"It was an all ages show, and it was PACKED. Everyone was sweaty as hell. It was a great mix of different styles of people... punks, skinheads, hipsters. I even saw a guy with Axl Rose hair, with the bandana and the long straight blonde hair, with the center parted. The crowd was rowdy and yelling along, and Zach Hill (the drummer) was on point as always, playing at a blistering speed and sweating like crazy. He recently cut all his hair off so it makes for a very different experience watching him now without his hair whipping around. It's a lot more intense when you can see his every expression! The singer Stefan was really engaging, swaying around and raising his hands up, alternating between screaming into the mic and repeating low guttural raps. It was quite an experience. They ended pretty early, around 11. No encore as far as I know... but a great show!"
When we first encountered Jordan Cook (better known as Reignwolf), he was huffing and puffing and blowing down Neumos and Barboza at Block Party. He made "crazy sex eyes" at the audience at Bumbershoot, leaving an army of Reignpups in his wake. And if that weren't badass enough, he played the fucking Laserdome during City Arts Fest. Cook may have been born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, but as far as Seattle is concerned, this guy's one of us.
Before they hit the road to start their first U.S. tour, Cook and Co. had to have one last hurrah in Seattle, and they couldn't have chosen a better venue than The Neptune. As smoke poured out the fog machines, the electric blue eyes of several Poseidon heads pierced the gloom. Then the wolf himself emerged and let out of a howl of "I said OLD MAN..." And the guitar-shredding and bass-drum-stomping began.
Whitney Petty of The Grizzled Mighty
But before Cook made his grand entrance, we were treated to some solid opening entertainment courtesy of local acts The Grizzled Mighty and The Young Evils. The former's bluesy brand of garage rock complemented Reignwolf's sound, and with their hair flying in their faces, Ryan Granger andy Whitney Petty looked like they had been bitten by werewolves themselves. These young performers aren't exactly grizzled, but my, are they mighty. Granger made two epic jumps off the bass drum, while Petty held down the beat even when she jumped out of her seat. Plus, one of their crash cymbals was kinked completely out of shape. If that isn't hardcore, I don't know what is.
A couple days ago, The Atlantic published this article by Jonathan Fitzgerald, who claims that sincerity - not irony - is "the ethos of our age." (How...ironic.) Now, hipster culture has seemed fairly ubiquitous to me for a while, but when Fitzgerald pointed to the success of "ultra-sincere indie artists from Arcade Fire to Vampire Weekend," his argument started making a lot of sense. Just look at some of this year's breakthrough artists: Kendrick Lamar, who paints a revealing portrait of his childhood in Compton on his latest LP, good kid, m.A.A.d city; Death Grips, who challenged their record label, Epic, so they could release an album on their own terms; Cloud Nothings, whose anthemic cries of "I thought! I would! Be more! Than this!" echo through the minds of their peers, the twenty-somethings coming to terms with post-recession America.
Perhaps it's because everybody's being so sincere these days, or because the folk genre has always attracted candid men and women - except Phil Ochs, who preferred to be ironic - but one thing is for sure: Sera Cahoone is one of the most genuine songwriters I've encountered in a while. Nothing says "sincerity" like playing an intimate set in a record store with only your pedal steel guitarist to accompany you, singing things like "Feeling hopeless tonight / It seems to happen all the time / What do you want from me? You know / Because I'm feeling naked." "Naked," like most of the songs on Cahoone's latest effort, Deer Creek Canyon, is about feeling vulnerable - and that's just what she was at Sonic Boom yesterday afternoon. When she sings "I'll be alright, but I'm a nervous wreck," we believe her.
Yesterday on the radio I had an in-studio session with the Internet—the completely unpretentious yolo-age neo-soul group led by the Lisa Bonet-chill Syd Tha Kyd and the far-out, fat-fingered East Point ex-pat Matt Martianz—who's Purple Naked Ladies and Frank Ocean's kinda not-since-Voodoo-type classic Channel Orange were the superbly kicked-back, wryly-written cream of Odd Future's 2012. To the people who, in 2011, became some of OF's most overzealous fans and haters, this music was hella not the future they imagined for the crew founded by Tyler, the Creator.
I also was visited in the studio by the core of the Sportn' Life Records familia, and in the center was Nissim, the artist formerly known as D.Black (and, once upon a time, Danger). I debuted his new solo song "Ricochet," released just today:
Then there's the SnL supergroup that includes him, Fatal Lucciauno, Spaceman and Larry Hawkins—their name is My Life My Love. I really like this name, not to mention life, and (especially) love—which I saw and felt as in the studio yesterday, and which (as someone told me yesterday) we need right now. They released a strong new Vitamin D-produced song a second ago off of their upcoming self-titled EP, and are performing at Sportn' Life's ten year anniversary party at Barboza on Wednesday, along with the rest of the roster, including Fly Moon Royalty. FMR's dessert-first sweet "Birthday Song" from their May 2012 Dimensions EP is suited to the occasion (and would, for that matter, sound great in a commercial for diamonds—that's a freebie).
Early this morning, I returned from The Internet's show with Kingdom Crumbs at the Crocodile (which I'm still buzzing from) and perused the internet—the closest thing that a whole lot of a whole generation seem to liken to an inalienable right and spiritual force ("Thank you Based God" - Al Gore). Through it, all things flow, right? So somehow I got to "Nissim," a large tune off of Breakthrough, the Gaslamp Killer's first studio album:
The internet also told me a few meanings of "Nissim"—which, oddly enough, kinda reminded me of the internet, or the universe, or what have you, all over again.
by Josh Bis
on Sun, Nov 18, 2012 at 2:11 PM
Winding down his U.S. solo tour for a sold out hometown crowd, Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard played to a (mostly) reverently attentive crowd Friday night at the Showbox. In his words, it was a "coffee shop vibe with a rockshow audience" that remained so silent between songs that he could, for the first time, hear the gentle flushing of toilets in the men's bathroom from the stage's cozy singer-songwriter setup (rug, steaming cup of tea, music stand).
This is not to say that the audience wasn't vocally appreciative upon recognition of favorite songs. The main set was bookended by Postal Service hits: opener "Such Great Heights" and closer "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight" elicited squeals of delight. Though I wouldn't have minded a special surprise guest appearance (perhaps Jimmy Tamborello could've been Skyped in?), Gibbard was more than capable of carrying the show on the merits of just his own voice and either acoustic guitar or upright piano to a room filled with so many scarves, caps, and sweaters. Because I didn't really follow Death Cab for Cutie into the dark and haven't dug into this year's solo album, about half the songs weren't super familiar to me. Along with DCFC staples, there was an ode to the Smith Tower accompanied by a pledge about never leaving again, a beatboxed explosion symbolizing a certain lack of box office success for Arthur remake soundtrack entry "When the Sun Goes Down," and a special bonus for-northwest-shows-only cover of Screaming Trees's "Bed of Roses." The show ended with an encore grab bag—"A Lack of Color" from Transatlanticism, upbeat/sad juxtapositing "Hard One to Know" from Former Lives, recently repurposed Dell-selling (and personal favorite) "You Remind Me of Home" from the 2007 Andrew Keny split EP, and then the mysteriously-adored "I Will Follow You Into the Dark" to send everyone off, satisfied by a chillaxy show, into the still early evening.
by Dave Segal
on Mon, Oct 22, 2012 at 1:11 PM
Bitch Magnet: Such primadonnas.
Bitch Magnet, perhaps the finest grunge band east of the Rockies during the late ’80s, played a very solid reunion show last night at Neumos to a sparse crowd; the club brought down the red curtain of failure while keeping the space chilled to meat-locker temps—sucks to have to applaud with gloves, you know?
Playing their first US show in 22 years, the unassuming trio tore through a dozen songs (see setlist after the jump) pulled from their three torqued, taut, and nuanced anthems for introverts: Ben Hur, Umber, and Star Booty. They encored with their best song, the solemnly majestic “Sea of Pearls,” and then brought on Mudhoney screamer Mark Arm for a cover of Minor Threat’s concise punk blast “Filler.”
Mark Arm joins the Magnet to tackle Minor Threat's "Filler." Pandemonium inexplicably didn't ensue.
Still classy and humble after all these years, Bitch Magnet mostly gave the appreciate crowd what they wanted—except they didn’t do “Knucklehead,” their second best song. I wish more bands would consult with me before they make their setlists.
by Dave Segal
on Wed, Oct 17, 2012 at 3:00 PM
With a feed of the presidential debate flashing behind them, Faust played another set at the Comet that came off like a slight remix of their Monday night performance—which was astounding. We got the rocks in the cement mixer percussive effect, the chainsaw throwing sparks in the large barrel, more chainsaw tearing through a hand-painted Styrofoam board (sending flakes everywhere again, flakes that will take months to clean from the Comet’s curtains and equipment), and another batch of classic Faust tracks—“Mamie Is Blue,” “Meadow Meal,” “Krautrock,” “It’s a Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl”— played with insouciant brio. It was cool of Faust to add “Munic/Yesterday” from 71 Minutes of Faust to the repertoire and lovely to see drummer Zappi march around the club while ratatat-ing a snare held by keyboardist Geraldine Swayne for the intro to "En Veux - Tu Des Effets, En Voilà." [See video after the jump.]
One thing hardly anyone talks about when they talk about Faust is how utterly groovy and tensile some of their bass lines are. It’s time we recognized Jean-Hervé Péron as an übermensch on the instrument. The other thing that needs to be said is that “Krautrock” is one of the most powerful and transcendent songs ever—surf rock in which lava replaces water as sonic inspiration.
The main difference Tuesday night was Midday Veil/Hair and Space Museum members Emily Pothast and David Golightly’s altered-reality filtering of the Obama-Romney debate. They colorized and solarized the town-hall meeting with garish hues that vibrated with sarcastic vigor and made this “important” event look like an absurd charade. [Insert obligatory "women in binders" joke here.]
While Tuesday night's show didn't hit me with the mighty impact of Monday's, it was another thrilling trawl through the absurdist splendor and splatter of rock mavericks still thrashing hard after 42 years in the game.
by Dave Segal
on Tue, Oct 16, 2012 at 2:10 PM
One thing about which I feel confident: This Faust tour is going to be more exciting than the Beach Boys’ 50th-anniversary victory lap. But first some words on the openers.
Seattle’s Dull Knife—joined by Portland-based synth master Jamie Potter of Brother Raven—magicked out some nocturnal forest drones. It was a chilling display of uneasy listening that at times sounded like an oblique homage to Spacemen 3’s cover of Suicide’s “Che.” Two busted thumbs up.
Midday Veil were on fire. They began with three new songs written with new drummer Garrett Moore (also in Brain Fruit). “All Night Drive” evoked the beginning of Pink Floyd’s “Careful With That Axe, Eugene,” gradually unfurling into a gorgeous floating aura before accelerating to a martial stomp that was festooned with David Golightly’s celestial synthesizer swirls. “Empire Is No More” featured lots of shaker action and a Lumerians-like space-boogie churn and then broke into a controlled freakout/rave-up. “Brute Force” was epic stadium psychedelia, another song that bodes well for future Midday Veil releases (they still need to put out the in-the-can The Current, by the way; talk about being on a creative roll). They finished with “The Current” and “Choreia,” playing with the greatest intensity I’ve ever witnessed from them. Ex-MV drummer Chris Pollina sat in on the last track while Moore pounded out rimshots. These songs were demonic and transporting. Midday Veil possess a new vigor and a grip of fresh material that make me think they’ll be playing larger venues in the near future.
Finally, Faust! They are the polar opposite of a legendary band resting on its laurels and grinding out crowd favorites with workmanlike polish. No, Faust are still wild and unpredictable, even with only two original members in the lineup (drummer Zappi Diermaier and bassist/guitarist/trumpeter/cement mixer player Jean-Hervé Péron, both of whom wore their own damn Faust T-shirts with charming gaucheness). Tonight local saxophonist Amy Denio and violinist David Milford joined Faust onstage. The set was amazing.
by Dave Segal
on Sat, Sep 29, 2012 at 3:54 PM
Some incredible shit went down Friday at Decibel. Some of it sounded like this.
BIOSPHERE @ BROADWAY PERFORMANCE HALL Honestly, Biosphere (Norway’s Geir Jenssen) put on a more varied, dynamic show at last year’s Substrata. His set last night wasn’t bad by any means, but the first track’s rhythm remained unvarying for about 15 minutes. Don't get me wrong, it was a fine rhythm (tom/2 kicks & 4 cymbal taps), but some changes wouldn’t have gone amiss. Like a masterly soundtrack composer, Biosphere increased the tension of his teeming, momentous drones in subtle increments. There was something almost classically Hollywood about the suspenseful atmospheres and melancholy grandeur of much of Biosphere’s performance. Toward the end, things became more limpidly ambient until a chilling synth part came in, sounding like Bernard Herrmann’s shrieking strings from Psycho flattened into a monotone EEEEEEEE. Aaaand scene…
ELEH @ BROADWAY PERFORMANCE HALL Eleh is cloaked in mystery. His identity is known only to a select circle of initiates. His music is so minimal, it makes Pan_sonic sound like ELP. Last night, he sat on the floor in the dark, his back to the audience, as he caressed a keyboard and tinkered with a Serge modular synthesizer that looked like it was shipped straight from Morton Subotnick’s studio ca. 1968. (Thank Allah Eleh wasn’t playing yet another fucking silver Mac.) Eleh began with keening, wispy tones that curled over a perpetual, faint universal 60-hz hum. Eventually, booming bass belches, methodically spaced, issued like a belligerent household appliance rebelling against its duties. This was followed by a fluctuating bass tone that felt like a blanket sweeping over you and tucking you in for your eternal dirt nap. Par-TAY. The epitome of an anti-personality, Eleh got up and walked offstage without acknowledging the crowd, as his sound continued to was and wane. Soon after, the lights went on. The end.
EMPTYSET @ MELROSE MARKET STUDIOS If you thought nothing could top Thursday’s Modern Love Records showcase (mea culpa), Emptyset kind of proved you wrong at the Raster-Noton showcase. (Raster-Noton has been one of the best labels on the planet since 1999.) The British duo played techno that belonged in an S&M grindhouse, its vicious tones and vengeful beats meting out punishment for the sheer glee of it. Machismo played a role in this music, but it didn’t come off as obnoxious, even at its most militaristic (beats going off like artillery). Emptyset’s heavy, maximal tekno bore some of the most obese kickdrums ever to give speakers embolisms. At times, their brutalist, abstractions recalled Fred Bigot’s bass-intensive slugfests. At others, the tempo picked up to a swift yet still massively heavy cruising speed, augmented by crazy, serrated, mechanized textures. Often you felt like you were in the presence of an megalomaniacal automaton. Frequently you felt like you were in an abattoir—or a war. “That was original,” someone said afterward. Um, yeah.
The bass in mix for Erykah Badu and the Cannabinoids at the Paramount Theater was overpowering, and there were 17 laptops onstage. Actually I counted seven, with one of the Cannabinoids regularly pressing the “wind chime” button. On the floor, toward the rear of the Fabergé confines of the Paramount, the sound was a swampy mess. Reports from the balcony were that the bass overpowered up there as well. Her vocals were completely indiscernible, washed in realms of reverb and delay, but she still owned it powerfully. In the live context of her show with the Cannabinoids, Badu’s voice slots in more as an instrument, so understanding every word isn’t what I think she’s going for anyway. Highpoint was a Flying Lotus number off Until the Quiet Comes out October 2 in the US. Occasionally she palmed at a drum pad (hello bass) to her left, (with a brain to her right) sometimes topping off the plain of the song with a hand-tied 808 flurry. Projections sailed through seas of animated ganglia and Tron-world dolly shots of the pyramids. Songs mostly stayed on their own mid to down tempo flight paths with few key changes, and when they touched down, for my ears, the bass just overtook too much. It was one of those shows that seemed to drain, not charge. I love Erykah Badu, though; she can do no wrong. Maybe I should have been stoned. (Brain picture after jump.)
It's to the advantage of artists and audiences alike that Decibel discourages flash photography and limits picture-taking to the first three songs of each set (there might be exceptions, but those were the basic rules laid out in the press logistics mailing). It's also why the photos below aren't all that great, but at least you get the gist of Brooklyn's Julianna Barwick and London's Maria Minerva, who both performed solo at the Triple Door as part of the Optical 2: Ascension showcase (I wasn't able to catch Lulacruza and Anenon, who rounded out the bill).
by Dave Segal
on Fri, Sep 28, 2012 at 4:45 PM
Stranger photographer Jack Newton snapped some sweet pics of Orbital last night at the Paramount. A friend who went said he left after 30 minutes because Orbital sounded "too normal." What's your take?
by Dave Segal
on Fri, Sep 28, 2012 at 3:42 PM
Last night, my little slice of Decibel was so intense and amazing. It went something like this…
MARIA MINERVA @ TRIPLE DOOR Maria Minerva looked like she was dressed to perform some modern dance, but instead she (wo)manned her gear with one hand and gripped the mic in the other. With these rudimentary tools, she enchanted a sedate crowd at Triple Door, a venue that always seems too posh for the music I go there to hear. Minerva slung her voice like a lasso, flamboyantly swooping up and down her register while coaxing distorted keyboard ululations. Her set largely explored a languid sort of dub and electronic pop hybrid, but sometimes diverged into deep drone zones, sculpted airplane-engine roar, lopsided house music, midtempo funk, and, during the last track, a Moog-like babble that evoked Mort Garson, Dick Hyman, and Gershon Kingsley. Lots of people were leaving throughout the performance (probably to see Orbital, who, according to reports I heard, were weak). Bad choice, people.
DJAO @ BARBOZA I will keep saying this until it happens (or it doesn’t): Local producer DJAO (aka Alex Osuch) is going to blow up, any year now. He led off the Dropping Gems showcase with a masterly set of slow-your-roll hiphop/future bass spectrality that had the crowd transfixed. DJAO contrasted ocean-floor bass pressure with ethereal tone impressionism and angelic croons (his own) to stunningly beautiful and yearning effect. And as the sole practitioner of Chiltonwave™, he scropped and chewed Big Star’s “Thirteen” until it gradually deliquesced into a pool of molasses-y loveliness. DUG DJ Jon François said, “I like [DJAO’s music] because I feel like I’m alone when I’m listening to it, even in a club.” Achieving that sort of intimacy is a special skill.
CUT HANDS @ MELROSE MARKET STUDIOS I hate to be that guy, but if you missed the Modern Love Records showcase at MMS, you fucked up, badly. Cut Hands (William Bennett of Whitehouse, looking like your favorite humanities professor) unleashed a sadistic rhythm orgy, a relentless barrage of percussion and flayed frequencies, for a little over an hour. It was one of the most intense sets I’ve seen at Decibel, and I’ve been going since year 1. Cut Hands’ most recent album is titled Afro Noise, and that’s what the man delivered. An iconoclastic Caucasian Brit messing around with Ghanaian and Congolese rhythms risks accusations of cultural colonialism, but fuck, this shit sounds phenomenal, so loosen up, Mr. Politically Correct. Bennett, now in his 50s, danced feverishly to his own clattering madness, an elephant stampede of kick/kettle drums—or maybe frame drums the size of a satellite dish? Whatever they were, they left you dazed and contused. Frequent metallic tonalities clanged like gangbusters and drums progressively became more weapon-like as the night wore on. You couldn't help feeling thoroughly pummeled. So damn primal...
Ann Arbor based Dabrye phased in and out of his citywise cuts slyly last night at Barboza. After some technical difficulties and delay, he began his set with the Close Encounters of the Third Kind theme. All was a head nod/body job from that point on. Dabrye’s a devotee of downtowned, crate dug beats. He lowballed, highballed, J Dilla-balled and ball-balled, with nothing too full bore, and nothing overstated. His trafficked pulses are natural, with stems from funk, jive, and R&B. Highpoints for me were the instrumental in-betweens. The oddball crossovers, where beats converged in transition. The main line would fade out, and the weirder, bizarre-er rhythm would be left alone, paired with a looping or sampled sound. The beat seemed bigger then, more hopping, more impossible to ignore.
by Dave Segal
on Thu, Sep 27, 2012 at 11:41 AM
Even on relatively light opening nights, Decibel is overwhelming. For example…
DEMDIKE STARE RE-SCORING JEAN ROLLIN’S LA VAMPIRE NUE @ BROADWAY PERFORMANCE HALL Demdike Stare’s re-purposed score for this kitsch softcore-erotica/faux-existential-horror flick outclassed the movie by several orders of magnitude; I’m still trying to figure out by exactly how much. The British duo sat to the left of the screen and unspooled tenebrous drones and cobra-charming beats and eerie airs in conjunction with Rollin’s garish images. Where the director seemingly wanted us to cower in fright, we guffawed. La Vampire Nue was reconfigured into an hour for this performance, but we got the gist fairly quickly. Demdike Stare lent the farcical film an ominous gravitas it didn’t really earn—but I’m grateful that they did.
KID SMPL @ BARBOZA Kid Smpl (young Seattle producer Joey Butler) is an earnest disciple at the Church of Bass. His sumptuous, see-through melodies are like an anvil made out of feathers: They exude a diaphanous heaviness that projects deep reserves of emotion in every waft. I glibly created a reductive equation to describe Kid Smpl’s music, but I think it’s valid: Burial x Cocteau Twins + Robitussin + blissful mourning. His version of “night bus” is a new kind of holy minimalism, a sacred form of bass music. It’s almost too beautiful to live.
CYANWAVE @ NEUMOS The Seattle duo of Justin Byrnes and Keith Kelley were the best I’ve ever seen them, pushing out fathoms-deep dub techno that harked back to the Chain Reaction label’s glory days (Porter Ricks, Fluxion, Monolake, etc.). Cyanwave were giving Neumos’ specially outfitted subs a serious workout, with the kickdrums sounding like submarines thudding against each other. Heady stuff.
by Mike Ramos
on Tue, Sep 25, 2012 at 6:11 PM
Despite being one of the more "viral" human beings in the world right now, Riff Raff is one of the few meme-personas of modern rap that I have mostly ignored for whatever reason (listening to tons of Lil B, having several gigs worth of DatPiff mixtapes on my hard drive and already following too many people on Twitter and Tumblr are a few). But some odd combination of morbid curiosity, journalistic duty and quintessential FOMO compelled me to check out the white rapper/former MTV reality show contestant's set in Fremont last night. Riff Raff has made a habit of piecing together "rap game ____" non sequiturs by name-dropping random people or things, but his set really was, as said by one of his hypemen, "Rap Game Monday Night Football" — a boisterous, flashy, kinda insane display surrounding one of American rap's most-viewed personalities. And like on those MNF broadcasts, the game, or set in this case, was only a small part of the night's events.
Green Day's Billie Joe didn't like it when the band's set was cut short at the I Heart Radio festival in Vegas last night:
GUITAR SMASH! PUNK ROCK!
Of course, if you were Justin Bieber, they wouldn't have cut your set short because that kid makes hundreds of millions of billions of dollars. AND! If you were so fucking punk rock, you wouldn't be playing a radio music festival with Taylor Swift, Brad Paisley, Usher, in the first place, but I digress.
I feel so pathetic today. I wanted to go see the Anthrax show last night, but I couldn't afford thirty bucks. In 1989 I would have paid $130 to this lineup. I would have had to do a shit ton of babysitting and lawn mowing, but dammit, I would have found a way.
Question 1. Can the lead singer of Death Angel still scream like he used to—like this, at the 2:25 mark?