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Sunday, August 31, 2008

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.

Then it was time for The Stranger’s Words and Music show at Bagley Wright, emceed by Sherman Alexie. The West Marginals charmed with skewed, between-song anecdotes and country-folk songs graced with spare, haunting melodies of understated, corn-syrup-free beauty.

This incongruously set the stage for some good-humored Hall & Oates reverence and irreverence, courtesy of illustrator/writer Ellen Forney, Stranger ed. in chief Christopher Frizzelle and Stranger editor emeritus Sean Nelson and a pianist named Jason (didn’t catch his last name; sorry). The most popular duo in music history’s oeuvre powerfully impacted Frizzelle’s childhood due to his parents’ infatuation with “Sara Smile,” to the point where random bits of conversation automatically remind him of H&O lyrics and spur him to sing their songs.

Nelson and Jason’s renditions of “Maneater” and “Kiss on My List” managed to be at once mockery and homage. Or so it seemed to me. Sean’s talents are many, but let’s be honest: Blue-eyed soul singing is not his forte. Hence, his precise diction and scholarly delivery undercut the originals’ innate sensuality. Also funny were an LP cover montage and strategic flashing of song titles that revealed H&O’s not-so-secret special feelings for each other. The audience guffawed often.

Way over at the Rockstar Stage, the typically white-clad Man Man proved themselves to be, again, the world’s foremost circus/gypsy/prog/punk/makeshift-drum ensemble. Normally I despise wacky music, but damn if Man Man don’t make wacky ridiculously sublime—most of the time.

Back at Fisher Green, Saul Williams and his band—some of whom looked like they got ejected from P-Funk for being too flamboyant—were grinding out electronic-metal grotesqueries, punctuated by Saul’s poetry cum screeds. “Our country is on the cusp of a beautiful possibility. Let’s make it a reality,” he pleaded after he and his crew had just butchered U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday.” His horrid music (sorry, Eric, but what I heard of Saul’s set sounded like a lumbering mess to me) almost made me want to vote for McCain.

West Indian Girl in EMP’s Skychurch, by contrast, bestowed candy-coated, PG-rated psych rock with sucrose-heavy vocals. Their made-in-LA songs made you drift away to la-la land.

Caught a half hour of !!! [see Eric’s post for the scoop], then sought warmth from the 50º weather in the Skychurch for Kinski.

Kinski’s Chris Martin

Kinski’s rock attack has become sort of meat and potatoes-y. They’ve lost some of their loftier psychedelic inclinations; now they churn out titanic biker rock, all rusted chrome tones and pungent exhaust fumes, like Deep Purple’s “Space Truckin’” conjugating with Sonic Youth’s “Silver Rocket.” They’re riff machines working at maximum capacity, if not subtlety. I may yearn for the days of Be Gentle with the Warm Turtle, but Kinski’s beefier direction has led to them becoming popular in Europe and snagging high-profile gigs in Beirut and Moscow, so good on them.

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I should clarify about Williams: When I say the rock band thing is a good look for him, I mean it literally rather than vernacularly. They look great. I thankfully missed their U2 cover—which struck me too as an abomination when they did it at SXSW—to see Man Man.

Posted by Eric Grandy | August 31, 2008 1:28 PM

"her warm, familiar, folk rock undoubtedly went down a treat with the menopausal/annual-prostate-exam/NPR-listening demo."

I'm delighted to be a part of that demo instead of a half clever provincial hipster.

You know, Segal, you should be more careful of the boxes you build around others. Someday you might find yourself contained within them.

Posted by rtm | August 31, 2008 7:58 PM

@2 Yeah, that was a cheap shot--partially accurate, but still a cheap shot. And I am somewhat a part of that demo.

Posted by segal | September 1, 2008 12:47 AM

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