Thursday, April 14, 2011

April Veracity

April's Veracity was another in a series of great free shows booked by Monica, the out-going Veracity chair. Monica served as chairperson for a year, and now it's my turn. I'll still be cooking and selling vegan tacos at the shows, and Monica will still be booking them, so it may not change things too much.

The details depend largely on who joins the Veracity committee - The Vera Project has a non-hierarchical culture that promotes self directing, self organizing teams, so it's up to the committee what we do and how we do it. Right now the committee consists of Monica and I, so swapping the chairperson hat doesn't really change things that much. We're having our members meeting today, so if new people decide to join the Veracity committee then things could change, and that would be cool, but we'll still have great free shows either way. But enough about internal/committee stuff, on to the show!

The first band up was Pink Pajamas.
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The lead vocalist explained that the name came from a dream she had - funny bit of patter explaining it, but I didn't catch all of the details.

They were fun - some odd costumes which gave them some visual interest, but the lighting was very dim. The videos end up being a little hard to see. I liked this song, but it's so dim you can't see much of anything:

This song wasn't quite as nice, but someone turned at least a little light on so you can make out more detail:

The lead vocalist has a good expressive voice and flashed some fun moves - kicks and jumps - and the music had a fairly nice grinding edge to it. Not bad for the intro act at a free show.

Next up was Bourgeois Bulletwound - love that name, it's got it all: alliteration, violence, class references - cool! They used a power trio (bass, drums and guitar) plus a secret weapon: a violinist. I had my usual difficulties framing things, here you can see the guitarist/vocalist and violinist:
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...while in this one (from the concessions stand) you can sort of see the drummer and the back side of the bassist. Not my best work.
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The three out front had hats, all different, but the drummer didn't. Not sure if that was a style choice, or just a reaction to the typical cold wet and windy Seattle spring weather. At least the video has better lighting, they must have left a few more lights on:

I'm afraid my video doesn't really do them (or the openers) justice, Loading Video has a video that does them much better justice. They had the audience dancing and enjoying things, as one of the bands mentioned "wow - the crowd is dancing, and there's no booze involved!" I know my tendency to dance (well, pogo and thrash around, that's about as close as I come) increases with alcohol.

The violin fit well with their sound, the vocalist/guitarist did a good job, and the rhythm section held things together nicely. Appealing band, fun to watch and even more fun to bounce around to. Their second to last song was a 10 minute epic that had me jumping around, very nice work.

The final band was E-Clec-Ti-City, a pretty big band with a horn section (is a duo a section?). They had a drummer, bass, guitar, stand-up drummer (is that a conga? not very well informed on drum terminology), an organ player, a trombone and a saxophone.
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They were a very tight unit with excellent intricate arrangements. Good songs obviously very well practiced - they'd hit a break and suddenly all blast out a note, then a rest, then a different note/chord, then a rest, and play a measure or two with a very choppy on/off sound, then jump right back into the song, all together with no mess or slop. It takes a very confident and well practiced band to pull that off, and they did it on several songs.

They also did some interesting improvisation, and the guitarist could be heard rearranging things on the fly (at least by me, back in the concessions stand). They'd be doing a slower buildup in an intro, and he'd turn and yell "not yet, not yet" off the mic so the PA didn't pick it up, and they'd stretch the intro and perhaps some improv our for a few more measures, then blast on into the song as if it was all routine, changing and extending on the fly was no big deal at all.

They did some rock-n-roll sounding stuff, a little reggae and ska sounding stuff, yet they also made me think of jazz bands with their improv approach and some fairly intricate rhythmic progressions. My daughter (who was selling tacos at the show) disagreed with me when I said it made me think of jazz, so maybe I'm way off base, but that's how I reacted to it.

The crowd ate it up, dancing and applauding to every number and enjoying the heck out of an excellent show. When the show ended we had lots of the audience hanging around to visit the bands and bask in the glow of an excellent show, and some of the musicians ended up jamming and playing around in the show room for a while after the show. It took a while to clean up and get out of the venue, but it was well worth it. You don't put on a show like that unless you really love performing music and all of the interpersonal work it takes to get that tight, and that informs your attitude. These guys loved playing music, and it showed, and we loved listening to it.

Another awesome free (free!) Veracity show, I don't know how Monica keeps coming up with such great lineups, she always tells me "it's easy, just ask" - yeah, it's easy if you know a whole pile of good bands who are willing to play for free if you ask. I'm pretty sure the shows wouldn't be nearly as cool if I was booking them, but at least now I know another 3 cool bands that are willing to put on a free show and kick some ass while doing it!

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