The first annual Macefield Music Festival took place in Ballard Saturday night. It was well curated, sparsely attended and overall a nice time. Enamored with the bill of hiphop meets electronic, I spent most of my time at the Sunset—here’s some of what I observed:
The organically grown ambience of Kid Smpl was a fitting digestif to the dinner of porkbelly and cornbread I had at Bitteroot. He performed a patient set of electronica next to an assistant who produced visuals on a screen behind them. With vocal samples slowed and throwed, and bass that oozed like cold molasses, his set settled like comfort food for a few people at the Sunset. I’d previously only heard him on Soundcloud, and I realized how captivating a live performance could be when his 45 minute set came to a close what seemed like hours after it began.
Vox Mod's set was the opposite of the electronic spectrum—solo, sans visuals. He thrashed about above his sampler, layering chords one on top of another until they toppled in a heap of beats. His version of electronic music plays like a time lapse film of growth and decay—seedling bleeps sprout, flourish into lush harmonic frequencies, then decay into black nutritious soul and eventually stardust before your ears, to stunning effect. My date noted perhaps the most intriguing point of the composers work saying “It’s clear he’s not using his music to work through dark issues, his energy is all positive.” I get the feeling watching him that the crowd could be three or 30,000 and he’d play with the same verve. His own movement, plus his set from Syn-aesthetic, and recently released remix of Gems' "Earl Over Ocracoke" got a few other people moving.
In keeping with the best and the brightest theme, based luminary Keyboard Kid showed and pulled a set from a laptop and drum machine—it dropped 16-bit samples mixed with cult movie clips like rain. His now legendary #Based production presented in a live setting immediately inspired people to do the cooking dance, shake hands, hug, and talk.
As the crowd thickened, I took a break from my music watching marathon down at MiroTea for a pot of oolong, and stayed a bit too long as I missed Key Nyata’s short set.
It was with the sophisticated strategy of a battlefield general that Moor Gang man Jarv Dee showed up about the time that people began feeling the effects of bar hopping all afternoon. Jackin Jarv’s work has all the appeal of West Coast G-funk, inextricably tangled in golden era East Coast lyricism (not to mention his helium high voice is so distinct). Taking the stage with Moor Gang/Cloud Nice associate Jerm and a laptop, Jarv Dee worked through most of his Dopamine album and most definitely broke the dance floor loose with jams like "Klingon," "Dopamine," and "I Just Wanna."
ILLFIGHTYOU took the stage one member short and suffered equipment issues that kept the beat cutting out through their set, but the setbacks only really contributed to my image of them as perhaps Seattle’s best new punk band. Irreverent in speech but sanctified in beats, KHRIS P plays the perfect producer and partner rapper to UGLYFRANK’s hijinx. Wild in his eyes when sober, UGLYFRANK was clearly on, well, something as he frequently left the stage to walk in the crowd, stood on the stacks to rap, beat the mirror ball on the ceiling like a punching bag, rant at the crowd (and his own manager) and generally go SIDVICIOUS on the scene. But let it be noted (if only for his own edification), drunk as he was he never missed a beat. While raw in form, the band is clearly, as it was put it to me, “full of raw talent.” Sometimes live music endears, heals, attracts, or gives feels, and sometimes it wakes you up by scaring the shit out of you —that’s ILLFIGHTYOU.