Sunday, April 29, 2012

4-20 LA, Knowmads, Chev and Superfire at the Vera Project

The Knowmads are one of my favorite local hip hop outfits, so when I saw they had a show coming up on short notice I volunteered. Short notice shows can be short of volunteers, and the Knowmads shows have a reputation for bringing large crowds that like to party, making security a challenge, so they could probably use me.
It turns out I was right: I was the only security volunteer. It also turns out the show was on 4-20, which I had failed to notice when I signed up. Looks like I was going to be Major Killjoy, running around telling everyone to put it out. On the other hand, I know the dudes in the Knowmads - they gave me my first interview - and they're smart and great at communicating.
I checked in with Tom Pepe and told him what was up and he offered to give us a PSA: It worked perfectly - nobody lit up in the venue at all, and working security was a pleasure. Major props to the Knowmads and Tom Pepe for guiding the crowd and giving them a great show! I got some good footage of Superfire with Rebel: SuperFire also had one number with an electric guitar: I like the sound he gets; they don't integrate the guitar into the music, rather they highlight the guitar for a bit then move back to the hip hop. Interesting, I really don't see too much live guitar at hip hop performances, although the Thermals provided a great power trio backup for some spitting at the 2011 Sasquatch Line-up announcement party. The linked blog post has a photo of the Thermals providing the groove (guitar, bass and drums) for assorted members of Das Racist and Mad Rad as they free styled, I really liked that example.
I got Saturdayzed from a hand held video recorder in the crowd while working security: ...but I mostly wasn't able to film from the crowd, I was too busy working security. I put the other camera on a tripod and turned it on when the show started, then didn't get back to it for quite a while. The result is that I ended up with a 53 minute video here that I haven't sorted out, I think it starts with Chev and then the Knowmads. I wasn't sure if YouTube took videos this long but it appears to have worked fine. I think this has the rest of the Knowmads show and then LA in a single video: I enjoyed the show, the Knowmads have several old favorites like the Boat Can Leave Now and Wildflower (this one is from the 2011 Japan benefit show; if you poke around on my YouTube channel I think I have 3 versions each of Wildflower and The Boat Can Leave Now, maybe 4 if you look hard enough) ...and Saturdayzed that I always enjoy hearing, and the new Knewbook material is growing on me - a couple more shows and the new album will be old favorites too.
The Knowmads paid for some of the costs of producing their new release the Knewbook (available for $10 on bandcamp) with a kickstarter campaign, and several of the contributors got "hang out with the band in the green room" privileges at the Vera Show and shout outs from the stage and so on which was interesting to see. The financial and marketing models used in the music industry are changing and bands like the Knowmads could make plenty of money off of purely virtual (downloaded) copies of their work without a sniff of a record company involved in the financing or delivery of their music. Not bad for a couple of 21 year old north Seattle kids, I hope they sell lots of copies of it! Their earlier "Bus Station" mix tape with 24 tracks is available free here last time I looked too, it's worth checking out!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Vera Benefit show featuring Futura and Seacats

Futura and Seacats did a benefit show at the Vera Project for the Vera Project on Thursday, April 19. There wasn't much notice which usually means there aren't too many volunteers. Ben likes Seacats - they were the highlight of one of his first Veracity shows and he randomly saw them again outdoors by the EMP and from then on we kept track and saw them when they came to town. We volunteered and I ended up steering (telling volunteers what to do) and lead front door (cashier, take people's money at the front door). Ben did green room/stage left security: he hung out and watched the show. Futura and Seacats 007 Seacats led things off with a fun set, I like the vocals and the musical approach. The lineup has been changing and I think this is at least the 3rd we've seen; Ben gave his approval, he enjoyed getting to see Seacats for the fourth or fifth time. After a little fiddling with equipment the Seacats put on a great set. Josh's vocals have become the backbone of the Seacats sound and I've always liked how he sings this one: It's good to see the newest lineup cranking it out and still keeping enough of the familiar elements to be recognizably the Seacats. Futura took the stage for the headlining set and blew me away. Futura and Seacats 014 I'd never heard Futura before and their opening intro with its detailed Vera call out immediately won me over, and after praising the Vera Project and some additional comments (skip ahead to 0:56 if you just want to hear the music) they dove in with some interesting percussion - a regular drum set and maybe a djembe driving a pensive introduction before a quick countdown by the drummer into the first verse of the song. I like the complexity and the separate movements, not a very common approach and it works very well for me. Futura was obviously tightly rehearsed and frequently did seamless transitions from one bit to the next, making for longer videos since I hate to interrupt the flow if they don't stop between songs (or maybe I was just too lazy to pick out the good spots for transitions, give it a view and you can make the call): The two Futura videos I've posted are both longer than ten minutes, and if you'd like to see more I have the rest of the show on YouTube as well; the last song is also worth checking out. I believe this show was a senior project for somebody, perhaps most likely the guitarist from Futura who gave the sixty second call-out to the Vera Project and Seacats in the video above, but that's just a guess. In any event it was a load of fun so I'm glad they got to do a fun show for their senior project, whoever was responsible for it. Always glad to see an old favorite like the Seacats and it's even betterr when paired with discovering a new favorite like Futura. Nicely played!

April Veracity with Madness Becomes Method, SuperProjection, Circus Boys and Br'er Sun

We got four bands booked for the April Veracity and it ended up being the best attended show I've booked with 60 people watching a great show. I enjoyed Br'er Sun had a 4 piece lineup with keys, guitar, bass and drums with the guitarist and keyboardist doing vocals. I like the way the keys provide both the spacey filler sound and the intro tubular bells sounding riff to start this song, good guitar sound and punchy drums once it gets going: Br'er Sun wrapped up their set nicely, good job getting their social network info out while they were at it. I think the song is "So Calm" I'm not sure I have the band order recorded correctly, since some of the bands swapped positions in the lineup. Hopefully I don't mis-identify any bands, I've done that before (how embarrassing!). Circus Boys had a 2 piece keyboards and drum setup and they played fun up-tempo pop rock. Their circus trick was swapping instruments: Madness Becomes Method put on a fun energetic show and they brought the lions share of the crowd. In addition to the keys, guitar, bass, drum lineup they used a variety of instruments including an accordian and a trombone depending on the song; the crowd and the lack of any elevation make them hard to pick out in the video.
Fun band with a good party vibe with the crowd it largely brought. This number has a reggae flavored rhythm guitar, and a trombone. Nice! SuperProjection was another 2 piece, this time with guitar and drums, and the guitarist sang. Good musicians, nice songs that were totally their own like this one: They also did a cover of "What A Wonderful Life" which was very nice. This is one of my top 10 songs all time, so I'm always happy to hear someone playing it. The April Veracity show was fun and went off well, but for some reason I hardly sold a taco even though the crowd was large. I sell more if some appealing young kid is sitting at the table with the $1 sign displayed prominently, not really surprising when you think about it. The bands ate plenty, the volunteers (and I) had a few, and eventually I went ahead and gave 10 or 12 away, I think only 1 got purchased. More leftovers than usual this month, anyway.