Thursday, August 30, 2012

Maktub with Shawn Smith, Allen Stone and The Silent Comedy play the Face in the Mirror show

A friend on the Esat coast that I've never met (don't you just love social media?) pointed out that there was a free show at the Moore Theater in Seattle with Maktub and Allan Stone, two local acts that I've wanted to see but never had the chance. The show included a screening of Boyd Tinsley's film "Faces in the Mirror" and live performances, sounded like my kind of deal, so I filled out the web form and got a couple of tickets for Dana and myself and planned to go later Thursday evening.
Turns out my plan was a little messed up. The show was being simulcast to several theaters across the US, including the East coast, and the show started at 8 PM EST. I failed to notice the EST, we run on PST in Seattle of course. So the show was at 5 PM PST, and we were late getting there. I figured out the actual timing a few hours ahead of time, but by the time Dana could get down to the office to pick me up and we made it to the theater the film was almost over. I'll have to watch it later when it's more widely available, the bit I saw was interesting and the music was cool, but it was opaque - we had no idea what was going on.

We were in time for the music, though. They had Allen Stone come out to play a couple of songs while the streaming version of the music - seen at the other theaters - finished up. Apparently only those of us in the Moore theater got to see this bit - you really did have to be there! Allen Stone has a powerful expressive voice, and nice acoustic guitar technique. I can see why he's getting a fair amount of attention, his songs were great.

After a couple of songs the live stream had caught up and the Silent Comedy came out to do a live streamed performance for us and the audiences at the other theaters. Nice sound, guitar, bass, drums and a banjo - you don't see or hear banjos a whole lot outside of folky/blue grass settings, I like a variety and difference so I enjoyed it. On the next song the banjo player swapped to a mandolin, if my eyes weren't fooling me. We were up in the balcony and my vision isn't great so, they may have been fooled; I din't video tape that song so I can't check.
For the Silent Comedy's final number Boyd Tinsely joined them: They did a cover of Neil Young's "Tonight's the Night" - it was a good week for Neil Young covers.

Next Allen Stone came out for the official "streamed live" performance. After a few songs as he was unplugging the MC came out and said "Don't unplug that guitar" and spoke to him for a moment, then Boyd Tinsley came out and they talked for a few seconds and I started up the video camera, catching them doing a cover of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" Another impressive song, I really like Stone's vocals and Boyd's violin worked well; based on Allen Stone's comment I don't think they got to rehearse, which makes it more impressive still.

Next up was Maktub with Shawn Smith. Reggie Watts sang with Maktub a while back, and the Thaddeus, Maktub's guitarist has released some material as "Thaddillac." The Maktub lineup with Shawn Smith singing and playing keys was impressive.The songs were quite long, this one is 11:30 or so, and they were symphonic in the sense that they had different movements, sections that changed yet repeated themese - not so much just verse/chorus/verse, actual progressions and changes in dynamics that stood out - I liked the approach, it's unusual today. The instrumentals from Maktub were carefully structured, they felt well rehearsed and very tasty. Thaddeus' lead guitars with that trademark stratocaster sound, crunchy yet ringing with infinite sustain also contributed hugely to my enjoyment. With the long songs they only did a few and my video recorder quickly ran out of storage. I got one more song, and then the first 3 minutes or so of the final number where Boyd Tinsley and the Silent Comedy also came out to join them: It was a great show and I caught performers I'd never seen before which I always like. Talented musicians in a great venue with both good sight lines and excellent sound, I'm not sure my video does them justice but I sure enjoyed it!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Way Finders, Absolute Monarchs and Love Battery at the KEXP Mural Amphitheater show

Stopped by the Mural Amphitheater to see another fun free show put on by KEXP. I was slightly sloshed and enjoying the music, so the videos were mildly unsteady. That's what happens when I try to video tape and dance at the same time. Love Battery was up first.Fun up tempo guitar rock, this is the sort of music I grew up loving way back when, and I still love it when it's done well - and Love Battery does it well.

The second band was Absolute Monarchs, a band I saw earlier this Summer at the Capitol Hill Block Party. They have a good heavy guitar oriented sound, perhaps a little slower than Love Battery, more screamish vocals, also a very nice approach. I was having fun dancing and drinking the occasional beer in the beer garden, I really enjoy these free KEXP Mural Amphitheater shows when the weather is so nice. Sadly enough, I think they're done for the year.

The final act was Way Finders, a band I'd never heard before. They immediately won me over with fast, intricate guitar oriented music - and I love the good wah-wah pedal. Fun show, great way to end the KEXP Mural Amphitheater series. They had one more KEXP free show the next Friday with Fresh Espresso and I like them quite a bit, but I was unable to make it to that show, so the penultimate show ended up being my final one for the season. It was a great night of hard rocking bands to end with and I'm glad I made it.

Chris Mathews Jr., Abi Grace and Jeremy Serwer at the Triple Door Musiquarium Lounge

Dawn (a newly found semi-distant relative) got in touch and pointed out that a friend of hers was playing a free set at the Musiquarium lounge at the Triple Door in Seattle. Dana and I headed down to Seattle and made an evening of it with dinner at the Mecca Cafe and stopped by the Queen Anne Easy Street Records store to listen to Minus the Bear do an in-store set, then headed to the Triple Door.

The Musiquarium Lounge is the bar at the entry to the Triple Door, it's "upstairs" from the auditorium. The Musiquarium Lounge hosts free music several times a week. Chris Mathews Jr. came out and played a solo set first. This one's a cover of "Mr Soul" by Neal Young. Nice song done well, good sight lines for the video, but the venue is slightly noisy. not too bad for a bar, I suppose. While he's singing and playing it mostly drowns out the noise.
Mathews did several covers including another Neil Young tune "Hey Hey, My My" that I enjoyed. I linked to my video of "Hey Hey My My" but I recorded it form the table we were sitting at, so the crowd noise is much more prominent. Chris also did this nice cover of My Morning Jackets "I Will Be There When You Die" In his intro he says "I should've brought a band" but I think he does fine doing a solo set. The material he chose to play helps, and his voice is clear and carries the songs along nicely.

Mathews runs Joonior Studios which is also worth checking out.

Next up was Abi Grace also doing a solo set, singing and playing acoustic guitar. I think this is her own composition, but I'm not sure; in any event it was unfamiliar to me. Nice, slightly sad song, her voice is quite expressive in this one, very well done.
This next song was introduced as her Dad's favorite song: Given the theme of empowerment and growth in spite of life's challenges, I can see why it would be her Dad's favorite. I enjoyed Abi's set, she writes nice songs and mostly avoids repetition - somewhat unusual nowadays, makes them worth a very careful listen.

Jeremy Serwer was the final performer of the evening and he stuck to the pattern of solo singer with an acoustic guitar. Nice song, different approach but I'm not sure I have the vocabulary to describe exactly what is different. I suppose this song is more direct, like he's singing it directly to you, and the guitar playing is a little more varied, less chords/rhythm, more a slightly lead approach.
In this next song I enjoy one little detail: he taps his foot in time to the song, giving it a bit more rhythm. Nice little touch, adds quite a bit to the song for me. I enjoy the chord transitions and how it plays off of his voice, too. Tasty stuff, having live music played for you always makes things better, and the intimate singer/songwriter performances enhanced the experience at the Musiquarium - heck, they made the experience.

I enjoyed all three performers, and the conversation and socializing with my wife and our newly found distant relative and even newer friend introduced to us at the show was great. The szechuan bean side was also very tasty, all in all it was a great evening of music and company.

Minus the Bear In-Store Performance at Easy Street Records

Dana and I managed to catch a bit of Minus the Bear's in-store performance at the Queen Anne branch of Easy Street Records. We stopped for dinner first at the Mecca Cafe around the corner, the 2-for-1 cheeseburger deal and $3 microbrew option was nice.

After dinner we headed over to Easy Street Records and looked at CDs and posters until the band started playing. I've seen Minus the Bear before, but it was before I blogged about every show and I can't recall if I saw their Vera/AMP show or a Bumbershoot show or something else completely. One of the main reasons I blog shows that I go to is so that I can assist my memory later (did I see this band? Where and when? What did they sound like?). The blog works well as a memory assistance device, I just search forr the band name and VitualSoundNW, if my blog shows up then I did see them.

The music started shortly after 7: We were mildly far back so you can only see the upper portion of the band and the drummer isn't visible, but the sound was quite nice. I like how the stage door lifts up as the band starts playing, wish I'd caught that on video.

I enjoy Minus the Bear's songs, they ae well put together and they include some interesting rhythmic complexity, and I love guitar oriented rock in general. Definitely the sort of music that makes me want to get up close and bounce around, although a record store isn't the best venue for a mosh pit. Great venue to listen them to and buy their new album, though. Now I'll just have to keep an eye out for them at a regular show, they should be doing a few to promote the new album.

I got a second song with some amusing chatter: Another excellent song, interesting sound and good rhythmic variations, and the vocal approach fascinates me. They have an extended bit with a few phrases where the vocals are very square, each syllable right on the beat which has an interesting almost mechanical sound, then they go back to a more typical approach of compressing words that are short or contain multiple syllables into more typical time slices so it toggles back to sounding "more normal" - more like someone speaking in a normal conversation - and the contrast enhances the song. The drums also hit a bit with the high hat being struck on the beat that really drives the beat home for a bit. The different elements get me noticing the beat more than I usually do. Most rock songs are pretty simple 4/4 arrangements without much complexity, so I appreciate the effort involved in getting a fairly large group working through a song with more complex and varied beats.

I see that Marco Collins interviewed the band on his Jet City stream on-line show, that's worth checking out to. It's nice to see a favorite local band working the local publicity tools, I hope they get plenty of attention and CD sales out of it, they're a talented group playing excellent music and they deserve plenty of success.

Just to make the evening even nicer, Dana and I headed over to the Musiquarium lounge to meet some friends and relatives for some more free music - Seattle sure can be a pleasant town!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Calvin Johnson Tape Release Show at the Vera Project

I steered a fascinating show at the Vera Project in August. It was billed as the Calvin Johnson Tape Release show, supporting a cassette tape release of songs by a variety of bands, all of which had originally been release on cassette. It took me a surprising amount of thought to get my head around that!

There were 11 bands playing, so they used two stages - the mainstage and a lobby stage. Each band played for 15 minutes, then the next band would start almost immediately on the other stage, while the first band moved equipment off the old stage and the follow up band then set up to be ready to go in another 15 minutes. It was easier to watch than it is to explain!

The first band up was KMVP - like most of the artists at this show, I hadn't heard her before. Her patter was amusing and she was fun to listen to.
Almost before you got used to listening, she was done and it was back into the main auditorium for Baby Islands - 15 minute sets are pretty short! Baby Islands had a nice sound and a more traditional guitar, bass and drums line up. Soothing voice and an easy rhythm, comfortable song. I like the feeling, even though it was new to me it felt familiar and the little touches like the guitar ringing around 1:55 in are very nice.

Calvin Johnson was fun, his first song was about a phone ringing but I wasn't able to get there in time to record it. I got him giving credit to some of the other bands and then playing his second song. His last song was a Hive Dwellers tune done a capella that I wish I had recorded. It used all sorts of derogatory terms and turned them on their head, making it a call to inclusiveness, very powerful!

Next up was Happy Noose As the name implies, they had a somehwat harder sound with a traditional power trio lineup - bass, guitar and drums, and quite a bit more distortion on the guitar. I managed to get two songs by them: Good punchy bass and driving rhythm, nice stuff.

With this many acts so close together, and with a last minute cancellation, there's always some risk that I'll end up mistaking the bands for each other. If I got one of the bands wrong, feel free to let me know!
Next up is Shana Cleveland and the Sandcastles, at least that's who I think it is, but it doesn't match the list/order of bands that I saw before the show. Nice sound, larger band than most that night with a cello and a woodwind.
Another short fifteen minute set and we were off to the main auditorium to see the Shivas. The Shivas were the only band I'd actually seen before, so I already new I liked them. Upbeat power trio, good sound and good songs, very nice. I managed to get two songs and I really like the upbeat uptempo song with interesting dual vocals in this one: Due to lousy camera work you can;t see the drummer much until around 1:00 in, then you can finally tell that she's doing the high end second part of the vocals.

Next up was Skill Meadow, who used a sequenced or taped rhythm section and sang and played keys.Another nice performance, good full sound for a solo performance, nice use of the electronic options.

This show had quite a bit of variety, and speaking of variety, the next performance by Mom was almost indescribable: She used tapes of assorted songs and sang with quite a bit of vocal effects - you petty much had to be there to get the whole effect. The video gets petty dim when she leaves the stage, but I enjoyed the little bit from "Monkey's Uncle" - I'm old enough to actually remember watching the Disney movie with Annette Funicello singing the title track shortly after it first came out in the sixties.

Next up (I hope, and I apologize if I have it wrong!) is Laura Leif & APB: I like the vocal approach, she has a good voice and the occasional backing vocals add nicely. The dual strings - guitar and ukelele, I think - also sound nice. I got a second song, not sure what the title is, could be Monkey Face, or Time to Move On, or something about strawberries; based on the intro it's new and inspired by strawberries, and it's a very nice song.They changed one instrument to a drum for this song.

Next up on the same lobby stage was Broken Water, I got a little bit from a song on video:
...and then a longer bit here, nice heavy sound, quite full for a power trio:

The Hysterics had the last slot and they were just arrriving as Broken Water was wrapping up. They played a short punk set, and they set up on the floor of the venue, rather than the stage.I like the approach, it brought the audience right in around the band and got more energy going. I also liked the lead vocalist's comment: "Less cameras, more dancing!"
Unfortunately, playing on the floor meant the stage lights didn't hit the band so the video is pretty dim, but I don't think the band cared - or if anything, they probably preferred it that way. I honored their request and turned off the camera after that and just bounced around and enjoyed myself.
Quite an amazing range of bands and sounds for one evening, definitely a whole lot of fun!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Kevin Montgomery and Ruth Trimble at a house Party

Our friends Katy and Greg invited us to a house show by Kevin Montgomery and Ruth Trimble in Kirkland so we headed over to a beautiful home next to Bridal Trails for some excellent food and drinks followed by some beautiful music for a great cause. Kevin Montgomery has a dry self-deprecating sense of humor but his music is wonderful, and his roots (he covered his Dad's songs with Buddy Holly from before the Crickets, I had no idea!) were wonderful.

I only videotaped a few songs, this is "Some Comfort" Beautiful song, but the lighting is too dim.

The show managed to put me through an emotional wringer, though. Kevin was raising money for foster kids who age out of the foster care system, and a few years back Dana and I fostered a kid for 9 months. It was one of the most challenging things I've ever done, and it really made me realize I'm not as good at parenting as I had thought I was. We helped our foster child in many ways, but the way the state pulled him back in and refused to allow us to ever contact him again was amazingly painful, it felt like losing a child. Hell, it was losing a child and I never completely recovered from that. Kevin played a video with kids and advocates in the foster care system and it was wrenching. I have to tip my hat to Kevin, he's fighting for something I believe in, helping kids who really need help, and I love him for his efforts. It was tough watching the video though, I had to leave the room to dry my eyes, it brought back too much of our own heartbreaking experience.

Kevin's songs resonated with me, sweet and aching stuff, made me think of parallels in my own life - any song that speaks to my own experiences that well is powerful!

As if that wasn't enough remembered love and pain, his musical partner for the show was Ruth Trimble and she did a song that totally blew me away called "Things I Want To Say" that was beautiful and moving and made me think of my parents, especially my mother who died just over a year ago. Achingly sad and beautiful song, but I didn't manage to get it on video. Sigh. I did get this one, I think it's called "Let You Go"

Two very talented musicians making beautiful music together in a gorgeous setting with wonderful company, food, and wine, and Dana and I also got to see a local favorite earlier in the day, truly we are blessed to an unreasonable degree and it was a peak experience sharing this house show with my wife and Greg and Katy.

Fly Moon Royalty at Goddess Fest

Fly Moon Royalty is one of my favorite local bands, an "electro-soul duo" that I managed to catch at Bumbershoot last year and also at a free KEXP show at the Mural Amphitheater. They combine the amazing vocals of Adra Boo with the piano/synth/sequencing of Action Jackson along with his tasty raps in some songs. I keep an eye out for their shows, and Saturday I saw they were doing a free set at Goddess Fest in lower Woodland Park. Amazingly enough for having grown up in Seattle and hung out 1/4 mile away in Greenlake countless times, not to mention many trips to Woodland Park Zoo when I was a kid and then again with my kids, I never managed to get to lower Woodland Park - until Fly Moon Royalty's set.

We already had plans to see a house show with our friends Katy and Greg later, but we managed to squeeze a trip to Goddess Fest in for the 4:20 set after the vegan buffet at Arrays in the U District and a visit to check out UW Surplus (awesome for neds like me, where else can you see genomic analyzers for only $250k? They have two!).

They have quite a few songs I like including Lemonade and Roxy:

They have many other memorable songs that I enjoy, and by the end of the set they had quite a few couples up dancing. They gave us a choice for the last song, and I really wanted to see them do "Baby Got Back" so you can hear me in the intro lobbying for my choice. I caught that song on video, which makes me very happy, so I'll end the blog with that:

Great song, and the day was just getting started! Next was a house show in Kirkland...

Los Gentlemen and Seacats Play Hatties Hat

Most of the family is out of town, so I'm more likely to get to free events on weekday nights. Thursday's Los Gentlemen and Seacats show at Hattie's Hat is a prime example. I've seen both bands before and enjoyed them, but making it to Ballard via bus on a weekday is time consuming. With nobody waiting at home I decided to check out the show and get dinner while I'm at it.

Seacats are a long time favorite that I've seen a few times, and I've also interviewed Josh Davis, their lead vocalist/guitarist.

This was as smaller version of Seacats, just Josh and a keyboard player with sequenced or recorded drums that Josh referred to as "Spacecats."
They had an interesting luchadore thing going with masks, but Josh couldn't keep his on and sing so that ended quickly.

Next Los Gentlemen took the stage for their headline set.

Los Gentlemen do covers of older songs - stuff from decades ago, still younger than me, so these are songs I remember fondly from when I was a young adult like Taling Head's Psycho Killer:
Nice version, feels a bit faster and more directly rocking, maybe slightly less frightening just because it isn't quite as deranged.

I noticed Kurt Block was hanging out listening to their set, Kurt's played Hattie's Hat any number of times. For their final number they got Kurt up with them to do a cover of the Fastback's "K Street" which I found amusing in a sort of self referential way. It's also a nice song! So that was my free music to go with my dinner at Hattie's Hat, I have to admit I love listening to music in Ballard.
As a bonus I wandered into a different bar and caught part of a set from a blues band. Unfortunately I lost track of the band's name, it was the something Street Blues Band.

Friday, August 10, 2012

August Veracity with Camp 10, Sea of Teeth and Watusa or maybe Watusi

We had Joey Lyon as a "guest booker" for the August Veracity show and he put together an interesting lineup with three bands, heavy on guitars.

First up was a fairly thrashy band that had just renamed themselves something like "Watusa" (at least that's what it sounded like, maybe it was Watusi; I didn't get it in writing).

Whatever their name was, the had a classic power trio instrumental lineup (guitar, bass and drums) and a lead vocalist with an occasional bit of backing vocals. Summer 2012 016Their between song patter was also pretty funny, although I only got a bit of that on video.

I like the energy, haven't heard enough thrashy punky hardcore music recently.

Next up was The Sea of TeethSummer 2012 023
Sorry for the doubled image, my camera work was a bit off.
The Sea of Teeth played a regular show in the main room over the weekend so this was their second Vera Project show in a week. They mentioned that their bass player was unable to make this show. I missed their weekend show so now I'm curious what they sound like with a bass player, anyway here's what they sound like without a bass:Good fast guitar oriented rock, fast drummer and pretty tight rhythms, fun hard core sound.

The last set was by Camp 10, another power trio with the guitarist doing vocals and the bassist occasionally doing a bit of backup vocals. Summer 2012 025
Their sound was less thrashy with an occasional quiet bit, and vocals that were sung rather than screamed, but the tempo was still fast and the rhythms were interesting.
It was interesting hearing 3 different takes on fast powerful rock and roll and I enjoyed getting to listen to the bands Joey booked, very nice show! Joey will be booking another show in October, this time with his and playing too I believe, so I'm looking forward to that.

I'll be booking the September show and a new Veracity chair is spinning up so she may be booking from November on, although I'm not sure. It's been a blast chairing the Veracity committee and I plan on continuing to support the committee, I definitely plan on attending the shows and posting videos and blogs. Free show every month usually with cheap vegan food - Veracity is still the best value available in local music. Check it out if you haven't yet!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Fly Moon Royalty, Legendary Oaks and Sally Ford and the Sound Outside: No Depression

I managed to make it to the annual KEXP/No Depression free show at the Mural Amphitheater on August 3, 2012 and enjoyed the heck out of the 3 bands I managed to see. I wasn't able to stay for Shovels and Rope, but the acts I did see were great.

Local duo Fly Moon Royalty kicked it off. We saw Fly Moon Royalty last year at Bumbershoot and they impressed the heck out of us. Great songs, talented musicians, and the wonderful voice of Adra Boo turned us into immediate fans.

They had the early slot and were working hard out in the hot bright sun:

They closed their set with an awesome version of "Baby Got Back" and I wish I had recorded it but I was having too much fun bouncing around to it and enjoying it, maybe another time I'll get it, I definitely will go out of my way to see them again and again!

Next up was Legendary Oaks, a local band that I was unfamiliar with. They had a great rootsy sound that made me want to hang out in the beer garden and bounce around while drinking Redhook ESB, which worked out nicely.
The crowd was large and loving it, and the songs were instant classics, I'll definitely have to catch them again at some point, hopefully it won't be too hard since they're a local band.

The last act we saw was Sally Ford and the Sound Outside, not quite local (they're from Portland) but close enough. Another instant classic set, petty amazing stuff for a free show! They had an interesting vibe that I enjoyed, but I have no idea what you'd call it. The band was great, my inability to describe it is partially because they're unique and partially my own lack of referents, I don't know who you might consider similar and I don't really care. Check out the video and you can draw your own comparisons, they were creative and tight and fun as heck.

Sweet way to end the week, and when the weather gets this good in Seattle outdoor shows are so nice it's almost hard to describe. Free shows at the Mural Amphitheater in the hot sun with maybe a few ESBs - to hijack a different beer company's slogan, it just doesn't get any better!