Thursday, October 11, 2012

October Veracity

Made it over to the Vera Project for a vegan burrito and a bit of music, first up was HOCKEYxFIGHT with a fast hard core sound
I got a couple of short videos, all their songs were short which can happen with hardcore music.

We also saw a bit of Jay Johnson playing some solo acoustic guitar rock.
Fun fast guitar oriented music, very nice.

We were unable to catch the headlining acts, so we only got these first two acts recorded. It's nice to see a good crowd and a well run show, Adrienne is putting on great Veracity shows, the committee is in good hands!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Reverb Fest 2012

Attended my second annual Reverb Fest in Ballard on Saturday. Got videos of 14 acts out of 60 or so. There were some bands at Reverb that I had seen before like Kithkin, but I missed most of them. 13 of the 14 bands were "new to me" and Sweetwater was the only band we saw that I had seen before. I like that, I got to see a pile of new bands and they were all fun to watch and worth seeing in one way and another.

We started out with Gold Records at the 2 Bit Saloon, it was fun and loud, and the guitarist did some interesting keyboard work too.

Country Lips played a Spanish language tune dedicated to Mexico, catchy and bouncy, nice stuff.

Cristina Bautista carries lead vocals and fronts the band in her new self named outfit. Last time I saw her was with Visqueen, glad to see her putting on a show.

So Pitted at the Eagle was scruffy, loud and fast. Great fun! The guitarist and drummer swapped instruments for their final number.

Sweetwater is a favorite, I like the sound of the vocals and the guitar oriented rock, a solid performance that went over well with the audience.

Whitney Ballen did her beautiful gentle vocal music, I wish the ambient noise were lower. In other words the dude next to me that kept talking - I wish he'd been on the other side of the room. The music was gorgeous mostly due to the emotive voice with a pretty backing guitar part, very nice set.

Cosmic Panther Land Band was great, forging an instant classic - "I feel like going back to the Panther Land" - tight competent well written music with a sense of humor.

OC Notes did a set at the Hilliard Brewery that was interesting. OC Notes got that good hip hop club feel going, more of a dancing focus.

Shivering Denizens put on a muscular set of bluegrassy, hillbilly, rootsie music that was well done, with most songs short and obnoxious the way Rock and Roll was meant to be. There was even a bit of yodeling.

Juli C at the Hilliard Brewery put on an energetic set. Her lyrics were interesting and her flow worked well both solo and with a co-vocalist as she worked through her set and brought a couple of collaborators up. The DJ with Juli C did the best live scratching I've ever heard which added a fun element to the performance.

Lifestyles of the Poor and Unknown played an old school thumping warbling rock with towering simple short guitar riffs, nice stuff.

Naomi Punk had a heavy grinding sound that I quite enjoyed, the distorted vocals lay over that in an interesting combination, well written with complex internal rhythms, I really enjoy this song:

Side Saddle played with the visuals - blond and brunette brides fronting the band, their duet on "When Will I Be Loved" was great: They ranged from pop to country with authority

We finshed up with Mid Day Veil, and I like it! Good spooky sound, By this time the beer was catching up with me, and while I might get the camera turned on I wasn't paying much attention to the camera after that. The sound is still fine, at least.

We finally staggerred out (well, I staggered, Carina was the designated driver so she wasn't staggering) shortly before midnight and headed home, tired, drunk and happy. Another successful Reverb atttended, another 13 new local bands discovered. I knew Whitney Ballen and Juli C before I saw them perform at Reverb so it was cool finally getting to see them live, and seeing Sweetwater again was cool.

Shows I Didn't Blog, with Videos

In 2010 I saw more than 100 bands, but unless I was holding a Bumbershoot schedule I'd have a hard time remembering more than ten of them. For my News Year's Resolution I vowed to record videos and blog about each show, including videos of each band.

It works well as an artificial memory. Search on VirtualSoundNW and the band name, and if I saw them when I was blogging then the blog shows up. Not only did I see them, here's my notes and some video.

I managed to pull off the blogging in 2011, but I knew that eventually I wouldn't be able to keep up. I continued blogging well into 2012, but I've finally hit the wall.

I filmed Knowmads at the Vera in August and was one of a thin staff of volunteers so I just set the video up on the tripod, turned it on, and went to work steering the volunteers. This usually works out fine except that you end up with one big hour long video. Usually I'll go through that and break it up into individual songs. It's time consuming, but it makes the songs available.

When I went to turn off the video camera I noticed it had been bumped and was filming to the side of the stage. Doh! The audio is fine, but the video is lame, half of the stage activity is not visible. I posted the video as one solid 40 minute video and never blogged about it.

In early September we went to Bumbershoot and I got a pile off videos - 85 total, over the three day weekend. I uploaded them all and started figuring out who was on each, laeling and tagging and categorizing them. That was taking a long time, so after I got the first days shows figured out I started the blog for the first day and got that posted.

As I worked through the videos for the next few days, I assembled a blog post that just named the band and included a link to the video. Once I had all the videos for a day sorted in the order I saw them I added text describing the band and it's music, and anything about the experience that caught my attention.

I'm running out of gas and I barely finished Sunday. This blog finally got me motivated enough to get the last bits of that written and posted, but that still leaves Monday, where all I have is band names and videos, no text. I'm burnt out so it's not getting done, and that blocks the blogs for events after Bumbershoot. Maybe I'll get back to it, but for now I'm just posting the Monday video list as a guide to the videos, with no blogging.

That still leaves me backed up, I saw X-15 at one of the Seattle Center Fiftieth Anniversary shows, and Deerhoof, and Don't Talk to the Cops twice, once with Kung Foo Grip, and Reverb.

In order to get caught back up some more, I'm going to throw in the shows I haven't blogged before Reverb here, so the "Shows I Didn't Blog" blog (this post) will have the blog posts for most of the shows I didn't blog.

After Bumbershoot I got to see X-15 with Heather and Greg. I saw was into them when I was a young adult, so it was fun to get a chance to see them after all of this time. "Vaporized was always a favorite: The vocalist looked younger than the other band members, but he had talked about challenges going on with his throat, I hope he does OK. He sounded roughly like he did way back in the day, with that odd voice bouncing around, sounding like nobody else I've heard. One of the defining sounds of my experience in the eighties.

I went to Hawaii for 8 days with my daughters and managed to catch a performance by Mike Love at the Hilo Town Tavern while I was there:

I caught a little bit of Ryan Laplante at Balefire too: Rootsy stuff, I enjoy Ryan's playing.

Deerhoof put on a great show at the Vera Project I enjoy their sound, it's well developed and all their own. Visually they were rewarding in various ways - they had tassels on their outfits, different colors, fun to look at!

I also saw Don't Talk to the Cops twice, at the Vera Project and at Redmond's Old Firehouse. This is their Ronnie Voice guest bit, more or less Mash Hall I think. We saw a couple of the opening acts at the Firehouse, starting with Iska Dhaaf Twangy, angular, the doubled vocals are interesting, the transitions into and out of the faster bit, nice song.
Wimp played next. Fun fast and thrashy, good stuff.

Kung Foo Grip was next up, suffering from my traditional "good shows get crummy videos" rule: I really like Kung Foo Grip so I end up bouncing around and the video is pretty shaky. I'd say sorry, but I had too much fun dancing to really mean it.

Don't Talk to the Cops headlining set was great, djblesOne and emecks danced up a storm and El Mizel bounced around and they had the audience moving and sweating. Carina was dancing and enjoying it even more than I did, she loves a good hip hop vibe in a group with everyone dancing - who doesn't!

That gets me almost caught up, but last night was Reverb Fest so I'm behind by another twenty videos. Good problem to have!

Monday at Bumbershoot: Videos

I haven't blogged about Monday at Bumbershoot, but here's a quick guide to the videos I recorded.


Ghosts I've Met

Jefferson Rose Band


Debo Band

Super Geek League


Passion Pit

Rebirth Brass Band

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Sunday at Bumbershoot

Sunday was another Beautiful day in Seattle and we headed down to Bumbershoot for a day filled with music. First up was Eighteen Individual Eyes playing good mid-tempo guitar oriented rock. Interesting name, no idea what it means. I like the haunting vocals, the way they fit in with the slightly droning guitar sound is nice. They also have a good control of the dynamics, with the instruments pausing here and their while the vocals play off that. Excellent song structure.

Next was Gold Leaves, this one has a beautiful ease about it: The acoustic guitar and quiet synthesizers along with the occasional vocal harmonies give it a wonderful feel. The guitarist on the left is sitting at a pedal steel guitar - an instrument I associate more with country music, but I wouldn't particularly call this country. I've never been that good at figuring out or assigning genres anyway. I like how the instruments blend and the vocals and harmonies all add to a quietly emotional yet stately song. The song I video taped was over 7 minutes long (and I probably missed a little at the start), but it doesn't overstay it's welcome at all; it develops changes and grows, gaining some intensity with the drum solo and the instruments fading into a simpler pattern, very nice.

Next was the Ty Curtis Band with a good chunky guitar oriented rock approach. I've always loved electric guitar and they put some good guitar playing front and center, but don't overwhelm the music or the song with it. I like the way the guitar moves up front, then moves back for the verses, then comes back up front. Good beat, tight band, nice approach. The extended guitar solo around 2:45 in was also quite tasty. So far the early afternoon bands were putting on great shows in the bright sunlight.

Next was Theoretics, a Seattle based "live hip hop" band. Live hip hop refers to using a live band rather than tapes or sequenced music, and I'm a fan of the approach - in case you can't tell, I love live music. The introduce the band and then play "Go" which is a great song. The band is pretty large so I mostly manage to cut the keyboard player out of the video, sorry about that. They had a guest vocals by Camila Recchio a few songs later, she sings beautifully but I didn't manage to get video of that song. Camila also did guest vocals with Knowmads a bit later in the day so you can at least check her out in that video.

The only time I went in to the main stage at the Key Arena all weekend was to see Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. I don't like the "reserved" feel - chairs to sit in, no crowding, nobody really moves much. Personally I like it when there's a crowd, I like it better still when the crowd is into it and the band feeds of that, and best when a mosh pit gets going, but Bumbershoot always has it in for mosh pits. Signs outside the Exhibition Hall (where the more punk bands usually play) explicitly say moshing and crowd surfing is not allowed. Anyway, back to Sharon Jones She's got a great band, tight arrangements, great vocals, very nice set. On the other hand, the seating and lack of crowd intensity led me to head back out to the smaller stages petty quickly.

Back outside at the Sub Pop stage Niki & the Dove were playing spacey slow atmospheric music Different, nice vocals and one dude providing interesting backup sounds between the keys and some sequenced or perhaps recorded instrumentals.

Next over to the TuneIn stage for Eldridge Gravy & The Court Supreme I enjoy the patter - "reminds me of a time in 1926" indeed, even I'm not that old, but it set the stage for the song. I love the horn section and the wailing backing vocals. I ended up recording more than 9 minutes of the performance, I definitely enjoyed their sound. Interesting hat stuff going on with Eldridge, several other bands had hats happening too, seemed like a minor Bumbershoot theme. All the rest of the band had dark glasses too - it might have been a thematic decision, or perhaps just a reaction to playing in the middle of a bright Seattle late Summer day.

Heading back to the Exhibition Hall we stopped for a moment at the YR booth to watch a bit of Deep Sea Diver The Vera Project organized several teens to host these and ask bands a few questions between songs, a nice experience for a bunch of kids I really like, thumbs up to Toyota for sponsoring it, the Vera Project for organizing it, and the kids for getting up on stage and interviewing the bands.

On to the Exhibition Hall for Barcelona I like the songs, the sound was good although my Flip had some problems with the volume so it doesn't sound as good in the video as it did live. I like the way the song loops back to the line "I don't wanna know" and then the guitar echoes the phrase, tasty. I saw a little bit of Barcelona at a previous Bumbershoot, I liked what I heard but I didn't know much about them. Turns out they're local, and I really enjoy their sound - and that's about all I know; that's petty much all I need to know.

After several well done songs by Barcelona we headed over to the Promenade stage for the Knowmads set, with Camilla Recchio (who was also with Theoretics) adding some vocals. The crowd was larger and active, so the video is from a bit further back. I've seen quite a few Knowmads shows but this was the first time I've seen them with a full band - they had a guitar, bass and drums as well as lead vocals by Camila and I really enjoyed it. The way they use "People Get Ready" with Camila's vocals soaring to intro the song and then return to it repeatedly gives the song a great structure; I've always liked that spiritual so it really worked well for me, one of the best Knowmads performances I've ever seen.

Back to the Sub Pop stage for The Jezabels, a four piece band out of Australia Interesting sound, the song I've posted ranges from a nice grove to a sort of operatic peak based on the lead vocalist's ability to really soar and nail the high notes with a lot of power, very nice effect. Good variety of sound within just the one song, another rewarding set in a day full of them.

Yelawolf was next on the TuneIn stage This is the more traditional hip hop experience, a dude rapping with a DJ running some electronic equipment behind them. Nice flow, fast lyrics with a rapid beat on occasion.

Headed up to the Starbucks stage (the Mural Amphitheater) to see the Harmonica House Party with Lee Oskar and Magic Dick Nice harmonica workout, I enjoy how expressive the harmonica is when played well, and the rhythm fills in nicely.

Next we headed back into the Exhibition Hall to catch Civil Twilight For some reason the high end is too bright in this video; it didn't sound that way live, but I had hearing protection in so who knows what it sounded like unprotected. I enjoyed the song, the way it builds and the backing vocals feeding in, this was better live than the video makes it sound (too much hiss, rats).

The Young Evils played a nice set of their guitar oriented distorted rock with Mackenzie Mercer's vocals hovering over them on this one: More dark glasses - a good bright Seattle summer day can be pretty dazzling, and it's nice when Bumbershoot gets some good weather. I think the bands aren't used to playing outdoors in the sunlight though, especially local bands like the Young Evils. Most of the year we don't get much bright sunlight, and most opportunities to play are indoors in a bar or club. The Young Evils made the most of their opportunity in spite of the sun.

Next the Fruit Bats played a nice set of upbeat songs on the Sub Pop stage:
I've seen Fuit Bats before and they always put on a fun show.
I have to admit my comments are getting shorter as I work through the videos I recorded, I saw so many bands that I'm running out of interesting things to say about them. There are lots of great bands to see, but after seeing 60 in 3 days it's hard to think of something original and interesting to say about each. It's a good problem to have though, too many good bands and not enough imagination to comment usefully...

Next was the The Dirtbombs on the TuneIn stage, I think I filmed this one from the beer garden. I'd never heard the Dirt Bombs before and found them instantly likable, fun beat with a good guitar sound, I enjoy the bit about 2 minutes in where the music drops out, giving the vocals an additional punch.

Next AM and Shawn Lee played an interesting set on the Promenade set. The guitar sounds they incorporated into this song were more varied, swapping back and forth between a slightly muddled echoing rhythm to a more ringing lead approach which sets off the vocals nicely. The rhythm section also provides some great emphasis and transitions and they get the audience participation going a couple minutes in, nice effective set:
I think this one ended up black and white because I used my digital camera and it's settings were wonky. It still works pretty well.

Back inside the Exhibition Hall for The Promise Ring. I know very little about them but I enjoyed their set. Classic dual guitar, bass and drum lineup rocking out on a midtempo rock song, nice stuff.

Mudhoney is a local legend that I missed in the nineties when they played Pioneer Square venue like the Buffalo regularl, I was busy raising babies and toddlers back then so I didn't get out much. I was glad to finally get a chance to see them live! I don't know their catalog, when I searched for "I Like It Small" I found some recent performances and nothing else, so I suspect this may be a new song but I don't really know. I like it, it plays against the traditional simplistic excess in most modern songs. I thought I recorded at least one more by Mudhoney, and I saw them do "Touch Me/I'm Sick" which is one of their legendary tunes, but somehow I didn't manage to get a copy to YouTube. Rats!
This is definitely one of the "bucket list" local bands that I had regretted missing back in the day, I'm glad I got to see them and that they still put on a powerful fun show.

Lee Fields and the Expressions played a good old school love song, great horn section and tight arrangements. I love the staccato lyric over the punchy horn section late in the first minute, the way the transitionin and out of that is nice.

Deep Sea Diver had a great sound. I filed this with my digital point and shoot camera. Somehow it ended up in an odd color mode where it's almost black and white, at least the sound is serviceable. Nice classic reference - Psalm 23 has always been a favorite of mine. I definitely want to see Deep Sea Diver again.

I only got a short bit of Blitzen Trapper, sound is a little ragged in the video, it was quite impressive live. The music sounds like it's from some lost twentieth century decade, I can't quite tell which. Blitzen Trapper Enjoyed this, yet another band that I want to see again.


We finished up with Wanda Jackson at the Mural Amphitheater. Wanda embodies an amazing accumulation of rock and roll history. She was one of the first in so many categories and she has great stories. She was in the studio with Elvis Pesley, and she's coy about it but she may've been into more of his business than that. I saw her and 2003 at Bumbershoot on the same stage. In 2003 she played some guitar and sang, this year she stuck to the vocals, allowing the Dusty 45's to handle the instrumental parts. The Dusty 45s are great - the flaming trumpet bit is awesome all by itself, and the show they put on with Wanda was killer, filled with classics and obscurities, covers and overseas number 1 hits - from Japan.
After a few songs where the energy was moderate, lower than last time, she brought things down for a moment and spoke of her conversion experience and sang "I Saw the Light." A noticeable portion of the audience, probably more than 20%, walked out. it felt disrespectful, they were getting into it until she started speaking of her spirituality, it felt like they wanted a novelty act, not an actual complex person with their own attitudes and beliefs.
Their loss, Wanda singing spirituals is a wonderful thing and it visibly amped her up. As she finished "I Saw the Light" with an intense climax, drawing out the final repetition of the title phrase as the band crescendod I realized that she needed a song like this that spoke to her heart, or I should say from her heart. She took a moment to thank us for allowing her the opportunity to talk to us and her graciousness made me feel like the idiots who bailed on the performance could be forgiven, she didn't mind the disrepect. From then on her intensity increased and the packed in crowd enjoyed classic timeless rock and roll.