Saturday, June 23, 2012

Brite Futures Last Show at the Vera Project

The band Brite Futures originally called itself "Natalie Portman's Shaved Head" and I have some history with them as a fan. I saw them at the EMP's Sound Off battle of the bands in 2007 while they were still in high school and enjoyed the heck out of their show.

I saw them several times over the years as they got more comfortable on stage and added more songs to their repertoire and grew their fan base to the point where they could sell out the Vera Project and more.

Eventually they changed their name to "Brite Futures" and posted this video to "explain" the change:


At least I think that's what the video is about. It's petty amusing and a good indication of the band's collective sense of humor. It also ends with a sample of 10CC's "I'm Not In Love" - random, but that was a favorite song from my adolescence.

Last Summer Brite Futures played the main stage at Bumbershoot and kept a crowd of 10,000+ bouncing and sweating and enjoying the heck out of their upbeat bouncey dancey pop music. I enjoyed seeing them doing so well; as a fan you end up feeling like you're somehow along for the ride when a band you've followed for years starts breaking out, so it was fun just watching it happen.

Just recently the band announced they are breaking up and would play one final show at the Vera Project. Obviously I had to go - I was there for some of the early shows and the highlights, I definitely wanted to be there for the last act.

They sold out the Vera Project, and although the intro band didn't make it (I heard they got stuck at the border in Canada, I hate when that happens) they kept the audience happy with a DJ set. They even had Marshal Verdoes (the drummer from the Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band, he hangs out at the Vera and does stage lights quite often) hop up on stage to play drums with the recorded music, and the dance party cranked it up a few more notches, nothing like a solid loud beat and live music to put things over the top!

Band members hung out in the lobby visiting with fans and sharing slices of cake, so the fans didn't mind the slow start to the show, they were having a good time.

Finally a bit after 10 the band took the stage for a memorable performance.


They had the audience dancing and singing non-stop. I've never sweated so much at a Vera show, and it was actually a cool late Spring day in Seattle; all the heat was from fanatics who couldn't stop dancing and bouncing and singing and sweating.

I ended up recording all of their songs, and in some cases I got alternative takes: one camera on a tripod in the balcony giving an overview, and an alternate video recorded with a hand held Flip as I bounced around in the audience. You can find many more videos on my YouTube channel, I'm only embedding a few in this post.

Sophisticated Sideways Ponytail was one of my fist NPSH favorites, and it's just getting better with age:


I'm a little sad I won't get to see them do this any more, but at least I have my memories and a bunch of videos.

They have so many good songs that speak to me in various funny ways - "Me + Yr Daugthter" is a personal favorite, I've got young adult daughters so I've always felt this song speaks directly to me:

Midway through the show Bite Futures left the stage for the time machine and out came Natalie Portman's Shaved head to play more of our favorites. Headbands and lots of white, basically it was NPSH from 5 years ago coming back to finish off the show, a wonderful concept.

There are videos of many other great songs like Confections and Black Wedding and their encores. You can check those and others out on YouTube if you're interested.

The show, like the band and all good things, finally came to an end. Great way to go out, but I can't help but hope maybe someday we'll get a reunion show. Oh well, in the meantime I can still see Claire in Dude York.

The show kept going until past Midnight, which is somewhat unusually late for a Vera Project show, many of the volunteers have to catch busses before then, but we had a great crew that stayed until the end. When we cleaned up afterwards the showroom floor was wet with sweat. Not just damp, it was soaking so all of the paper and glitter that was thrown onto the audience and ended up on the floor was sticking, it was quite a mess. Luckily we had a great crew and we made short work of the cleanup. It was a hard partying crowd so we had couple of puke incidents to cleanup after too, and the bathrooms got an additional full mopping before we were done, par for the course at a well attended lively show. Hmm, I don't want to end the blog post on that note, so here's the video of "Sophisticated Sideways Pony Tail" - I love the bright colors and the images, definitely a personal favorite:

Saturday, June 16, 2012

June Veracity with Ram Rams and Legion of Sparrows

We got a couple of interesting bands for the June Veracity show. One had to travel to get here and half of the other was about to travel to the other side of the US permanently so there was a random underlying theme to the show.

First up was the Ram Rams, who had a member that lived on the other side of the Puget Sound and would be commuting home by ferry after the show. They appreciated the early timing. June Veracity 006 I like the visual approach - the common color theme, each expressed individually. The women fronting the band were appealing and the placement (with the dude towards the back wearing less "dressed up" clothing) emphasized them, which was fine with me. As long as I can hear the guitar I'm OK.

Ram Rams have some songs with fantastic titles like "When You Touch Yourself the Baby Jesus Weeps" - an apparently solid bit of Catholic theology that is probably intended ironically but is done without all the ironic delivery that would have made it a less perfect song.

She really does sound concerned about the effects of your actions on the baby Jesus and I like the way that makes it ambiguous.

The music was fun with hilarious songs - the titles alone are gems, and some of the songs had the most inappropriate choruses that I immediately found myself singing even though it was so wrong - "He's a slut, he's a whore, he's the man that I adore!" It's just too catchy!

Next up was Legion of Sparrows, a duo with a guitarist vocalist and drummer. They Legion had been dancing around during the Ram Rams set and enjoying the show which I like - the more movement and the more people having a good time the better the show. They took the stage and pounded away and just obviously enjoyed the hell out of it. June Veracity 026 Loud and thrashy, messy stuff with an interesting vitality.

They brought up a backup singer and did a final song without a rhythm section. I probably should've trimmed out some of the patter but I enjoy it. This is also where they talk about the drummer going to Maryland after the show.

It was an interesting show, both bands put on engaging shows that were different in their own unique ways - I love the diversity of acts, all the different performers and bands that I'm privileged to see, and I really appreciate both bands being willing to put on a great free show for us!

The bands did get some vegan and vegetarian Mexican food for their efforts - Chipotle Mexican Grill donated 18 vegan burritos and 18 vegetarian burritos so we were able to feed the bands, the volunteers and the staff and have a few leftovers. Major props to Chipotle for supporting my favorite local non-profit!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Says the Snake at the Vera Project

I stopped by the Vera Project after work on June 6 and attended the Diversity committee meeting, then stayed and filmed a little bit of "Says the Snake."

Interesting fairly heavy rock with a woman vocalist. I've heard a mild number of loud heavy rock bands with screaming vocals but this is one of the few times I've seen a scream using vocalist who's a woman, most other bands with screaming vocals that I've listened to had a man screaming. She handles the vocals well so it sounds to me like women can scream about as well as men - a little higher in pitch but a pretty similar overall sound.

I prefer this sort of approach for screamed vocals - switching back and forth between singing and screaming - to purely screamed vocals. Screamed vocals are harder to understand, and I prefer more singing overall with a smaller amount of screaming for contrast and emphasis, which is how "Says the Snake" approaches it. Nice!

I really didn't get to see much of the show and had to leave before the next band so I missed 3 acts, but at least I saw a little live music that was fun and different. Nice way to cap off the evening at the Vera project before catching the bus home.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Monday at Folk Life

I was feeling a little lazy and thinking about staying home, but Heather wanted to go to Folk Life on Monday and that got me motivated to go. Festival buddies make festivals much better!
As usual for Folk Life there were buskers all over inside and outside the Seattle Center.
We managed to see a bunch of bands, but it was semi-random and I didn't know who they were, so I have to deduce who I saw from the pictures and videos plus the event schedule.

First up was Shana Cleveland and the Sandcastles on the Indie Roots Stage just after 3:30.

Great song, slightly ominous or sad tone, fairly stripped down with the interesting combination of instruments. The guitar and vocals between them carry the song, but the clarinet or whatever that instrument is and the disciplined structure with the electric guitar and drums framing, providing rhythm and some motion and the backing vocals chiming in nicely with the acoustic guitar and vocals right up front make it a song worth carrying, very nice.

From the Broad Street lawn we ducked back to the Mural Amphitheater and caught some of the Georgetown Orbits Good reggae/ska band, they had the crowd dancing and moving - and that can be a challenge in hipster heavy Seattle! Fun irresistible music that makes you want to dance if you have any inclination at all, and that's one of my highest compliments: the best bands get the audience moving.

As always there were buskers all over, this guy on the didgeridoo and steel drums was fun.

Next we went up to the Northwest Court area and saw Larry and Lynette. They had a very nice sound but I only got a short bit recorded.

Next we managed to get to the Alki Stage in time to see some of KletzerBalm FolkLife 019I enjoy the sound with the brass doing a more exotic (to me) sound without the large chorus/loud chords, rather than that we get more intricate melodies with rhythm parts thumping along and the fiddle added in too. Fun, bouncy upbeat music, sounds like it would be fun to dance to. I like hearing variety, and I'm not familiar with very many Israeli bands so I enjoyed getting to hear at least one example playing great, well rehearsed and reasonably complex music that's a bit different than I'm used to, nice stuff!
On top of the buskers everywhere and the stages there was also the odd bit of spectacle breaking out from time to time like this parade: FolkLife 022 I don't know who Kyle is, but apparently he's got enough fans for a parade whoo-hoo!

We stopped by the Folklife Cafe - a new venue to me. Turns out it's the East side of the Opera House lobby. They put up some curtains at the back and put out a couple hundred chairs and it's a small venue. We saw the Dharma Heart Band doing the wind down show, nice keyboard work After a break for some food we went and listened to the New Iberians Zydeco Blues Band playing some Zydeco music at the Fountain Lawn stage. FolkLife 034 I discovered Zydeco music in my Dad's music collection after he passed away, he collected some and as we split up his possessions I chose some music I was unfamiliar with and took my time listening to it over the next few months. It was wonderful, quick and active, with a great beat and it made you want to move just listening to it. I felt a connection with Dad, learning a tiny bit about a genre that had been one of Dad's interests was nice and helped me process his death.
Getting to listen to some live with people up front dancing, old and young and in between and that fun lively music pouring over us felt a little like Dad's presence, that he'd be happy knowing I was shaking it to some hot Zydeco at Folklife. I still miss Dad, but if I watch for the opportunities and pay attention by God's grace I get spiritual solace, the sure knowledge of his love and approval and the hope and prayer that some day we will be reunited eases my soul.

We went back over to the Alki Stage to check out Eric Apoe and They:
FolkLife 040



We poked into the Vera Project and saw Honora too: I like her sound and love her voice, she has one o those powerful voices that allows her to sing intensely yet with enough control to shade the performance emotionally, going from lament to introspection and back to some wailing then over to some wistfulness, she's able to emote while projecting. Nice!

Back at the Mural Amphitheater Hybrid Vibe played a fun set, I always enjoy a good horn section and loud guitars.FolkLife 059 Good stage presence and fun music, quite enjoyed it.

We caught Lets Get Lost at the Indie Roots (Broad St. lawn) stage and enjoyed them, a good rock and roll approach with nice horn flourishes. Solid stuff!FolkLife 064
By this time we were running down, so we called it a night shortly after and headed out.
Quite a bit of good music at a free show - I have videos and photos for a bit more than 10 here, but we saw more like 40 when you count all the buskers everywhere. Just an awesome smorgasboard of free music, Folklie is a great local tradition and a nice way to cap off the late Spring events. I can't wait for Summer, but that was a nice taste of an outdoor multistage festival and my appetite for good local music has been satisfied - how does Seattle and the NW region keep coming up with all these awesome bands? Joking aside, each and every band I saw showed it's dedication and it's mastery of material that only comes with regular practice and hard work, and every band had a vision - some sound they were approaching, some message they were getting across, or a big monster dance party - and they took the audiences along for the ride and I enjoyed myself immensely. Folk Life ruled!