Friday, September 30, 2011

Neptune Grand Opening: Acoustic Night

I went to the free Neptune Grand Opening Acoustic Show and saw Bobby Long, Grant Olsen and Mads Jacobsen put on an excellent show.

First up was Mads Jacobsen, a young looking singer/acoustic guitarist. All 3 acts on acoustic night are singer/acoustic guitarists, it's a theme!
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I only got a tiny bit of video from the last bit of his last song, unfortunately we were a little late getting to the show.

We heard a bit more as we got into the venue and got settled, he was entertaining and sounded great, but I didn't really get enough material to do his set justice.

Next up: Grant Olsen of Arthur & Yu
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Olsen's set was packed full of simple beautiful songs that took full advantage of his voice. Around 4:00 into this one he uses the acoustics of the Neptune to his advantage, getting his vocals soaring and resonating, awesome performance!

On this one he dials it down a bit, which gives the disappointed sad lyrics more bite, wonderful song in a powerfully sad way:

Bobby Long took the stage for the headlining set. Long is a big shambling dude who was rocking the flannel - as a big shambling dude who rocks the flannel on occasion I can appreciate that!
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I'm messing around with photo sizes a bit, seeing how much detail I can get into a 640 pixel wide image, he's not that much bigger than everyone else, just shown in more detail.

Bobby Long seems like a Seattle natural with the flannel and the self deprecating sense of humor, and the interesting song topics, although the British accent sets him a little apart. Here he performs "My Sweet Mary Jane" and this one is in 1080p so you can watch the really high def version if you have fat enough internet pipes.

Long's guitar style is a little different, tending more to runs and counter-rhythms, less to chords with fixed plucking patterns. It gives his songs a more varied sound, it seems to me.

The Acoustic Night show really did a great job highlighting how nice the acoustics are in the Neptune. It's not dead sonically, it's mildly bright - things echo and ring some, and you want at least a little to give you that wider space live feeling. The impressive part is the clarity - the rounded shape of the auditorium keeps the echos somewhat diffuse/spread out which makes them almost inaudible, yet used wisely like Grant Olsen did they can add a huge amount to the timbre and resonance of the performance.

The Neptune Theater is an amazingly nice sounding venue that can put on mildly large sized shows - when I worked there as a teen it held a little over 800, I suspect the capacity is down a bit with the bar and all, but still probably well over 500. I didn't notice a posted capacity, but I wasn't looking particularly hard. All 3 STG venues (the Neptune joins the Moore and the Paramount, I believe) are gems visually and acoustically. They don't build them like this any more, which is too bad. The odd unique details (Neptune's heads and old school over-sized women's lounge at the Neptune, underground bar and little mini-balconies on the sides at the Moore, odd upper floor areas with great internal views and men's and women's rooms with really old school lounges and cool chandeliers) enhance the experience, making each space unique, yet they also share the old school approach in many ways.

P.S. With the Salsa band Sonora La Rebellion the previous night on the September 28 at the Neptune and performances on September 29 that gets me to 345 performances, 289 for the first time. All 4 were new to me, and all were excellent. The Salsa Band was awesome, I wish I had some video. Too bad!

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