inadequate for cab fare, I solemnly walked home. Someone please tell me the show sucked and I’m lucky to have missed it. Or at least tell me they’ve made the same dumb-ass mistake.

Letter to the Editor of the Day

posted by on September 5 at 12:01 AM

With regard to this and this:


A reader writes:


So, what fuck is even throwing ‘New Faces’ in with legit, working, GOOD rock (indie, whatever) bands in Seattle.

Sure, let’s give the kids some cred. Let’s support or youthfull songsters…. but in the grand scope of Seattle bands, or more importantly, GOOD seattle bands, let’s just go ahead and get over this finicky, bullshit, scene crap. Everyone wants to be 17, 18, and live in some kind of indie-rock glory, but let’s (the stranger) pull our shit together, actually live up to our grand reputation, and write about music that really matters.


Way to make a stand, uh… anonymous. Mr. Anonymous! Very… brave… anonymous person!

Thursday, September 4, 2008


posted by on September 4 at 5:48 PM

Joker - 'Snake Eater'

This summer, one of dubstep’s biggest breakout singles has been Joker’s “Snake Eater.”

Bristol’s 19 year-old Joker grew up, unbelievably, in the middle of turn-of-the-millennium U.K. garage and his gradual conversion to dubstep and bassline is far away from the credibility cash-ins of some of his fellow genre-chasers.

With “Snake Eater,” DJs have been banging out his name to new levels, whether it’s been positive or negative.

And for good reason.

“Snake Eater” is a thunderous and silly, nothing-held-back beast of a single, without a fear of arrogance or stupid tricks. It’s the kind of song that puts its chin up in front of a flag of John Barry spy-horns, looped soul vocals, thuggish dubstep rhythms, and a club peak or three, and asks what you’re going to do about it.

Every time I hear it, I can’t think of anything but Adam F & M.O.P.’s “Stand Clear” or Oxide & Neutrino’s “Shoot To Kill,” both from the beginning of the decade. If those took drum & bass and 2-step, respectively, and blew them out of great hip-hop-caricature proportions, “Snake Eater” seems to be trying to pull off the same for dubstep.

The worst thing to happen to any genre is for it to take itself too seriously, which dubstep has always been in danger of, so a dumb thing like this can only be a force for good.

Everyone uses the word “ridiculous” around it.

But at least this time it’s a compliment.

[30-Minute Joker Mix For Skream’s Rinse FM Show]

Your Favorite Bumbershoot Photo: We Have a Tie

posted by on September 4 at 5:15 PM

Two photos TIED (each getting 32%) for your favorite Bumbershoot photo in the Stranger’s Flickr Pool. Congratulations to laviddichterman and BrittneyBush! The two photographers have won tickets to any upcoming Stranger-event of their choice (and hopefully they’ll be taking pictures). Here are the winning photos:

lavid1flickr.jpgby laviddichterman

monotonixflickr.jpgMonotonix by BrittneyBush

You can see all the finalists here. Thanks to everyone who shared their photos with us, and to the hundreds of you who voted!

Brandon Ivers: Quantized Gear Therapy

posted by on September 4 at 4:53 PM


Inside the Mind and Makings of a Gear Head’s Gear Head

There is a man walking among us here in Seattle who is addicted to gear. I sought him out to find out why. His name is Brandon Ivers and he doesn’t breath air.

Brandon Ivers breathes gear. He breathes knowledge of gear. He may inhale oxygen yes, but what is exhaled is a molecule of CO2 with an oscillator, a circuit board, and Ableton Live attached. Ivers is modular. He’s analog. He’s micro. He is a processor. A Rolodex of technical know how and interfacing abilities of the soul. Through his veins flows blood of Robert Moog, corpuscles inside a constant hum of how to make sounds. The guy sleeps and figures things out at the same time.

Ivers calls himself a geek. But he’s not geeky. He’s just a genius. A severe music appreciatist. A drum n bass historian. He understands electronics, programs, and manuals. But his extensive savant-ish know how really comes from hours and hours of experimenting and messing with equipment. He’s a Linux administrator and writes for XLR8R, URB, and The Stranger at times. He also reviews gear.

We sat for a talk and picked his gear-addled brain. Next to him was an Akai 4400 reel-to-reel tape recorder. He derived pleasure from the Akai’s presence. He’d been bouncing audio tracks through it using its unintentional internal distortion and sending it back into his computer to get a tape sound. He broke quickly into a monologue on artifacting and what happens when the analog and digital worlds collide. When you go from an analog signal to digital, quantization happens:

Where did you come by this extreme knowledge of gear? How do you know so much about gear?
Ivers: Because I’m an obsessive-compulsive nerd.

No you’re not.
Yes I am. One time I sat in a basement for thirty hours trying to emulate a drum n bass bass sound when I could have just used a Korg MS20 and gotten the sound in fifteen minutes.

Why do you mess around so much with gear? What is it about musical equipment that draws you in?
I don’t know if I have a choice. I’ve always messed around with gear and gravitated toward electrical circuits and nerdy things, things I can sit in front of for hours and try to figure out. It’s all a puzzle. It keeps my mind occupied and levels me out. It keeps me from thinking about all the terrible things that go on in the world. I’d get depressed if I didn’t have something I could sink hours and hours of time into.

So it’s therapeutic for you.
Super therapeutic. A lot of natural musicians aren’t good gear heads. Gear heads are a certain breed. One of the things I’ve tried to fight in my gear writing is the idea that gear is more important than ideas. Because really, the ideas are always going to be more important and you really should use the equipment that you’ve got. There’s nothing preventing you from doing the track on your laptop and taking it into a nice studio and using their high-end compressors and mixing desk. You don’t have to go buy all the expensive gear. But we gear heads have a way of always needing more. If I just had that one keyboard, I’d be set. But it’s never enough. You always want more. Hip Hop producers horde everything in their own studio, they never think about bringing it out to another place or doing the final mixdowns elsewhere.

It’s like gateway drugs. Except gateway gear. First it’s the Korg MS20, then the next thing you know you’ve got a down payment on a 56 channel Neve 8128 that’s bigger than your apartment.

You’re a drum n bass scholar. Where does your appreciation for drum n bass come from?
I was a DJ in Minneapolis and played drum n bass and used to make drum n bass. I guess at the time, drum n bass was the most technologically advanced music out there. It was like hip-hop but it involved a different structure. You kind of had to be a jack of all trades to play drum n bass and there wasn’t really anyone else doing it. I figured I should learn everything about it. I started out with Sonic Foundry Acid version 1 and then ended up going to hardware like the E-Mu E5000 and I did everything on that. It was my best friend for five years. I didn’t even have a mixing desk, I would just use the filters on the E5000. I would have a break beat on there and use the filter to shape the EQ sound. There was no compression or anything.

What’s an aspect of drum n bass that you find enjoyable?
The Reese bass sound. One of the original Detroit techno founders Kevin Reese Saunderson came up with it. The sound kind of has a mythical status in the drum n bass scene in terms of where he got it from. I’m pretty sure he got it from a Roland Juno 6. It’s that warbling bass you’ve heard a million times. He had it on a track that was out on KMS in ‘87 or ‘88 called “Just Want Another Chance”. The first drum n bass track to technically use it was Ray Keith’s “Terrorist”. A lot of people call it the Terrorist Bass. Konflict’s “Messiah” is another D n B classic as far as anthems go.

Can you talk more about the d n b bass sound?
The sound itself is two de-tuned square waves with a low-pass filter. You get this sort of growly overtone if you crank up the resonance, too. To get the warble you de-tune the two oscillators against each other or you use pulse width modulation. The PWM gives it the movement.

Are you a Jimmy Buffet fan?

What is your least favorite music?
Better Than Ezra.

Are you Tron?
I think I might be.

Perfect From Now On, Now

posted by on September 4 at 2:40 PM

Music industry executives are losing their jobs left and right these days, but you know who’s probably not losing his job? The guy who came up with the idea for all these “play a classic album start to finish” tours. What a great pitch—fans can count on hearing their fav albums performed uninterrupted by untested or lesser material, and let’s face it, gen-xers are at prime nostalgia age (cf, this year’s Bumbershoot line-up). Last week it was GZA touring Liquid Swords. This week it’s Built to Spill performing Perfect From Now On (tonight at the Showbox, sold out). (Sonic Youth, Public Enemy, and countless other venerable acts have been doing this lately as well). Anyway, it may be a gimmick, but it’s not a bad one, and Built to Spill’s Perfect From Now On is, well, perfect for this sort of treatment, an evenly sequenced album with both shining pop hits and stoner-riffic jam-outs and some of Doug Martsch and co’s finest song-writing. But don’t take just my word for it. Take it as well from Rebecca Brown, Tao Lin, David Shields, Everett True, Kathleen Wilson, Brendan Kiley, and Jeff Kirby’:

David Shields:

“Randy Described Eternity” is a launching pad for the empty space between your body holding your guts (built to spill onto the pavement) and the vast cavern of forever-land eternity.

Rebecca Brown:

I can’t get that sound you make out of my head. Nobody else can hear it, and you wouldn’t want them to. The sound of you napping perfectly, content like nothing could ever happen to perfection.

I once thought if I tried I could be perfect. If I did what one should, was nice and good, worked very hard, one day I could become as pretty and perfect as you. But I was wrong.

Jeff Kirby:

It was an adolescent revelation, like finally figuring out what boners were good for—how had this amazing thing been in front of me all this time and I didn’t know what to do with it until now?

Brendan Kiley:

Looking up lyrics is always a terrible idea.


Worst of all was Martsch telling me, in response to some dumb question about what some specific lyric meant, that he usually wrote melodies first and then just figured out whatever nonsense words fit them phonetically.

Everett True:

I think of seesaws—and children yelling, throwing Frisbees on a wide deck.

Tao Lin:

When he says, “Kicked it in the sun,” I think, “Someone kicked someone in the crotch in a movie in slow motion with fireworks in the background at night, giving it a solar system–like tone.”

Kathleen Wilson:

As satisfying as it feels to sing out, “You don’t like anything/’Cause you’re unlikable,” a modicum of self-awareness can set off a devastating case of the shudders as you wonder if Martsch’s words might spell out the reason you feel like such an asshole all the time.


posted by on September 4 at 1:45 PM

I love local hiphop like Madonna loves…

Grayskul on MTV.

Today’s Music News

posted by on September 4 at 11:37 AM

Blow job queen at the Peach Pit: Liz Phair teams up with new 90210

KISS mistakes pt. 1: Gene Simmons sued for fraud and slander

KISS mistakes pt. 2: Ketchup?

Running strong after 20+ years: New Napalm Death album

Not quite There Will Be Blood: Slash to score Mexican film

Tonight in Music: Built to Spill, Mogwai and Fuck Buttons, Death Vessel

posted by on September 4 at 9:00 AM

Built to Spill - “Stop the Show”

Tonight, Built to Spill will play their album Perfect From Now On in its entirety at the Showbox at the Market. In this week’s paper, eight writers (Eric Grandy, Kathleen Wilson, Rebecca Brown, Brendan Kiley, and others) revisit the album song by song. An excerpt:

“Kicked It in the Sun”
I feel good when this song begins and reach a climax of feeling good at 0:38 when Doug Martsch says, “You made me talk/No, you made me listen” because it seems like there are emotional implications, like someone is sad. At 1:01, when he says, “Tiny TV,” I try to block out sociological thoughts, which interfere with my emotions. I try to think, “He’s being quirky due to depression, it isn’t a critique of America.” When he says, “Kicked it in the sun,” I think, “Someone kicked someone in the crotch in a movie in slow motion with fireworks in the background at night, giving it a solar system–like tone.” Around 4:15 I think things like, “Change it now or you’ll hear the strange part.” Forty percent of the time I change it. Sixty percent of the time I continue listening and experience something at 4:21 and 4:44 like, “I won’t get things in life that I want.” The drums from 6:09 to the end make me feel like I haven’t slept in 20 hours and am writing an essay on something I don’t understand. I like this song a lot overall. I usually listen to an acoustic version. TAO LIN

Also tonight…

Fuck Buttons - “Okay, Let’s Talk About Magic” (Live at SXSW)
Mogwai, Fuck Buttons
(Showbox Sodo) Scottish post-rock media darlings Mogwai fall into the same trap many groups of their ilk do: They spend too much time lulling and not enough wowing. Dynamics are important, sure, but if you spend too many minutes setting the table, diners likely will get grumpy. But I’m in the minority, as connoisseurs of the drift-and-explode mode of rocking loves them some Mogwai. Bristol duo Fuck Buttons, by contrast, stimulate through dense, stinging waves of homemade-gizmo noise and truculent beats. And like Black Dice, Fuck Buttons bury deeply affecting melodies amid their caustic clamor, as their memorable debut album, Street Horrrsing, proves. Fuck Buttons slayed at SXSW, so early arrival is advised. DAVE SEGAL

Death Vessel - “Deep In The Horchada”
Death Vessel, Micah Blue Smaldone
(Tractor) Born in Berlin and raised in Maine, Joel Thibodeau, the man behind Death Vessel, is a Northeasterner come to join the legion of pensive balladeers teasing out melodies in the mossy caves of the Pacific Northwest. In August, Sub Pop released Nothing Is Precious Enough for Us, the follow-up to 2005’s Stay Close. Currently based in Providence, Death Vessel fits in almost too comfortably with the nostalgic folk rock of labelmates Fleet Foxes, Band of Horses, and Grand Archives. Banjos, mandolins, and fiddles rouse otherwise dreamy fingerpicking to a gallop. But most striking are Thibodeau’s ozone-high vocals, lacking vibrato, both childlike and feminine: It’s Fleet Foxes’s Robin Pecknold in the next register, without the rasp. JULIA MULLEN GORDON

As posted yesterday, you still have a couple hours left to enter and win tickets to tonight’s Death Vessel show. Click here.

And click here to see the rest of tonight’s shows.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Win Tickets to Tomorrow’s Death Vessel Show

posted by on September 3 at 3:20 PM

You can win tickets to tomorrow’s Death Vessel show at the Tractor (it’s 21+, FYI), and all you have to do is send an e-mail.

Here’s what Julia Mullen Gordon had to say about Death Vessel in the brand new issue of the paper:

Death Vessel, Micah Blue Smaldone
(Tractor) Born in Berlin and raised in Maine, Joel Thibodeau, the man behind Death Vessel, is a Northeasterner come to join the legion of pensive balladeers teasing out melodies in the mossy caves of the Pacific Northwest. In August, Sub Pop released Nothing Is Precious Enough for Us, the follow-up to 2005’s Stay Close. Currently based in Providence, Death Vessel fits in almost too comfortably with the nostalgic folk rock of labelmates Fleet Foxes, Band of Horses, and Grand Archives. Banjos, mandolins, and fiddles rouse otherwise dreamy fingerpicking to a gallop. But most striking are Thibodeau’s ozone-high vocals, lacking vibrato, both childlike and feminine: It’s Fleet Foxes’s Robin Pecknold in the next register, without the rasp. JULIA MULLEN GORDON

And here are a couple songs to check out:

Deep in the Horchata” from the album Stay Close

Bruno’s Torso” from the album Nothing Is Precious Enough for Us

To enter, send your first and last name to with Death Vessel in the subject line. That’s it! All entries must be received by 10 am Thursday to be eligible, one winner will be randomly chosen and notified via e-mail.

Update: The winner has been notified—thanks to all who entered!

Lookin’ Tonight…For Love

posted by on September 3 at 2:54 PM

Fat Larry's Band - Lookin' For Love LP

A classic disco track that I’ve been enjoying throughout the summer has been Fat Larry’s Band’s 1979 “Lookin’ For Love”. This classic boogie cut was released as the title track to the Lookin’ For Love LP, which is another fine release from the legendary Fantasy label. The song also gained some more recent attention as it was re-edited and included on Dimitri From Paris’s In The House of Love mix compilation which came out a few years back. Many believe the groups 1982 boogie classic “Act Like You Know” is the group’s finest effort, however, being a bigger fan of late 1970’s disco genre music, I believe the Philadelphia based funk band shined the brightest on “Lookin’ For Love, a true disco gem that reminds me of all those early classic Salsoul releases by groups like Double Exposure, Moment of Truth, Love Committee, and Instant Funk.

Download Fat Larry’s Band’s 1979 disco classic “Lookin’ For Love” and more by visiting this site.

Vote For Your Favorite Bumbershoot Photo

posted by on September 3 at 1:18 PM

We have hundreds of Bumbershoot photos in our Flickr Pool, and here’s the best of the best. Take a look, and vote for your favorite. The winner will get free tickets to any upcoming Stranger-sponsored event, including the Genius Awards VIP party (free booze and food, but gotta be 21+), Hump!, TV on the Radio… basically, anything listed on our promotions page.

Thanks to everyone who shared their photos with us!

lavid1flickr.jpgby laviddichterman

saulflickr.jpgSaul Williams by kjten22

scarfman.jpgby joshc

The rest of the photos and the poll is after the jump…

Continue reading "Vote For Your Favorite Bumbershoot Photo" »

Music Imitates Politics

posted by on September 3 at 1:14 PM

Idolator reports today on Slipknot and the Game’s heated race for the top of this week’s Billboard sales charts, a race which has devolved into, yes, a recount:

When I saw the SoundScan charts this morning, I felt kind of bad for Slipknot. The masked metallers haven’t been having the best string of luck recently, and now their album All Hope Is Gone was narrowly beaten out for the top spot on the album tally by LAX, the new album from tormented name-dropper the Game. How small of a margin did they lose by, you ask? Try 13 sales. Well, apaprently I wasn’t the only one who felt bad about this: Slipknot, upon seeing this statistic, gathered up its brooding rage and did what any red-blooded American would do: They demanded a recount from the SoundScan folks. You can probably guess what happened next.

Yes, the SoundScan people found some 1,244 sales hiding within the bowels of their system, or maybe at a neglected Hot Topic somewhere in the ‘burbs, and that was enough to give Slipknot the one-week win over the Game. All Hope Is Gone’s final sales total is 239,516 to LAX’s un-revised 238,382; whether or not the Game is going to further appeal his own SoundScan total is unknown at this point, but surely he’s at least comforted by the fact that his first-week sales beat out those achieved by his former cronies in G-Unit earlier this summer.

Great, now the rockstars are acting like politicians.

Where the Streets Have No Name

posted by on September 3 at 12:15 PM

Why did I wait so long to look up the lyrics to “Banging Camp” by the Hold Steady? For months now, ever since I got back into that album, into it way deeper than I ever got the first time around, I’ve been getting kind of giddy every time it comes to the bridge. Specifically the part where Craig Finn sings/shouts, “And he said, ‘Hi! I like to party on the—” and that was as far as I could ever sing along, because the end of the line always got lost in Finn’s beery spittle before I could make it out on the way to, “—and I can’t stand it when the banging stops.”

For some reason, in my under-researched mythologizing of the Hold Steady and the midwest, I figured Finn was saying the name of some Twin Cities neighborhood or street or plaza—the last word kind of sounded like “Platz,” the German for place or plaza or square, and so I guessed there was maybe a German-settled neighborhood in Minneapolis/St. Paul with some square that had gotten a little too druggy. (The first part of the word sounded like “Plotter” or “Bahner” or “Platter,” the last of which apparently means to iron or press flat in German—not a likely name for a neighborhood, even for a city that’s flat all over.)

Anyway, last night, the urge to know that lyric, to sing along properly, finally drove me to spend the 30 seconds it would take to look the damn thing up (whilst listening to the recording, even). It’s “problem blocks.” “I like to party on the problem blocks.” Which, as babelfish would have it, translates to “Problemblöcke” in German. Whatever—blöcke, platz, it’s a great moment in the song, this scene of some guy walking up drunk to some girl at a party and boasting, in Finn’s outsized slur, about partying and hangovers, while the rising guitar leads and horns and headache-foreshadowing kick drum all build towards a classic Hold Steady crescendo. And now I know the words.

Daedelus at the Stranger’s Genius Awards

posted by on September 3 at 11:58 AM

The Stranger Genius Awards scored a real coup by booking Daedelus (Alfred Weisberg Roberts to his accountant). Since 2001, the LA producer’s risen through the IDM/subterranean-hiphop ranks with a prolific stream of releases on excellent labels like Phthalo, Plug Research, Mush, Eastern Developments, and now Ninja Tune for his new Love to Make Music To (album title of the year). Love is Daedelus’ most accessible work yet and it reflects his affection for dance music from the early-’90s, when fun and innovation often went hand in hand (and foot in foot).

But in a live setting, Daedelus is unpredictable, and he could spring any number of styles at you. In a Data Breaker column from 2005, I described Daedelus’ music as “kooky sonic roller coasters” that amount to “court-jester surrealism,” and his performances are as entertaining as those terms suggest.

Daedelus received some internet buzz from his pro-“Obama” track/video and he graces the cover of the current issue of XLR8R, but he’s been grindin’ for years and has a back catalog bursting with gems. Get ready for a (non)serious quirk-out on the dance floor.

The Stranger’s 6th Annual Genius Awards take place Sat. Sept. 13 at Moore Theatre, 1932 Second Ave., 9 pm. For more info on the Stranger Genius Awards, go here.

Daedelus’ “Fairweather Friends” [possibly NSFW]

Daedelus live on the Dublab rooftop

Battles Drummer John Stanier

posted by on September 3 at 11:47 AM

Battles’ John Stanier is a battleship of a drummer. A wrecking ball timekeeper. A jackhammer metronome. A pressure cleaner of meter. He puts his head down and cannon-balls into beats. Stanier a beacon, leading the Battles cry. Their sound is scattered and jumpy at times, but they gather and rebound under his mile high crash cymbal and his perma-steady playing.

Stanier talked about that high cymbal and tried to come up with a description of the Battles sound. I have the deepest of drum love for the man, a respectful battleship drum love:

Today’s Music News

posted by on September 3 at 11:14 AM

Sorry, Lars: New Metallica leaks

Fingers crossed for Neutral Milk Hotel: Elephant 6 announces collective tour

Pigs pt. 1: Fuck Yeah Fest founders vs. Hollywood Bowl security

Pigs pt. 2: Rage Against The Machine vs. the RNC

The bitch is back: Lily Allen and Elton John feud in public

Los Crudos reunion!: Latino Fest announces line-up

Tonight in Music: Discover Something New

posted by on September 3 at 9:30 AM

It’s quiet tonight, the Wednesday after Bumbershoot. Music fans are worn out, bands are worn out—not much is happening show-wise. But there are a few unfamiliar names out in the clubs. In fact, a number of these bands have songs posted on their Bands Page so you can try before you buy. Or, uh, pay the cover.

Here’s who’s where tonight, and what they sound like:

Westerly plays the Tractor with the Whipsaws and Michael Damron & the Power of Country.

Westerly - “Rodeo

The Whipsaws - “Jessi Jane”

Battle Hymns play Chop Suey, opening for Karl Blau and Bodies of Water.

Battle Hymns - “For Arlene (on Memantine)”

Goldie Wilson’s headlining the Comet.

Goldie Wilson - “Vivian”

If that’s not doin’ it for ya, find today’s complete music listings here.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


posted by on September 2 at 4:49 PM

Random things I heard people saying (and lots more photos) from you-know-where…

“That T.I. show made me horny. Should we just go?”

ti-2-dagmar.jpgphoto by Dagmar Sieglinde

More after the jump. Please keep reading…

Continue reading "Overheard" »

How Deep Are Your Wednesdays?

posted by on September 2 at 4:36 PM


Well, they could get a little deeper, starting tomorrow. A posse of top Seattle house and techno DJs will do their best to take you further into hump night than you’ve previously gone with a new weekly at Vito’s. (By the way, with Made happening on Tuesdays and now this, Vito’s is becoming one of the spots for quality beats in that difficult midweek lull.)

Headed by Brad Peterson, the night will focus on house and techno’s headier, more soulful aspects. Taking turns on the tables will be Struggle, D’Jeronimo, Zion12, Peterson himself and about a half dozen others.

PWRFL Power’s Text Message Contest

posted by on September 2 at 4:30 PM

PPflickr.jpgPWRFL Power by ohnobody in the Stranger’s Flickr Pool.

During his Bumbershoot performance, PWRFL Power instructed the crowd to get out their cell phones and text him the funniest comment they can think of. He gave out his number, and promised the best remark would get a knitted sponge made by his grandmother.

Here’s a sample of what he received:

- You don’t look a day over 15 to me
- my girlfriend wants a threesome
- your boobs are not that gigantic but thats okay cause your small and japanese
- Min hummer har diabetes
- lets meet and swap skinny jeans
- aneta wa sioizodes sho!
- your sponge: I want it so i will write a haiku because im dirty
- chocolate cactus song guitar sound so nice to me i love grandma’s sponge
- I farted and then poop came out
- i own all the pawn shop. So I’m rich.
- Does your G-ma wash you with that Spunge? Oooooooh
- your eyes were sparkling like champagne. My loins were rising just like Charlemagne.
- So there were 2 muffins in an oven. one muffin said,, is it hot in here or is it just me? and the other said, AH! A TALKING MUFFIN!
- I ran over your cat with the training wheels of my baby sister’s bike. Sorry

He says he also got a few weird calls, but I’m guessing that since they didn’t follow instructions, the callers won’t be eligible for the sponge.

UPDATE: Tonight’s Darker My Love Show Is Rescheduled for Nov 16

posted by on September 2 at 2:24 PM

Darker My Love - “Two Ways Out”
Darker My Love, Black Whales, Colonies
(Neumo’s) L.A.’s Darker My Love have an obvious fondness for psychedelic rock. If the blanket-heavy fuzz and spiraling effects of their guitars weren’t enough of an indication on their sophomore album, 2, then the red meanies of the disc’s liner art should be. Of course, the back of the album just says “Pop,” and there’s a track called “Northern Soul,” so that their Anglophilia isn’t strictly psych. Whatever their influences, though (and the pop tendencies are pronounced), that guitar fuzz is a constant, and it’s a satisfying sound, contrasting nicely with the group’s frequently weightless vocals. It’s like a less memorable Shins gone California road tripping, with the emphasis on the tripping, hot-air balloons traded for some other means of achieving altitude. ERIC GRANDY

Black Whales sound like this.
Colonies sound like this.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, Darker My Love has had to cancel tonight’s show. The show has been rescheduled for Sunday, November 16th and all of tonight’s tickets will be honored.

Here’s what else you can still see tonight:

The Dead Science at Wall of Sound, John Vanderslice (for free!) at Sonic Boom Records in Ballard, or anything else listed here.

I Wanted (Almost) Everything at Flatstock

posted by on September 2 at 2:00 PM

I was at Bumbershoot for three hours this weekend. I missed These Arms are Snakes, I missed Feral Children, I missed motherfucking Superchunk. I spent the majority of my weekend moving and moving and unpacking. And playing some songs on the radio. And then moving some more.

But the one Bumber-related thing I have worth mentioning is this: Jay Ryan continues to be one of the best poster artists in the world of poster art. Flatstock is always a highlight of Bumbershoot for me (despite my terrible habit of spending way too much money there). This year, though, with a drained bank account due to first and last month’s rent, deposit, yadda yadda yadda, I was too broke to buy anything (including Strawberry Luna’s adorable alphabet prints for a measly $15).

Nonetheless, I still loved a lot of what Flatstock had to offer, including everything at Jay Ryan’s booth. Especially the adorable penguin poster he made for the Blue Planet Live concert series and the Tortoise poster of kitties in bowls.



Swoon. He’s my favorite.

There were also some locals with impressive collections—Nat Damm, Andrew Crawshaw of Broken Press, Design Medicine… and then there was an art print of a little kid dressed as a cowboy riding a seahorse, and I have no idea who the artist is but I want one. So if you know, let me know. It’d look really cute in my new bedroom.

Heaven Bound & Down

posted by on September 2 at 1:41 PM

Jerry Reed has died at age 71. A friend of mine finally returned my copy of Jerry Reed’s Greatest Hits to me yesterday. This is really sad. I loved to sing “She Got the Goldmine, I Got the Shaft” at karaoke.

Cross-posted to Slog because it’s just that important, dammit.

Monday Bumbershoot vs. My Money

posted by on September 2 at 1:28 PM

After spending most of Saturday and Sunday moving all of my worldly possessions halfway across town in a Volkswagen Golf, and dropping more than I had in my bank account on first, last and deposit, I arrived for the third and final day of Bumbershoot, exhausted, broke, and late. When colleague Dave Segal caught me trying to pour a cup of water from an empty water jug in the Press Room, it was time to go view some music. We agreed to walk to the Sky Church for Feral Children, and were met with a cursory line held by a security guard who continually allowed teenagers to cut in front of us. Inside the Church, Feral Children were several songs into their set. They looked somewhat anachronistic under the array of flashing and blinking lights afforded by Paul Allen. Sound quality from the side of the room was a bit sub-par, and the lights made me dizzy. Neverthless, several quality songs were witnessed before I was forced to move on.

photo by Dagmar Sieglinde

Next it was off to Arthur & Yu on the opposite side of the Center. A Mirror Pond ($7, plus a $1 tip) was much needed after bumping into approximately 37 people during the traverse. It was, of course, not nearly enough alcohol to curb such crowd-induced anxiety, but my financial situation rendered me incapable of purchasing more.

BB8%24Beer.jpgMy $8 beer two minutes after its purchase.

Arthur & Yu put on a fine set of subdued, relaxing numbers, including some new material that went well under the setting sun.

BBArthur.jpgphoto by Blush Photo

After Arthur & Yu, Mr. Segal and I stopped at the Horn of Africa stand, where he purchased a delicious iced tea ($2), and I tried a lentil Sambusa ($2), both of which were excellent and bargain-priced relative to most things in the Center during the last three days.

We then foolishly attempted to “stop by and check out Del [the Funky Homosapien] real quick.” Predictably, the Fisher Green Stage lawn was packed with droves of hip-hop fans and marijuana smoke, the combination of which rendered Del almost invisible. Our photographers clearly had a better view:

BBDel.jpgphoto by Blush Photo

Due to the aforementioned lack of view, and my attention span deficit, my focus fell on the statue guy to the right of the stage. He was dutifully shaking hands and doling out hugs when not being a statue, but some just weren’t interested.

BBstatue.jpgKid won’t make nice.

Thankfully, Mr. Segal wisely pulled me out of my trance in time to make it to what was to be the apex of both our Monday Bumbershoot experience, Battles. I’d never seen Battles before, but I’d heard plenty of good things about their live show, and they did not dissapoint. Drummer John Stanier’s sparse-but-thunderous drumming is the perfect backdrop for the band’s minimalistic future-rock structures, and the sound at the Broad Street stage was true quality. With the air here containing equal parts marijuana smoke and patchouli, Battles’ precise sound cut through the fog like razor wire.

BBBattles.jpgBattles heal the masses, by Blush Photo

End tally:

Total dollars spent: $13
Total acts seen: 4
Total number of people bumped into: 347
Winner: My new landlord.

Death Cab For Cutie

posted by on September 2 at 12:28 PM

2820220181_c783631556.jpgDeath Cab For Cutie by Michael Landry from the Stranger Flickr pool

Maybe someone else here on Line Out will be able to better do justice than I to Death Cab For Cutie’s Bumbershoot-closing headlining set last night, but for me nothing was going to top Superchunk. Still, I figured I’d give the band a chance. There was a time when I was a huge DCFC fan, roughly through the first couple few records. (Also: Postal Service, yes!) But for the last couple records, the band has grown increasingly vanilla, bigger but not necessarily better. They’re still totally proficient, and Ben Gibbard remains a fine singer and a sturdy songwriter; they just haven’t landed a song that’s wowed me for a while (“The New Year” was the last one to come close).

In any case, a half dozen songs in, and the band still wasn’t wowing, although “The New Year” sounded fine in the big, starry stadium, flickering with those little neon flashing trinkets people were throwing around. I was hoping to hear a couple older numbers right up front to get me hooked, but it all seemed like newer stuff. And after those first six songs, when a friend offered a ride home, exhausted from three days of Bumbershoot, I decided to bail. On the walk out, “Company Calls” was echoing out of the stadium, and though I love that song (and most all of We Have the Facts), I wasn’t bummed to be leaving. I’ve seen a lot of great Death Cab shows, last night’s just didn’t seem like it was going to be one of them. I do hope it was for everyone else, though.

Update: Turns out the mere six songs I caught was still more of Death Cab’s set than any of my colleagues here on Line Out managed to take in of last night. So, in the interest of fairness and because no more detailed post is forthcoming, an attempt to further explain the vanilla turn-off that was the first half-dozen songs of Death Cab For Cute:

First, a point of clarification: I suppose “Why’d You Want to Live Here,” the third song they played, is more or less an older song, and one that should resonate mightily with anyone who’s spent, say, 12 hours or more in LA. And it’s a pretty fine Death Cab number—cutting sentiment, steadily driving verses, though with more of an extended sigh than a proper chorus. The sound was okay overall throughout their set, although Death Cab’s lighter moments can just float right away in that giant open-air stadium, especially if you’ve left the front following Superchunk.

“Bixby Canyon Bridge” is a bit of a snooze—if you want Gibbard meditating on Keruoac, a better bet is Styrofoam’s “Couches in Alleys,” which features the DFCF singer. “Crooked Teeth” and “Long Division” provided some small shots of energy, Gibbard swinging his guitar in time while singing his verses, and while the former has a nice enough chorus, the latter’s one-word refrain, while melodically agile, wasn’t much to sing along to. “Grapevine Fires,” which Gibbard introduced by observing, “Sometimes beautiful things do happen,” has some nice turns of phrase—the alarm clock of impending doom, for instance, or the paper cups borrowed from Something About Airplanes—but it was, again, kind of a sleeper. I know Death Cab’s always been more of a mellow band—I wasn’t expecting them to come out and be Cheap Trick or whatever—but for whatever reason (their’s was a fresher sound at the time? less pop-cultural saturation? I’m a bitter old gas-bag?), I just dig Death Cab’s older songs more, and on this final night of the weekend my spent ass either needed more energy or more old gems right out the gate to keep me on my feet.

Monday: Unsurprisingly Good

posted by on September 2 at 12:07 PM

Monday at Bumbershoot was solid but offered few surprises. I would have loved to have been wowed by Blitzen Trapper and Feral Children, as they were my first-time hopefuls, but found myself unfortunately un-enthused by both their sets (Sorry Dave, but memorable is not how I would describe Feral Children. I found their songs to be a lot of random snacks when all I wanted was a proper meal). Monotonix were too rock and roll for Bumbershoot. Though it was funny that they were the first band I’ve ever seen be asked to stop playing at the festival, it would have been more awesome if, like, they could have kept entertaining the hundreds of people who were eating them up.

bent1.jpgBlack Eyes and Neckties by Chad Syme

Black Eyes and Neckties absolutely killed their radio session for KEXP. Singer Brad Lockhart was sporting a wheelchair and a foot brace, still reeling from his Total Fest tumble. There was a bit of apprehension towards the end of the set as to whether guitarist Josh Holland was going to jump up on the broadcast table and do something stupid to all the KEXP laptops, but thankfully for everyone involved he limited himself to surfing the prop table the band brought along with them.

Battles were the best band of the weekend. They can’t help it; they’re just too good to be anything less. There are too many elements to nerd out on: the skills, the gear, the riffs, the grooves, the inhuman hi-hat/snare prowess of John Stanier. And after a Sunday plagued with terrible mixes thank god Battles were personally on stage a half an hour early tweaking every knob and amp until their sound was perfect. I keep coming back to see them every chance I get and I am never the slightest bit disappointed I did.

I’m sure it’s never fun for any band that has to follow them, but Minus the Bear gave it a good effort. Though I was mocked by some of the journalists leaving the backstage area to go see Death Cab, I actually like Minus the Bear. It took a few songs for them to get warmed up, but they always find ways to remind me why I’m still a fan: the tastefully dirty chorus of “This Ain’t a Surfin’ Movie,” the exploding start and stops of “Double Vision Quest” complete with u-ziq keyboard ending, the still-perfect-after-all-these-years futuristic power ballad “Absinthe Party.” The Ian Williams/Dave Knudsen DL-4 party was a nice way to finish out the long weekend, even if the bill probably should have been flipped. I’ll take unsurprising, as long as it’s unsurprisingly good.

Share Your Bumbershoot Photos

posted by on September 2 at 12:05 PM

You have all day today to upload your Bumbershoot photos to The Stranger’s Flickr Pool, and quite possible win tickets to any upcoming Stranger-sponsored event of your choosing!


posted by on September 2 at 11:12 AM

2821450533_6ba96e8fc4.jpgSuperchunk by smohundro from the Stranger Flickr pool

For me, the whole weekend was leading up to Superchunk. They took the Memorial Stadium stage in a cloud of fog machine smoke flooded with pink and blue and yellow lights. After Stone Temple Pilots the night before, it was great to see Superhcunk up on that stage looking like normal dudes (and lady) instead of total douchebags, rocking out in front of just regular stage lights instead of some retarded screen-savers.

They started with the fantastic “Throwing Things,” sounding just perfect if a little less heavy on the feedback than in the old days. They played a solid set, leaning on the harder, faster (more hyper) songs in their catalogue, which was kind of a bummer as I’ve been really digging into their mellower numbers lately. But then, I really could have watched them play three headlining sets this weekend just to cover more ground.

In any case, the set was a blast, Superchunk rocked hard, and kids crowd-surfed seven or eight at a time (I got the impression there were a lot of younger folks there who were just super amped for Death Cab and unable to contain themselves, but everyone seemed to have a good time, so maybe the ‘Chunk won some new converts). Mac McCaughan cracked, “I was worried there wouldn’t be enough crowd surfing, but it looks like my fears were unfounded.” Man, the ’90s really were a golden age for sarcasm.

They sped through “The First Part,” “Detroit Has a Skyline,” “Baxter,” “Driveway to Driveway,” “Why Do You Have to Put a Date on Everything?,” “Cast Iron,” “Slack Motherfucker,” “Precision Auto,” and closed with “Hyper Enough” (there were a couple more in between that I didn’t quite catch; Bob in the comments identifies them as “Mower,” “Misfits & Mistakes,” and “Package Thief”). “Detroit,” with its lines about listening to records on repeat, crushes, and how nothing works out, is a jam. “Driveway to Driveway” is epic. “Slack Motherfucker,” subcultural relic though it is, remains fun as hell to scream along to, even in a football stadium. “Hyper Enough” made a fine closer for a set that felt too short and too fast, giddy and fleeting and nostalgic, like being a kid again for 45 minutes.

Today’s Music News

posted by on September 2 at 10:40 AM

Best thing I’ve read in the last week: Speaking bluntly on downloading

Two lips and one tongue: Original artwork for Rolling Stones sold to London museum

RIP: Adam Nodelman of Crash Worship and Sunburned Hand of the Man

Trouble with member #11: Dillinger Escape Plan isn’t breaking up…yet

Update on the death of the record industry: iTunes vs. full albums

Two Gallants

posted by on September 2 at 10:26 AM

2821111332_d135751366-1.jpgTwo Gallants by Blush Photo

Man, best laid plans. I had meant to get down to the third day of Bumbershoot in time to catch Paramore (really, I wanted to see this band one time) or at least Monotonix (who were sure to be a total fiasco), but it was just not to be. Instead, the first set I really made it in time for was Two Gallants. The choice between them and the simultaneously performing Dan Deacon was no choice at all. Deacon was doing his crazed camp counselor schtick (which I’m sure he does as sincerely as Two Gallants does theirs) inside the dank Exhibition Hall, while Two Gallants were playing out in the afternoon sun on the Broad Street Lawn. There was just no way I had the energy or inclination for Deacon at this point in the long weekend. Two Gallants, though, was just right. You could sit on the grass and still se them. Their ragged, road-worn acoustic folk sounded fine floating over an outdoor crowd, especially their anthemic jam “Nothing to You.” Dude probably gets the Conor Oberst comparison a lot, but the band really do have a similar, shaky quaver to their singing voices. I remember when these guys just played house shows and teen centers when they toured through Seattle; it’s nice to see them rocking such a big festival crowd.

Bumbershoot, Day 3: Battles Rule Seattle

posted by on September 2 at 8:03 AM

2821165148_73711237a6.jpgDan Deacon tries to keep ‘em separated, by joshc from the Stranger Flickr pool

You know the deal with Dan Deacon, right? He’s not so much a musician—though he’s quite a fine one, when he gets around to it—as he is a summer camp counselor with power-drunk tendencies and control-freak issues. Deacon’s shows largely consist of him instructing his minions to sprint around, hold hands with audience members, slap high 5s, make random, whimsical gestures, form human tunnels through which others dance, and to generally break out of the conventions of a typical live musical event. At this he succeeds (kids will do anything he says), although the shtick can become tedious after about 15 minutes, and one wishes he’d focus more on his exceptional musical talents.

As usual, Deacon set up on the floor and immediately drew the mostly 21 and under Bumbershoot attendees around him, so he was obscured unless you were smack up against his gear. He began by chanting the Offspring’s famous chorus, “You gotta keep ’em separated” as if it were a sacred mantra. (The Offspring had just finished playing Memorial Stadium and Deacon mocked them sporadically throughout the afternoon.)

“Okie Dokey” started the set proper with some toytown Suicide à la “Rocket USA.” A small lime-green stuffed dinosaur was tossed around; you know the drill. Then came some more kiddie-punk Giorgio Moroder-esque/Martin Rev-like throbbing electronics, de-eroticized for the safety of minors. A new song was aired, sounding like uptempo bubblegum Neu!, a fab, percolating soundtrack to inspire incredible bursts of energy. It did the job.

(Spotted in the audience: a 40something guy with a looonnnggg curly mullet and a 20something dude in a tie-dyed onesie.)

After more “you gotta keep ’em separated” mockery, Deacon unleashed some of the most effusive electro pop ever, something so joyous it would’ve been too much for Mardi Gras and the Fourth of July combined. The track gradually slowed until it seemed like it was being sucked into a black hole, and then it was resurrected into a gruesome brown tone before transforming into a Boredoms-on-Ecstasy flourish. Jesus should be so lucky to have the Second Coming scored by this piece. (By the way, Deacon’s music somehow can thrive in Ex Hall’s abysmal acoustic environment, much more so than Brother Ali’s hiphop the day before.)

I needed some mundanity after Deacon, so I walked over to J. Boogie’s Dubtronic Science thing for some Latino funk and jazz, replete with flute, trombone, decks, and congas. Amid the feel-good jams, I was shocked to hear the theme song to ’60s TV show My Three Sons surface. Does anyone else remember that? Good, good.

On to the EMP Skychurch to catch a glimpse of Seattle quintet Feral Children. They packed the place and their surging, sinewy rock, with its memorable hooks and vocal quirks, triggered thoughts of Mission of Burma and Pixies. Feral Children—keep an ear on them.

At the Wells Fargo stage, Arthur & Yu eked out solemn, pensive folk non-rock. It was kind of dozy, marked by laggard mallet hits on the drums and sedate guitar strums. I felt an urgent need for Battles and some Rockstar Energy Drink, so I strode over to the stage bearing that brand name.

Battles.jpgBattles cause Space Needle to genuflect, by Blush Photo

No contest, Battles ruled this Bumbershoot. Bassist Dave Konopka and guitarists Tyondai Braxton and Ian Williams all hold their weapons high on their chests, and somehow this adds to their nerdy übermenschen appeal. The first song started with Konopka’s momentous bass solo, before the other three joined in to instigate a hard, staccato clamor. Drummer John Stanier sounded way funkier than I recall him ever being. The next track used the sound of a car engine backfiring to create a hypnotic rhythm. Guitar riffs came at us like Taser zaps. Stanier proved himself time and again to be more precise and powerful than any drum machine. I wrote “vital and apocalyptic” in my notebook, the first time those adjectives have been scribbled so close together in my 25 years of music journalism.

Battles2.jpgBattles’ Tyondai Braxton: “Atlas” slugged, by Blush Photo

Battles’ guitarists also play keyboards and both finger their instruments with the sort of pointillist finesse that makes me think of King Crimson’s Robert Fripp and Soft Machine’s Mike Ratledge occupying the same body. (That sound you just heard was all the world’s prog-rock aficionados having multiple orgasms.) They generated thrilling hairpin dynamics and radiant textures, resulting in music that’s paradoxically lean and excessive (in all the right ways).

“Atlas,” of course, provoked the greatest crowd response. A “Rock & Roll Pt. 2” for an advanced alien race, the song is a strange new hybrid of glam, techno, and math rock. Braxton’s heliumized, loop-da-loop vocal acrobatics and a naggingly gripping keyboard motif that inverts the Get Smart theme make this a template for the future of… I’m not sure yet, but it’s damned exciting.

Battles ruled this Bumbershoot with awesome musicianship in the service of innovative ideas. It was as simple—and as complicated—as that.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Monotonix and the 4-Song Set

posted by on September 1 at 11:07 PM

Everyone knew it. The Bumbershoot staff was visibly on edge at the very first note. The Israeli maniacs barely made it through four songs before security pulled the plug, hit the lights up, and demanded the crowd leave the Exhibition Hall. Singer Ami Shalev thanked all for coming, and asked that everyone “please leave happy.” The crowd gobbled up every last bit of merch, like it was made of fried gold.

mono-crazy.jpg Monotonix by Blush Photo

Bumbershoot killed the show because of “crowd surfing” which included one large garbage can. Have other bands been booted? Is playing less than four songs a new Bumbershoot record?

mono-moon.jpg Monotonix by Blush Photo

Monotonix return to Seattle on September 27. The Comet Tavern won’t mind a crowd-surfing garbage can. Also watch Lineout in the next day or so for my video interview. The band makes a plea to Mark Arm of Mudhoney. It may or may not involve crowd surfing.

Don’t Forget: Upload Your Bumbershoot Photos, Win Tickets to Anything*

posted by on September 1 at 2:16 PM

Going to Bumbershoot? Taking pictures? Upload them to the Stranger’s Flickr Pool (don’t forget to tag them Bumbershoot) and you could win tickets to any upcoming Stranger-sponsored event. Wanna go to the VIP Genius party with free food, booze, and music? Wanna go to HUMP! for free? How about Fucked Up at Vera?

15 (or so) of the best photos will be posted Wednesday morning, and Line Out readers will vote for their favorite. The winner will get tickets to any one event of their choosing (age-restrictions apply).

Here are a few stand outs so far…

walkmenflickr.jpgThe Walkmen by mraaronmorris

swilliamsflickr.jpgSaul Williams by kjten22

babyflickr.jpgBumbershoot Baby by laviddichterman

Can’t wait to see what else you guys get! All photos must be uploaded by Tuesday at 5 pm to be considered for the contest. Good luck!

*Anything includes any upcoming Stranger-related event listed on this page, exclusing the Co-Ops Rock show with the National (it’s a benefit, after all).

Lee “Scratch” Perry vs Stone Temple Pilots

posted by on September 1 at 1:40 PM

2818685636_8633fbd87e.jpgLee “Scratch” Perry by Corey Bayless

Lee “Scratch” Perry vs Scott Weiland: Who’s more crazy? Dave Segal makes a convincing case for Perry, who wore lit incense in his hat, rhymed a lot of stuff with his name, riffed on variations of “rub-a-dub dub,” extolled the virtues of marijuana, and just generally looked like Juan the Frye Apartments Guy fronting a dub band. Which is to say: Awesome!

2817024756_558b4ca3c1.jpgStone Temple Pilots by Dagmar Sieglinde

But holy shit, Stone Temple Pilots! Over at Memorial Stadium, the ’90s band was playing in front of some ridiculous screen-saver video backdrop straight outta Windows ‘95—a black and white spiral, some dancing plaid, dots and loops, fucking sunlight refracting underwater! Weiland preened on the monitors and strained his throaty voice against his band’s brutally average stadium “grunge,” spotlit so as to stand out from the flying toasters or whatever the fuck was going on on that screen. They played “Creep.” They played “Plush.” They played a motherfucking version of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” with Weiland mumbling/scatting over languid bass and guitar noodling. It was insane. (Jherek Bischoff and Nick Tamburro from the Dead Science were there, so who knows, maybe their next joint will be a avant rock opera about Velvet Revolver—I would listen to that over Core in a heartbeat.)

Quiet Keys and a Crumbled Temple

posted by on September 1 at 1:15 PM

If you’re going to have a two-man guitar and drum blues band play the main stage you need to get the basic mix right. The guitar is supposed to be leading the way - it can’t be buried in the mix behind the drums and vocals. Some of the Black Keys riffs are huge, Led Zeppelin rock riffs, but a lot of them got lost in the open air. Still, most managed to translate the intensity despite the hushed volume (aside from the guitar the whole thing should have been louder anyway). Regardless, it was great to see such raw chemistry on the main stage. You don’t even miss the rest of a band thanks to the added intimacy of the two person interplay. Watching them transition and work off each other is great entertainment, and right when you might start to drift or lose interest they pull you back in with a building, thumping climax. It’s frustrating when the instrumentation and performance are both stellar but it still sounds bad – and granted, there’s an amount of that you have to expect from a festival show - but this one was kind of a bummer.

Waiting for STP, the floor was a sea of grass, a mighty, stinky cloud wafting into the floodlights. What does a die-hard Stone Temple Pilots fan look like? They’re not as noticable as, say, a die-hard Alice in Chains fan, who most likely still looks exactly the same as they did in 1994. It was impossible to make a stereotype of the leftover STP fan from the people standing around me - were most of these people here just because it’s Bumbershoot, and this was the option they were given? There were plenty of dudes screaming, “STP!” as loud as they could, but also a guy right behind me shouting “My nuts!” over and over and asking everyone around him to give him some weed. I ask the couple standing next to me, probably in their early 40s, why they’re here. “We’re dedicated fans,” says the lady. “We have them on our Ipod.” The man, once obviously wild but now cooled out in his jean jacket, replies with a solemn smirk, “I’m just here to smell pot.”

The band has their giant tour van drive them directly to the side of the stage, and they open with the unforgettable sliding guitar of “Big Empty.” It’s an odd choice to open with such a slow song but everyone knows all the words and chants along. The guitar solo at the end is appallingly lazy and poorly executed. Next they break into “Wicked Garden,” and a totally grunge rainbow lava lamp effect comes up on the screen behind them. The band all seem so tired, like they’re going through the motions, refusing to let this be even the slightest bit of fun. “Big Bang Baby” is a good song on record, but they play it way too slow, and Weiland’s voice is already raspy and weak. When they start “Lady Picture Show” I’ve had enough. This band isn’t even trying to play music, they’re building a retirement fund.

The Saturday Knights

posted by on September 1 at 1:10 PM

2816260365_5baba08dc4.jpgThe Saturday Knights by sonoazure from the Strang Flickr pool

So Kid Sister cancelled right around the time the Stranger’s Bumbershoot Guide was hitting the presses, leaving a big TBA on the printed schedule. A TBA gracefully filled by TSK, who are always, always game to, you know, Mingle. Andrew Matson introduced them, but I was busy making my way over from the Weakerthans. Tilson and Barfly are perfectly complimentary MCs—Tilson all bright cartoonish energy; Barfly all derelict and gruff. Suspence goes beyond DJing and scratching to play tambourine, sing choruses, and destroy every mic stand he can get his hands on. And their backing band, featuring Truckasauras/Foscil’s Tyler Swan sitting in on drums, was rollicking but not overbearing.

The band front-loaded their set hard, kicking off with “45,” and keeping the momentum up through “Count it Off,” “Dog Park,” the pop-singer shout out “Foreign Affair.” The Knights were fun as ever, the ideal summer festival act, hip hop enough for the heads, rock enough for the rest, affable as all hell, working the hometown crowd with easy aplomb. They peaked, though, with a fun, affectionate little flip of the Fleet Foxes “White Winter Hymnal.” First, they played it’s chorus through straight, Tilson singing along, and then Spencer looped the chorus, dropped a beat, and Tilson just murdered it: “I was walking in the snow/I was picking up the snow/Tryin ’ to bag up into kilos/and move it on the block/and buy myself a yacht/to go boating with some rich folks” (those lyrics are a best guess). The keys were a little too loud, drowning out the Fleet Foxes loop, but it was otherwise totally inspired.

Their set dragged a bit after that, as they padded out their hour-long slot with some call-and-response and freestyles, including a flip of Band of Horses’ “The Funeral” and a number sampling the Black Keys, who were playing simultaneously at Memorial Stadium. For the latter song, they were joined by guest MCs Bles One (“I’m gonna murder this weed/smoke it in the first degree”) and Gatsby, who delivered an especially breathless, restless verse. Nothing quite topped that Fleet Foxes grab though. That shit was priceless.

Snakes in the Bass Cave

posted by on September 1 at 12:27 PM

snakes.jpgPhoto by Corey Bayless

The best part about These Arms Are Snakes’ performance at the impressively crowded Exhibition Hall was seeing the young kids lose their shit. I have fond memories of being 13 at Bumbershoot, moshing and crowd surfing for the first time, seeing Beck (Jesus, was I really 13 when he played Bumbershoot for Odelay?). If today’s youth want to rally behind TAAS than good for them. Kids want bands that act like rock stars, and by god Steve Snere loves being a rock star. He spent the better part of the last half of the set in the crowd singing on top of a sea of hands, giving those screaming fans a sweaty Snere stain to remember their first post-hardcore concert. Thanks to the Snakes putting on a great, energetic show, the kids probably didn’t realize or care that the acoustics in that room were a big bassy fart. The band sounded fine until you got further than 30 feet from the stage, then all semblance of mix was lost in the echoing cavern.

Returning later to check out Brother Ali, I stood by the mixing board, and though I was facing the stage and only about 40 yards back it sounded like the show was around the corner in another room. I was frightened and by the albino rapper - it would seem he has good fuel for his rap fire. But I could barely make out any of his words, the bass was dominating and farting, and his beats never did anything interesting. I lasted 3 songs before deciding to waste my time on Stone Temple Pilots. I am not particularly stoked to see three more shows in the Exhibition Hall today.

The Weakerthans

posted by on September 1 at 12:16 PM

2817799103_bb725879cd.jpgWeakerthans by Corey Bayless

Too bad Bumbershoot stuck the Weakerthans in the Exhibition Hall stage. It’s no fun waiting in a long line funneled through a single door to stand in a dark hall while what’s left of the summer is fading outside. Still, the Weakerthans are well worth it.

John K. Samson leads a band that look a little like trade unionists—the Indie Rock Local #446, maybe—and they do deliver their big rock gestures (windmills, synchronized guitar swings) with certain workmanlike charm. Samson introduced “The Reasons” as a “love song to the laborers—it’s still Labor Day, right?” The song was the first of the weekend to give me a little chill, and I wasn’t alone—there was a pretty big crowd for the band; next to me, a gray haired lady smiled and bobbed up and down to the beat, a few rows back a guy was mouthing along to the lyrics. At times, the crowd seemed unable to contain their enthusiasm, breaking into inappropriate applause during breaks in the songs or tried (in the usual, rhythm-impaired Seattle way) to clap along in time to songs too quiet for that kind of treatment. The next song, “Tournament of Hearts” was dedicated to “all the curlers” in the world, most of them in Canada.

Samson is just one of the finest lyricists working in indie rock these days, and song after song—”Benediction,” “Reconstruction Site,” “Aside,” “Left and Leaving”— proved it better than any excerpts here possibly could. “Reconstruction Site” sounded especially sweet, with its lines about “a float in a summer parade” and its bridge about the little boy falling asleep on “the long ride home,” wondering about how everyone dies someday. “Left and Leaving“‘s bridge, “I wait in 4/4 time” was another chill-inducing moment. But their sped-up performance of “Confessions of a Futon Revolutionist” was undoubtedly the giddy, geeky highlight for me. They ended with “Plea From a Cat Named Virtue” and “(Manifest)” from Reconstruction Site—the cat song was, of course, a big hit. Anarchists, trade unionists, laborers, curlers, and otherwise—everybody loves an anthropomorphized housecat. They added some goofy guitar noodling to the bridge, Samson jokingly made the mic stand squeak during the song’s most quiet part, one of the guitarists knocked his baseball cap off windmilling too hard. The Weakerthans might not be the most impressive band of the weekend, but they’re a perfectly reliable, proletarian pleasure—easily my day’s highlight.

OMG Myspace is Sooo Funny

posted by on September 1 at 12:11 PM


The premise for the “Myspace Show” isn’t as dumb as the name might imply. It’s an improv comedy act much like Upright Citizens Brigade’s Asssscat (and even features UBS’s Matt Walsh), but instead of basing the improv on a monologue this show gets audience members to show their Myspace profiles on a big screen and while being interviewed by Human Giant’s Paul Scheer, then the details of the page and discussion are turned into long-form impromptu comedy. The first guy that’s picked from the audience turns out to be a minor celebrity himself, a guy by the name of Craig Slike who was “the Mole” on the ABC reality show of the same name. In his interview, Scheer uncovers that Craig has been to the Playboy mansion 5 times and has lots of juicy stories, and that he gave someone the Heimlich in a restaurant the other day, and that he blah blah boring blah blah the whole thing starts to turn into this sincere interview with this grasping non-celeb who is more than happy to have a few hundred people pay attention to him. The whole idea behind this show is to rip on a normal person’s Myspace page, not let some former reality star get on stage and talk himself up for ten minutes. Silke does a good job convincing the audience he’s important - the kid sitting next to me remarks, “This guy’s probably the most famous person here.” I can’t help but think it’s some kind of shitty publicity stunt, but the comedians seem as surprised as anybody that this dude isn’t just anybody, he’s some sort of “somebody.” Thankfully, as soon as the interview ends the rest of the comedians come back on stage and pull off some truly impressive live comedy. UCB does some amazing stuff, but they haven’t been on their A-game at Washington festivals recently: their set at Sasquatch was ruined by Mike Patton and some of their imporv at last year’s Bumbershoot was a bit of a flop. But this show is one of those instances when everything fit together perfectly, with the comedians brilliantly managing to include every last detail of Silke’s ego-patting interview into a non-stop barrage of jokes. Improv comedy requires a unique set of skills, and Paul Scheer and Rob Huemel from Human Giant won big points in my book after demonstrating how funny they can be on the fly. If you’re going to the festival Monday, they are well worth checking out at 4:30 at the Charlotte Martin stage.

Bumbershoot, Day 2: “I am a madman, yay!”

posted by on September 1 at 11:28 AM

Random observation/newsflash: There are a lotta effin’ white people up in this piece.

Now on with our regularly scheduled B-shoot wrap-up.

Howlin Rain are first on my agenda today, and from song one, the northern California quintet unapologetically fling us all back to 1970 with rock so elemental and soulful they could be pushing a particularly virulent strain of Christian fundamentalism and I wouldn’t give a damn. Front man Ethan Miller (Comets on Fire) finesses out ululating, whammy-barred solos with lumberjack force while Joel Robinow’s Nord Electro 2 swells provide Howlin Rain’s crucial foundation and swirling embellishments. Punk never happened for Howlin Rain and the crowd’s quite all right with that.

Howlin Rain’s Ethan Miller pours it on. Photos by Corey Bayless.

Set highlight “Lord Have Mercy” climaxed with a deity-summoning raveup and feral, snarling solo from Miller, evoking what Blue Cheer would sound like if laced with the Allman Brothers Band’s DNA. Howlin Rain go right up to the precipice of masturbatory hard-rock excess, but peel back before plummeting into Spinal Tap-esque parody.

After the set, a white guy who probably hadn’t yet reached drinking age said, “I was waiting for demons to pop up. Man, that was loud. I got good hearing. I gotta save it for Stone Temple Pilots.” He was doing so well for a while there…

Over at Fisher Green stage, eight members of Orgone were laying down the kind of funk and afrobeat that keeps our species alive and vital. A particularly spirited, cowbell-intensive rendition of Manu Dibango’s “Soul Makossa” made me think that it should be adopted by Obama posthaste as his theme song. You know, for that extra push late in the campaign.

Orgone transitioned from song to song without pauses for a half dozen tracks, making seamless segues, as if they were their own DJs. It’s awesome. When vocalist Fanny Franklin entered the fray, things moved into a more conventional Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings soul-funk revue mode. “Seattle, are you on the grass?” Franklin asks with a double entendre so obvious I’m surprised I haven’t heard it before. It is established that, yes, Seattle is indeed on the grass.

2817250434_bc7fe294a5_m.jpgOrgone percussionist Stewart Killen

Orgone are a well-oiled funk/afrobeat machine, ideal for outdoor summer fests (although it felt more like fall Sunday) and percussionist Stewart Killen was a motherfucker on his diverse kit. During one Fela Kuti-esque joint, a dad held his infant daughter aloft as if she were flying as he wove through the throng. (Don’t worry, she had headphones on.) Cutest thing at Bumbershoot… maybe ever. But pops should’ve waited till Orgone covered “I Get Lifted.” Just sayin’…

I was pumped to see Brother Ali, the greatest albino Muslim rapper of our time, but I mistakenly figured that Exhibition Hall would by now have solved its worst-sounding-venue-in-the-world issues. Not the case. All definition from all frequencies of the sound spectrum are lost in the vast rectangle of hard surfaces here.

Nevertheless, Ali had the large, largely youthful crowd (the power of Rhymesayers empire surely has elevated his profile) eating out of his very pale hands from jump. If Brother Ali had commanded his fans to piss into the mouth of the person next to him/her, everyone would be gargling urine within seconds. Ali’s stage presence is authoritative without being thuggishly macho and his voice has a confident, Ice Cube-like timbre to it. He fearlessly speaks truth to power and delivers affecting personal tales, too. What a shame that “Uncle Sam Goddamn,” one of the best tracks of 2007, was neutered in this nuance-nullifying box.

I bounced outta there to check Lee “Scratch” Perry at Fisher Green. He came on about 20 minutes late, donning a silver glitter hat with incense sticks burning on its crown. The 72-year-old dub-producer legend now emphasizes his crazy ol’ front-man persona over sonic invention. Perry’s backing band—the White Belly Rats—play their stadium dub with supreme competence, but much of the set tonight seemed dead in the ass (even the Bob Marley covers, brah) and Lee’s onstage patter and lyrics inspired more head-shaking than admiration.

Lee “Scratch” Perry: mad as a hatter

I am a madman, yay!” went the refrain from one track. Other lyrics reflected on partying and young pussy, with “Pum Pum” containing this gem: “Pussy may come, pussy may go, but Jesus Christ remain”; whatever you say, boss. Check the video for the track on his MySpace for some serious creepiness.

The most cogent thing Perry said all night was, “Let’s ban cigarettes and legalize ganja in Seattle.” He exited the stage with, “We gotta have some peace.” Right?


posted by on September 1 at 11:15 AM

2817132258_20654bdaa4.jpgTI by Dagmar Sieglinde

Memorial Stadium was pretty packed for TI’s afternoon set yesterday. The sun was beating down, and from up in the bleachers it looked like people were spontaneously combusting, there were so many plumes of fragrant smoke rising out of the crowd. People managed to reek up a goddamn open air stadium, which I think says a lot about how dedicated yesterday’s Bumbershooters were to having a good time.

TI was also dedicated to providing the good time, as were his two hypmen and DJ Drama of the Gangsta Grillz series. The King started with “Beat Down Low,” and the bass in the Stadium—apparently responsible for muddying Beck to all shit last night—resounded and rumbled all the way up to the cheap seats. He played maybe 30 seconds of the giddy “Rubber Band Man,” letting the crowd sing it before cutting it off to play “Ride Wit Me.” (Spotted at TI: Saul Williams in civilian drag, Aziz Ansari and Paul Scheer, some music critics.) TI did “Da Dopeman,” whose chorus Jeff Kirby claims to have written years ago. He (TI not Jeff) talked about how nothing short of a casket was going to keep him offstage, how all the people who were talking about how he was done clearly “don’t know me.” He launched into “You Don’t Know Me,” to huge applause. For his next song, he asked if there were any ladies in the house, and then Drama set off a chain of gunfire/explosion noises—as if to say, “Are there any ladies in the audience? Because I will blow your asses away (with love).” He rapped his spot from “Love in This Club.” He did “Bring ‘Em Out,” Swizz Beats’ ridiculous rave whistles trilling through the arena, setting off waves of pogoing and raised hands. He did his part from “Superstar” in between two rounds of the song’s limp blue-eyed soul chorus, and it seemed like you could hear TI nailing his cadences but you couldn’t really pick out his rhymes, just the inflections on the beat.

He dedicated the mawkishly literal “Live in the Sky” to Big, Pac, Jammaster Jay, and everyone in the crowd who’s lost someone they love. He took his shirt off for “Do U Potna” and “Big Things Poppin’” (Larry Mizell: “Shirt’s off, it’s business time”). He did a speech about everyone’s responsibility and obligation to register to vote, about the size and sway of the hip hop generation and how it has to change the laws to reflect their needs (he didn’t endorse a candidate, though). Then he played “What You Know?” Rather than end on that highpoint, though, he did another slow jam for the ladies, offfering that if anyone in the audience’s boyfriends weren’t giving them what they needed, that TI would he happy to take care of them (presumably by having Drama blow them up); they kicked into “Whatever You Like”—girls literally ran towards the stage.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

!!! (Chk Chk Chk if You’re Google)

posted by on August 31 at 12:26 PM

2815354502_f64711029c.jpg!!! by Kelly O

There was, for me, no conflict whatsoever about skipping Beck to watch !!! last night. Despite the jabs at Beck’s Fluxus-friendly faith in the Stranger’s Bumbershoot Guide, I don’t have anything against the guy as an entertainer—and he is one hell of an entertainer. I even like a lot of his music; it’s just been several years since he’s made a record that would get me to brave the Memorial Stadium crowd (where, btw, I heard the sound was ass for his set). Really, the choice was simple: somewhere in the Stadium and craning my neck at Beck, or right up front dancing my ass off to !!!? Easy.

2815356510_6b8c03cd3e.jpg!!! by Kelly O

!!!, though, are not quite the band I remembered. They’ve been through some line-up changes lately, losing both sometimes vocalist John Pugh (now with electro funk duo Free Blood) and mixer/musician extraordinaire Justin Van Der Volgen, who’s doing who-knows-what, as well as their whole horn section. Seattle expat Shannon Funchess has replaced Pugh on vocals, and while she brings a lot of style and some serious pipes to the mix, it’s still a very different animal than !!!’s old, sprawling, brass-enhanced disco beast. The horns are made up for with the addition of more keyboards and effects, although often the band just plays stripped down to percussion, bass, guitar, and vocals. Frontman Nic Offer responding to some audience request by saying their new drummer didn’t know how to play that song, in fact, he said, “He doesn’t know how to play any of the songs we don’t like playing!” The same audience member must have asked Offer to strip, because he then said, “You take your clothes off…So don’t ask for something you can’t give. You can’t play ‘Intensify,’ either!” He remains a deeply funny dude, but it was definitely a bummer that the band didn’t break out old hits like “Me & Giuliani Down by the Schoolyard (A True Story)” or “Intensify.”

Offer wouldn’t have had much clothing to take off anyway, though, as he was just wearing short shorts, a t-shirt, and some slip-ons. Another band member was wearing shorts but had towels duct taped around his legs. It seemed like these guys were as surprised by the screeching halt of Seattle’s summer as the rest of us. But Offer said that while he was freezing backstage, he was feeling fine up on stage, and indeed after a couple songs, with the crowd dancing and pogoing and just generally causing friction, things warmed up nicely. (A note to the people who stand right up front for a dance band, don’t dance, and then look aghast every time some reveler nudges into them a tiny bit: Kindly fuck off. I don’t dance in the front row for Neko Case, don’t bum my party for !!!.)

In fact, all the non-dancers must’ve kindly fucked off, because a few songs into the set, the whole crowd (at least as far as I could see) was moving. Highlights of the set included Yadnus,” “Must Be the Moon,” “Heart of Hearts,” and whatever song they played off their first album (“Feel Good Hit of the Fall”? “Kookooka Fuk-U”? I forget). Also fine if not outstanding were the handful of new songs the band played out; no new anthems on the level of their old hits, but everything sounded groovy enough, playing well to the band’s new strengths (ie, synths and Funchess). (A side note: the band’s new lineup, with the synths and all, really made me miss Outhud and hope that they might strike some of those style grooves in their new stuff. They don’t, and I can’t help but wonder if their new stuff might sound more that way if Van Der Volgen was still on board.)

2815356106_4404194666.jpg!!! by Kelly O

The best moment by far, though, was when Funchess had them bring the stage lights all the way down and told the crowd to imagine they were at a rave (“You ever been to a rave?”) an hour or so outside of Seattle with a couple thousand of their closest friends. And with the lights down and the whole crowd moving, it sure as hell felt like a renegade massive in the middle of a field rather than a big, caged-in music festival. After that party there was just no question of whether I was going to try to catch the last few songs of Beck—there was no way it could have been anything but a let-down.

Bum, Brrrrr, Shoot! Day One

posted by on August 31 at 12:25 PM

During my walk to the Bumbershoot entrance, I caught some of Lucinda Williams’ set wafting out of Memorial Stadium; her warm, familiar, folk rock undoubtedly went down a treat with the menopausal/annual-prostate-exam/NPR-listening demo.

Credentials secured, I beelined to the Fisher Green Stage to catch Nino Moschella and Darondo. Moschella and his bi-racial troupe did 30 minutes of feel-good funk, topped by Nino’s Jamie Lidell-esque white-boy soul vox. It was all very sly and stoned. “We all just wanna love on ya,” the percussionist unctuously announced at one point.

Then Darondo came out for the final half hour, duded out in shiny bronze zoot suit and suspenders and white chapeau. After a mic mishap during the first song, “How I Got Over,” things went smoothly for the sexagenarian sex machine. An obscure soul singer who’s enjoying a late career revival thanks to UK DJ Gilles Peterson and Ubiquity Records’ Luv N’ Haight imprint, Darondo comes on like a raunchier Al Green. His spiel about fellas using whipped cream and cherries on their ladies for romantic/carnal enhancement slayed the crowd. “It might get a little wet down there,” D cautioned. “Don’t worry about that.”


Darondo: Suspendered, animated. Photo by Kelly O.

Darondo closed his show with the lewdicrously [sic] funky “Legs (Part 1).” But before breaking into this molten track, he explained, “Radio wouldn’t play this because they said it was too… lacificus? What’s that word?” he asked Moschella. “Lacificus,” his mate replied. Comedy.

Afterward, I happened upon five African dudes from multiple generations playing myriad percussion implements. They were effortlessly mesmerizing and I tossed a Washington into their bucket. I doubt I’ll witness a more pure, joyful display of art all festival.

Continue reading "Bum, Brrrrr, Shoot! Day One" »

Saul Williams vs Man Man

posted by on August 31 at 11:50 AM

Saul Williams by Kjten22 from the Stranger Flickr Pool

Estelle vs the Walkmen wasn’t the only conflict yesterday, it was just the only one I’d worried about beforehand. Indeed, having seen Saul Williams’ Black Bowie/Native American Alien thing at SXSW this year, and having never seen Man Man, I hadn’t planned to catch Williams yesterday at all. But then I was there at the Fisher Green stage with a friend who was way amped for the set, and Williams’ band started making a fantastic noise, all digital buzzing and beat mulching, tinny and sharp and totally at odds with the prevailing feel-good festival vibe, and I thought maybe I’d check out a few songs. They came out to the stage one at a time—bright, primary color attired drum machinist followed by tinfoil spaceman guitarist followed by futurist Blackula keyboardist followed by Mr Tardust himself, with young child also with neon green feather hanging in the back/wings of the stage (a friend: it’s like Bad Brains on Halloween). He dedicate the set to Chief Seattle, which is way cooler than the average, “What’s up, Shelbyville.” I mentioned it at SXSW, but it’s worth repeating, the rock band thing is a great look for Williams, who clearly enjoys the fuck out of playing the rockstar (and I say playing not because he’s not a legitimate rock star, but because he plays the part with a serious dramatic flair, climbing the rafter, striking the stances, etc). His band, too, rocks the shit of their not very “rock” gear, the drum machinist especially, standing on his table of gear, pounding then stomping on his MPC. Remember digital hardcore? It’s back. There was, of course, the usual Seattle festival dissonance when an African American gets radical on stage—the sea of white kids fist-pumping along to lyrics about Malcom X (see also: Dead Prez at the Evergreen State College)—but that hardly diminished the powerful performance.

2813748914_6d856106ff.jpgMan Man by Kelly O

Over at the Broad Street Lawn, Man Man were like a reverse image of Williams: all white dudes in all white attire with all white faux native face-paint. Casual listens have yet to land any of the band’s albums in my regular music rotation, but holy hell do these guys kill it live, upping the percussion to turn their boozy/drugged carnivalesque songs into a wildly unhinged dance party. Also, watching the band impressed upon me something that I realized when watching their Philly brethren Pink Skull (while we’re on Man Man’s Philly family, can I also say a kind word about Need New Body? They had a jam back in the day) back at Nectar not too long ago—these guys aren’t fucking around, or they are but they’re also seriously good musicians, playing saxophone for one bar then hitting percussion for the next, hitting the drums in an off-kilter mess like Animal from the Muppets while still keeping time, murdering the piano while still barking out vocals. I’ll be revisiting my Man Man records, although I’m still not sure I’ll ever want to put them on at a dinner party, but I’ll definitely be at their next Seattle show.

The Walkmen vs Estelle

posted by on August 31 at 11:48 AM

This was the one head-to-header yesterday that I really struggled with ahead of time. On the one hand, Estelle, an up and coming R&B singer with a Kanye-dusted summer hit, “American Boy.” On the other, the Walkmen, a studiously trad East Coast rock band with one amazing anthem, “The Rat,” now several years behind them. Turns out I watched a little of both and wasn’t too impressed by either.

2814639916_d4e6393cd5.jpgThe Walkmen by Corey Bayless

The Walkmen are a perfectly fine rock band—not “fine” like jewelry or china, but “fine” like “whatever.” They played the excellent ballad “In the New Year” from their latest, You & Me, and it sounded great, instruments swaying and serenading as if at some NYC/Old World sidewalk cafe, singer Hamilton Leithauser’s voice strained and striking the notes just so. Leithauser, it should be noted, has a name that makes him sound like some minor heir, and from afar he has kind of a James Spader from Pretty in Pink look (if you wanted to be a dick, you might imagine him going boating with the Vampire Weekend kids). Damn, was the Broad Street Lawn crowded, though—standing room only, right up to the paved walkway, and with lines in the beer garden so long you’d expect Eugene Mirman to be doing stand up at the end of them. The crowd was enough to keep me from waiting around for “the Rat,” so if anyone with more fortitude than I was there, did they play it?

2813879978_f41bcf803e.jpgEstelle by Kelly O

The Fisher Pavillion’s rooftop beer garden was far more pleasant, although from up there Estelle didn’t seem too remarkable, even with a full band and three backup singer/dancers. Her voice is clearly competent, as was her band, and she’s certainly young, pretty, and stylish enough for Youtube (insert tired rant re: MTV/playing music videos here), but I can’t help but agree with a fellow beer gardener who said she should just “bring Kanye West out” already.


posted by on August 31 at 11:27 AM

2813701099_858ea60752.jpgGrynch and D.Black by Corey Bayless

Late pass me, guys: Yesterday was the first time I caught an entire set from Grynch, who impressed the hell out of me with his guest spot with the Physics at this year’s Capitol Hill Block Party. On that big stage, from up in the beer garden on top of Fisher Pavillion, Grynch looked tiny. Tinier than usual. But he and DJ Nphared sounded plenty big. The beats were big and bass-heavy enough to rumble the lawn, and Grynch more than makes up for his slight physical stature with energy, breath, and deftness on the mic. An Eminem comparison is probably lazy and racist, but on at least one song, rapping about how he doesn’t look the part of a rapper and maybe he should try acting, Grynch’s self-aware humor and tongue-twisting punch-lines definitely reminded of that other white meat. Most of the time, though, Grynch had plenty of his own style, especially on the breezy 206 summer ode “Summertime” and the appropriately aggressive “When the Beast Comes Out,” which was like a battle rap only with no takers. Also good was a little a cappella interlude in which Grynch, in a sure-footed cadence, acknowledged his local buzz while examining his less than monumental place in the larger rap scheme of things, concluding that, in that world, he “still ain’t shit.” Has Seattle evolved its own definitive hip hop style yet? If so, that shrewd, comic self-deprecating stance (so “alt”) certainly must be a part of it.

Throw Me the Statue

posted by on August 31 at 11:04 AM

I tried to make it down to Bumbershoot a 12:30 yesterday for Throw Me the Statue, but a late brunch date and a slow, ass-packed bus delayed me until about 12:45. So I only caught half of the band’s set, but from what I saw it was another fine, if not exceptional, performance from them. The Juno-60 and the the kick drum seemed a little loud from where I was standing, and the band might have missed a couple marks, Scott Rietherman’s next line not quite landing on the final beat of the preceding drum fill. But then, it was just past noon.

“Young Sensualists” sounded great as always, really accelerated by live drumming; “Yucatan Gold” also benefitted from a live percussive intro. Their regular horn section was on hand for a couple songs (one or two of these horn players would reappear later with the Walkmen and Man Man). Throw Me the Statue played a couple new songs, “Parade,” which they debuted at Capitol Hill Block Party, and another one, no name, that they had just written as part of a week-long EP recording session which they said they were halfway finished with. This debut was less impressive than “Parade,” key-heavy and mellow, without a big (or really any recognizable) chorus and with none of the former’s grand guitar sweep. The time-slot and the so-so show may have made for not the greatest introduction for any Bumbershooters seeing the band for the first time, but they still have one of the best albums with many of the best songs to come out of Seattle in the past year; here’s hoping they sort out that EP.