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Tuesday, September 4, 2007


posted by on September 4 at 12:30 PM

Updated. Photos by Justin Renney

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

RSS icon Comments


Sounds like I feel the same way about Fleet Foxes as you do about Art Brut, and vice-versa. I thought Fleet Foxes were captivating. I think Art Brut is Franz Ferdinand with a British Guy talking.

Posted by Jeff Kirby | September 4, 2007 3:23 PM

herb it up, Grandy. Pitchfork Rawk Ain't Nuttin To Fuck With.

Posted by lar | September 4, 2007 4:50 PM

tpc are good - BUT! Uncut, Sailboats Are White and CITIES IN DUST are miles better!!! CHECK THEM OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by c bangs | September 7, 2007 9:41 AM

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