Sunday, March 18, 2012

Wine Walks and Music

Dana and I and some neighbors and friends went to Country Village's Wine Walk Friday night March 16th. They had an assortment of wineries pouring wine in different stores. For $25 you got 10 pours: small tastes of an interesting assortment of wines.

In addition to the wines there were small food samples too, from cheese and crackers to chocolates and even a rice salad and mini-"pig-in-a-blanket" sausages. It was fun to wander from antique store to photo studio to clothing store, drinking a couple of samples from each winery and planning to buy a few extra tickets if needed.

Many of the stores were playing music - recorded music. One venue had live music. Score!

Tasty munchies, a wide variety of interesting wines, and even live music, what a nice way to spend an evening.

Friday, March 16, 2012

March Veracity with Elbow Coulee, AudioFaction and Mads Jacobsen

We got three bands booked for the March Veracity show and 2 of them showed up around 6, the official load-in time. The remaining act, Mads Jacobsen, is a singer/acoustic guitarist who he didn't have any gear to set up so he showed up pretty close to the start of the show.
Mads Jacobsen performs at Veracity
Mads was fun to listen to both musically and for the ideas and politics that informed his songs.
He played the guitar, sang, and played the harmonica. The acoustic guitar had a nice clean sound and he was able to chunk out some nice rhythm patterns as he played. He did a great Dylan cover and some originals, I only got a bit on video though.

I enjoyed the fact that most songs had a political point of view and something to say. Nice set!

Next up was AudioFaction. They seemed quite young but they played well, doing a credible job on some covers and some nice original songs.
AudioFaction play at Veracity
The lead vocalist displays a solid upper end to his vocal range over a nice guitar hook on this song:

I like the guitar driven music with the classic dual guitar, bass and drums lineup. While they did a fine job on the covers and chose classic that I like to hear, I'm a nut for original songs so I was glad to hear those as well.

Elbow Coulee took the stage for the headlining set. The keyboard player had quite a pile of devices which made him a little hard to photograph. The only good picture I got of the keyboardist left the drummer out, so I'll post 2 different pictures and you can see the whole band between them.
Elbow Coulee plays at Veracity
Elbow Coulee performs at Veracity
Elbow Coulee played some solid guitar oriented music with the keyboards providing chords in the background, playing with tempo and getting some nice rhythm section work in this number:

I like the backing vocals just kind of "ooh-ing" along and the turnaround back to the slower beat and tempo after the fast bit.

Elbow Coulee varied their sound quite a bit, occasionally bringing the keys out more prominently, playing with various envelope modifications and getting some dramatic effects.

I like the reasonably fast tempo and the good control of tempo they show within some songs, speeding up and then slowing back down for effect. You can tell the band is well rehearsed, they frequently play with tricky rhythmic variations and fast full speed song endings and pretty much everyone nails them.

Elbow Coulee is playing the middle slot at the High Dive on April 5 with 2 other bands for a very reasonable $6, check it out if you get a chance.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

One Night Only

When I video tape and blog about the bands I see I usually friend the band and post links to the content on their wall. As a result I see interesting posts from my "friends" on occasion. Monday night, for example.

Both Brite Futures and Champagne Champagne posted about doing a free show that night at the Crocodile. I've never seen a show at the Crocodile and I love both bands and had no plans for the evening, so I wandered across Belltown, ate dinner, then staked out a nice table in the back room by the stage.

Brite Futures started setting up on the small stage and I wasn't sure they'd fit. It turned out to be a subset, with 3 members of Brite Futures - according to the Stranger's lineout blog we saw Claire England, Mark "Gajamagic" Gajadhar, and David Price. Pearl Dragon was there early, I saw news that he was in a house fire but didn't get the details.

Dana came and joined me at the table shortly after 8 and we had a nice vegetarian pizza and some drinks. Pearl Dragon checked in to tell us that they'd go on at 9. I got up to get Dana a drink and when I got back to the table Dana had invited a nice lady to sit at our table and introduced her to me, it turns out she's Pearl Dragon's mom. She was very nice and she and Dana bonded over kid gossip and parenting and had a great time. We learned many of the details around the show from her.

It's amusing, I got to literally hundreds of shows and I never meet any friends or relatives of the bands - I'm sure I've been right next to them, I'm just to quiet to ever introduce myself. Dana comes with me to one show and we're friends of Pearl Dragon's family. My wife has always been better at networking and making friends, I blame my weaknesses on my nerdiness: too much of my nervous system is wired around math and tech, not leaving enough for the social interaction. Either that or I'm just too bashful.

I only got a little video and a couple of pictures but the show was fun. It was about the best case for a talented group that had rehearsed once 3 hours earlier, raw and fascinating, surprisingly powerful short and fast pieces.

There was some amusing candid patter like "Don't worry about how we botched the song here, we'll redo it and edit it back together."

They also brought Tyler Wilman of Green Apple Quick Step up for an effective vocal, once again short, sweet and powerful. I didn't manage to get Tyler on video, I only got a couple of bits with Pearl Dragin singing and the drum/guitar/keys or drum/keys/keys played by Brite Futures.

I don't know if the pilot will ever see the light of day but I hope it does, and I'd enjoy the heck out of seeing more shows like this. I hope Pearl recovers completely and comfortably, I hope Brite Futures has a good show at the Crocodile on Thursday at their SXSW kick-off, and I'd love to see Pearl Dragon work with live bands and given a little more time to get additional parts and material mastered, but the raw immediate take with no time for polish and complexity made for an intense and urgent show. Cool idea, what bands would we mash up? We could continue the hip hop + rock/pop band trend, go to the singer songwriter + band mash-ups and so on.
Tom fr/Knowmads + the Globes, THEESatisfaction + Finn Riggins, SOL + Craft Spells, I have no idea which would work well, I'm just randomly picking bands and hip hop performers I like. Would it be compelling TV, or at least interesting? I don't know, but I enjoyed being in the back bar at the Crocodile while they filmed it so I hope they do more, I'd love to see them.

Friday, March 2, 2012

K Sera, From Indian Lakes, Freighms and Fit For Hounds at the Vera Project

Blayne, the half brother of a friend of the family was visiting, a young man in the Navy who would be heading to Japan in a few days on his last bit of leave. I asked him what kind of music he liked, what concerts he had enjoyed.

"I've never been to a live show" he said. He was under 21 so I could understand not getting into clubs, but no live shows at all? Dang, that seemed tragic somehow.

I checked and the Vera Project had a great lineup the next night, so I got my son and his buddy to volunteer (they ran concessions) and filmed the show while Blayne and Carina and I watched four great bands. Excellent choice for a first live concert experience, although I wish we'd had ten times as many people; as good as the bands were, they deserved a big crowd.

First up was Fit For Hounds, a band I mistakenly thought I had seen before, turns out that was Hounds of the Wild Hunt; I had to look it up in my blog. So this was the first time I've seen Fit For Hounds, as far as I know.

Fit For Hounds 2
Guitar, bass, drums, 2 or 3 vocals, and occasional keys. Nice sound, good songs, Stalactite was nice, simple sound that builds in waves, slightly angular rhythm during the peaks, then back to the soothing groove again.

Out of My System and Glass Icicles were instant favorites.

I got the whole show up on youtube, poke around there (search for "virtualsoundnw fit for hounds" and you should get all 6 videos, 26 or 28 minutes of music).

Next up was Freighms, another local band. Two guitars, bass, drums and keyboards. Frieghms made heavier use of the keys than Fit For Hounds, giving them a nice piano driven approach on some numbers. On other songs it was more guitar and drums driving things like this:
The piano adds some color and becomes more prominent as the song unfolds. Nice sound, good dynamics.

Next up was From Indian Lakes.
Similar lineup with 2 guitars, bass, keys and drums. Slightly harder/more urgent approach, nicely crafted songs with a good range and dynamics.
This next song starts out quietly then builds nicely as the jangly guitars and synths kick in.
The transitions into the quieter portions with vocals, then back to more of a grinding guitar sound are interesting. Nice lead (in the older sense) guitar, not a solo, just a solid lead that holds portions of the song together. Tasty!

K Sera took the stage for the headlining set. Based on a quick listen on YouTube I thought they'd be soft and poppy, but they weren't. They had a tight, mildly hard sound, not too pop, more mainstream guitar oriented rock with good harmonies and intricate songs.
I enjoyed the lighting effects on that one too, nice combination of fast changing beats and sounds with the lights setting it off well.
This next one has a very nice simple guitar opening, then builds to a more complex sound with the drums, then drops to a simpler backing sound for the vocals, nice range of contrasts in a single song.

Four excellent bands doing interesting songs, well written and performed in tight arrangements, we definitely got our friend some nice music to listen to for his first concert experience. The attendance was a bit light - not unusual for a Sunday - but I wish we'd had a bigger sweatier crowd. The bands were good enough to deserve it and that would have been the icing on the cake for our buddy's first show. We just had to be satisfied by 4 creative bands putting on an excellent show; I can live with that.

Oh well, maybe next time he makes it to Seattle we can get him to some sweaty mosh pit...