I went to the Crocodile on Wednesday with the full intent of seeing the Burger Records garage-y goodness of opener Peach Kelli Pop, and then leaving before headliner Kate Nash took the stage. Someone had told me that Nash was a
Lily Allen-type major label UK pop star that had a few hits a few years ago and, admittedly, I didn't really have any interest. Peach Kelli Pop was lovable as always, and I was happy to find out that her accompaniment for that evening's saccharine-sweet set of songs was the delightful drummer Christopher of Guantanamo Baywatch. After they finished, and changeover between bands happened, the 99% young female audience was buzzing with anticipation. I started noticing that other concert goers around me were wearing homemade hand-sequined and puff-painted vests and jackets reading feminist slogans, "Kate Nash" and "Death-Proof" (the name of one of her new singles). The venue also had a huge display table selling light-up glitter bracelets to benefit Because I Am A Girl, a charity organization that Nash is currently representing as an ambassador.
Guitarist/vocalist Steve Gunn opened for Kurt Vile & the Violators, who packed the fuck out of Neumos last night. (Prediction: Kurt Vile will soon be bigger than Beyoncé and will headline Bumbershoot in 2014.) But Gunn and his steadfast bassist Justin Tripp and drummer John Truscinski were the highlight of the night for me. They do what so many other American bands do, but somehow Gunn and company’s take on folky blues resonates way more strongly than that of their peers.
The songs on Gunn’s new album, Time Off (out June 11 on Paradise of Bachelors) plunge so deeply into that folk-blues vein it becomes a kind of sacred psychedelia. Last night they showed how Americana should sound: raw, fluid, grave, stirring, and rolling on a seemingly eternal ramble. Gunn’s non-histrionic voice is the ideal forlorn, wistful foil to the glistening streams of salubrious, post-Fahey sound.
The half hour on stage that they got was way too short; Gunn's songs needs much more leg room to allow for their stark yet easy-going melodies to properly weave their hypnotic spell. “We tend to jam too much,” Gunn said at one point, realizing they had only eight minutes to squeeze in two more songs. “We need to keep it tight.” But the Gunn trio won over the crowd in their piddling 30 minutes. Let’s hope they come back to town and get more time to unfurl their practically designed freak flag.
Since when did Kurt Vile have enough fans in Seattle to sell out Neumos on a Sunday? The last time I saw him headline a venue, I was in Portland and his first album for Matador, 2009's Childish Prodigy, had been released a few weeks prior. I had read earlier that week that Vile was fairly hit-and-miss, and to that somewhat-interested crowd of onlookers, he and his Violators banged their way through a handful of songs that made far less of an impression than his excellent first two records, Constant Hitmaker and God Is Saying This To You?.
Vile wasn't someone I'd planned to see again, but in the years since, he's all but ditched his lo-fi past in favor of uniquely sprawling, guitar-driven slackerisms that sound like they could've come from any of the last four decades of pop music without sounding out of place. He's written some of the best road songs in recent history on 2011 breakthrough Smoke Ring For My Halo, and on this year's very good Wakin on a Pretty Daze (where Vile uses his songs' lengthy run times to stretch out, take a solo or three if he feels like it, or just play a riff to himself, safe in the knowledge that there will be resolution eventually).
Patience is a virtue; so is punctuality and the radical concept of not making your fans wait an inexcusably long time to see you perform. While I have loads of respect and admiration for Secret Chiefs 3—who played the Crocodile Wednesday night—I have to take issue with how they doled out their music on this occasion.
Doors were at 8:30 and Secret Chiefs 3 were the only act on the bill. They went on at 9:45 and did a great hour-long set. Dressed in white hooded robes (except for the drummer, who was in a black hooded robe), SC3’s five members executed an incomparable mélange of heavy metal, spaghetti Western/Italian horror-film soundtrackage, prog rock, and avant jazz from their Masada and Forms repertoires. It sounded at once bracingly futuristic and enigmatically ancient. Everyone onstage is a virtuoso; their technical proficiency is so dazzling it’s exhausting. Nobody in the band said a damned word to the crowd. (Some jackass shouted “Free Bird!” a crime that should be punishable by death at this late date. SC3 ignored his request.)
SC3 exited the stage at 10:45 and many punters thought the show was over. It wasn’t. However, the band didn’t announce anything to the effect of “Thanks! We’ll be back for another set in x minutes.” That would’ve been nice. Instead, we had to rely—if we were lucky—on a Crocodile employee telling us that this gap in the evening’s entertainment was merely an "intermission."
Now, an intermission at a concert is a serious momentum killer, and it’s not like SC3 are so old they need to take an extended break. But, hey, they’re eccentric guys and their music’s rare and fantastic, so we can deal. Give ’em 15 minutes to drink/toke/joke/chill backstage and they’ll come back recharged for the second set. But this intermission lasted 45 fucking minutes. On a fucking Wednesday.
Many people bounced during this overlong silence—maybe 25-35 percent of the attendees. I stuck around for two songs after the break and then left, shaking my head at the contempt shown toward the audience. (I was also fatigued and grumpy from being out late five of the last six nights—Masaki Batoh, three nights of Debacle Fest, and Acid Mothers Temple—so I was in no mood for delayed gratification, no matter how dome-cracking.)
Remnants of Bumbershoot's prom-themed announcement shows—a collection of seafoam green, baby blue, and yellow balloons and gold and silver glittery stars—were still hanging from the Crocodile's ceiling as Minneapolis' Now Now played on Saturday night. I felt like I was in a scene from a teen movie. Summer had finally arrived in Seattle, the air was perfectly warm, and a majority of the crowd appeared to be more dressed up than your average Friday night showgoer—colorful fashion inspired by blasts of vitamin D. Now Now's tunes, with soft breathy vocals and shimmery guitar (in this week's paper I compare it to the Jealous Sound and Tegan and Sara), sound like a modernized John Hughes soundtrack. I expected a dork in a tuxedo to jump on the stage and confess his love to the prom queen any minute. Alas, the band played on without interruption (but I did see a young couple making out in the back, as would happen in the movies).
Even though it has 800 years (or so) since the Lonely Forest stepped onto a local stage, the Anacortes-based anthemic rock outfit sounded great. After being holed up in the studio, and then playing nearly every night on tour for the past three weeks, the band was one with their songs—I doubt their instruments have been out of their hands much over the past several months, and it showed, as they took on a setlist comprised of more recent stuff mostly from Arrows and their upcoming album Adding Up the Wasted Hours.
While the songs sound pro, unavoidable tour delirium/goofiness took over during the downtime. As singer John Van Deusen tuned his guitar, guitarist Tony Ruland treated us to a medley of cat meows via his cell phone. Apparently it's what the guys listen to when they're out on the road and they miss their cats. And before the band could hit the loud part in the song "Two Pink Pills" Van Deusen stopped due to a crazy case of the sniffles. After roadie Kevin grabbed a Kleenex box from the green room, Ruland helped Van Deusen blow his nose. It's allergy season. Pollenated boogers are everywhere.
If you missed the show, or if you want to see the nose-blowing for yourself, a video and audio-only recording of the performance is available by downloading a new app, Lively, at getlive.ly.
(Most of...) the setlist is after the jump :
It’s always nice when you lavish extravagant praise/prose on an event and the event follows through, often spectacularly. Such was the case with Debacle Fest, which devoured last weekend in a hail of left-of-center sounds. Below are some of the highlights I experienced. Highest accolades to organizer Sam Melancon for manifesting this excellent event.
FRIDAY AT FRED WILDLIFE REFUGE
Total Life: Kevin Doria of the band Growing located the universe’s emergency broadcast signal, which is a glowering, overpowering snarl. His roaring drones were at once ominous and soothing, a trick few can pull off.
Panabrite: Seattle synth magus Norm Chambers bust out the most dance-oriented track I’ve heard from him—a kind of slow-motion, aquatic cha-cha with a majestic, mountain-climbing melody. If you’d told me we were listening to an advance of the new Boards of Canada album, I’d have believed you.
Monopoly Child Star Searchers: Portland keyboard trickster Spencer Clark was wearing shorts, flip-flops, and a spring jacket with the sleeves rolled up: NAGL. Fortunately, he overcame those sartorial blunders with a set of spaced-out, ornery Yamaha(haha) exhalations and sporadic splatters of bamboo percussion. Toward the end, things morphed into a bizarre, rococo, avian keyboard odyssey that warmed my prog-loving heart.
Brain Fruit: Cosmically minded Seattle trio brought the krautrock locomotion and radiant synth spray straight into the clear light, as Garrett Moore drummed up a storm in heaven. If Debacle were SXSW, Brain Fruit would have a contract with Thrill Jockey or Bureau B right now.
For a 70-year-old man, Rodriguez was looking pretty spry in his leather pants at his sold-out show at the Neptune last night. Like the rest of the crowd, I've been listening to Rodriguez since I saw the wildly popular documentary Searching for Sugarman, and we all went crazy for his hits "I Wonder" and "Crucify Your Mind," which he played along with a string of classic rock n' roll covers ("Lucille," etc.) Unfortunately, his vocals felt really low and almost even hard to hear at times—maybe that was because I was way in the back and had a really hard time seeing the show behind this lady filming the show on her Ipad:
Photos by Michael Holden
As a veteran of British space rockers Spiritualized’s live spectacles, I’ll always be that despicable guy who says, “You know, their best shows happened in the ’90s.” Still, Jason Pierce and company’s recent dates supporting 2012’s Sweet Heart Sweet Light have sporadic shafts of brilliance that flash me back to those lysergic highs of those Clinton years gigs. Last night’s performance at Neptune Theatre is a case in point—even if they didn’t do godhead cuts like “Electric Mainline,” Cop Shoot Cop,” “Medication,” “Anyway That You Want Me,” and other favorites of die-hard fans.
Pierce sat in a chair on the far left side of the stage in a white MC5 T-shirt and shades, stoic as ever. (He’s never been a great showman, and after enduring two bouts of serious illnesses, Pierce is even less mobile now.) His two female backing vocalists stood behind him, like guardian angels. A keyboardist working four instruments, a bassist (Brad Truax, I believe), a guitarist, and Kid Millions (Oneida, Man Forever) on drums formed a tight unit who could move from delicate beauty to catastrophic power with ease and finesse.
Give Pierce credit for a somewhat unpredictable setlist, which included some unreleased songs and less emphasis on Sweet Heart than one would expect. The opener, “Here It Comes (The Road, Let’s Go),” started out with those familiar “Walking With Jesus” strums, but it eventually morphed and set the scene with a special sense of wonder and spectral beauty. Sweet Heart highlight “Hey Jane” followed, but it sounded rushed and the backing divas were barely audible—a major problem, as they’re crucial to the song’s sublime glide. Millions’ Keith Moon-like splatter during the Parable of Arable Land-style freakout amazed, and the way the band shifted into a massive, buzzing motorik cruise after it was breathtaking.
Malitia Malimob caused the danciest moshpit of local support I've ever seen at the Crocodile last night. The duo flexed their lyrical creativity between sets from Dutty Artz composer/DJs Chief Boima and Matt Shadetek. Chief Boima opened the show, mixing for us his intimate musical knowledge of African and American hip hop, then stayed on stage to work the decks for Malitia Malimob, who had a small but very loyal contingent of locals present to watch their show.
Hands were either raised to twist fingers into "m" shapes or hold out cell phones to video for what seemed like the entire show.
Saturday's Magma Festival finale at the Vera Project was fantastic! Unfortunately I missed Body Betrayal, but I did catch a few songs by Olympia hardcore band Hysterics which were brutal as fuck and had me emptying out my purse in a scramble to find ear plugs. After a break between bands that seemed like two hours in stoned time, '90s queercore band the Need started. I didn't know what was happening. I was not prepared. The last time I took a listen to the Need—their self-titled album I think—it sounded synthy/poppy and with interesting vocals... what was happening on stage seemed to be more like fantasy metal and maybe Rush. Rachel Carns wore a headset mic. It was epic. Toward the end of the set, Corey Brewer was called to the stage to sing "O Sally How's it Feel With a Fake Hand?"—apparently he had no idea this was going to happen, which seems terrifying (What if you had a horrible cold? What if you had to pee really bad? What if you got wasted in the alley before the show and didn't know what the song was?), but Corey marched right up there and slayed it, monster voice and all.
Q: Did I really fall for this Slayer + Anthrax = SLANTHRAX article?!?!
A: Yes (but for only about 37 seconds!) Also, what's with all the crazy-ass chin beards, dudes? I mean, I'll always love me some Slanthrax, but the chin beards are getting to be TOO MUCH. Why not a full beard? And how long is too long?
Vote worst 80's metal chin beard below. And, more photos, by KT Wright, from Anthrax's Seattle Easter Sunday show at the Showbox, after the jump!
DJ, sage, and criterion of cool, Riz opened the Vox Mod release party last night, mixing CDs and MP3s to set the atmosphere at Vermillion. The bars were busy and people mingled smartly; the performance space in the back was well-lit by the projections of Ben Van Citters. I made my way to the back of the building in time to catch Riz mixing up some late-'90s R&B (including my fave, SWV's "I'm So Into You"), which seemed the perfect segue to impromptu bill addition and town wiz OCnotes.
If you haven't seen OCnotes work his constant companion MIDI controller live in person, your life is probably not complete. I know what you're thinking, and it's a common mistake to wonder what he could possibly do that you haven't already seen. I'll explain: OCnotes composes electronic orchestras. It's not enough to call him an artist, or DJ; he does not produce beats. He builds universes around sounds—each of which is a living member in his symphony, and no sound is outside his purview. The centerpieces of his orchestral works last night were snares that popped like a crackling fire, cymbals crunching like candy wrappers, and the sound of synthesizers dreaming of life as quasars—hidden among house, calypso, and dancehall samples. All of this ever, ever so delicately overlaid with a rich demi-glace of indiscernible pop-culture voice samples topping off lamb-chop-greasy beats. I've swooned over his surrealistic compositions before and my feelings for his music remain the same—if not amplified—having seen the man hover over a Mac and an M-Audio drumpad like a zen master considering a koan, while the universe works to untangle itself around him.
Vox Mod's set began right at 11 as promised (there have been a rash of shows starting on time this year people, good job!) and the dance floor was immediately reduced to a crowd squished against the table holding his Korg ESX. Trent Moorman appeared out of the ether and uncovered a drumset in the corner just in time to add yet another dimension to the infinitely layered works. Vox Mod worked through SYN-ÆSTHETIC mostly in order of track listing, with the vocalists performing live. Rik Rude and Ishmael Butler were noticeably missing from "Temple Where I Found Self" and "Iridescent Asteroid Mists," though the songs stand well enough on their own. Vox's family warmed up the set with "Particle," a song whose praise-in-chant carries the listener upwards to the point of no return. On the very next song Erik Blood and Irene Barbaric materialized from the crowd to combine vocals on the android romance "Life Forms."
For those who may not know, Vox is a percussionist in several other bands, and his stage presence is anything but stagnant. He practically drums out the beats on a synthesizer and his energy behind the table incites a crowd to dancing (as much as his music does).
The highlights of the night for me were hearing "Quetzalcoatlus" (and Vox's explanation: You guys know what a Quetzalcoatlus is? A dinosaur! I like dinosaurs!) and the last song on the album, "Ecophony Infinitum," featuring a smoldering Erik Blood—sounding every bit the pop star he is—live, trapped in a nimbus of his own gorgeous gray hair among the projector lights. The set proved too fun to say goodbye, so Vox dropped a couple of songs from his last album HAZMAT to keep the people dancing and Moorman drumming.
SYN-ÆSTHETIC is released in full on Tuesday April 2.
Seattle Art Museum closed off First Ave. at Union Sunday evening in order to unveil Doug Aitken’s new artwork, MIRROR, which will adorn SAM’s façade on its northwest side. But the big draw for me was Terry Riley conducting his pioneering minimalist composition, In C, with 20+ members of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra (including Stranger Genius Lori Goldston on cello)—on the street… for free. (We owe SAM big time for this one, citizens.) Local trombonist Stuart Dempster, who played on the piece’s 1964 debut, also performed. It lived up to my absurdly high expectations—and then some.
Before In C, though, we got a snappy run through Steve Reich’s Clapping Music, after which I always think the crowd should respond by playing music. Instead of the usual two clappers as dictated by Reich, SSO gave us eight. They slapped up one helluva a mesmerizing rhythm. It was a nice warm-up for the main event.
To witness Terry Riley’s In C conducted by the legend himself was, to put it lightly, the fulfillment of a long-deferred dream. Now 77 and sporting a scraggly beard of blinding whiteness, Riley donned a suit jacket that looked like something Pharoah Sanders would've worn to church circa 1969 and what can only be described as the most dignified-looking ballcap ever. He sat behind a large black square housing a keyboard of some kind. There he was 15 feet away from the front row, this man I rank among the top five musicians in the history of the world, this man whose music is peace beyond peace. My eyes teared up and my throat lumped from the first second of In C.
In C, as many of you know, is something of a Big Bang for minimalist music. It gives you the sense of something momentous happening, of many little wings beating relentlessly in a patient ascendance to the heavens, an industrious illumination, a feathery confluence of mini-ecstasies that you hate to see end. In C possesses wonderfully fluid, non-uptight guidelines for its technical parameters. From Wikipedia:
In C consists of 53 short, numbered musical phrases, lasting from half a beat to 32 beats; each phrase may be repeated an arbitrary number of times. Each musician has control over which phrase he or she plays: players are encouraged to play the phrases starting at different times, even if they are playing the same phrase. The performance directions state that the musical ensemble should try to stay within two to three phrases of each other. The phrases must be played in order, although some may be skipped. As detailed in some editions of the score, it is customary for one musician ("traditionally... a beautiful girl," Riley notes in the score) to play the note C in repeated eighth notes, typically on a piano or pitched-percussion instrument (e.g. marimba). This functions as a metronome and is referred to as "The Pulse".
In C has no set duration; performances can last as little as fifteen minutes or as long as several hours, although Riley indicates "performances normally average between 45 minutes and an hour and a half."
In C has been done by flute ensembles, by rock bands (Acid Mothers Temple, L’Infonie, Styrenes), and by musicians in many other configurations. The work is a wondrous gust of fresh air no matter how it’s rendered, and though it really came to prominence in 1968 when CBS issued it on LP, In C transcends its era. One can envision every generation tripping out to its hypnotic undulations till the electricity runs out.
The Comettes opened Saturday night’s KEXP Audioasis benefit for Amara, hypnotizing the house with their spot on ’60s California rock. Lead singer and Farfisa wizard Timmy Sunshine’s power over his subjects became eerily clear when he mentioned it was guitarist Sager’s birthday and the crowd broke into a chorus of “Happy Hirthday” in perfect time. A few songs later he would raise his drink and say “Cheers” then, in unison, his adorers raised their cups and chanted (hundreds at once, I tell you) “Cheers”. Embodying vintage Venice sunshine, the Comettes made simple, elegant, rocking R&B, exchanging a rhythm section completely for only drummer Jettie Wilce, who has mastered the trap kit and uses a tom tom to get heads to nod. Birthday boy Sager Small did his best march up and down the blues scales on a Danelectro while Timmy’s voice echoed vibrato into the crowd.
Photogenic pop rockers Bellamaine caused a rash of cell photo papparzzi when they took the entire event from head bobbing to hip swaying by dragging in keys, synth, drums, guitar and bass, and four band members to crowd the stage. Wisely, I’d say, Bellamaine avoids pop maximalist tropes by picking perfect notes instead of cluttering the air with chords from all directions. They’re able to create an atmosphere on the strength of their drummer alone, who rode the high hat all night and hit the skins like he was rocking to a whole arena. Playing songs from their new album An Anxious Mind, with long intros full of synth and drums, husband and wife team Nick (guitars, vox) and Julianne (keys, vox) embody pop cuteness, and pour forth positivity that keeps their cool points stacking up. This Anacortes-based band also has the rare distinction of sounding better the louder and more out of control they played. I couldn’t help but think that even arguments between the couple must make for some great pop song material.
River Giant was a weird band to follow these two acts. I have only spent time with their music all by myself and hadn’t realized—until I saw a crowd of people trying to grok their psych rock—that every song they play has tempo changes and polyrhythms galore. Between the rock riffs, folk harmonies, and grinding alt-rock guitar, people didn’t know whether to mosh, dance, or stare, but the show was outstanding nonetheless. Kyle’s rubbery voice goes from Van Morrison mumble to Neil Young falsetto in a chord change and the music hops genre from country to grunge to classic rock within a song. The spectacle that is River Giant is truly worth beholding, and I'm positive they’ll be a hit at Timber(!) Music Festival, playing their loud, rowdy music with a mystical essence outside among the trees.
Usually I start off my show reviews by testing your patience with an anecdotal story about my personal connection with the artist I'm seeing. Then I place the musician in some larger genre and/or historical context, and wax poetic about what makes them extraordinary among countless other bands.
Walking up to the Moore Theatre in the pouring rain, I first heard a pat-down security guard barking "No flowers! No iPads!" which might be one of the strangest introductions I've had to a show. Inside the mood was dizzying; this being my first Morrissey show, I didn't know if there was always this much excitement in the air for one of his concerts, or if it was a lot of pent up anticipation. (The concert was originally scheduled for November before being pushed back so Moz could attend to his ill mother. He's also had a bout of health scares that led to some cancellations on this US tour.)
Please enjoy photos and a belated (my fault!) review of last Friday's Hey Marseilles show at the Showbox, by photographer Beth Crook for The Stranger...
Five years after releasing their debut album, To Travels And Trunks, Hey Marseilles played to a sold-out crowd at the Showbox Market on March 1st, unveiling their latest album Lines We Trace.
Opening the night was Pollens, who played a set of harmony-rich and boldly layered pop songs. They were followed by Y La Bamba, who showcased plenty of dance worthy latin-inspired pop sounds—a perfect opener for this Friday night show.
It was Hey Marseilles, though, that brought the crowd down—got them swooning to songs from both their debut album (like crowd favorite "Rio") and then clapping along to new melodies from Lines We Trace. The new album seems like it's going to be just as amazingly orchestral and pop filled as their last.
Postcards From The Badlands opened up the show last night at the Sunset Tavern, shepherding steel and slide guitar music that sounds just like their name. Their liquid guitar instrumentals have a modern cinematic feel, like the band in the bar scene of a movie. Or maybe the score of a dusty modern western film like Red Rock West or Paris, Texas.
During their set I ran into Widower’s lead singer and songwriter, Kevin Large. It’s hard to get a word in edgewise with him, the Sunset is practically his home and everyone knows him or wants to tell him something (presumably how much they adore his relatable, perfect lyrics).
The place filled up as Austin’s the Preservation took the stage and proceeded to doo-wop harmonize their way into an interesting country sound. I wrestled with an influence to link them to for a bit before I gave up and decided that they were just plain good. They're a large band, and their parts become a symphony, playing parts southern rock, parts country, parts pop, and doing it extremely well. Guitarist Mario Matteoli was steadily peeling off skydog-like riffs (I’m not exaggerating) that gave the sound a sweet-tea taste, but the duo of Andrew Bianculli and Cayce Matteoli fought back furiously with indie pop riffs and rhythms on the three pianos and glockenspiel between them. I couldn’t help but notice halfway through the set, that the rhythm section had been the crew keeping the whole train on the tracks.Jeff Fielder arrive, but you can imagine everyone’s surprise when one Shelby Earl walked on stage to start the show in place of an out of town Kaylee Cole. This, in combination with the full band, gave the show a larger-than-recorded feel.
All images, and short review, by photographer Beth Crook for The Stranger.
Ivan & Alyosha's record release show, Saturday at the Showbox Market, completely sold-out. Boasting a lineup that included the Smokey Brights and Kris Orlowski, who was accompanied by the Passenger String Quartet, it was a night filled with a high energy, from a crowd eagerly anticipating Ivan & Alyosha's first full-length record. The set showcased what the band excels at—heartfelt and literary lyrics, coupled with catchy acoustic melodies. The accompaniment
from the string quartet made for a beautiful live set from this
More photos after the jump...
The night was sold out before The Loss went on. I passed by a girl who was about 15 years old crying because the show sold out right after her Mom had dropped her off. Luckily I had an extra ticket so she was able to make her dreams come true and see Lagwagon and Pennywise in 2013.
When I finally made it inside, The Loss were about to start. I knew it was going to be weird seeing them on Sodo's stage after seeing them countless times around town, whether it's at The Highline, The Kraken, or El Corazon.