Showing posts with label vera. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vera. Show all posts

Saturday, February 22, 2014

EMP Sound Off! Round 3

The first two Sound Off! shows were epic, featuring great music and great showmanship and an embarrassment of riches. Laser Fox came out ahead in round 1 and Thee Samedi took round 2. Now for round 3!

I ended up volunteering to help the Vera Project load in at the Triple Door for the gala in the afternoon, then running out and picking up Greg and heading back downtown to see the show. We parked in my office's underground secured lot and walked over to the EMP and headed up the SF stairs to the venue. Coming off the stairs we stopped by the Vera table and said hello. I didn't end up tabling for the Vera Project so I didn't get a seat between acts after all. Dang.

First up was Calico the Band who drove 10 hours from Boise to play for us and brought plenty of supporters.

The instruments were acoustic, upright bass and acoustic guitars and fiddles and banjos and mandolins. At least I think they used a mandolin, they switched around freely. They also had a drum set that was played standing up on occasion and another drum up front. They had a more percussion driven approach than I'd anticipated and got the audience cranked up quickly. The energy level was high and the band was very good, with a rich sound and good vocals and a presentation that just pulled you right in to the stomping beats and fun music. The lady on the keyboards was the "front-woman" handling the majority of the vocals and her charisma put them over. They put in a solid set that warmed up the crowd and had us dancing and yelling, but they had the difficult challenge of winning from the opening slot. The next band had a better chance simply because Calico the Band warmed up the audience. Unfortunate, but somebody had to go first.

Next up was K Sneak. I saw her at a Knowmads show a few years back, if I remember correctly. Oh yeah, I remember, the Japan benefit show in 2011 when she was in 9th grade. She's grown and matured and had a good time working the crowd and rapping, good to see her getting some love and attention and rewards for sticking to it and working at it. A hip hop act with a prerecorded track or sequence has a challenge keeping the EMP crowd engaged; bands like Tommy Cassidy add a full band to the rapping so the sequencing is minimal and the performance has more going on. K Sneak was fearless and carried her set and filled the stage like she'd been doing it for years (at least 3 so far!).

Good flow and an assortment of fast and interesting rhythms along with some nice cover choices got the crowd into it and enjoying it. Two good sets with 2 more bands to go.

Next up was Fauna Shade. My friend Eduard Contreras plays drums in the band and I enjoy their sound, which Troy Nelson described as "reverb drenched" or something like that - and he wasn't wrong.

I enjoy their sound and already have a couple of favorite songs that I enjoy hearing live, so they had me and a corner of the crowd by the stage dancing away and having a sweaty good time. The crowd intensity definitely spiked up with the distorted loud guitar driven sound and the bass lines occasionally replaced by psychedelic sounding string scrapes with Eduardo pounding away keeping time and tempo. Greg (the photographer) mentioned that he was particularly impressed by Eduardo's drumming, and he doesn't give out all that many compliments. Great sound, great rhythm, tight band in a fun groove. Without a pure lead vocalist the guitarist vocalist was somewhat rooted to the vocal mic which made it harder to put on a show while also playing and singing, so the music got much of the focus.

Fauna Shade finished off a great set and our corner of the crowd wiped the sweat off of our brows and re-hydrated aggressively. Things were looking good for Fauna Shade, I was leaning towards them as the best act of the night but it was tough, all the acts were good.

Then Otieno Terry came out. He opened with an a cappella vocal that showcased his beautiful rich voice and got the front row and the center of the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand.

Then the band came out and finished the takeover, and we went on an awesome musical journey. Soul music and thumb popping bass lines, crooned sections with rich backing parts and the occasional doo-wop overtones and brilliant piano work all just served to amplify the charisma and effect of Otieno's performance.

The band was dressed in nice suits with dark slacks and grey sport jackets and ties and looked sharp, and also a bit like a throwback to the rat pack days. The backing vocalist in particular was talented and a great addition to the sound and attitude of the band, and his whistling was phenomenal.

Yet even that and consistently hot musicianship didn't come close to overshadowing Otieno, who gave each of his band mates a chance to shine - then emphatically took back the spot light to bring the show home. Intense soulful lyrics and a joyful performance made sure that the musical journey took us exactly where we all wanted to be even if we hadn't known it. This was one of those commanding performances that sucked us in and took us along with Otieno through the emotional wringer that he sang so powerfully to us about. The final number got the crowd screaming and moving and roaring, and once again the night ended with a band strutting off the stage on top of the world, conquerors of several hundred adoring sweating fans, and the inevitable confirmation of the judges that Otieno Terry was going to the finals was almost anti-climatic. They were eff-ing off the charts in a style I haven't seen anybody do, much less do well, in ages, and the judging has been pretty good (if maybe a little biased towards the later acts, just like the crowds). Fauna Shade got the wild card slot, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed until Sunday afternoon.


Update: Fauna Shade did indeed get into the finals as the wild card band. Hot damn! Now we get to see Laser Fox, Thee Samedi, Otieno Terry and Fauna Shade at next weeks EMP Sound Off! finals. This is going to be a great show, and I have no idea who's going to win. They're all talented and amazingly fun so the audience is going to have a great time no matter what!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

EMP Sound Off! Round 2

After an epic week 1 of the EMP Sound Off! battle of the bands I was wondering if week two could possibly top it. Unlike week one, when all the bands were new to me, I'd seen Thee Samedi before so I had a suspicion that just maybe week 1 could be topped, but it was going to take some pretty dang good bands having very "on" nights to do it.

The luck of the draw really figures into Sound Off! placing: it's very tough to win from the first slot. The crowd is cold, and by the end of the show the judges and audience will remember the last acts best.

Still, somebody has to go on first and for round 2 it was Manatee Commune. Troy Nelson introduced him and Manatee Commune took the stage with his guitar. He started with electronic and synthesized or sequenced music, rapidly changing settings and interacting with a touch interface app on his tablet.
The music was spacey and electronic, with fairly dense layers of sequenced and pre-recorded material whirling around. After a few songs he played guitar on top of the atmospheric synthesized music and got some more intensity into the performance. He also switched over to a violin which had a nice interaction with his loops and sequences.
Manatee Communion warmed the crowd up and played interesting music, but his focus down onto the devices and button pushing and knob twiddling gave the set a more remote atmospheric vibe. Coming from the lead off slot, Manatee Commune was going to have a hard time winning.

After rocking out at round 1 of Sound Off! the prior week and then aching pretty badly afterwards I was wishing there was somewhere to sit down between acts. I got lucky - I volunteer at the Vera Project, and they are tabling at the Sound Off! and sent out an email asking for assistance with tabling. Which involves sitting behind a table. Sitting. I responded quickly: "I'm already going, I can table before and between bands!" and the volunteer coordinator was happy to have the slot filled. Score! All I have to do is talk about one of my favorite volunteer run non-profits to anybody who's cool enough to come to the Sound Off! and hasn't heard about it yet, or has heard a little and wants to hear more. Well! If you know me, you know I kinda like the sound of my own voice. This show went much better for me as I was able to sit down and rest my feet and legs between acts and let my vocal chords do the work.
We're tabling through round 3 and the finals too, so I'm relieved. Man, I have got to get into better shape before Bumbershoot arrives, I can only make it through 4 acts in an evening and then I need a day to recover. That's not going to cut it for a 3 day festivel with 11 hours worth of bands and a pile of walking needed to see as much of them as possible.

Sorry, I digress. Back to the second act at Sound Off! round 2: the Onlies.
The Onlies are three high school students who've known each other since grade school with a classic blue grass instrument lineup: guitar, mandolin, and fiddle.
They proceeded to put on an awesome old school bluegrass show. I grew up on this stuff, often listening with my dad to the live KRAB bluegrass show on every Saturday night back in the seventies. The Onlies played their instruments well, and when they launched into beautiful three part harmonies on top of it I was into it and so was everybody else in the audience. From fast and flashy leads and party songs to romantic laments they nailed it. They passed leads back and forth and switched up the instruments some, swapping the mandolin for a second guitar and then a banjo - the most dangerous instrument in the world. Their between songs patter was good too.
They were cute as heck which is a horribly patronizing thing for me to say I suppose, but they enjoyed the music and the audience and each other and made me happy just by being so upbeat and amusing as performers. When you add in all the technical chops and harmonies where they get that beautiful blend going, I was beyond happy. The audience responded and was loud, and the music got me moving some and sweating - and sadly enough, my sweat is a rough figure of merit for shows. The more I enjoy the show, the more I move. The more I move, the more I sweat. Hence the more I sweat, the better the show. This was a hot and bothered show, but they weren't on long enough to get me to the sweating through my clothes state.

Another great band with another completely different approach, and another great set. They had the bluegrass showmanship down: their hands were always occupied making music, yet they moved their instruments and moved in relation to each other and kept things lively and physically dynamic while always staying within 2 or maybe 3 feet of the centrally placed microphones so that the instruments and voices came through the PA clearly. The crowd ate it up.

Next up in the penultimate slot was Nabii Ko$mo, a hip hop duo with a live drummer.

The dude on the left handled most of the leads with the duo jumping on words and phrases to add some punch. The live drummer was a definite plus, giving the show a dynamic feel as the hard cadences of the raps lined up with the rhythms from the drums, increasing the rhythmic power of the performance. Hip hop music with rap leads uses rhythm, word play and rhyme without much melody to get it's message across, so the organic feel of the live, on the fly rhythm and the interplay between the drummer and the vocals stands out for me. Nabii Ko$mo put on a hot set and got the audience going, working us hard with arm raises and waves, call-outs and responses, engaging us more fully in the show. Another sweaty set that basically made you move, totally the sort of experience I get off on. Thank goodness we got to sit down and table for the Vera Project to recover, the bands were just too good and my feet and legs were paying the price from all the dancing.

The final act was Thee Samedi, the first band I've ever seen at Sound Off! that I'd already seen. They were nice enough to come in and play for free at a Veracity show show for us. And I DO mean put on a show. Their lead vocalist Noah Fowler is a committed performer who put an amazing amount of energy into the show and the band plays hard crunchy guitar oriented rock played loud - right up my alley.

As you can see here Noah had some sort of fuzzy shawl like wrap and something red spread across his chest - and the shawl is about to come off. The band smashed through their songs, playing loud and hard, with Noah wailing away and using the mic in unusual ways and the crowd just exploded. The security staff had to move to the edge of the mosh pit to try to keep things a little calmer, and pretty soon the foolish stage dives started - at least two times somebody leapt out and pretty much missed everyone, splatting to the floor. Good thing they were young resilient flexible kids, if I tried something like that I'd break things and end up in the hospital. The mosh pit was more than enough physical abuse for me!

The guitarist in particular had a great smile as he faced right into the writhing crowd and banged his way through the power chords that just got us all writhing even harder. Noah start writhing around on the ground and stuffing the mic into his mouth and screaming away, classic stuff.
I didn't quite see how Noah did it, but he managed to knock himself in the face a bit. As the blood trickled out of his nose onto his upper lip the audience just lost it's shit. Noah eventually noticed it when he got blood on his fingers and then he rubbed it all over his chest on top of the ketchup or whatever the heck it was that was already there. For some interesting effects he rubbed the mic back and forth across his chest until you couldn't tell if he had smeared the earlier red stuff or the blood, or maybe had just made the skin red from irritation.

We had ourselves one heck of a mosh pit. I ended up in bouncing from nearly up to the stage back to the line of security folk holding down one end of the mosh pit, fending off the flying maniacs, redirecting and catching the staggering kids to avoid falling and pileups, getting a hand or a hip on the frenzied sideways pogo fanatics before they managed to nail me or someone else with an elbow or a knee, taking the occasional elbow or knee anyway, riding the surges of frenzied kids back and forth and back and forth. We managed to only have 2 major pileup/tramples and no fights, so it was a good clean bruising mosh pit in the best Seattle tradition. Nobody was bleeding in the mosh pit, although at least one tee shirt got shredded. As far as I could tell, all the blood was on the stage.

As Thee Samedi wound down their set and left the stage with a triumphant strut I staggered back to the Vera table so I could sit down. They pegged the sweat measurement: all the way through my shirt over most of my chest and lower back. My feet and arms were sore too, so it felt good to relax and sit down. The judges weighed in with their decision and Thee Samedi came in first and is going to the finals.

As I recovered from the show physically I was still on an emotional high and I realized another one of those odd correlations I enjoy, this one's a painful correlation. It's not just sweat, pain is proportional to show intensity too. The awesome shows whip us into a frenzy that leaves me a bit beaten and bruised and sore.

I'm getting somewhat old for this, yet the pure intensity and transcendent joy in the collective experience makes it worth it every single time. I only hurt badly after a show if it was an awesome show, and I'll take that deal every time. I just need to remember to get a certain amount of time off of my feet to recover every so often, then it works well. Well enough anyway; I can't wait to go back next week for part 3 - Eduardo's band Fauna Shade is playing, and so is K Sneak, so next week I'll set a personal record and see 2 acts that I've seen before in a single preliminary EMP round, along the two bands that will be completely new to me. I'm also looking forward to getting to see the finals, the 2 bands in already put on a great show, and the wild cards are good as well. It's been a great Sound Off! already, and the shows are only half done. Lots of good music left!

BTW I want to thank Charles for the excellent photos from both rounds. You can click through to his flickr photos from the blog and check them out if you want.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

EMP Sound Off! Round 1

For no good reason I haven't made it to the EMP Sound Off! events in a few years. This year I got tickets and rounded up my friend Charles to take pictures, and I'm glad I did: the first night of the Sound Off! was impressive. Troy Nelson from Young Evils (he also has a Saturday DJ slot on KEXP) was our MC.

First up was Tommy Cassidy. Just like Charles the photographer, Cassidy is from the Tri-Cities and went to Hanford High School. That plays a part in his message and we'll get to that, but first some details about the man and the band. Cassidy raps in front of a live band with horns. The band is fun and loud and has a women with a strong voice singing leads, alternating with Cassidy's raps and occasionally backing and filling during them. This band cooks along, and when the horn section comes in for some backing it's cool. When they run through some leads on the trumpet it's even better, and they even had some cool old school muted trumpet stuff giving a completely different sound and feel to one number.
Cassidy varied his approach in different songs, using a slower back-off-the-beat approach which somehow gave almost a visual quality to his raps, and also using a rapid fire intricate aggressive intense flow in another number that was visceral and powerfully emotional. Cassidy's range and lyrics and patter connected with us - his comments about being from the nuclear Tri-Cities and feeling like a stranger in his hometown resonated with everybody who's been a teenager.
Cassidy drew the first slot which is pretty much impossible to win from. He took a cold audience and warmed it up, did great work and impressed us, but then 3 more acts got to go on and distract us from the first performance, and they got to start with a warmed up audience. Cassidy showed he's more than capable of opening a show and I expect him to move up the bill quickly if he can make it to Seattle very often.
Quite talented and tight, Cassidy and the band got the crowd warmed up and into it.

Next Sophia Duccini took the stage with a violinist/fiddler and a backing vocalist. Duccini plays guitar and piano and sings, and the group gets an interesting range of sweet to haunting sounds and songs out of the lineup. The vocals stand out, with Duccini's strong leads carrying a good portion of the songs and the gorgeous harmonies reinforcing and ornamenting the songs and emotions. Duccini and her band cover a range of styles from piano based pop in the older sense to guitar and fiddle instrumentation with a folky Americana feel. Interesting music, I tend to think of it as small scale and a little quiet but Duccini instead made it introspective and recursive and filled with a different meaning each time they hit a repetition. It engages you and pulls you in without having to pound on you, it's almost a more hypnotic approach in some cases and more conversational in others. Getting the audience to connect to the music and get enthusiastic without that bottom end - no bass & no drums - is challenging but Duccini pulls it off, her music drives when she wants it to and she easily carries the rhythm on the guitar and piano, switching back and forth between songs. Already I'm torn between the first 2 performances, both groups are ridiculously talented and skilled. At this point I'm thinking the decision is between these two acts.

Next Laser Fox takes the stage. I've got to admit, the name is brilliant. It works really well in a chant - wait, I think that's a spoiler. Laser Fox kicked it off with a singer, drummer and two dudes at keyboards, one using an analog (or emulated analog) setup, and one of the two (couldn't tell which) filling in the low end so you had a good base line. It might have been sequenced or prerecorded bass, it's difficult to tell.

The lineup varied a bit from song to song, here one of the keyboard players is playing the bass guitar and the vocalist has taken over at the keyboard. The singer is the focus in this band. On a few songs he played a hollow bodied electric guitar and sang.
Laser Fox looked good, sounded good, and they sounded like they felt good. The crowd started getting into it and dancing and moshing, and the vocalist started strutting around and gesturing as he sang. The dude had charisma to spare and was totally pulling it off with the mosh pit getting bigger and more intense and just eating it up: we loved him. Laser Fox knows how to put on a show, and the pacing and slot (good hot hip-hop to warm up, internal and relationship songs (some were both) to whet our appetite, now a big loud testosterone filled performance - in a nice NW way, we are after all a polite Scandinavian influenced culture topped things off nicely. We were already having fun and then that danceable electronic music hit and we started moving, and the vocalist was moving with us and dancing and dropping and totally thriving on the attention. They got that feedback loop going where the audience intensity feeds off of the band's performance and then the band feeds off of the increasing audience intensity. Hot stuff, we were bouncing around and sweating and moshing.

I was sweaty and sore, and normally I'd expect a let down after 3 acts this good. On the other hand, a buddy had spoken highly of Dames. Dames plays a largely guitar driven sound with keyboards and (judging by the Macs) either sequenced or recorded bits too.

Dames brought their audience with them and turned in a rocking set, keeping the energy level high and making us sweat and bounce even more. The guitarist lead vocalist was the focus through much of the show and his voice held the songs together and felt very personal, like he was talking to you and a few friends, not to a few hundred sweaty fans bouncing around in the mosh pit.

The mosh pit was bigger than ever and fun, filled with smiling people bouncing around and surging off of each other. All the thrashing fans in the mosh pit showed an innate politeness and niceness, and those are not terms I usually use to describe a mosh pit. Seriously, it was the nicest, sweetest mosh pit I've ever been in. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't lame or low intensity at all, it was full of people flying around and surging forward and to the sides and sweating and thrashing, your typical intense mosh pit. Nobody was in studs and leather, no really big dudes who like bruising people, and none of those boneheads who like to cover their faces with a bandanna then do spin moves with feet flying, putting everyone nearby at risk. I was happy not to run into any of that, it made being in the mosh pit after more than 5 decades on this Earth much more manageable.

Dames also had the most elaborate set - they put up a vinyl goose. OK, not terribly elaborate, but probably the best I've seen since The Lonely H did the light sabre duel in the way back in the 2004 Sound Off - they came in second. Not only did Dames bring the crowd, they were great to mosh with and their joy in the performance was infectious and the night ended up being a sweaty dance party on top of a rocking show - and that's one of my favorite things to experience.

I'm amazed at the level of talent on display at the first weekend of the Sound Off contest, every band was great and did something completely different and unique. Laser Fox ended up winning, and they arguably put on the best show. Dames was the runner up so they have a shot to make it as the wild card band and for once the judge's selections seem pretty solid. In the past the judges always seemed to reward the weakest bands, so this was refreshing. I shouldn't be surprised, the judges included Hollis and Marco Collins and I respect them both for their musical taste - Collins helped form or should I say update my taste a few decades back when he was a DJ on a local Seattle radio station and Hollis performs and contributes to some of my favorite musical stuff at a ridiculously high level - you can't nail that many things that well without having exquisite musical taste and judgement. Definite hat tip and high fives all around to the judges for representing and choosing awesome dynamic performers to advance.

I've discovered that the mosh pit is a time travel device. When I get into the mosh pit, my age decreases by a decade or more: I'm much younger and more energetic, and it's a fun and occasionally joyous experience. Then I get out of the mosh pit and go into the cold outside air, and the missing decade comes back from his smoke break, and he's got another couple decades of his buddies he invited over, and I feel SO OLD. I shuffle back to the car lifting my sore feet with my sore legs, sweat evaporating and cooling me off rapidly.
While the end of the evening is a little painful, there's a tautology here that guarantees that it's always worth it. I was sore because I had been dancing and moshing, and that's a spiritual experience to me. At the best shows the music takes you out of yourself and engages you in every way. You move and respond to the music physically, just as you react and respond to it emotionally. You're sharing this experience in a fellowship with the rest of the crowd. Good lyrics engage your intellect too, and emotionally charged writing often fires off associations and memories.

It's a wonderful and intense experience, and I'm always happy to be introduced to more bands that are figuring out how to engage and move a crowd, how to create and present their art and entertain and thrill us. Here's to four new to me bands that are all worth keeping an eye out for and going out of your way to see. All of these bands know what they are doing and I look forward to watching them progress, and yes to, some day saying "I knew them when..."

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Land of Pines, Special Explosion, Peeping Tomboys and Iji at the Vera Project

Land of Pines put on an EP release show on May 4 and I signed up to steer well ahead of time. I've seen Land of Pines a few times, opening for STRFKR/Champagne Champagne (a pretty epic show) and at the CHBP on the Vera Stage in 2011 and at Reverb Fest later in 2011 as well. They're always fun to watch and listen to, so I signed up as soon as I saw they were doing the show. I bused to the Vera - the weather was nice and hot so I got a little warm lugging the tripod and cameras and laptop and dinner and all, but it was really nice getting some sun and working on that vitamin D deficiency.

We got a good crew of volunteers and they made it easy to steer - all the critical front door posts were filled, and so was concessions and roaming security, so I just had to check in periodically. I was able to get the whole show on video and take lots of pictures. First up is Iji. Iji at Vera Iji is a local Seattle (or nearby) band that I never quite caught. They play local shows, they toured with Megabog and I saw Megabog, but not with Iji. Must have been a different tour. Anyway, I was happy I finally did manage to catch Iji. Guitar, bass, keyboards and drums, with a woman on drums. I'm not sure I'd point that out normally, but we did get a shout out form one of the bands noting that we had many great women performers playing, more than you tend to see at most rock shows.
Iji has a nice guitar driven sound with good dynamics, I enjoy the way the guitar rhythms play against the drums in this one, their final song:
The song has a nice sense of movement and development, pulling us along with it's instrumentals during the break and circling back through the lyrics, with the upper end into the falsetto drifting over lightly, slightly questioning and detached, perhaps. Nice use of song structure and tone to set a mood.

Peeping Tomboys were up next. Funny name, tomboys culturally are "girls who act like boys" and peepers are usually boys or men, so the using that name for an all girl band definitely opens up some thoughts on sexuality and sexual identity. Peeping Tomboys at the Vera Project While looking through my pictures from this show, I noticed that I have photos from Peeping Tomboys playing with Silicon Girls too (Silicon Girls was all men, so the gender identity stuff which was never an explicit topic as far as I noticed was in play there too) but that's another story. They have the same power trio lineup with the guitarist doing most of the vocals, bass and drums. Good mid range guitar sound, nicely built rhythm carrying interesting songs along and supporting the vocals. The drummer does a good job filling some of the transitions and solos too, they never have a weak or anemic sound, it's always working in the context of the song.
This one uses a descending chord progression and some fun backbeats and rhythms to build into a fun song:

Special Explosion had the penultimate slot. Special Explosion at the Vera Project
Lead, rhythm and bass guitar with drums and two vocalists. The guitarist/vocalists did most of the vocals, with the bass player also contributing on occasion.
On thos one they get an angular, jangly opening into a fairly rich, complex instrumental bit before the vocals come in a bt over 90 seconds in. I love the droning sound of the vocals and the transition from the vocals back out to the jangling guitars, and the building leads coming across the vocals around 2:45 to 3:00, then the structure changes and you get some repeated almost paused tempos, the rhythm is quite complicated. I enjoy the song structure and really like the leads and the sense of anticipation as he builds that delay into his licks. Nice stuff. The second song starts about 5:25 in and has dual vocals, also worth checking out.

There are several more tracks from each of the bands on my YouTube channel like this video of Special Explosion closing out their set, so if any of these pique your interest, by all means check out their other tunes on YouTube.

Next up was Land of Pines, the headliners. Land of Pines at the Vera
They roll with 2 guitars, bass, keyboards, and drums. They have a great sound, mixing elements from the different band members as needed, making great use of dynamics. Songs have bits where fewer instruments are playing, then the song intensifies and more instruments join in, with nice rhythm guitar hooks and the rhythm section chugging along until the final climactic breakdown.
Nice song, nice sound. It's good to see Land of Pines headlining a good loud show with some interesting attitudes and themes on display, here's to hearing the new stuff on the radio and more chances to see all of the bands again. Special Explosions in particular look poised to headline their own shows, and Land of Pines should be increasing their draw with some radio airplay and perhaps getting some larger venue gigs. These bands are all working hard and putting on good tight shows - Seattle has an embarrassment of riches with so many solid bands at every level.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Defunked, Marina Beat and Junk Drawer at the Vera Project


I signed up to steer the Defunked show at the Vera Project without knowing anything about the bands, pretty much par for the course for me. We had a small volunteer crew but we handled things well enough and Junk Drawer took to the stage to open things up. I enjoyed their set quite a bit. They had guitar, bass, keyboards, drum, and vocals, a nice sound and a good group vibe. Junk Drawer at the Vera Project

Here's a nice number they did: The lead singer said something like "if you don't like this song's genre, just hang on a minute and it'll change with the next song" which was amusing. I got a chance to talk to her a bit between acts and she told me the different interests of the members of the band drove that wide selection of genres - the punk bass player, classic rock guitarist, jazz keyboardist - I'm misquoting her to some degree, I ought to take notes since I know I'm going to be blogging about it. I also thought from her shout-out to Riverside and the headliners that her band was from Riverside, it was more along the lines of several members were from there sometime back, they're a local northwest band.

Next up was Marina Beat
The Marina Beat
Marina Beat has dual guitars (strats), bass and drums, and a nice fast upbeat rock sound:

They played several songs I liked, this one is "Hey Josephine"

Two talented bands already, and the headliners perform with a horn section - I love horn sections!
Defunked took the stage, and they filled it. The horn section with two saxophones and a trumpet along with 2 guitars (1 Strat style and 1 Les Paul style), bass and guitar. Defunked at the Vera They play fast loud rock and roll with a punchy horn section and plenty of noise and pounding to make you want to bounce around and work up a sweat. Nice stuff with that kick-in-the-rear beat that makes you want to move in time with it. Fun rhythm changes, ska sounding guitars, it opens a bit more punk, moves more ska in the middle, then back to that punk fast thrashy beat.

I like the breakdown that leads into this one, and the different paces that rise up, giving it a back and forth feeling. It switches back out to that slower feeling beat, more tentative or pent up, then back to the main beat - and the second horn breakdown around 2:00 in is pretty killer. They also just nail the ending, fun song done extremely well. I like this stuff!

Fun show with three talented bands, I hope these bands are able to connect with the kind of solid fan base they deserve, the music they cranked out was fun and makes you want to bring others to hear it. At it's best, it demands to be danced to, and I just love a good funky band that plays fun music that irresistibly gets you moving.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

2013 Vera Gala

The Vera Project held its annual fundraising gala and auction on Saturday, February 23 in 2013. I volunteered to help with the event this year, so I arrived early to setup, just before 1 on a surprisingly nice Seattle afternoon.
2013 Vera Gala 109 The Triple Door donates the venue, staff, and dinner for the guests. Between the Musicqarium Lounge and the Triple Door Main Stage, it's a wonderful venue and they are incredibly generous to donate so much to the Vera Project.

2013 Vera Gala 121
We held the silent auction as the guests arrived, with appetizers (the shrimp toast was great) and free drinks made with donated hard liquor from Oola. After closing the auction out and finishing the initial portion of the evening in the MusicQarium we encouraged the guest to move to the Main Stage auditorium. The Triple Door venue is dedicated to table seating with views of the show. The house lights are down and the stage lights are up in this photo so the tables are a little hard to see, but the whole auditorium is filled with scalloped tables like this with additional counter seating tucked in here and there. That's John Roderick taking the stage as our Master of Ceremonies. 2013 Vera Gala 164 You can see some of the seat layout better in this photo: 2013 Vera Gala 296 Roderick was great, riffing on the Vera Project and Seattle's variant on "learning it on the hard streets." When there wasn't a safe venue like the Vera Project around to help you channel your creative energies into useful activities, you went and hung out on the Ave in the U-District. I suppose that makes it the mean street of Seattle, singular. I grew up there before the Vera Project too.

The Grizzled Mighty performed on the Main Stage with a drummer and a guitarist/vocalist. Small group but they pumped out the volume and noise so it's all good. 2013 Vera Gala 194 The Grizzled Mighty crank up the guitar and drums and make a great loud racket, grinding and crashing away. Fun loud music!
The auction went well and Andrienne Pilapil's speech about her Vera family was quite powerful and moving. I've known Andrienne for over a year - she took over as the Veracity chair after me - but I learned more about her from this talk than I had in a year of booking shows with her. She got very personal and shared details of her emotional life and the impact was palpable to the 400 guests, staff and volunteers in the venue.

We also got a surprise bit from the mayor as a bonus. Perhaps he was inspired by Roderick and Andrienne, he was mildly funny and interesting. Roderick was having some fun with smartphones while the mayor was talking so he probably got some amusing tweets out. 2013 Vera Gala 321

While the Main Stage events kept the crowd in the auditorium we broke down the silent auction remains, got the paperwork sorted and forwarded and put things in place for the After Party.

The Physics played the After Party back up in the MusicQuarium lounge. Fun hip hop with two lead vocals (and a guest on one cut) plus a couple backing vocalists and a guitar. This picture of their sound check shows most of them, except the guitarist is obscured: 2013 Vera Gala 272 The guitarist is more visible in this one: 2013 Vera Gala 294 The Physics have a great sound and flow, and the multiple vocalist and live guitar in the mix keep the songs moving and evolving. The sound is mildly lousy since my camera ended up just about in the speaker, but you can get an idea what it was like. The live sound was actually quite good, the problem is with my camera's ability to record it.
I enjoyed the Physics, dancing and bouncing a bit to their numbers as the night wound down.
My feet were pretty sore from going up and down the stairs repeatedly, not to mention standing for 11 hours, but it felt nice to be part of a successful team putting on a great event. Anne O'Dowd and Kristina Goetz and Tristan Carasino and Andrienne Pilapil and the whole Vera crew and John Roderick and the bands and the Triple Door staff put on a killer event. There were many generous sponsors and the guests were more than generous, enthusiastically bidding the Macklemore Thrift Shop shopping trip to around $7,000 and donating generously to help a cause that means a lot to me and many youth around the greater Seattle area and beyond. I'm thankful that so many people support the Vera Project so enthusiastically, and that we can have so much fun building on our successes and funding another great year at the Vera Project.

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!

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:

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.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Saturday at Folk Life Fest

Dana and I went to Folk Life Fest on Saturday and it was hot, fun, and crowded. We were lucky enough to catch some Shelby Earl, I haven't seen her since West Seattle Fest a couple years ago. I really should pay more attention and catch her full act again, she's got a gorgeous sound and a fun presence and her songs made me happy. We also saw an amazing variety and quantity of pick-up bands busking all over the place, pretty much wall to wall music in little micro-climates.
Kids playing at the Mural Amphitheater:
Buskers! All over the place bands pick out little patches of space and start playing for tips and for the sheer fun of playing in public. Constellations of listeners gather round the better groups and you can hear an amazing variety of music with a different band every 20 or 30 feet.
Shortly after recording this I misplaced my camera, so that's it for video.

I heard some great twangy sounding stuff from bands on the main stage while Dana and I were over in the crowds in the vendor area, great music even though you couldn't see the band.
The Sun got hot and the crowds got larger.
If you stayed away from the food areas it wasn't as crowded, and for all the crowding it was pretty mellow. We took the dog and things were fine.
It got hot and sunny enough that I took the dog down through the fountain, cooling off with a blast of cold water as I ran through the bottom area with all the kids. You can see the damp spots on my clothes, and the pants and shoes were good and wet too. It made me feel much cooler and the dog liked it too.

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There were some human statues and some other odds and ends in terms of street performers sprinkled in here and there too:
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I managed to catch some additional good music, even if I didn't get any video.  NighTraiN at the Vera had an excellent groove going.LateMay 022
I think they played a Veracity gig at the Vera a year or more back, and I saw them at Reverb Fest too, I enjoy their shows.

As I said, there were all kinds of bands and buskers all over the grounds. I liked the drums in this one man band setup, he had one for each foot with a clever mechanism to hold the two drums and play them, one for each foot.
We also checked out many of the vendors which adds a visual element to the afternoon's entertainment. Dana really liked the Faerie wings and had me get a photo, and there many stalls with interesting crafts and arts. 
You know you got lucky on the weather when both fountains are packed and you're glad they're available. LateMay 026 
I was glad to see they had the Broad Street lawn set up as a stage, along with the Mural and the Fountain lawn and the Northwest Courts - 4 stages up there, two outside LateMay 029
...and the EMP Sky Church and the Center House (I didn't actually see any acts at the Sky Church or Center House though) so that's at least 9 official "programmed" stages and 50 or 60 unofficial busker locations all going at the same time. I'm pretty sure I'm leaving out additional programmed stages for dance music in the Exhibition Hall and other events in the various playhouses and stages and performance spaces around the Seattle Center.

It was a smorgasboard of music, walk from live act to live act, drinking in the music and performance, once you're satisfied with enough of this, wander over and get some of that. LateMay 032 Hundreds of buskers going at any one time, perhaps more than a thousand over the 4 days of the festival, and it's mostly spontaneous and self organizing. I wish I had more time and energy, and maybe a team, so we could go in and record 10 or 20 acts at a time and get 100 or more hours of video a day and actually semi-document what is going on in all it's variety and spontaneity. Nice fantasy, mostly caused by a desire to actually get to see more of the performances. At best I'll see a handful and just on the day I go, so inevitably I'll miss all kinds of good live music. At least I didn't miss it all!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

May Veracity with How To Operate Your Brain, Allium and Scinite

Heather helped out at the May Veracity by making the food, so I was able to see the bands a bit more and I appreciate the help. I was able to get all of the sets video taped and get a few photos too.may12 007

First up was Scinite mostly doing covers of heavy metal classics from back in my day.

I love these songs and it was fun to hear them played live. My instant reaction was "crank up those guitars" - this is music that should be painfully loud, it should force you to wear ear protection.

Next up was Allium doing original songs (or possibly obscure covers, new to me anyway). may12 009 Allium is apparently latin for onion and that's an onion on the drum set. Ed the sound guy was enjoying them and so was I, fun upbeat double guitar attack with a good beat. I like the way the beat changes in the bridge maybe 2 minutes in, and the transition back out was nice too.

I enjoy the songs, they do a nice job with the intros and get quite a few different tones out of the 2 guitar approach. The double lead hook on this one is fun:
I got a couple of songs in this video including one about Bjork, apparently. I ended up with recording the whole show so there are more songs to check out on my YouTube channel.

may12 021 How to Operate Your Brain played next, with a 2 guitar, bass and drums lineup. Their songs had good movement, changing quite a bit in some cases yet maintaining a good coherence in spite of the different sections. Well rehearsed, good sound:

Fun reasonably fast guitar oriented music, good stuff. The songs are dynamic, changing from section to section, and the band makes is tight on the transitions - well rehearsed, right on it, on the more complex end of the song structure approaches. I like the result, good songs with movement and an arc to them.

They also had some merchandise, and so did Allium. I picked up ab "EP" - a 4 song CD - and so did Heather. Another good song, another good set, and another good Veracity. Props to Allium and H2OYB for having merchandise, they're a step further on executing on the business end than many of the Veracity bands. Props to all 3 bands for putting on a fun show for us. It'll be interesting keeping an eye to out see where these guys get booked - I friend all the Veracity bands on Facebook and bands are pretty good at posting their gigs on Facebook so I'll get to vicariously watch the band's progress and see where they play and who they play with. I wish them all well, anybody who's willing to put on a free show for us and do it well is great in my book!

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!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Twin Sister, Ava Luna and Lemolo at the Vera Project

On a Tuesday in early February I dropped by the Vera Project after work for the Programming Committee meeting and ended up volunteering to stay to work "Lead Front Door" (basically selling tickets) for the Twin Sisters, Ava Luna and Lemolo show later that night. I'd heard good things about Lemolo, a local band, although I'd never actually heard them. Twin Sister and Ava Luna were new to me which is cool, I like hearing bands I know nothing about.

I set my video camera up on the catwalk and snuck into the venue on occasion to take pictures. First up was Lemolo, a duo with two women, one mostly playing drums and the other trading off between guitar and keyboards and singing.
Winter 12 029
They had a nice full sound which can be a little challenging for a duo and played fun upbeat songs that were catchy.

The audience turned out early for the local band which was a little unusual, they usually trickle in more for the later bands. Apparently Lemolo is popular locally, which makes sense - I'd heard of them before I actually ever heard them play and it's usually the other way round.

Next up was Ava Luna. They had six performers on stage playing guitar, bass, drums, a couple of keyboards, and a vocalist. More than one of them sang so they were able to get some interesting harmonies and vary their sound by using different lead vocalists.
Winter 12 045
They tended towards a more deliberate pacing and a surprisingly stripped down sound for having so many instruments. The dynamics in this one are interesting, with the beat on the drums always present and the other instruments joining in and then dropping back out repeatedly, isolating the vocals and drums on occasion.

I enjoyed their set, and their thoughtful, introspective approach. The sound had more variety and dynamics than most bands use, which was a nice change of pace.

Twin Sister took the stage for the headlining set. Unfortunately I was only able to see a short bit of the set, since I had to catch the last bus home. What I did see was interesting; they had 5 people on stage playing drums, bass, guitar and keyboards with a woman doing lead vocals.
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For this song (the only one I managed to get) they have an interesting spacey synthesizer driven opening (the guitarist plays some synth during the opening too) that builds and swells, then fades into the background a it as the vocals and drums carry the middle section. The video goes wonky half way through - a wooden panel fell over onto my tripod and broke it (dang!) so there's no visual, but you can still hear the est of the song.

So I got to see a fun show, although I had to leave too soon to see the last act, and losing my tripod was a bit of a bummer. Considering how many times I've taken multiple cameras into mosh pits I guess I have to consider myself pretty lucky, this is the fist time I've lost any equipment and I've got a spare tripod so it's not that big of a deal.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Peter Stampfel, Jeffrey Lewis, and Dust Busters with Kristin Andreassen at the Vera Project

Jaime tipped us off about the show Friday night in January at the Vera. We filed into the Vera Project out of the night and set our equipment up, saying "hi" to Starr as we came in. The cat walk visuals and sound work well, the acoustic bluegrass/new grass with mild amplification gives a clean accurate sound that is easy to capture.


My pictures were shakier, though.
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Dust Busters kicked things off with Kristin Andreassen dancing and playing harmonica, singing and playing guitar too I think.

The dancing added quite a bit, it worked as a beat/rhythm part as she tapped away on some of the songs. A variety of guitars, fiddles, banjos, and harmonicas were employed by various band members, usually without drums or a rhythm section.

Jeffrey Lewis was selling comic books, and he used his drawings in his performance too. He started out doing some witty acoustic guitar singer songwriter material
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Comics (he sells Fuff comics, which he also writes) informed his musical material, so does his sardonic sense of humor. He did some drawings inspired by an assortment of obscure psychedelic songs and showed them to us on the projector screen behind the stage while he played short samples of the odd songs with each image. He also couched down and sang an a capella bit to some comic material, you can find that on my youtube channel somewhere.

Lewis brought Stampfel and a fiddler from the Dust Busters on for several songs and also charmed me with a song about his band ambitions in the final 4 or so minutes. Winter 405Fuck that man! 'cause we're a rock and roll band! In spite of the heroin addiction, you kind of do want to be in his band.


Peter Stampfel came on and played his unique brand of bluegrass/rock music. The sax is cool, and the layering of instruments and Stampfel's unique vocal approach, wailing and nearly yodeling wordlessly.

The energy and power is wonderful. Happy rolling cowboy brings that kind of yodeling yipping out to full effect.


Douchebag is probably my favorite:

Wonderful chorus, yes sir! When he gets to wailing about hackers stealing all the e-mails it takes on a wonderful nearly demented quality, and now they're frying 'em. Wonderful, powerfully odd. Not much like anything else I've listened to recently, the Maltby bluegrass pot-luck monthly show is traditional bluegrass and otherwise I really just don't listen to that much bluegrass.

To me, "sounds like nothing I've heard recently" is praise. They've managed to stake some new territory, taking me to a different style that's new to me. I like that!

Posting Mechanics

I posted about quite a few shows last year, and any passionate hobby starts to become less play and more work as the total number of hours spent on it passes forty in any given week. I'm not exactly whinging well, only whining a little, I suppose. Going to multi-day festivals (Sasquatch, CHBP, Bumbershoot) and taking hours of video and hundreds of photos a day was fun and occasionally grueling, and I built up "media wrangling debt."

Getting 2 or 3 hours of video footage groomed down to identified bands performing one or two numbers, properly uploaded, titled, tagged and licensed on youtube, photos up on flickr, videos off of SLR onto youtube rather than flickr, audio files identified and labelled, backups of audio, video and photos onto local external HD, refs generated for embedding into blogs, all that has to be slogged through before writing and posting the blog. Half the time I needed the videos to remind me which acts I saw when, and what they sounded like. I have now had the charming experience of wrangling files from a performance a semi-missed that kicked my ass in retrospect. I was there to start the recording, but I was busy doing something like making tacos so I didn't actually experience the performance live. Later as I uploaded all of the files I listened to an audio recording and the song was excellent, I was floored by what I had missed. I don't even know who it was, and I don't have a good method nailed down for posting audio, so you'll have to take my word for it - it was a fascinating experience.

I haven't "solved" using audio in my blogs, but using videos with youtube and photos with flickr couldn't be easier (once the content is uploaded, anyway) and I can link anything in that tickles my fancy so the blogging process is mostly pretty good. Winter 260

In this last week the winter storm and its aftermath made the internet based tools I rely on unreliable and I was reminded how much I take for granted. My camera takes better pictures than I could if I had to do it manually and it's easy to take piles of photos, post them on flickr, and use them in my blogs. Winter 329
No negatives to mail in, no physical prints to pay (and wait) for, no need to scan for on-line access, they're already digital. Now throw in 60 frame/sec HD video with reasonably good audio that can take high volume situations and still deliver reasonable quality and make that easy to trim, label, tag, upload, and embed. No lab work needed, no physical tapes to send anywhere, as long as the internet is available I can publish word-wide in a few hours. The same week wikipedia and other sites went dark to protest SOPA my internet access went intermittent to unavailable right at the peak of being snowed in and really wishing I had internet access. Nobody was hurt and we kept ourselves occupied, so it really wasn't a big deal, it just brought home to me how thoroughly the internet has ingrained itself into my media production and consumption patterns. It wasn't that big a deal because the internet was back working normally within a day; I do require a functioning internet to publish world-wide for free.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

January Veracity

We had Rice Baker-Yeboah kick off Veracity for 2011 singing with a Mac sequenced soundtrack.

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Good voice, he used a wide range from smooth baritone on up to a good controlled falsetto in his performance. Rice sang somewhat more than most hip hop performers I've seen, maybe 60% rap vs. 40% singing. Good use of multi-tracked vocals so he was harmonizing with himself and occasionally doubling parts.

Ironwood Run headlined the show.
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Sax!
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Bluesy crunch, sax driven rock, fun stuff.

I got quite a few good songs, very nice performance over all.