Seattle Subsonic - Show Critic
Photos and (pretty lame on-the-go) commentary from Saturday.
Arrived in time to see Lovers at the Vera Stage. So far, the PDX electro-ballad trio has delivered one of the more passionate performances I’ve seen from them. They are, without a doubt, making alliances with their appliances.
The crowd absolutely ate it up!
Next up, Handsome Furs. The duo, during soundcheck, look fierce. They will slay. Not two songs in, Dan Boeckner asked if anyone would sell him mushrooms for his road trip through the Rockies tomorrow. Some kid next to me will apparently oblige (and he was stoked about it).
They indeed slayed. Dan was severely wasted and Alexei did her crazy rock star calisthenics the whole time. They are two crazy kids in love (awwwww).
Teen Daze at the Vera. People are gettin high (seriously, pot smoke everywhere this year) and groovin to the slinky, vintage beats. The bass is a bit much, but set closer “Let’s Rock This Dagobah System” was OUT OF THIS WORLD. LITERALLY.
Consumption so far: Big Mario’s slice (tomato and basil), steak bahn mi and ono taco (Kahlua pork) from Fusion on the Run truck, many Mirror Ponds, Moscow Mule shot from Quinn’s.
Now, LSF. Harrington seems particularly decked out already. Three costume changes in four songs. Crowd surfing, shirtless/superhero hijinx, and now singing from the 2nd story of the building across from the Shell station. Amazing! The band soldiers on, tight and on point as usual. The tarpaulin appears! As does a crazy rainbow shag overcoat thingy.
The Sweat Descends, and an eagle head mascot is donned.
Oh, Les Savy Fav, you make me shake, you make me shiver! (Careful, these pictures really suck!)
(Editor’s Note: I edited this on Monday.)
My Goodness plays blistering blues rock, and is a force to be reckoned with in this town. A duo, who may initially have gotten their idea’s from.. oh I don’t know The Black Keys? But they prove to keep a distinctly unique and passionate delivery all of their own. They are great fun and inspire moshing, or at least some form of body movement. Definately a much needed kick to the head for all this mellow folk rock harmonizing that the local kids have been swilling at us these days. And man these guys can play! Joel and Ethan have got serious chops! Ain’t nothing simple about these blues riffs. The songs are like perfectly timed bombs, and the energy in the live show has fortunately been captured on their self titled record (released on Sarathan Records).All I can say is Hell’s Yeah!!
The Tractor was packed for a Wednesday night and openers Elba, took the stage with their brand of timeless pop/rock gems. They put on an impressive show. Elba is one of those bands who craft songs to mesmerize and stay with you for a bit. They are an act to watch out for.
In keeping with Blues, and Rock’n’ Roll, The Fox and the Law (pictured left) was absolutely fitting to warm the stageup for My Goodness. These guys have all the super tight cohesion, and spiraling jangly swagger to make your mother throw her panties!….or something. I’m looking forward to hearing more from this explosive young four piece!
So in keeping the tradition of passionate music that I’ve witnessed at The Columbia City Theater lately, last Friday I finally got to catch Drew Grow and The Pastors Wives. Due to Drew’s very recent recovery from being injured, It was a special night for the band and for everyone who came. He took to the stage on crutches, looking reasonably uncomfortable. Then found his guitar, sat in front of the mic and after a moment poured his heart into it.
Actually, I was amazed at the idea of Drew returning to the stage so soon. It seemed as if I had just learned of his car accident that happened in January. But as much as music is theraputic for the listener, it’s healing powers are twofold for the person making it. And having a band this spiritually potent, one can only imagine that he was determined to do this as soon as possible.
Grow and the Wives came on fierce, and immediately ignited the room with their thunderous rocker Bootstraps (found on their self tilted album). Along with Drew, this incredible band (Jeremiah Hayden drums/vocals, Seth Schaper guitar/vocals, and Kris Doty/bass vocals) manages to keep all live elements raw and emotionally engaging. The music really has so many beautiful and compelling dynamics. They can have you hanging on slide guitar feedback and upright bass strokes one minute, and the next the entire band can become this gigantic wall of vocals. It’s really this gospel-like choir teetering from the heavens that shifts the primary melodic structure. Drew is a vital and passionate presence with a vocal range that brings Jeff Buckley, and maybe a tinge of Mark Lanegan to mind. His triumphant delivery last Friday at The Columbia City Theater proves great resilience, and commitment to his art.
Photos by Hilary Harris
I was in Ballard Friday night to see Cobirds Unite, a band featuring Rusty Willoughby and Rachel Flotard. Rachel had been kind enough to get me on the list via some last minute (meaning 6:00 P.M. night of the show) Facebook messages and texts sent from vans already gig bound. I appreciated the effort and quick response on her part given the time so I rushed to the Tractor, got there at 6:45, pulled on the door handle. It was locked. There was evidence of a sound check happening within but unable to enter I went down the street for a silent pow wow with a pint or two at King’s Hardware in order to gather myself before the show.
I booted my laptop and looked at the Cobirds Unite Facebook page which lists the band’s sound as Folk Noir. I thought it an interesting description. It piqued the curiosity. Being online, I looked for streams or downloads of Cobirds’ music but could really only find the Amazon download page with its short 30 second samples. I opted not to listen. Those samples are never great quality, and they offer no context into the song. It’s difficult to review a show without having heard the band because one has to take notes, try to jot down phrases in songs, notice and remember variations in performance and instrumentation all while trying to pay attention to the songs themselves which are completely new. And yet, if the band is good, it’s a joy. I’d have a better memory of the evening than others present who were seeing and hearing the band for the first time because the act of writing makes it so, implants not just experience but detail into the brain. And anyway, live is always better to experience new music.
I got back to the Tractor in time to see the two openers, Jason Dobson and Shelby Earl, and they were good. Between the book, the blog, and all the other demands of the written word, there may not be time, but I will try to squeeze in a review of Ms. Earl’s band soon as they did some interesting things. When Cobirds Unite went on, the place wasn’t full but nearly so, and those in attendance were clearly there to see them. In addition to Willoughby and Flotard, the band was rounded out by Barb Hunter on cello, Barrett Martin on upright bass, Johnny Sangster on keys, and joining the band all the way from Denmark was Maggie Bjorklund on pedal steel. The first couple songs were mellow, and yes folk, but there was something more in the feel of it that was indeed noir. The pedal steel faded in and out in a way that reminded me of David Gilmour on “Pillow of Winds”. The music had just a hint of the psychedelic and a lot more groove than any folk stuff I’ve heard. I was especially drawn in by the third song, “You Could Be Wrong”.
Grooving without drums is a cool feat. The plucked notes on the cello and bass held up an admirable rhythm and the pedal steel continued its thing with the vocals over top, “Waited so long for the cavalry that might have come but we fell asleep … You could be wrong … ohhhhhh ohhhhh…” It was very cool, even a little haunting. The only disappointment was it’s length which was only about two minutes. Cobirds had many short songs. Get in, get out. Nothing was overstated or overplayed, but still there was just enough even with such brevity for the brain to latch hold of something, for melodies to sink in, for the feel of it to stick.
Flotard acknowledged the shortness in between songs, “We’re just a tiny little band that you can put in your pocket.” The crowd laughed. Flotard opened her pocket, “Get in there Rusty.” More laughs. She’s a master at interacting with the crowd, taking a sizable audience and drawing them into intimate moments. During the set, she bantered back and forth with Willoughby who kept up with one idea. “I need a beer,” he’d say. Flotard would respond, “but you’re working Rusty.” The songs continued, many with an air of melancholy that drew one in. The blend of their vocals was like a hushed conversation that made one want to lean in and listen, that felt like a breathy whisper in the ear. The banter continued. “You’re just like a Gary Larson cartoon, Rusty.” Laughter. “I just want a beer.” More laughter.
I noticed a stunningly beautiful Asian woman up front. She often sang along, grooved when the music grooved. I took my notes and watched the band, watched the beauty. I caught her a couple times looking in my direction, probably not at me in particular, but then such soothing, lush music will make one believe in the possibility that accidental eye contact might have meaning. But I was working, and unlike Rusty, having a pint or three so I stayed where I was. The music and show ended with no disappointment from the crowd. People felt satisfied, relaxed, ready for whatever else the night held. I hung by the stage to get a set list from Rachel.
“Did you like the show?” she asked.
She moved on in her circles, and I glanced around for the Asian beauty, but she was gone. Oh, well. I had my notes, and right there during song twelve was a scribbling, “young beautiful Asian woman up front.” I had thus the memory of the music, the woman, the evening.
All photos by Niffer Calderwood (Many thanks!)
Cobirds Unite has no upcoming gigs that I’m aware of but their Facebook page does have streaming samples (was blind to that Friday night) and links to various places to purchase CD or MP3 can be found on the band’s website.
Hotels fans were in for a treat (literally, there were pastries for sale!) last Saturday night at The Columbia City Theater. Incorporating the theme of their new record On the Casino Floor to transform the venue into a Las Vegas Casino! (roulette wheel ticket giveaway, and Bourlesque dancing included!). A fitting atmosphere for Hotels curious lounge-pop brand of music.
Openers The Devil Whale from Salt Lake City really kind of took me for surprise,(as I had never heard of them) with a killer set of gorgeous and unique rock’n'roll. Singer songwriter Brinton Jones joked that the band had dressed up as Mormons to contribute to the evenings slightly ridiculous costume party. At times reminding me of my favorite parts of Big Star (which is to say, a big compliment!) and others times putting their own twist on The Velvet Underground, The Devil Whale is Seriously a good band, one to look out for!
Local dance rock outfit, The Royal Bear were an energetic addition to the evening. Playing a set that involved their inventive lead guitar player wielding a Nintendo Power Glove. His claim was that he’d rigged it to be some type of sampler. NOW THATS JUST NUTZ!!
Photos by ESandra Chong Hollman
Last Friday at Columbia City Theater was a diverse night of music that exceeded already high expectations. Ships impressed with a super tight set of REALLY well crafted pop songs. Sunny guitar solos and choruses that recall the best of 60′s bands like The Zombies. They even reminded me a bit of local greats Slender Means. If you are a fan of this kind of music, I’d recommend seeing Ships live.
Up next was Joseph Giant, a man who proves himself to be one of the catchiest songwriters in town. Great songs, backed by a really fun live band, including two drummers side by side. Giant, who is actually quite a presence on stage, towering a bit over his band mates, and dwarfing his acoustic guitar so that it looks more like a ukelelee in his hands, is an act to look out for right now.
Not to get too weird, but the energy that night seemed really positive, sort of magical. And this was even before the main event. An already pleased crowd filled the Columbia City Theater and waited in anticipation for Kelli Schaefer , and her band to appear.
I actually had only just heard a couple of Schaefer’s exceptional recordings, and had no idea of how stunned I would be seeing her perform. This was something out of left field folks! I can’t remember the last time I witnessed somebody perform with this caliber of talent! Blessed with the vocal range of an angel, and looking like some creature out of a fairytale, Schaefer absolutely captivates!
Not to mention a completely on-point band, following her dynamics. The digging and scraping sounds found on her album Ghost of the Beast, are brilliantly played live with an actual shovel. Also a choir was brought on at one point to accompany her. What really killed me though, was when the band left her alone on stage with her guitar. The power and presence that she alone carries, is unmatched!! But don’t take it from me. If you haven’t already been told, and if you haven’t seen Kelli Schaefer live, please please go and check this chick out!
I went to Club Motor Friday night to catch a band with a name I like, Death’s Three Daughters. It’s an all girl band that describes themselves as playing Gutter Rock so I thought it could be interesting, and as long as I can remember I’ve had a thing for female bass players, well, except for D’Arcy from the Smashing Pumpkins. I loved the Pumpkins’ early stuff of course, Gish and Siamese Dream, and there were some good bass lines therein, but D’Arcy never did it for me, not even the time I saw them open for the Red Hot Chili Peppers in Detroit way back in 1991. I’d never before been to Club Motor but was pleasantly surprised by the Woman with Purple Hair who took my money and smiled and told me to enjoy the show. I thought I might just have to see if she’d be interested in a drink before the end of the evening. The bar was separated from the main area by a waist level wall topped with chicken wire running up to the ceiling, yes, chicken wire. Seemed right out of The Blues Brothers. I walked to it.
I laughed at the thought of Jim Belushi and Dan Akroyd and got a seat at the bar. I settled, ordered a beer from the Purple Haired Woman who was suddenly serving drinks, and got to reading Patti Smith’s Just Kids as I waited for D3D to go on. The book is one that draws the reader in and then slams them with a phrase that stops everything, the kind of phrase that makes the reader look about the room and take a swig of beer and shout, “Hell yeah!” I came across one such phrase there in Club Motor. While writing about the kind of doubts an artist can have of their talent, about the pursuit of art seeming at times great folly, about there being so much art but so much of it ordinary, Smith wrote, “It seemed indulgent to add to the glut unless one offered illumination.” Right on.
Around 9:30, Death’s Three Daughters stepped up to the stage and checked tuning and levels. Then they crashed a few big staccato chords and jumped right into the first song. There was energy Read the rest of this entry »
I sit down and play a few bars of Pink Floyd’s “Money” on the acoustic, the bass line really, accented with a few bar chords when I want a little more umph. I sing a few verses and go into the solo where I groove on the chords rather than the solo itself. Alone in my apartment, the volume is filling, and I go into the third verse and out to end the song. It leaves me in a good mood, a mood to hear more acoustic music from people who can sing better then I can. My playing is good enough, but I’m still working on that singing bit, and in the moment, I want a beer and a better voice so I head to the Skylark Cafe for a showcase of singer/songwriters. There’s the mild threat of a snowstorm in Seattle tonight, but sometimes music is more important than safety … OK, all the time. And anyway, I always like the possibility of the undiscovered, the new find.
I get there, and Gina Belliveau is already on the stage, the second of four acts. I make mental apologies to the first guy, but I’d had a few tunes to play on my own and that took precedence. I find a seat at the bar, boot the laptop, and order a Manny’s Pale Ale. Gina finishes her song which had been a quiet non-descript number and then says of the next one, “This is about my crazy neighbor and also about being an introvert.” Interesting how many introverts will get up on stage. I know that feeling, introversion. I write enough, all the time really. I play music too, but I’m not the talker, don’t care to be. Get me in a crowd and I’ll just be, people watch, people listen.
I listen thus to Ms. Belliveau. She plays with her fingers rather than a pick, and is better for it. She strums and plucks notes with her nails, sweeps the strings in bold moments and lightly dances fingers across the neck in the mellow parts. I like it. Read the rest of this entry »
I know Shabazz Palaces was the headliner for last Thursday’s smokescreen of a show, but methinks Palaceer Lazaro took advantage of the opportunity to showcase his current favorite band, THEESatisfaction. It was an odd and entertaining show that used an “unusual” formula from the well-worn structure of a traditional music concert (opening band-break-other band-break-headliner). Right from the beginning, you knew something fresh was gonna go down.
Ish Butler, Shabazz’s creator/Palaceer Lazaro, was introduced amidst laser lights and ominous voice modulation by his drum man Tendai Maraire as “Lonnie Michaels, the Cadillac of Human Beings” (amongst other dubious accolades, of course). Butler popped out on stage with an endlessly bright smile, a throwback pseudo-flat top, and a fat gold chain reminiscent of early 90s Cali rappers. Oh, and he was shirtless, underneath his brown Member’s Only (please, see photo above). I must say, dude looks good. But who was this Lonnie Michaels? Turns out he’s an effusive, albeit evasive, hip hop chat show host blessed with a chest and a regal high-backed wicker chair. The ladies of THEESatisfaction were his first guests and the cool-as-all-fuck duo gave little in the way of answers to Lonnie’s bold line of questioning: “Can you describe what space-jazz-rap is?” “Hmmm, no.”
Then some Shabazz Palaces music was played in the dark, behind gobs of smoke. Then some THEESatisfaction songs bumped the house, as Cat and Stasia (first names only) tip toed the edge of the stage, wooed the crowd and performed their séance shuffle as Maraire and Butler carried the deep, heavy beats behind them. This process repeated itself several times over throughout the show, stopping for a few more segments of The Lonnie Michaels Show. Both groups were tight, but the ladies did the crowd especially right this night.
The Gunshot Girls (name’s probably wrong; the dance moves were not) got some face time with the man. Later came the comical “Ask A Rapper” segment. One nerd asked why Seattle hip hop ain’t gettin’ no national love. “It is!” replied Butler. “But we gotta just worry about our own thing (I’m paraphrasing).” As usual, he was right. Another nerd asked when the new Shabazz Palaces record—for Sub Pop—is due. Sometime this May, he told us. One lusty woman, after complimenting Cat and Stasia’s far out look, asked Butler to take his jacket off. He blushingly demurred. Another (there were a lot) question asked where he got his beats from; I can’t remember his specific answer, but it was some sort of cool, esoteric response. He then posed the question to Chocolate Chuck, local producer and younger brother of THEESat’s Catherine Harris-White who was in the audience, to which he hilariously replied, “Safeway.” My favorite question was near the end, however, when someone worked up the nerve and cleverness to ask Butler why he decided to pluralize “Palaces”. He took a step back and laughed; I laughed along with him. “I guess I just like S’s” he said through a smile. “I had Shabazz Palace, but it just looked like it needed another S on the end.”
Later on, Sub Pop president Megan Jasper took a seat on the interview couch, and—here’s where the showcasing comes in—saw first hand a Shabazz/THEESatisfaction “demo” collaboration. Jasper’s label is considering signing the quirky queers to a record deal and Butler would like nothing more than to have his BFFs as labelmates. Other new songs? Yes, there were a few of them. Were they good? Yes, yes they were.