Monday, February 28, 2011

Wild Nothing, Abe Vigoda and M. Women at the Vera 2-28-11

Carina and I headed down to the Vera Project to check out Sunday night's show. Unfortunately the schedule was a little earlier than I expected (bands at 8, 9 and 10, I expected them to be a half hour later) so we missed M. Women's set, which was too bad. Tristan told me that members of M. Women (which is an abbreviation for Medieval Woman based on materil on their CD) so with any luck I should get an opportunity to see them again. I got their inexpensive CD while I was at the show so I could at least give them a listen and they're fun: fuzzed out guitar oriented rock, verses traded back and forth between (I think) a couple of male vocalists and a female. One of the men reminds me a little of Fred in the B52s, almost talking while he's singing.

On to the acts I actually got to see live, not just listen to on CD.

First up was Abe Vigoda - I love the name, I grew up watching Barney Miller and Abe Vigoda was a key part of that show. His ability to communicate a complex idea by raising an eyebrow or just looking at someone was hilarious. He also had a prominent role in the Godfather movies, telling Michael "It wasn't personal, just business" as Michael orders his murder (if I remember right) so the band gets a certain amount of credit in my head off of those associations. It didn't hurt that they put on a good engaging show.
In the photo above the guy on the right playing keyboards played guitar about as much as the keyboards. The guitarist standing just behind him (partially obscured by him) is actually the drummer. He left a drum machine playing at the beginning of the song, put down his sticks, and went over and got the white strat out and played it for a verse or two, then put it down and went back to the drums without missing a beat. The keyboard player switched back to the white strat for many of the songs.

I tried to get a tighter closeup on the two here:
...and it ended up looking like the guitarist is some sort of evil demon with glowing red eyes. This has nothing to do with the show, but it amuses me so I included it.

I have a slightly hard time describing them, they aren't too much like any other band I can think of. Some of the guitar approach and effects remind me a little of middle Pink Floyd, but only vaguely. Good guitar work, good interplay between instruments, nice song structures. Different songs actually sound quite different - sure it's the same band, but they vary the sound quite a bit from song to song. The first video I recorded (that flickr can host) had some lousy camera work at the start but then settles in:

I liked this one; it took a little for the hooks and sound to sink in and gel, but it grew on me as they played. They sound different, and coming from me that's a compliment. Once again the 90 second limit is a bit of a disservice, but that's the best I can do with flickr.

This next song (after a sloppy opening, sorry about the poor camera work, I should've trimmed it but I'm too lazy) has an interesting interplay between the 2 guitars, fairly repetitive at first, but it evolves and changes, then returns to the underlying hook. It also includes a nice bit of dual vocals around a minute in.

Between the interesting song structures, the guitar vs. guitar interplay and the doubled vocals here and there I found a lot to like about this band.

Next up was Wild Nothing, the headliners.
Wild Nothing's songs usually seem to last 4 to 6 or 7 minutes and they like to develop them over time, adding sounds and changing things, the results are quite interesting, this is a band with some good ideas and the chops to pull them off, but the 90 second limit on flickr video posts works against them - you don't get to hear the full arc of the song on a clip like this:

Interesting approach, mostly pretty guitar oriented but the bass player did play some keyboards in a few songs. Nice band moving in some different directions which is perhaps a bit of a theme for the night, since Abe Vigoda also could be described as moving in different directions.

I liked seeing the two bands with different but thematically similar (in my head, anyway) approaches on a single bill. It'll be interesting to see if either band breaks through to bigger success, they certainly have the potential in talent. They seem to be moving in some different directions that don't sound too much like anybody else, and I'm a fan of new approaches so I'm rooting for them.

The apparent different directions may be a side effect of my lack of musical knowledge - there could be many bands that sound just like that - but I think both bands have the potential to carve out a unique sound/style and develop into interesting bands worth following for years to come.

Update: as NWMusicPDX pointed out in the comments below, I originally had the 2 bands backwards in this post. Doh! Hopefully I have that straightened out now.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Blogs That I Commented on This Month

Periodically I google recent blogs that mention bands I've been blogging about and go read them; I usually leave a comment and link back to my blog. Most of the viewers of my blog get to it from these links, so I really appreciate the support from the music bloggers. All they had to do is allow comments and approve mine - but not all sites will go that far.

I figure I should include periodic roundups of which sites I've found and read from and any pithy comments that ocur to me while I'm at it, so here goes.

I'll have to work back and figure out which sites I've linked to already, so any links that didn't generate any traffic will probably get overlooked. Hmm, maybe that's a feature!

Stereogum's Sasquatch! Lineup 2011 blog generated the most page views. It's a good blog post, a short amount of text describing things, a linked in Sasquatch promotional poster image and a long list of awesome bands that aer going to play. Dense with useful information, even meaty. I'll have to check back periodically.

Presidents of the USA (PUSA) Blog not only allowed me to post my comment, they then rewrote the blog post to include interesting links starting with the Seattle Times, Seattlest, and but eventually working it's way down to the show by show list, and there for the sold out All-Ages day 2 show under reviews is:
"PUSA-Fest at the Showbox Feb 19, 2011 (with Videos!) – Virtual Sound"
The title is mine, but the "(with videos!)" is not, so they found the videos remarkable. That's pretty cool.

I got plenty of traffic from KiK Axe Music which allowed me to comment on their Atomic Tom post about their video for the cover of "Don't You Want Me" - I have a complex relationship with that song, although if you follow the most recent link you have to read a fairly long and rambling blog before it gets to my relationship with that song.

My own blog generated 4 views. So at least somebody has followed links from one of my blogs to another. Not too much of that, but it happens. I'll have to continue putting together more link heavy posts like this one and see if that increases the readership. Maybe I can drive a few more visits to the less seen pages like the Rock and Roll Circus, January and February Veracity shows,and the All Ages Project show featuring Kimya Dawson - somewhat obscure, but well worth checking out.

Next tied at 3 referals are the Smoke Wreck Kings site (includes a freely downloadable album, so check it out!) and Play On Daily, a nice music blog with a simple Facebook "like" button include, so I liked their blog about the Presidents and a song they were hoping to hear and commented with a link back to my blog.

I ended up showing up in the background of the Sasquatch Fest slide show on the Seattle Weekly's music blog site so I commented on a blog there and got a couple of referals. That's me over there in the middle of the circle during Mad Rad filming some video.

Of course I put links to posts onto Facebook so I get traffic from that, but that's not quite what I was focussing on here. Similarly I get traffic from Google due to searches, they are usually pretty specific band or even band member queries shortly after I publish a post.

So I continue to search for blog posts on the bands I'm seeing and add comments referring back to my own web pages. Some generate traffic, some don't, but it's an interesting exercise. A couple of blog writers have responded by commenting on my blog post for the same show. Well, I went and looked and when I asy a couple I mean one, Dave. He doesn't have his profile publicly available so I can't follow it back to his blog. Too bad!

I got some traffic from Fault Magazine where I had commented about on their Night Beats piece about Seeing the Nightbeats at the February Veracity show.

BoyceAve 007
ASAP Music had a Boyce Avenue blog
I commented on.
Feb 2011
I just left a comment on the mvremix rock blogs note about intro bands for the Decemerists, we'll see if it triggers any views.

Update: I commented and linked to my blog on Wild Nothing and Abe Vigoda on blogs like KCRW Presents, Morning Becomes Electric, Portland Events: Music, Art, Entertainment, Sustainability at, NWMusicPDX, Confluence of Sound, the Heart Is A Lonely Hunter (the post was a video of the band, no text), and Reverb (I think this Reverb blog is based in Denver)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Real Time Updates From Shows

Web on small cell phones is at best marginal, mostly useless. SMS fits better.
The above post was done via SMS from my cell phone. Worked OK, but it's slow, tedious, and not too expressive. No photos, no videos, no links.

I've been thinking about trying to post live from shows but I'm not fond of the options I've tried so far.

I have an Android mini-tablet that can use WiFi, so I may try that at the Vera where I think I can get on the WiFi. It's large enough the the touch screen keyboard is usable by me, and the display is large enough to be mostly useful on the web. The USB-on-the-go feature should even allow me to post photos and videos to flickr if I can figure out how to do that, and once they are on flickr I can link to them from my blog at the show. In theory, anyway.

There's a show tomorrow night (Thursday 2/24) at the Vera with The Courage, I think I can try it out there. I'll follow up with a blog to let you know how it goes.

If it goes really well I'll follow up with a blog from the show. We'll see.

Update: Wimped out
It snowed and I worked at home and didn't get motivated enough to head out the door.
Two more opportunities this weekend at least, the weather hasn't been too cooperative though.
Later Update:
This is trivial for a modern smart phone like and Android or an iPhone. At Veracity shows I usually post a photo onto Facebook from each band as they start playing.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Smoke Wreck Kings at the Blue Moon tavern 2-13-2011

I saw Boyce Avenue at the Vera Project on Saturday Feb. 12, and Marcus King was volunteering, helping run the show. I visited with him for a bit, talking about favorite shows and so on, and he told me that his band was playing the Blue Moon the next night. He also told me that he recognized my wife when she picked me up after a show at the Vera project. Apparently he works at the Seattle Floral Supply Syndicate where my wife picks up flowers and vases and so on. Small world!

I looked up the Blue Moon show early on Sunday and discovered that Sunday shows at the Blue Moon are free. Free shows - now they're talking my language!

Sundays are my day to cook for the kids and I was making pizza from scratch, so it was a little hectic, but Dana and I got out roughly on schedule and headed down to the U District. Unfortunately in my haste I forgot to grab my digital camera and Flip video recorder. Dang!

We got there a bit before 8 and listened to the Lost River String Band finish the last few bluegrass songs in their set. I have a soft spot for bluegrass, I grew up listening to my dad playing it on the stereo, he was a big fan. Pretty much every Friday night at the end of another hard week of work dad would sack out on the couch listening to the KRAB live bluegrass show, recording it too. Fond memories from my childhood...

After a short break the Smoke Wreck Kings came out and started playing. They had Rubio playing the djemba with a very nice touch giving them a solid foundation, and Alika Lyman playing stand-up bass (odd synchronicity: Lyman is my middle name, an old family name,not very common) and Marcus playing a hollow body guitar and singing. I took some fairly poor cell phone photos of the band:
I really enjoyed the set, 3 songs in particular stood out but I didn't get anything recorded - dang! Check out this copy of "Something to Believe." You can even download a copy if you want. They have a whole album you can download here: - this is recorded with Alika playing lead on electric guitar. Sounds pretty hot! Apparently Alika usually plays electric guitar, so I'll have to keep an eye out for another chance to catch them and see which approach I prefer, the recording with Alika on guitar sounds pretty cool.

I really enjoyed the set and besides "Something to Believe In" several other songs were quite memorable, considering I'd never heard them before. There was a song about America that was great, "No Soul" was effective, and they had a sort of title song that include the lyric "Smoke Wreck King" that was very good.

I'll have to be more careful to take my cameras and field recorder to shows, though. I don't really have much of any record of the show to remind me of the details - and with my memory, the details are going to fade over time. Still it was nice getting to cuddle with Dana, have a couple of beers, and listen to a great set of music. Thanks to Marcus for tipping me off!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Decemberists at the Paramount 2-18-2011

I took my wife to the Decemberists show at the Paramount on Friday, February 18 as a belated Valentines day celebration. My wife and I had our first date (an awfully long time ago) on Valentines day, and were re-married in the Catholic Church a few years back on Valentines day as well, so it's an important anniversary for us.

On the other hand, my wife works in the floral industry so she usually has to work the day before and during Valentines day. The end result is that we usually end up celebrating Valentines day a little later, so the Decemberist's show fit the bill.

My daughters took me to see the Decemberists a few years back at the Woodland Park Zoo and I enjoyed them quite a bit. They have a unique sound between Collin Melloy's slightly nasal yearning vocals and the doubled backup vocals - the girl in the band who plays keyboards also sings backup, and the drummer (I think, I may be misremembering) also sings falsetto backup vocals, doubling the notes with the girl, giving it an interesting stronger and deeper sound. The instrumentation is also fairly unique, and the topics and lyrics are quite different - they remind me a bit of early Al Stewart, historical references and all, definitely not mainstream subjects. I saw them again at Bumbershoot and enjoyed that too.

The show was at the Paramount which is a nice venue since Ida Cole (an ex-Microsoft VP) bought it and rennovated it.
Feb 2011
Dana and I got there shortly after the first act went on. I love the old building with it's tall lobby, vast open spaces and interesting light fixtures.
Feb 2011

The intro act was Feb 2011">Sarah Watkins, she was doing three part a capella harmonies for the most part. Nice presentation:
Feb 2011
I got some videos of them, here's an example, it's a bit shaky:

After a short break the Decemberists came on and the crowd was buzzing with the main floor filling up. The Decemberists were tight and well rehearsed, and they had a new weapon in their arsenal: an attractive woman with a powerful voice. She's on the right in a dark dress behind the 12 string guitarist who is tuning. As far as I can tell the rest of the band is the same Decemberists I've seen since the beginning.
Feb 2011The music is polished and fairly intricate. I split this next song into 2 pieces since flickr stops at 90 seconds, play one then the other.

The Decemberists have gained more polish, more authority, and a rocked out number with the new chick belting out a powerful lead vocal and a tight bass heavy powerful rock guitar number, they did not have that in their repertoirce the last time I saw them. Good to see the Decemberists growing and changing and still doing some of the best shoe gazy historic fiction oddities in the business. Thanks to my sweetie for hanging out with the ladies from the intro act while I recorded the Decemberists. Like the drummer from Atomic Tom (came up to talk when my sweetie was picking me up after the show, nobody visited until Dana was there) and Lucas of Smoke Wreck Kings who worked with Dana before he met me she gets their attention and talks to musicians more than I do.

Coffee Shops and Bookstores

I like seeing free live music, and during the Summer there are many good opportunities around here. Concert series in parks, free shows at the Mural Amphitheater in the Seattle Center, free shows at Westlake and so on, most weekends have some free shows if you look for them. During the Winter you have to look a little harder for free indoor shows, but they are out there.

Third Place Books in Shoreline has free live music on most weekends. I stopped in yesterday for a bit and there was a bluegrass band performing; after a few songs they started doing square dancing - not really my thing, but it was fun to watch and listen to.

The Hot Wire coffee shop in Shoreline had frequent free shows; it's since changed hands and become the Laughing Ladies espresso shop, but they still have free shows on occasion.

I stopped by the Lyons Den in Bothell for coffee this week and noticed that next week they have their 1 year anniversary celebration with 7 bands on Friday and 6 bands on Saturday. I think there may be a $5 cover on one of those days, but I'm not sure. Even at $5 that's a pretty good deal - less than $1 per band!

Unfortunately I won't be able to make it to the Lyon's Den either day, since I'm going to the Decemberists show at the Paramount on Friday and the Presidents of the USA show at the Showbbox at the Market on Saturday; there are worse problems to have than too many good options, though!

Once Summer gets here the free show options explode: the Folk Life Festival is always great, and many communities have free outdoor concert series in their parks including Edmonds, Shoreline, Bothell, and several in Seattle.

I've been trying to pay more attention and see more shows, especially free shows, so I'll blog about interesting shows coming up and post videos and pictures from those that I make it to. I'm looking forward to it!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Upcoming Shows and Recent Shows I Missed

I've been plotting out my strategies for seeing free and cheap shows this weekend.

I'll probably see Boyce Avenue at the Vera for free, although I may have to sign up to steer, since nobody else is volunteering. Could be worse - it could actually cost me some cash!

I also entered a drawing for a pair of free tickets to Sebadoh thanks to the Seattle Weekly. I'm not likely to win free tickets, but sending an e-mail is easy enough so I might as well try.

I saw that Rypint played a show Wednesday night, but I didn't notice until Thursday. Doh! I've never seen him live, but he made a best of 2010 list from a local music blogger (which I promptly lost tack of, too bad, I liked the post & I'd link to it if I could find it). The video by Rypint is classic:

I particularly enjoy the little kid and the lousy job at a pawn shop - no bogus bling here, until the obviously bogus bling in the Cribs parody. The freakout when he hears his stuff on the radio was pretty awesome too. He's local, so hopefully I'll get some more chances to see him shortly.

The Vera Project also has a new exhibit opening in their lobby/gallery with live music on Friday (tomorrow, 2/11) so I may be able to catch that. It's free - with snacks, no less! Quite a bargain.

There are some interesting fairly inexpensive options like Big John Hamhock (gotta love the name) at Slim's Last Chance Chili Shack & Watering Hole on Friday for $7.

I'm not sure which shows (if any) I can make it too, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I'll be disappointed if I don't at least make it to Boyce Avenue at the Vera, anyway.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

February Retrospective

February ended up being much more actively musically than I had expected. The quality of the acts at the Veracity shows continues to be outstanding, free shows at the Blue Moon kick ass, regional acts that got big (Decemberists, Presidents) can still put on a killer show, and lots of interesting acts get through Seattle. For the month I'm up to 20 bands, 16 for the first time in February with 4 previously seen bands (the Thermals and Decemberists 3 times, Presidents 4, Mad Rad twice). Adding January in I've seen 35 bands, 28 for the first time.

Amazingly enough I actually seem to get a few readers, so I definitely want to give a shout out to the blogs that let me post links to my show blogs, I posted a list of them in a seperate blog. Thanks everyone!

Highlights: The first good mosh pit of 2011 at the Thermals Sasquatch Kick-off show on Super Bowl Sunday.
SasquatchKickOff 039

Checking out the Smoke Wreck Kings after hanging with Marcus for a couple of Vera shows and getting blown away by several songs.

Atomic Tom covering a seminal song from my adolescence.
AtomicTom 037

Excellent lineup of 4 killer bands at Veracity, still by far the best value in Seattle live music.

The first good sellout of 2011 at the Vera by Boyce Avenue.

The Presidents kick-ass PUSA-Fest show - best mosh pit yet, they had us bouncing so hard!

The Decemberists polishing and perfecting their sound, then totally deconstructing it in a rocked out screamer.
Feb 2011

Missed shows: Grynch hosted Scribe's CD Release party on Feb. 4 with Knowmads and Kung Foo Grip. Missed Rypint. Black Milk with Candidt and Grynch.
Friday 2/18 at the Vera I missed Us on Roofs, Land of Pines, The Cat from Hue and The Warm Hardies - I took Dana to the Decemberists that night. Shabazz Palaces and Thee Satisfaction at Neumos sounded good, too bad I missed it. Gang of Four at the Showbox, Seattle Weekly says "killed it." Dang. Sebadoh and Quasi. The Courage at the Vera.
Free Sundays at the Blue Moon usually get past me too. There were actually too many missed good shows to list them all, I wish I had more free time and disposable income, and maybe a time travel machine, so I could catch more of them.

On to March, plenty of shows coming up at the Vera Project, and I think my plan to get a free trip to Sasquatch Fest looks like it's going to work out - keeping my fingers crossed. I won't be blogging about that event for a few months yet, of course.

PUSA-Fest at the Showbox Feb 19, 2011

We got 4 tickets to day 2 the Presidents of the USA Fest, the Saturday night show which was all ages. The original plan was for me to take the kids but Carina ended up canceling at the last minute so Greg ended up agreeing to go. I've known Greg since we were in high school more than 3 decades ago and while we've seen a few shows together it has been a lot of years since the last one. I remember Greg providing tickets to a memorable Eric Clapton show where I got to hear the missing verse of Badge, and seeing the Kinks and other interesting bands with him.

It's been a while so I wondered how he'd hold up. We stopped by Dicks for milk shakes, burgers and fries on the way to pick up Greg, then headed down to the Showbox. We parked for free a few blocks away on Third and walked through the cold air to the Showbox. I wore a knitted cap Heather made for me and my wool jacket, it was cool but I didn't want to have to deal with all the layers at the show; I also made sure to wear a shirt with a pocket to hold the field recorder. I ended up checking my coat (pockets crammed full of hats and gloves) which made things easier.

First up was the Young Evils with Troy Nelson and his girlfriend Mackenzie Mercer.
They were a bit light and pop-rockish, but they had talent and charisma. This short bit catches them sounding fun with a good pop vibe:

This song - "The Place I Lost My Mind" - was quite effective, flickr truncates this at 90 seconds:

Here they are in a bit more of a rocking vein:

Good opening act, the audience enjoyed it but was somewhat distracted.

Next up was Jonathon Coulton, a solo singer acoustic guitar player.
He knew what he was doing. Some songs had a definite novelty feel - the Ikea bit was amusing - but some also had some bite. The one song about being down in the basement where the shop vacuum drowns out when you call me and when you cry was effective. Greg, Heather and Ben all gave this guy a thumbs up: good acoustic guitar work, very modern observations and sensibilities wrapped up in a classic nimble guitar picking pop/folk idiom, fun stuff.

Finally the Presidents took the stage.
PrezChris Bellew was excited, hopping around and going a mile a minute running his mouth like he usually does. The crowd was as livedly as I care to see it, Ben and I had to back off 8 or 10 feet, the moshing was just too intense for us.

An energetic enthusiastic crowd, the Presidents blasting all of those familiar tunes, the frenzied bouncing crowd each and every time the Presidents hit a peak or a groove - the break in Little Dune Buggy (check out the audience bouncing 25 seconds in, crazy Presidents lyrics working so well "spider's bad ass fat old abdomen stuck in the bucket seat" - classic, they had us bouncing all over, made it hard to record.
Some Postman ruled, as the son of a postman I'm never sure what to make of this song, but it rocks out with a fun groove:

Lump didn't limp along at sub-sonic speed so I only got the tail end:

Naked and Famous was off the scale "30 foot smurfs" - yes, everybody does want to be naked and famous, and 30 foot smurfs - there's not much else to say:
Old Man On the Back Porch - they're getting old, and so am I, that old man is me for sure:

Kitty ruled, check out the audience sing along:

My camera ran out of room so we just rocked out to the rest of the show, with classic versions of We're Not Going to Make It (the whole crowd chanting No! NO! NO! NO!...), Kick Out The Jams (We Done Kicked Them OUT!), and ending with Video Killed the Radio Star at the end of the encore leaving a mussed up, hot and happy crowd to stream out of the Showbox into the cold Seattle night.

Sasquatch Kick-off with The Thermals, Das Racist and Mad Rad

Heather and I got free tickets to the Sasquatch Kick-off show at the Showbox on Sunday, 2-6-11. We got to see the Thermals, Das Racist, and Mad Rad and a short Sasquatch promo that listed the bands playing at Sasquatch at the end of May. All 3 bands are playing Sasquatch, and so are a pile of other bands like Foo Fighters and Reggie Watts. Man I hope I can figure out a way to see it for free, because there's no way I can afford >$200 for tickets to all 4 days.

I've seen the Thermals a couple of times at Bumbershoot and I saw Mad Rad at the Capitol Hill Block Party last Summer, so I new I was going to enjoy this show.

Mad Rad kicked it off with their infectious obnoxious hip hop. They're all about partying and having a good time. They played with a dude on the drum kit, a dude scratching the turn-tables, a woman playing the cello (unusual for a hip hop band, but I loved it) and 3 guys out front rapping. One interesting problem I have is that the more I like the show the less I record of it - I hate having to stand still, I'd rather bounce around and make noise. Even when I do record some of the show I end up not being able to hold still all that much, so the video ends up a little hard to watch, like this:

That's Mad Rad doing "Life on Party Mountain" which is about Capitol Hill - these are local boys for sure! I enjoy that song, and ended up in the middle of the mosh pit which adds an additional degree of difficulty to the video recording as people bounce off of you. Nice problem to have, from my point of view, so I'm not complaining, just explaining why the video is a little jumpy.

One interesting bit is that I showed up in the Seattle Weekly slide show for the Sasquatch Kick-off show. If you follow the link and look carefully you can see me standing a little to the right of center holding up my flip video recorder and taping the show. That could be the video I posted here (I filmed 3 songs, so it could be a different one).

Between acts Todd Bary came out and told some jokes, keeping us amused. He seemed surprised at how well it went, hard to say if that was his schtick or he really just expected to get boos from a hip hop/punk show crowd.
SasquatchKickOff 010

After a short comic break Das Racist came out and did their set.

Interesting band, for much of their material racism isn't the subtext, it's the text. They recited their ethnic backgrounds as they came out, all kinds of different stuff combined, it went by too fast for me to catch, and they gave the crowd a bit of ribbing for being so white. Their rapping was fun and the hispanic looking dude in particular had a good flow. They also played with our (racial) expectations in interesting ways, but mostly we were having too much fun moshing for it to sink in.

After Das Racist and another brief appearance from Todd Barry they ran the Sasquatch promotional video announcing a huge list of bands and the crowd cheered for it's favorites (Decemberists, Foo Fighters, Reggie Watts, and on and on; I know I'm repeating myself, but I'd love to see Foo Fighters and Reggie Watts, not to mention 10 or 20 other bands, at least!).

Finally the Thermals came out and played a kick-ass set of high energy punkish rock and roll. The Thermals are an almost local (from Portland) power trio setup with a dude playing guitar and singing, a woman playing bass and singing some backup vocals, and a dude on drums. I enjoy the energy and the crowd was totally into it, moshing and thrashing all over. My first good mosh pit of 2011, lets hope for more like it!

After a short break to catch our breath the Thermals brought Das Racist and Mad Rad and another dude up and played for them while they took turns rapping. I gave up on filming by then, but I did get a picture.
SasquatchKickOff 043

The Latino looking dude from Das Racist rapped, then one of the guys from Mad Rad, and finally a different dude who hadn't performed earlier finished it off. The dude in the #18 jersey in the picture was the last rapper - I don't know who he is, but he had excellent rapping skills and finished the night off with some excellent imrpovised raps and sent us off happy. Excellent show, and man did it work: I really really want to go to Sasquatch Fest now. I better start sucking up to the Programming Committe at the Vera so I can get a free slot at Sasquatch in exchange for tabling at the show. Oh well, if that doesn't work out I'll just have to stay in Seattle for the Folk Life Festival, things could be worse.

Atomic Tom and Chinook Jargon at the Vera (and Verlee for Ransom) Project 2-3-11

I headed over to the Seattle Center after work to check out Atomic Tom at the Vera Project. Since it's the first Thursday of the month, the EMP is free so I figured I could check the EMP out as well. I worked on Trimpin's "If VI Were IX" Roots & Branches exhibit (it's a guitar robot!) so I like to check on it every so often. Here's a picture:

It turns out that nobody had signed up to steer the Vera show, so I ended up volunteering to do it. I had a little time so I zipped over to the EMP and found that quite a bit of it is closed for renovations - the old Northwest Passage is gone and the SF museum portion is closed with the exhibit out traveling for a couple of years. They had a nice Battlestar Galactica exhibit with a couple of full size space ships (the small 1 person fighters) that was pretty cool:
AtomicTom 006

After checking it out I headed down to the Sky Church and watched Verlee For Ransom:

Cute young band, nice sound, a little light for my taste but well done.

After a bit of their set I had to head back to the Vera - the steering role means I have to setup the food for the band in the green room, so I had to get to work.

Attendance was light - not unusual for a weekday show, but it's too bad, the bands were quite good. First up was Chinook Jargon:

They all wore face paint, which was a little different. I heard they were booked at the last minute for the opening slot, although I'm not sure if that's true. They were quite young and seemed to really enjoy performing, and their enthusiasm was infectious. The drummer played a full set standing up, and the other members of the band frequently played drums as well. All four of them also sang on some of the songs. Interesting approach, I quite enjoyed them

Next up was Atomic Tom, the head-liners. Apparently they had a viral hit with their video of "Take Me Out" recorded on the NYC subway with over 4 million views. While setting up the food I listened as they did the ost thorough and careful sound check I've ever heard a band do at the Vera. They also had a very good merchandise setup and had it all ready to go well before the doors opened. Many bands have e-mail list signups at the merchandise table, but Atomic Tom was the first I've ever seen where you signed up for the e-mail list on a laptop. Impressive organization and execution!

It helps that the band is talented and charismatic, of course.

They also did a cover of the Human League's "Don't You Want Me" which I enjoyed. I have an odd relationship with this song. In 1981 I was working on my first professional programing job (I wasn't even 21 yet) and got flown down to San Diego to work on a welding robot project. I was working in a factory and they had a radio blaring all day and night, and I swear "Don't You Want Me" played 4 times an hour. Since I was working 14 to 15 hour days I'd hear the song 50+ times a day. I liked the song at first, but eventually it really started getting way overdone. I haven't heard it much since, and those memories are now fond memories of my early career, so I enjoy hearing the song now - as long as it's not 50 times a day. So here's a video of some of Atomic Tom's performance of "Don't You Want Me" - the camera work sucks, sorry about that:

February Veracity

My daughter Heather and I cooked vegan tacos for February's Veracity show and the bands put on a great show.

First up was Talking in Tongues who were playing as we setup the wok and grilled onions and peppers for tacos while the beans were heating in the microwave. I got some field recorder audio which should be pretty high quality but I haven't reviewed it yet, so I've ended up with no record of the act so far. I remember guitars and keyboard, with a guitarist leaning over his guitar to play the keyboard on a couple of songs, enjoying the groove on a couple of numbers and liking the overall sound. I'll try to update this when I get around to listening to the .wav files.

The second act was Si Si Si, a power trio with an additional percussion dude doing tambourine. Fun loud punkish stuff, I got some video:

The crowd was moving a bit and dancing was breaking out, which always takes the energy level up and makes for a better show. I was bouncing around back in the concessions stand and out in front of the band, getting some audio and video recordings and enjoying the show.

The third act was the Shivas who played with 2 guitars, bass and drums. The drummer was an attractive statuesque brunette, the music had a simple surfer vibe and was fun - even more dancing and motion in the crowd, one of the better crowd experiences in several months of Veracity shows.

Great Veracity show already with 3 bands and we weren't done.

The Night Beats were the headliners and they came out as we cleaned up the taco fixings and washed off the dishes.
This bit sounded almost spaghetti western-ish after the transition:

The crowd was feeling it and the show was cooking with the Night Beats cooking up a range of interesting sounds, getting a bit of the surfer feel again, but also veering off in other unpredictable directions.

We stayed until the Night Beats finished and then packed it in and headed home in a great mood - I love seeing a good show and all 4 bands had been fun and interesting.

I looked up the Night Beats after the show, they got some nice blog love here and there.

My camera's batteries were dead so I mostly got videos and audio recordings, but the videos seem to have turned out OK. I've run my laptop out of room for all of the videos so I'll have to get a USB hard drive or something to back up the videos before I can get process more video, so the logistics of getting the posts done has been more challenging recently but not too bad.
This weekend I'm going to the Decemberists on Friday and the Presidents of the USA on Saturday with the kids, it'll be awesome, maybe even epic - but a challenge to keep up on the blogs in a timely manner.

Boyce Avenue, Megan & Liz and Tiffany Alvord at the Vera 2-13-2011

I saw Boyce Avenue, Megan & Liz and Tiffany Alvord at the Vera project Saturday night. They sold the venue out, so they added a second show Sunday night too, although I didn't see that one.

Tiffany Alvord played first; she's young, cute and talented. She did a cover of "I Want To Be A Billionaire" that I enjoyed:

Next up was Megan & Liz, twin girls who sang while one played guitar on most numbers. They also sang to some pre-recorded music for an original tune. I didn't get that one on video, but I got this cover of Ke$ha tune:

They remind me a bit of First Aid Kit (two young women singing harmonies with an acoustic guitar) which is intended as a compliment, since I really enjoyed First Aid Kit. First Aid Kit did more folk oriented material though, where Megan & Liz did more pop oriented stuff. I like the nice harmonies, and so did the audience. I talked a little bit with one woman who was there with here young teen (as a reward for the teenager getting a 4.0 - nice!) and the teen was totally awestruck by seeing Megan and Tiffany. Something about the enthusiasm of youth is infectious, so I enjoyed seeing her geeking out on her favorite band like that.

Next were the headliners, Boyce Avenue. I had listened to a couple of tunes by them on youtube and they were acoustic covers, nicely done if a little quiet. There live show was a little harder and louder with drums, bass and 2 guitars, sometimes 2 electric, sometimes one electric and one acoustic. The crowd was into it, and they definitely worked the crowd. I got a nice recording of a cover of Wonderwall, the old Oasis tune:

Nice arrangement, very nice sound, and the crowd was totally eating it up. Good show, and it was nice to see the Vera Project selling out too.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

February is Looking Up

In my January Retrospective I figured I wouldn't see all that many shows in February and matching January's 15 bands would be difficult. Now I'm not so sure.

I have tickets to the PUSA-Fest at the Showbox on Saturday 2-19, it's an all ages show and the kids get to go, should be fun.

I also have a couple of tickets to the Decemberists at the Paramont on Friday 2-18.

On Thursday I plan on getting 2 free tickets to the The Thermals, Mad Rad & Das Racist "Sasquatch Fest Announcement" show this Sunday 2-5. I saw them with my daughters at the Capitol Hill Block Party in the Summer of 2009 and again with Carina at Bumbershoot in the Summer of 2010, here's a photo from that show.
Bumbershoot 2010 Monday
Next I glanced at the Vera schedule and realized there are 7 shows I'd like to see in February with one required - I'm cooking tacos at the Veracity show.

If I can only make it to 2 of the 6 optional Vera shows I'd end up at 3 Veracity + 3 other shows and roughly 18 bands. If I exert myself I could see 21 or even up to 30 bands on paper, but I'll be happy to match January's 15, anything more is gravy. Of course, I've always been a big fan of gravy, pouring it all over any form of potatoes and chowing down, but I digress.