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!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Summer Review

Summer just ended and I haven't reviewed my progress in a while so it's time to look back a bit.

When I did my Summer Update on August 22 I'd seen 230 bands/performances, 203 for the first time. Sasquatch! and the Capitol Hill Block Party were in the books.

I got an occasional Vera show in like the Braille, Theory Hazit, Knowmads and Friends show

and the Olivia Tremor Control/the Music Tapes/Megabog show, the Quixote Radio Veracity set

and the Finn Riggins, Atomic Mama, Neighbors and Chung Antique show

Add all of the Vera shows and the running totals up and we get to 244 bands, 215 for the first time.
Bumbershoot figures prominently, of course! All kinds of great bands on Saturday, I've been a fan of Brite Futures doing songs about hair (Hot damn! It's everywhere!) since they were Natalie Portman's Shaved Head at the EMP Sound Off a few years back

Kris Orloski did some awesome stuff, and Champagne Champagne ruled like always:
Presidents of the USA are climbing up the "most seen bands" list, this is at least the sixth time I've seen them, and my son Ben's first trip to Bumbershoot with the girls and I. Ben saw the Presidents twice already (sneaking into the private Microsoft show and early this year at the Showbox) and the girls have seen them 3 or 4 times, I think.

Yuni in Taxco, Vasen, Valient Thorr, PS I Love You, Shabazz Palaces, Pentagram and Vetiveer, Little Dragon and on and on. I ended up tiring out and missing the last few bands (sigh) but it was still a wonderful set of performances. We went home tired and happy!
Sunday was similar if not better with Sol, the Gail Pettis Quarter, Kasey Anderson, Kore Ionz, Davilla 666, Whalebone

and on and on: Lonely Forest, Mad Rad - Party Mountain is one of the most reliable live songs ever!
and yet "You Only Live Once" totally gives it a run for it's money with the air keyboards. Mad Rad are one of the most consistent live hip hop outfits I've seen this year. It's probably mostly that I'm a total geek for cellos.
Massey Ferguson, No Means No, Broken Social Scene, Thee Oh See, so many good bands, it's making me tired just looking down the blog at the videos!
Das Racist was in fine obnoxious form, Warpaint and Butthole Surfers and I finally got to see Macklemore at the Key Arena, the crowd loved him and he totally fed off of the enemy. He has a susprising well of charisma and kept the key buzzing and entertained for his whole set and totally pulled off the "and we danced" bit with the wig and everything. One of the more memorable Bumbershoot shows I've seen, but poor time management left us way up in the nosebleed seats far away so the visual was disappointing and the crowd engagement wasn't as good. It was still an excellent show, one of the better Bumbershoot shows - we ended up sitting up in the seats at Memeorial Statement at a fair share of mainstage shows in prior years too, it happens, and if the show is good enough it doesn't matter much.

and we caught the Kills and Carbon Leaf on the way out.
Monday we saw yet more wonderful music: the Horde and the Harem, Motopony

Legendary Oaks, Fly Moon Royalty, Curtains for You, Quadron and Ravenna Woods, Head Like a Kite, Yacht, Dom, Dennis Coffe, Ian Moore and the Lossy Coils, Lake

Greensky Blugrass, Sharon Van Etten, Vendetta Red, Urge Overkill, Fitz and the Tantrums, Over the Rhine, Phantogram and the Reverend Horton Heat to close us out

We saw so many great bands it was ridiculous: 80 performances, 62 for the first time. Add that to the total so far and we're at 324 bands/performances, 277 for the first time.
I also managed to get to the free Globes show at Nectar

and saw 15 bands (7 for the first time) do the EMP Nevermind 20th Anniversary Benefit for Susie Tennant, bringing the final tally to 341 bands/performances, 285 for the first time.

That leaves me a bit over 3 months to try to get another 24 bands/performances in, should be achievable. I plan on going to Reverb which should get me 10 to 12 bands, and I've got 3 Veracity shows and 2 or 3 regular shows to steer, that gets 15 or 18 further bands which should just get me to 365 even on the low side of the range, and perhaps get me up into the 375+ range, especially considering I'll probably catch a bit of Christmas music and an additional Vera show or two, most likely.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Finn Riggins, Atomic Mama, Neighbors and Chung Antique at the Vera Project

Tom called me on Saturday and said "I have you signed up to steer today, how's it going?"

Oops. I'd managed to sign up for a few steering opportunities then lose the paper I wrote the dates on. I hate when that happens! At least Tom called me early enough so that I could recover. "I'll be there in 45 minutes, depending on traffic" I said.

I had just promised my wife I'd take her to get a nice Thai dinner, a huge family favorite, and now I had to go cancel on her. Sigh, I wish I wasn't such an idiot some times.

So I headed down to the Vera Project where I had 2 volunteers, Julia and Ben. Julia has been great recently, volunteering for open mikes and driving groups and showing up to help out, and I was glad to see Ben - a different Ben, not my son, I've volunteered with him quite a few times but hadn't seen him recently.
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Chung Antique pretty much killed it without any vocals.

Chung Antique plays complicated instrumental rock, sounding like a larger band by using changing distortion patterns and rhythms; the guitarist changes several times between highly distorted and clean sections and the transitions and complex rhythms are all very tight with all of the instruments reflecting them. Some of the more extreme dynamics towards the end are impressive, well written and even better performed. I enjoyed Chung Antique, apparently they're local so I'll have to keep an eye out for them. They don't even have microphones set up, they're purely instrumental.

Next up was Neighbors, another talented apparently local band that I was unaware of.
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Nice set, this is only a couple of songs but it gives you a nice idea of their sound. They get some good licks going around 4:00 in, great performance. Pretty dang good for the first two acts on a bill of four.

Next up was Atomic Mama
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Here's a short bit of Atomic Mama doing some psychedelic stuff:

I got several good songs recorded, you can see more of them on my youtube channel. It takes 75 or so seconds to get started after some chatter and prep, I like the dynamics and vocals in this one:

Full powerful sound, impressive from a duo.
If I have the details correct, Atomic Mama is from Idaho, and so are the headliners Finn Riggins.
Finn 078We're up to a trio now, with a keyboard player featured prominently along with a guitarist and a drummer. The keyboards and drummer are scruffy brown haired dudes with varying amounts of facial hair but no full on beards (Atomic Mama had some definite beardage) and a woman playing guitar. All 3 had mic stands and vocal mics ready, kind of the opposite of Chung Antique.

I love the way they put their sound together, the keyboards and guitars grinding and bouncing along, the rhythm nailing it all together. Different sound, but only mildly different. I don't quite know what I'd call it, mid tempo rock music I suppose, who cares really, just some kick ass musicians with a slightly different take working out their muse and taking us along for the ride. The dedicated keyboard player and prominent mixing gives them an interesting sound but they keep it pretty smoothly mixed so it's still fairly guitar oriented rock music. Familiar elements with some cool haunting interplay between the vocals and instruments, nice emotional impact. I got more than one song on the first bit of video, nice stuff!

Great sound, tight band cruising along and making it's own kind of music:

A couple of hot bands from Boise and a couple of cool local bands, nice show to kick off the fall. Consistently different set of approaches - not folky, not just old school guitar rock, something a little new yet not too unfamiliar, each different in it's own way. Finn Riggins put on a great set, it'll be interesting to see if they can build a growing regional and national following, they deserve one!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Neptune Grand Opening

I have a history with the Neptune Theater. I worked there in my teens before and during the Rocky Horror Picture Show back in the seventies and eighties. It was a great place to work when life was easier and minimum wage was enough to pay for rent and college if you worked at it.

The Neptune closed down as a movie theater and has reopened as a live music venue, and their Grand Opening is upon us. They are running 5 nights of free events so they are speaking my language!

The lead off on September 25 with the Rocky Horror Picture Show, one last chance to reconnect with my adolescence, although it won't feel the same without all of the drugs. Being in the dark communing with my fellow freaks with that music and imagery might bring it all back, though!
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I went with my wife, a friend, a couple of my kids and one of their friends.

The costumes were good and the floor show in particular was classic:
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September 26 is a "Comedy Cavalcade" hosted by Luke Burbank starring John Keister and some short films which includes a comedy class.

September 27 is "Seattle Voices" with maritime music and the Total Experience Gospel Choir and an audience participation gospel workshop and rap artists Crtical and EriAm Sisters. I love gospel and choir music and singing, so this one is pretty attractive to me.

September 28 is the Salsa and Hip Hop Dance Party. Salsa classes then salsa dancing with a live band followed by a Hip Hop lesson followed by a set by DJ WD40. Should be fun, I'm seeing if my wife wants to go. She likes dancing and it's fun going out, dancing and hitting the bar.

September 29 is Acoustic Night with Bobby Long and openers including Grant Olsen and Mads Jacobson. Sounds like "including" implies there are some others too, but it isn't completely clear.

That ends up being quite a few opportunities to go out, and they are all free on a first come, first served basis. At the very least I should go on the acoustic night or the voices night and hear some performances, that'll help me get to 365 for the year. It would be fun if the wife and/or kids want to go to the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and I'm hoping I can get Dana to go to the Salsa/Hip Hop dance night. I probably won't actually make it to 4 of the 5 nights, but it's a nice opportunity worth thinking about and at least some level of effort is called for.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Globes at the Nectar

I saw the Globes at Sasquatch and they killed it. I friended them on Facebook and kept an eye out for another opportunity to see them. Last week they posted on their Facebook wall that they were playing a free show at Nectar and there was free beer samples from Deschutes Brewery (the sponsor) too - hot damn! A great band and good beer for free! I like quite a few different Deschutes beers so this sounded awesome.

I had the monthly Veracity committee meeting at the Vera Project after work, then (after wasting a little too much time) I caught the bus up highway 99 and got off up the hill from Fremont. Between the later bus and the slow walk down the hill with my laptop and cameras I managed to miss the free beer samples. Doh! I was pretty broke, so I got some water and settled in as the first band took the stage.
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They introduced themselves as "Isaac and Jacob" and played an interesting acoustic set.
Isaac played sax and flute while Jacob sang and played acoustic guitar. I didn't recognize anything so I assume they're original compositions.

They wrote interesting lyrics and performed nicely dynamic music on acoustic instruments. They had an excellent sound and kept us entertained; considering I was feeling a little pissy because my shoulder hurt from lugging the laptop around town and I was resenting the lack of any beer, they had to be pretty darn good to keep my attention and get me enjoying the show - and they pulled it off.

As Isaac and Jacob finished up I zipped out and met my daughter as she parked the car, finally putting the laptop down into the trunk. We headed back into Nectar as the Globes cover of "Long Distance Run Around" (an old Yes classic cover) rang out. They pretty much had me at the Yes cover; my top 3 bands as a kid were the Beattles, Led Zeppelin, and Yes - the first bands that I got more than 1 LP from.
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They did one song that I loved at Sasquatch and I managed to not get the recorder started, so minutes were spent holding up a recorder that was doing nothing. Oops. So I missed recording most of one of the songs I really like, too bad.

I managed to get several good songs recorded and Carina even split a Summer Ale with me, so the evening improved rapidly. It's nice having daughters that are old enough to buy me a beer.

The evening was sponsored and paid for by Deschute Brewery, and I definitely have a soft spot for them. They make several of my favorite beers like Mirror Pond pale ale and Black Butte Porter and interesting seasonals, very good stuff. I like marketing that allows me to do cool things like see bands for free and sample free beer.

I missed the free samples but that was my own fault - poor execution. Turns out the seasonal Summer Ale is wonderful, pretty full bodied and just slightly fruity, great tasting yet reasonably light, Carina quite enjoyed it too. We drank it pretty fast.

The Globes did a good job plugging the sponsor too, it made me think of "Beer Money" by the Young Fresh Fellows - and I mean that in a nice way. Beer fuels an awful lot of the live music market, and mid tier acts like the Globes are going to mostly play bars, so they're pretty much earning beer money!

I'll update this and rearrange things a little when I get the contents of my DSLR downloaded and then uploaded.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Nevermind benefit for Susie Tennant

I was unable to get tickets for the Nirvana tribute/benefit for Susie Tenant show at the EMP, too bad, I would've enjoyed it. Then I noticed a post somebody linked to, apparently it's being streamed live. Cool!

So I got to see the Fastbacks kick it off by covering "Smells Like Teen Spirit." I always liked the Fastbacks, an iconic Seattle band since way back when. Kim Warnick on bass also sang leads, what a great song! Production is quite good, almost too good. The original was a little muddier, over-amplified and distorted, which suits the song pretty well. This version is clearer, you can make out all of the lyrics. Good start to the show. One and done, now on to the next band.

Hmm, using 2 stages might work better, so 1 band can setup while the other is performing - but the EMP isn't set up for that. They have a second stage, but it's up 3 flights of stairs. I could do without the closeup of the guitarist tuning his guitar, but I guess there isn't much to show while the band is getting ready to play.

Next up is an assortment of ex-members of old SubPop bands called Vaporland doing "In Bloom." Tempo's a little ragged as they get going and the mix starts with the bass a little loud and the guitars a little quiet but it improves as they continue. Drummer is working to repro all of the odd fills and minor temp variations, and the vocals are different but I'm enjoying it. Wish the solo was mixed a little louder - heck, I wish I had my old college stereo so I could crank it up louder, this music really needs to be loud enough to distort your hearing.

Valis (?) doing "Come as You Are" - the solo was a bit ragged but the songs are so familiar I can fill in the missing notes from my memory, so I suspect it sounds better to me than it would to someone who is unfamiliar with Nirvana. Add on the fact that it's a benefit, so the bands are doing it for free and it's helping a beloved local music scene regular - you'd have to be pretty much a curmudgeon to get down on the show. Of course many of the remote viewers have no problem being curmudgeons on the chat...

They are following the song order off of Nevermind, so "Breed" should be next. Next band looks like a power trio, turns out it's Ravenna Woods - I've seen them before, good band. Nice punk thrashy sound, probably my favorite cover so far. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was probably the better song but I think that's largely because it's such an awesome song in the first place. This is the first really punk sounding cover and I love punk music, so it's my personal favorite so far.

Dude taling between songs asked if anyone knew the next song and someone in the audience instantly answered "Lithium" - the crowd knows it's Nevermind! I like Lithium, I wonder who's going to cover it? An interesting local band called TacocaT (love the palindrome name) is on the bill somewhere, I wonder what they'll cover?

"I'm so happy, that today I've found my friend..." hey, isn't that Duff McKagan of Loaded giving Susie Tenant a shout-out, pointing out Krist Novoselic and throwing a few f-bombs around? First act to try to get the audience going a bit, good call. Good cover of the song, they need 2 guitars to do it right. Good job with the quiet/loud dynamics, critical in this song.

Campfire OK is next with "Polly," one of my least favorite songs off of the album. It's not a bad song, just not as good as most of the rest. I recently saw Campfire OK at the Capitol Hill Block Party and enjoyed them, it'll be interesting to see how they handle covering Nirvana. Funny bit about following Duff & Loaded, then into the song.

Moody and quiet, good choice for this band. Different sounding than Nirvana's version but quite recognizable. I like this version, a little stripped down and simple, much easier to make out the lyrics. A banjo works surprisingly well on this one, too bad about the 30 kid chorus not making it though (reference to a joke the vocalist made).

"Territorial Pissings" is next by Visqueen.

They still use an electric cello, I like the bottom end sound they get. Quick video by Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters (ex Nirvana drummer) and Rachel Flotard of Visqueen starts in. The intro (reference to "Come on people..." which is sung in a parody in the original is now done straight with backing vocals, even. Then into the song, nice driving version, keeps a fast tempo and grinding guitar from the original, nice. Not quite as "screamy" as Cobain's version, I suspect that's because it's comfortably in Rachel Flotard's range, rather than almost out of Kurt's. Oh - got a little screamy towards the end.

"Drain You" - hint at more instruments, possibly? The 3-5 minute pauses to change bands are kicking my butt, making it hard to stay focused on the show. It's easier than actually being at the show, I suppose, but I like the live experience so I wish I was there. Next band is Champagne Champagne, a great local hip-hop outfit. Their Bumbershoot show was fun.

Intro was awkward, but they got back on track. Now they're off onto a custom rap, definitely taking the most liberties with the material so far. With a taste of lemon, huh. They definitely are making this their own, interesting result. Now they're moving back to "Drain You" for the last verse. Odd take, but the most creative work so far tonight.

Next is "Lounge Act" by - hey, that's TacocaT! A couple of them have "Citizen Dick" t-shirts, I think Citizen Dick was the made up band in the movie "Singles" that played "Touch Me I'm Dick" which was a parody of "Touch Me I'm Sick" by Mudhoney, although I think Pearl Jam had tour t-shirts with a reference to Citizen Dick as well. These didn't look like Pearl Jam tour shirts, though. Not bad, pretty fast and rude which works.

Next up is Vendetta Red doing "Stay Away." I saw them 6 or 8 years ago, then they broke up for a while and just got back together & I saw their set at Bumbershoot early this month. Doing a pretty credible job, sticking to the fast tempo and ragged punk sound. Pretty much a power trio lineup & I'm enjoying the vocal/guitar call and response, plus the whacked out screamed indecipherable vocals on occasion are a nice touch. I could swear the drummer is sucking on a tootsie pop too. Definitely the most screamed take on Nirvana so far. Good messed up noisy ending too!

Next up is The Presidents of the USA plus Krist Novoselic doing "On a Plane." Krist did a nice shout out to Kurt Cobain. Chris Ballew is just doing vocals with Krist playing bass. As soon as the song starts Ballew dives into the crowd and sings while crowd surfing - definitely has the crowd going! In the intro they (PUSA, Chris actually) mentioned playing this song with Krist at a fair in SW Washington, which is where Krist lives now, I believe. After a verse or two Chris is crowd surfing again, looks tricky with the long mic cable. Might be better if he had a wireless setup, but he made it work.

Next up is the Long Winters doing "Blew." Some technical issues getting worked out, cables fiddled and they start. Nice quiet take on the opening of the song.

It's interesting live blogging, I get to react to each song. I often notice interesting things at shows that I forget about by the time I get around to blogging about it in a day or two, that doesn't happen with live blogging. On the other hand not everything I think of is worth writing down...

Back to the Long Winters, more emotional take, slow with a cello too. Very nice.

The other issue with live blogging a remote view is that I don't have any pictures or video of the event to post.

After getting distracted by one of my kids (OK, remote viewing from home has its downsides too) I didn;t catch who's up next, and I may have missed an act. Three dudes, 2 with keyboards and one on a mic, lots of effects and sequencing. I enjoy the way the percussion box (a little device with maybe 16 touch sensitive pads on it) bounces around on one dudes keyboard when he plays chords. Hmm, now the vocalist is removing clothes and at least simulating masturbation. Different take on Nirvana, fer sure! Then he smashed a guitar (I don't think it was his) and went back into the crotch of his pants. Classic last line from the band: "That's how Nirvana would've done it, motherf***er!" They repeated the band name but I didn't catch it and didn;t recognize it, sorry.

So that finishes Nevermind, but they plan on doing some more Nirvana songs. I wonder what's next?

Now they've got Nirvana unplugged on the PA - Plateau. I'd think you'd want to avoid that sort of thing.

Seacats doing "Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle." Seacats were my teenage son's first local band crush so I'll always have a soft spot for them; they were also one of the first bands to give me an interview. Good job covering this tune, it's not one I'm all that familiar with. I didn't follow Nirvana much after Nevermind, I suppose it's the indy-rock Pete thing again; I often don't like bands as much when they get successful. I sort of feel like they don't need my attention or affection much so I move on to other bands that aren't that successful yet.

Pigeon Head is next, wonder what they'll play? The band called itself County Giraffes and Kim Warnick (of Fastbacks who played earlier) is playing bass and singing on "You Know You're Right." It gets more interesting when they have multiple vocals kind of yelling/wailing with an interesting synthesizer backing the notes too. Turns out Pigeon Head is coming next.
Pigeon Head is a dude playing acoustic guitar and singing with a keyboard /synth player. Nice cover, sounds quiet and builds pretty well, not as loud as the Nirvana version - acoustic guitars just don't get as loud, but it gets the dynamic about right.

Fifteen bands and fifteen songs, time to pack it in (I have to work tomorrow morning), I hope I don't miss anything too interesting.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Studio Performance

Dana and I stopped by Jan's studio and listened to Jan and Sylvia performing as "Zifuer Mamas." I didn't bring a Flip or a camera, so I don't have anything interesting to show for it but I enjoyed hearing them play. I dug up a photo of Jan and Sylvia at the Woodland Park Zoo from Jan's Facebook and posted that.

Jan played the keyboards/piano and sang leads and Sylvia played acoustic guitar and sang harmonies. They sang a fun, uplifting and positive song. The vocals were interesting with Jan's leads alternating with the two part harmonies between Jan and Sylvia.

I hope to get some footage of Jan and Sylvia at the upcoming house party, and maybe they'll play a Veracity at some point, that would be nice.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Quixote Radio at the September Veracity

Quixote has been a Vera member for years and I saw him do a Veracity set with Stereo Upstairs and some "Crustaceans" band around a year or 15 months ago. When I ended up booking the September Veracity (first show I've ever booked) Quixote graciously agreed to play on short notice, so we were treated to a nice set of Quixote Radio at this month's Veracity show.
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Quixote writes intense song lyrics that pull you in and engage your emotions. He fills his sound out with the acoustic guitar strumming as he sings and plays melodic leads and fills, switching between lead and rhythm. The guitar breaks in this song carry it through to the powerful regret at the end, nice work:

The digital SLR did fine with Quixote's sound levels so I got some good hand held high def footage, kinda shaky and occasionally chops off the top of Quixote's head but still nice.

I liked his new song, interesting driving groove and good expressive use of his voice, it has a little more stripped down sound and a good intensity to it:

I got quite a few songs recorded and posted on my youtube channel. Quixote put on an excellent set of interesting music and made it look easy in a very nice performance. I'll end my post with his closing song:

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Olivia Tremor Control, the Music Tapes and Megabog at the Vera Project September 8, 2011

On Thursday I helped run the Volunteer Orientation at the Vera Project, then stayed to watch the show with the Olivia Tremor Control, the Music Tapes and Megabog that night.

Megabog played first, and they were the most traditional rock act of the three, even if they did use a clarinet. They set up on the floor rather than the stage; I'm not sure but I suspect it was because the equipment for the other bands (especially the 7' metronome - more on that later) took up so much space on the stage.
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Since they're playing on the floor rather than the stage the video is fairly dark which makes it a little hard to see.

The Music Tapes was up next.
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The patter was fascinating with complex interesting stories like the one about his grandfather being a professional "Hippopotamus" and using shadows to communicate to his grandson.

The next video has a great story about lost music codes passed down in circus families in Romania around 4 minutes into the video, fascinating story but I have no idea if it's real or fiction. In addition to the cool stories they also did a bit with a 7' metronome that was quite different and amusing. The singer also played a musical saw, not something you see very often. It has a different sound, quite interesting. The metronome bit is 11:15 or so into this video:

Olivia Tremor Control took the stage for the headlining set. As you can see in the picture the dude from the Music Tapes played with them and on at least some songs he used the banjo (?) played with a bow:
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Olivia Tremor Control frequently used a more "normal" set of instruments: guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and vocals, like this song:

On somesongs Olivia Tremor Control used a large number of guitars. They also used a horn or two on some songs, giving an interesting depth to their sound.

I got quite a bit on video, you can see more of it on my youtube channel. Somewhere in there should be some songs with the bowed instruments, I think in at least one there was both a fiddle and the banjo-ish instrument both being played with bows.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Monday at Bumbershoot

The final day of Bumbershoot and the weather was still beautiful - not a cloud in the sky. I don't remember having weather this good in the last 5 years of Bumbershoot, I ended up running through the fountain to cool off several times each day and Carina got a picture of her running through the fountain published by the Seattle Times:
Carina in the fountain

On the way in to the Seattle Center a street musician was already at work, so I gave him some change. I've always liked "You Are My Sunshine."
You can hear Carina commenting on the flowers, so I filmed that (and the Space Needle, and a weather station Carina pointed out too) on the way in. No music, but it was visually appealing:

We ran into another group of street musicians on the way in, with a pirate for bonus points:

As we entered the Seattle Center grounds after having our tickets scanned we immediately ran into a brass band playing, I think this was one of the pre-arranged spectacle events:

We followed the brass band up with The Horde and the Harem in the EMP Level 3 stage, up those 3 flights of stairs again.
I like the rich instrumentation and horns, nice sound, wish I had some more by them.

On the way out of the EMP we heard a street musician with an electric guitar covering Summertime, very nice choice:

After that we listened to Motopony at the Fountain Stage, very nice groove, interesting sound, nice composition. The first bit is short:

I also got a full song from Motopony on video:

I like the spacey sound and the way the elements go together, especially the lyrics. Very nice.

We caught Legendary Oaks at the mural Amphitheater, old school folky/country kinds of sound based on the simple bass line and fiddle, very nice. Here's a song that featured some nice fiddle playing:

Fly Moon Royalty has very talented musicians on piano and vocals and dancing girls!

They also did some songs without the dancers that sounded good, maybe not quite as fun to watch but still very good. Apparently I only recorded songs with the dancing girls, imagine that! Here's another one:

Curtains For You back at the EMP Level 3 stage put on a good set of catchy tunes, nice compositions with interesting vocal complexity. The second song on this bit is a little more upbeat or maybe I should say more up-tempo:

We caught Quadron but I only got a short bit of video and the audio isn't very good due to clipping when loud bass notes are played.

Grand Hallway put on an excellent set of intensely introspective tunes, I've seen them 4 or 5 times and like their approach. It's a little bit soft for me but they are definitely talented and write some intricate beautiful songs that worked very well while sitting on the Mural lawn and enjoying the heat and the music.

I missed Ravenna Woods set earlier so the YR Radio booth gave me a backup chance to catch them:

I only recorded a tiny bit of Ravenna Woods, hopefully I'll catch more of them some time, I like their sound.

Head Like a Kite was fun, dancy upbeat music and they obviously don't take themselves too seriously; that purple squid is silly but fun.

We were too late heading to the Key Arena for Big Boi so we ended up in lousy seats with a poor view so I only recorded a little bit:

We watched YACHT at the Fountain Stage and enjoyed the heck out of it. Their between songs patter was amusing; the female lead vocalist took questions from the crowd and when the question was "Can I marry you?" another member of the band said "Nobody here gets married until everyone can get married!" which was a witty way to turn the conversation to a political topic, nice quick thinking! I got a long song (or maybe it's two):

They also did a cover of the B-52's Mesopotamia, a song I've always enjoyed. Unfortunately my battery ran out in less than a minute so I only got the start:
YACHT was great, I'll have to keep an eye out for another chance to catch them.

I got a couple of short bits from Dom in the Exhibition Hall, pretty good for a performance in the long concrete box, cute young band I;ve never heard of.

This second one has a nice beat and good vocals. Apparently they're breaking in a new lead guitarist and their keyboard player missed the show (replaced by Mr. Computer, according to the lead vocalist), they had a nice tight sound for having their lineup changed around recently.

We saw Dennis Coffee put on a nice set, this little bit at the end of one song:

Followed by a song with a guest vocalist, nice funky sound, worked well for me.

Ian Moore and the Lossy Coils was fun and I love the name. Power trio with a straight ahead guitar oriented rock sound, good rhythm, quite entertaining:

You Am I put on an interesting set on the Fountain Lawn, the tradeoff between the vocals and the backing instruments is cool.

Eisley put on a good show at the Exhibition Hall, according to their PR they're all family members; if that's true then that's a talented (and cute) family.

Lake put on a sweet set at the EMP Level 3 Stage. Interesting lineup with 2 guitars, 2 keyboards and a drummer. One of the keyboard players is using a percussion instrument too, and they may be playing a bass line on one of the keyboards, I can't quite tell. Nice well written well performed tunes, definitely worth a listen or two:

Greensky Bluegrass put on a killer set that had the audience jumping. Nothing but stringed instruments and vocals, I grew up listening to my Dad's bluegrass collection so this is a very familiar style to me, feels kind of like home - which is a very good thing in my book.

I saw Sharon Van Etten at Sasquatch and enjoyed her set, and she didn't disappoint at Bumbershoot. She did some nice solo work with her guitar and vocals:

She also did some songs with her band, which adds a bass and drums to the lineup.
Very nice either way, she's quite talented.

Vendetta Red played at Bumbershoot this year too, I think this was a reunion show after a long layoff. I saw one of their last shows with a daughter or two 8 years or so ago, they still sound good and loud!

The sound was a little loud for my Flip so the audio on the recording is only so so, but the heavier sounding bands like Vendetta Red are pretty distorted sounding anyway. I got 2 other Vendetta Red songs recorded, you can find them on my youtube channel if you're interested.

Urge Overkill was next on the Fisher Green Stage. Nice tight guitar oriented rock, good stuff!

Next up was Fitz and the Tantrums on the Key Arena Mainstage, they're very talented and put on a great show; we figured out how to handle the crowd a bit better and got a better vantage point on the main floor. Sound was very good for the Key.

Both songs I recorded by Fitz and the Tantrums were great, although I only got a bit of Steady As She Goes:

The audience just ate this up.

We zipped over to the Mural Amphitheater to see Over the Rhine out on a nice set, another band I've never heard of that was very good:

...and we were up to the penultimate act, Phantogram. Interesting kind of droning sound with the lights and even the green wand in the audience adding to the ambience:

The final act of Bumbershoot for us was the Reverend Horton Heat. I've been a fan for years, enough so that when they opened their set with the strains of the tune "Marijuana" which has only one lyric ("Marijuana") my daughters recognized it instantly, even before they got to the only spoken word. Not sure if I should really be all that proud of the fact, but I can't help it.

They did selections off of most if not all of their albums, including 2 off of what the critics all said was their worst album, which included this gem:

They took lots of requests too, that's how they ended up doing a Christmas song:

I have quite a few other songs on video from the set, you can find them at my youtube channel.

I'll wrap this up with a bit less than a minute of Psycho Billy Breakdown, recorded from the beer garden - my kids bought me a beer! I love it when a plan works out!

We heard a bit of Grant Lee Buffalo on the way out (no video though) so that brought us up to 30 performances for Monday, and 80 total performances for all of Bumbershoot weekend, with 62 of those being the first time I'd ever seen the band performing and 18 repeats.

Another awesome Bumbershoot wrapped up.

Sunday at Bumbershoot

Day two of Bumbershoot started out more well organized than day one so we managed to catch the first few bands this time.

SOL Kicked things off on the Fountain Stage

I can't tell in this video but the fountain directly out in front of the stage behind the sound boards is reflected in the screen behind the band to some degree, depending on the sun's angle and the ambient light which makes for a nice effect, I wonder if they planned that? I got a more complete song from Sol called the Rundown:
I'm a fan of the live instrumentation so I enjoy the bass, drums and keyboards along with the backing vocals, gives the song a very real human feel, not mechanical or computerized and repetitive the way so many sequenced bits end up.

We zipped over to the EMP Level 3 stage to catch the Gail Pettis Quartet, a nice jazz quartet with talented musicians and a great vocalist. They really show the Level 3 Stage acoustics off favorably, the audience finger snaps and the instrument noises are very clear. Nice, but the 3 flights of stairs on the opposite end of the Seattle Center from the other live music venues definitely wore me down.

On the way out you exit almost onto 5th Avenue and you can see the 5th Avenue entrance and here the street musicians:

We looped over to the Mural Amphitheater to listen to Kasey Anderson and the Honkies play an interesting set. I like the vocals and the way the song builds, very nice sound. Fun band, they had the smaller crowd moving and dancing and enjoying themselves. The early shows without that large a crowd often end up with some great bands that are easy to get close to but they tend to have limited crowd participation - the crowd mostly hasn't shown up yet for the early sets.

Kore Ionz had a good sound, this song starts out with some romantic sounding personal vocals, then goes into a good reggae groove. Good reggae in the sun shine is a nice combination, definitely a solid set. Gotta love the horns too!

Davilla 666 sounded more melodic and mainstream than I had expected from the name:

Fun sound, enjoyable if slightly unpredictable, here's another bit by them, on this one I'm closer and the bass tends to distort the audio so it's marginal at best, too bad.

I think this was Whalebones, the band we saw next. I've never seen them before so I could be wrong; the drum set sorta looks like it's spelling something like Whalebones, anyway.

The second Whalebones video is a complete song that I enjoyed:

Next we caught Lonely Forest on the Key Arena Mainstage, their sound fit the venue well. I suspect this is one of the larger venues they've ever played, certainly it's the biggest venue I've ever seen them in. It suits them - as I said, their sound works well in a large venue.

Next it was back to the Fisher Green for a fun dancy Mad Rad set. Mad Rad is a reliably entertaining hip hop group that always puts on a great show. I like the cello player, it adds an interesting sound to the transition bit in Life On Party Mountain:

Party Mountain and You Only Live Once are both instant classics:

The "air keyboards" in particular always amuses the heck out of me. Mad Rad is probably my favorite local party oriented hip hop band.

Next we caught Massey Ferguson at the Mural Amphitheater, I'd vaguely heard of them but never actually heard their music. Interesting song with some good pedal steel guitar work:

You may notice this common pattern with my videos: the first one is kind of short _ I start recording as soon as I get there, in the middle of a song, so it ends early. If they're good I'll stay and record some more, so here's another 7+ minutes of Massey Ferguson, I think there are two songs in this:

No Means No put on a good set in the Exhibition Hall, somewhere between a punk approach and a rockabilly beat with an almost anthemic feel to this number:

Broken Social Scene was cool, but we ran into a limitation. We got there a little late and the ushers wouldn't let us onto the show floor, effectively it was full. It seemed to have some room, but we were stuck up in the reserved seating fairly far from the stage. Sound is pretty good though:

I have to admit I don't enjoy it as much if I have to sit far away in a "reserved" section: reserved is the last thing I want to associate with a show, I want energetic and outgoing and over the top! I don't mean to criticize Broken Social Scene, they put on a good set that had the main floor crowd moving, the fault was mine for getting there too late to get onto the floor. We got better at that as the weekend passed, but we still ended up watching a fair amount of music from far away at the key.

Next we went out and caught some of Thee Oh Sees on the Fountain stage:

Thee Oh Sees were fun, good rhythms and twangy guitars with interesting vocals. I got a longer video too:

We caught some of DaN Funk + Master Blazter but I didn't get any usable video from them. Oops. I did manage to get some video of the Jim Jones Review, they were fun:

I think this is Tennis, I had to look at their web site to be sure since I never saw them before. This video is short but intriguing, wish I got more. I like the sound and the woman's vocals are very good.

Jessica Lea Mayfield (another assumed correct performer, never heard or seen them before but the photo looks roughly correct) was another interesting appealing performer:

Next up was Das Racist, I like them but my daughters weren't feeling them as much. I've seen them 4 times now and they are more creative than most in odd ways. The guy I always think of as the lead vocalist is always going off on some odd tangent; at Sasquatch he was calling every number a "cool jazz" song or something like that; at Bumbershoot he was talking about classic rock and fiddling with the Mac in the middle of the show, dropping different beats and samples I've never heard them use before, and the chatter between the performers is funny but also somewhat pointed, one of the members told another "Man you're mean, I liked you better before you lost weight!" The chatter changes so much from show to show that it doesn't feel canned or faked, it seems to be pretty authentic as they talk about things and mess around with their songs and patter.

I like the guy up front hoisting his crutches - I can;t see the guy, but I can see his crutches. He or she must be ambitious getting up that close!
I got a longer recording here:

We stopped for a bit of HTRK, they played more instruments than most of the performers at the Decibel Fest EMP Sky Church venue, the instruments gave it a nice sound:

Warpaint put on a great set, I'd never heard of them. An all woman band with a great sound both on vocals and instruments, I really enjoyed them and would like to see them again. This is one of those "I enjoyed it too much so the video is a little shaky" videos, sorry about that. I kept getting distracted by the band or the urge to move in time to the music, good bands do that to me. You can always tell when the focus drifts off the band that I'm no longer paying attention to the camera. On the plus side that means I'm enjoying the show!

Butthole Surfers were talented but the backdrop of horror movie gore projected on the screen behind them was distracting to me and actively detracted from the show.

I like the occasional violent horror movie, but the gore is usually spread out a little more and integrated into some kind of plot. Watching all of the spattering and limbs being cut off just made me want to see something else sooner.

Luckily there was a great alternative available!

This is the first time I've seen Macklemore & Ryan Lewis live and I enjoyed it immensely. We ended up in nose bleed heaven on the 3rd level so the visuals were poor and the sound was only so-so but the crowd was so enthusiastic and involved and the instrumentals were often pretty clean and the overall sound was good for being in a large venue and somewhat distorted, if that makes any sense.
The Town was a stand-out track:

I got other good bits on video like Otherside and several others, you can look them up on my youtube channel if you want; it was a great show!
I'll finish the Macklemore set up with "And We Danced" followed by "Irish Celebration" - I was hoping to see "And We Danced," I read a review about Macklemore & Ryan Lewis in Denver that called this "the full David Bowie" and it had the audience totally bonkers:

Once we got out of the Key Arena we managed to catch a short bit of what i believe is Toro y Moi:

The Kills were another band I had never seen, interesting approach, cool sound:

I got another song by the Kills too:

The last Bumbershoot act we caught on Sunday was Carbon Leaf:

This video was shot from the beer garden at the Mural Amphitheater. Carbon Leaf had a cool sound, and both of my daughters are now old enough to join me in the beer garden, Now if I could just train them to buy me beers I'd be set. If memory serves, I ended up buying a beer for Heather so the training seems to have been backwards. Hmm.

Some people were handing out flyers for a free show after Bumbershoot across the street from the Key Arena and I've got a soft spot for that venue. These guys were totally hosed when Schultz sold the Sonics to Oklahoma and they've struggled to recover and find a niche ever since. We stopped by for a couple of songs and another beer on the way home:

Including the bands I saw but didn't get recorded and the street musicians I saw 28 performances on Sunday. One more day of Bumbershoot left, hopefully I'll see even more bands!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Closing Out Bumbershoot With Reverend Horton Heat!

Closing out Bumbershoot with Reverend Horton Heat!
I posted this (well, that above: the first line) from my phone, it's fairly lame. From this paragraph on was added once I got home and had computer access. When I send in the phone message with a photo what shows up on my blog is the same corporate .gif no matter what picture I send, so I don't bother to attach a picture.
Here's a Reverend Horton Heat video I recorded at Bumbershoot to make this less boring:

Thursday, September 1, 2011


With Bumbershoot this weekend I should get 50 to 60 bands/performances, bringing my total very close to 300 for the year. I'll get more than 300 by the end of the year and the next "obvious" number to shoot for is 365. Getting to 365 live performances means I need about 70 more performances in the last 4 months of the year - an average of 17.5 per month.

On the surface 365 seems achievable: I got about 296 in the first 8 months or so, that's around 37/month, if I can achieve 50% of my average monthly rate for the next 4 months I make it. Dig a little deeper and it isn't going to be easy: festival season is winding down. I'll attend 4 Veracity and at least 2 or 3 open mic nights so I'll get perhaps 20 out of those. If I go to 2 shows a month at the Vera that gives me 8 shows and perhaps 24 performances. 70 - (20 + 24) = 26. So I need to dig up 26 more performances, a bit more to be safe, say 30 more so if I miss a show I still make it.

That's another 2.5 shows per month, or one good festival. Hmm, Decibel is at the end of September into October. Looking at their web site I see a promising tab: Volunteer! I filed out the application - I've got a pretty good resume when it comes to volunteering and also running shows, and I'm pretty much completely flexible on schedules. Keeping my fingers crossed!

Escalator Fest is September 23-24, the weekend before Decibel Festival. Their web site doesn't have details or a schedule or tickets yet, I'll have to check back in later.

City Arts Festival runs October 22-24, 3 Day All Access wristbands are $69 and come with some nice perks. One thing looks a little crappy: almost all shows on the first day are "doors open at 7" so they all run at once. Lots of bands playing, but you'll only see 2 or 3, maybe 4. I haven't checked Saturday yet, but you might only get 10 or 12 bands for the weekend. That's not terrible, but at $6/band it's a little high for a festival. You do get into a couple of parties and there are some good bands to see, I'll have to think about this one some more.

I can rack up some cheap performance credits around Christmas, there are always plenty of good opportunities: caroling at tree lighting ceremonies, the Christmas boats with the carolers on Lake Washington, church services and just friendly opportunities to practice singing carols, if I'm close I'm counting those too. If I get it close in December I can get a final 5 or 10 and make it to 365 for the year.

So I still have a shot at 365 but it will take some luck, some money, a bit of perspiration and maybe some inspiration. If a festival or two works out, or a really good run of Vera shows comes up, and I don't have any health, professional or personal issues that get in the way... As the saying goes, God willing and the creek don't rise. As close as I live to Swamp Creek, that "and the creek don't rise" bit sure resonates. Swamp Creek Early Spring 11 179