Festival season is in full swing in the Pacific Northwest with Sasquatch behind us and summer’s bounty (Bumbershoot, Pickathon, Doe Bay, MFNW, Summer Meltdown, New Directions and more!) ahead. In the last week three local festivals have shared their line-ups or started to, and we wanted to make sure you didn’t miss the big news.
City Arts Fest – Seattle, WA
City Arts Fest isn’t until Fall (October 17th to 20th, to be precise) but they’ve already got us excited with word that David Byrne will be headlining the festival at the historic 5th Avenue Theater. He’ll be joined by St. Vincent, who we hope finds a way to crowd surf at the stately theater.
The rest of the City Arts line-up will be announced at the end of July and wristbands go on sale August 2nd.
See the full line-ups for Doe Bay Fest and New Directions Fest after the jump (more…)
Before I was a black adult, I was a black kid. Like any black kid, there were people I looked up to. These people weren’t role models per se (because I stopped believing in role models before I stopped believing in Santa Claus), but they were people it was fun to pretend to be while your mom made snack for you after school (shout out to Regina, she knows all the words to “Mrs. Jackson”). I liked sports so I would often pretend to be Barry Sanders, Daryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Steve Yzerman, OJ Simpson and Ken Griffey Jr. while I waited for my baked potato to finish in the microwave. Yes, I was that hipster kid that was into baked potatoes while other kids were eating cereal and other boring kids snacks. I would’ve been that kid that loved sushi if I saw one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles eating it but that’s a whole different conversation…
Anyway, during middle school I developed the nasty habit of playing air guitar in the shower while one of my favorite compact discs (remember those?) played in my disc man. Looking back on these antics, I wish I could recreate such bliss as an adult. Maybe after I write this post I’ll drape a wet wash cloth over my head and pretend I’m Rob Zombie or something. The music that basically took up permanent residence in that ancient piece of technology, was Nirvana’s NevermindMudhoney’s Superfuzz Big Muff plus Early Singles and Mudhoney.
Other kids wanted to be Kurt Cobain, I wanted to be Mark Arm. I always thought that Mr. Arm was under the radar, such an enviable position to be in comparison to the former.
Now almost two decades later I’m left with a tough choice to make. I’ve never seen Mudhoney. Do I want to see them at Neumos and possibly ruin all those imaginary concerts that took place in my bathroom as a pre-teen? I mean, Mr. Arm and I formed quite a make believe duo. Every show we played was sold out. We never missed a note in any sense of the word. We actually got inducted into the Make Believe Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in the year 2001. Oddly enough, Make Believe is more legitimate and prestigious than the real Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Go figure.
Hot Bodies in Motion are playing the opening of the Microsoft Store, but don’t tell anyone I said that. Oh, wait. Let me check my notes, hold on a second. That’s actually the Black Keys, my apologies. Despite being huckleberried by the copywriting department at City Arts, Hot Bodies in Motion will be playing at Neumos on Saturday night. God, where’s my intern? She’s going to get fired.
Once upon a time, there was this band called Thunderbird MotelThee Emergency and they were the only band that anyone seemed to talk about (bad or good). Four years later……crickets. On Saturday night, do the Thee Satisfaction Emergency make their way back to the limelight? It’s possible.
I don’t know anything about Lovesick Empire but what little I do know I am enjoying thus far.
The show starts mega early at 7pm. $17 advance. $20 at the door. (Phil)
Doe Bay was the time of bands breaking things. Pickwick broke the main stage with the open invitation for the crowd to see what their garage soul was like from their point of view, and Lemolo caused fans to break the porch of a small yoga studio while they craned to see inside the late night, 100 person show. Fresh off their West Coast tour opening for The Head and the Heart, Lemolo joins the other opening band from that same leg, Thao with the Get Down Stay Down (one of my all time favorite band names), for a much more stable performance at the Crocodile tomorrow night, along with local favorites Grand Hallway, and Kris Orlowski. Each of these artists is a powerhouse in their own way; Thao a woman who so smoothly marries youthful, expansive sparkle in her music with wry wit, and Lemolo with their charming floaty dream rock. Grand Hallway, whose lush orchestration led by Tomo Nakayama suspends audiences by gossamer threads, and Kris Orlowski, a troubador by definition, whose full bodied croon develops a charisma all its own. This is a show of headliners, a relay race where the winner is whoever gets there earliest and stays till the end. See you there. (Kathleen)
Its taken me a while, a long while, to be converted by the charms of Noah Gundersen. While I’ve never denied the loveliness of his voice, the skillfulness of his picking or the promise he shows as a songwriter, for years I heard more of Gundersen’s influences than himself in his songs. But sometime this year, when Gundersen chose to stop the incessant DMB inspired noodling which characterized his 2010 shows and to pare down and return to the simple, stunning harmonies and strong story-telling that had folks calling him the next Bazan years ago, I finally wised up to what Gundersen brings to the table. Young for certain, and at times heavy handed, watching Gundersen on stage is watching a young man already capable, but brimming full of promise yet to be found. His new EP Family is a huge leap forward, forceful folk that finally showcases Gundersen and not just what he’s spinning in his iPod. I feel like I’ve finally heard Noah and now that I have, I’m looking forward to hearing more. (Abbey)
There are so many great options for Friday Night courtesy of City Arts, you’re bound to see a solid show basically no matter where you end up. Keep in mind that individual tickets are sold out for Ryan Adams, Shabazz Palaces and Pickwick, so you’ll need to have a wristband to be able to attend those shows.
Ancient Melodies of the Future. Has an album title ever so poetically expressed the sound of a band? I’m not sure one has. Built to Spill writes music with something for almost every rocker: stoners, indie-shoegazers, classic rock shedders, garage-dwellers. They’ve managed to take influences and make a sound completely their own and edging through its own evolution. You hear those melodies of the past, though their influences are hardly ancient, but Built to Spill always manages to live and sound more in the realm of the future. Their City Arts performance is their only stateside performance of 2011 and they are one of the most consistently excellent live bands making music today. I’ve seen them at least 10 times and have never wished I chose another show or set. (Abbey)
I’m a voracious consumer of Seattle’s veritable buffet of local talent. With City Arts presenting its wares so beautifully, it feels almost sacrilege to go to a national act this weekend. There are few artists that could even tempt me away from Friday’s shows like Bryan John Appleby or Pickwick. One of those artists, however, is Ryan Adams. Steeped in heartbreak and dysfunction for most of his rambunctious career, Ryan Adams has proved himself to be a prolific songwriter, releasing records almost on top of one another, and ones that sound completely different one to the next. Shaking the image of a country’s new darling after his release of Heartbreaker in 2000, Adams has made a career of being unexpected, at turns inaccessible, and enormously talented. Adams writes songs that can range from abstract (“Two” is about painkillers, didn’t you know?), to jarringly honest (all of Love is Hell), to downright weird (“Halloweenhead”), and has brought along a raving fan base with each turn. After 2010′s record, a sci-fi metal departure called Orion, Adams has released Ashes and Fire, a return to his dirty guitar days. The supporting tour for Ashes and Fire has been hushed and private, with no photographers allowed, and very few recordings. I was able to listen to a recording of his show in Denver, and it was jarring in its beauty. New arrangements of songs from his whole, varied, emotive catalogue, and a gentler Adams than the stories of his belligerent stage antics portray. It could be argued that Adams has lost his edge with the change from his whiskey swilling, bottle throwing era, but he’s a man that bears up change radically and unselfconsciously, and we would be fools to miss out on what he’s offering now. (Kathleen)
“I’m free to be a slave to all these things I can’t escape…” – Shabazz Palaces on “Free Press and Curl”
Universal sentiment from a group that doesn’t write music for everyone. Hip-hop for those who live on a dystopian planet. ATLiens was supposed to extra-terrestial, and for its time I guess it was. However, if aliens do exist (shutup, the truth is out there), I promise you that Black Up would be only album they’d be listening to. The Greys, sitting around their coffee shops in a different galaxy, complaining about how they can’t bitch about the weather because they live in outer space. It’s a tough life being miscast in movies such as Independence Day and the ones that star Sigourney Weaver. Shabazz Palaces are on this earth to make music and serve as ambassadors to beings from different planets. I see you in the crowd, thinking that you comprehend the music that Shabazz Palaces are giving you. Gentle readers, they are communicating on a different realm…literally. Now give me that homemade mix drink that you smuggled in here.
Metal Chocolates. I used to read this group’s name and think about the band Seaweed. Don’t ask me why. Then I heard it on KEXP one day and was like “Oh, this is hip-hop. How much are these yams?” Seriously, that’s exactly what I said because I was at a fruit stand and they were playing KEXP on their speakers. Fruit stands are cool like that. Support your local vendors. “Candy Store Controller” reminds me of these crazy dreams I used to have as a kid. I’m not going to go into them but let’s just say they involved Ginger Baker (the drummer from Cream) Latrobe, Pa. and the use of inhalants. I’d love to see Hallmark use this song for the during the next Valentine’s Day. Nothing says “I love you” like finger snaps, bon-bons and mescaline. What was that honey? Oh, that’s just my stereo. I close my eyes and I start hearing things…. (Phil)
Read the rest of our Friday recommendations (more…)
The second annual City Arts Fest gets the weekend started early this Thursday with something for just about everybody: punk rock at the Comet, a soulful sold out show at The Triple Door, some of Seattle’s finest songwriters at the Showbox, a dance party at The Paramount and more.
We’ll be sharing our daily City Arts recommendations with you for the rest of the week. First, Thursday.
Even if this weren’t The Long Winters only show in 2011 (it is), this show would still come with the highest recommendation. Not only is it a four-band bill of headliners, its also a showcase of some of Seattle’s most skilled wordsmiths. There’s a reason folks have been patiently anticipating The Long Winters next album for five years. John Roderick’s wit, wisdom and penchant for penning pop songs that burrow in your head and heart are worth waiting for. I’m particularly pleased with the pairing of Cataldo with The Long Winters, as Eric Anderson’s songs have filled my need for smart melodic melancholy in between spins of Roderick’s contemporary classics like “Shapes,” “Carparts,” and “Cinnamon.” Campfire OK, who is better every time I see them, and the power duo of Rachel Flotard and Rusty Willoughby as Cobirds Unite, only sweetens the bill. (Abbey)
Yeah, I know the Cops are “headlining” and everyone in Seattle everyone who pays utility bills can rally around the idea of Free Electricity. However, I’m here to give you the lowdown on what’s really shaking cool cat. Can you dig it? Don’t tell your friends, this is on the q-t, very hush hush Grab your muskets and prepare for a midnight ride to the center of the blogosphere. By the time we’re through, your fingers will be covered in gunpowder and blood (by hyper-tweeting and Facebook “liking,” of course). Onward young soldier, brace yourself what is about to come.
Strong Killings! Scream it from pit of your burning stomach. Possible “Album of the Year”?! Possible “Song of the Year”?!? Did I already mention this band is a “Live Performance of the Year” nominee? These are not requirements to perform on any stage of Seattle, let alone this cool festival. Yet Strong Killings have earned these purple hearts with years of practice and a blue-collar work ethic by eating the flesh of lesser bands and growing stronger from their unimpeeded cannibalism. ARGH. This is the best band that you don’t listen too, what the fuck. I can’t wait until your grubby hands are Tivo’ing their performance on Saturday Night Live while I’m homeless in an alley in some unnamed city, sucking dick for heroin but still managing to yell from the side of my mouth, “This blogger told you fuckers! Strong Killings!”
Birthday Suits didn’t get here by cannibalism. No folks they got here by living in a van down by the river and living in a van and then living in a van again. Every time I wake up and walk down to the corner to grab a cup of coffee, this band is back in Seattle on-tour. I commend them, whatever vehicle they use to circumvent the earth and whatever is missing them back in Minneapolis. Who said that a two-piece can’t do what four-piece rock outfits can? Psshhhh. Now is not the time for Local H jokes, we’re in a war-zone soldier. If you like the Cops, the Blind Shake or any guitar driven rock with a danceable groove, this is your band.
Single tickets for this fun & funky night at The Triple Door have already soul’d out, so you’ll have to have a wristband to attend. Considering The Triple Door may be the smallest room you see Allen Stone perform in for years to come (and the rest of the Fest line-up), we urge you to do so.
“Allen Stone cultivates a thick-rimmed suave, his toothy grin comes easy and he’s very interested in making sure everyone is getting “funked up.” His overwhelming enthusiasm is just that, overwhelming, and since it’s all in service of having a good time, it consumes the room in the best way possible.”
It may seem counter-intuitive with the gigantic leaps some local bands have made since Doe Bay 2010, but I would say that no one has grown more or transitioned better than Bryan John Appleby. Yes, The Head and The Heart have gone from opening at Columbia City Theater to opening at Key Arena. Yes, Pickwick has gone from playing to 30 people to playing to over a thousand at the Mural. These are amazing milestones and signs of growth and success, but the changes Appleby has made over the last year have taken him from a bashful solo performer, so unsure of his songs that he had to be all but forced by friends to sing and release them, to the confident leader of a multi-faceted, multi-talented band. While other bands have become bigger over the course of the last year, Appleby has just become.
Nowhere has this transformation been more obvious than at Doe Bay, where Appleby fully embraced the openness and opportunity to expand and explore. It was Appleby and crew who spent a late night jamming as Pearl and Thomas from Champagne Champagne free-styled over them. It was Appleby who first jumped on stage to sing along with friends in Campfire OK, Kelli Schaefer, Pickwick and The Head and The Heart. And it was Appleby who decided to add an extra element to his already beautifully composed songs for our Doe Bay Session, asking Sam Anderson from Hey Marseilles, Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground, Cataldo (and many others) to join on cello.
Watching Appleby lead and perform without a shred of self-consciousness, seeing on stage and while sitting on this mossy log, an artist in control of his craft and a musician having the time of his life, was watching a different man than I’d first seen a year prior. Doe Bay was Appleby’s coming out party, an exclamation that he’s not just an up-and-comer, but one of the Northwest’s most gifted and promising performers. Everywhere you looked, someone was wearing a Bryan John Appleby t-shirt, someone had the Fire On the Vine vinyl tucked under their arm and someone was standing in line to buy more. Appleby bears the mantle that Jurado and Bazan have carried for decades and as you’ll see below, he bears it beautifully.
City Arts Magazine has announced the line-up for their second annual City Arts Fest, held this October from the 20th to the 22nd, and once again they’ve shown an upstart music festival can compete with the big boys in terms of star power. Big name national and international acts include: Robyn, Built to Spill, Ozomotali, Blackalicious, Crystal Castles and Ryan Adams. And, much to our delight, City Arts has mined some of the best of the Northwest as openers and headliners on their own including: Pickwick, Allen Stone, Mudhoney, The Long Winters, Cataldo, Campfire OK, Fastbacks, Fences, Smokey Brights, Bryan John Appleby, Joseph Giant, Grand Hallway, Lemolo and more.
And it’s not just music, there’s lots of local artists: poets, authors, dancers, filmmakers and more are featured. We’re especially excited to see our favorite local poet Kate Lebo on the schedule as well as a show billed as an All-Star Replacement tribute.
ROBYN w/ special guest tba
CRYSTAL CASTLES w/ Picture Plane, Crypts, Nightmare Fortress
THE LONG WINTERS w/ Campfire OK, Cobirds Unite, Cataldo
THE FELICE BROTHERS w/ special guests tba
ALLEN STONE w/ Fly Moon Royalty
CULTURE CLUB: Washington Film Works Event and Happy Hour
SEATEETH: Premiere performance from Seattle’s Jose Bold (John Osebold of “Awesome”)
POGO w/ That 1 Guy, Daydream Vacation
CULTURE CLUB : Visual Art
HORDE and the HAREM w/special guests
THE COPS w/ Birthday Suits, Strong Killings
CULTURE CLUB: Celebrity Karaoke
HEDWIG and the ANGRY INCH: Movie Sing Along
SCHOOL of ROCK: Laser Grunge Show
After a stunning case of writer’s block completely and a never-ending food coma derailed my “Day Two” preview, I am back to save the universe. Besides, Day Two featured a handful of acts we never shut up about here at Sound on the Sound. It’s nice to take a step back and let other local media outlets gush over bands on our behalf. There was also a few interesting fireside chats taking place yesterday that I was curious about. Gentle reader, if you attended either one of the fireside chats, please do tell me how that went.
What are a few of the best things about Baltimore? Let me tell you:
1) Oriole Park at Camden Yards
2) Heroin (Best on the east coast…from what I’ve heard.)
3) Pretending to star in The Wire
4) Wye Oak
I’m going to go as far as to say Wye Oak is the band that I’m most looking forward to performing on the Showbox Market stage. That’s not East Coast biased rearing its ugly head. That’s me using one of my human senses and making a snapshot judgment call based on that fact. Wye Oak is on first so I suggest you get there early. Fruit Bats will also be performing tonight. I have only seen Fruit Bats at this past year’s Capitol Hill Block Party and they were one of the highlights of the festival. Accurately described as a “musical aphrodisiac that invites the most questionable dancing you’ve ever seen.” Fruit Bats means pure joy, it’s that simple. I appreciate the freedom they give themselves during the songwriting process.
As for Seabear, one of their songs was just featured on Grey’s Anatomy. What? That doesn’t suffice for a musical description these days? You don’t need to know anything about Grey’s Anatomy to know what kind of music they play on that crazy prime-time soap opera. Seabear is pleasant folks music with lots of instruments. A great soundtrack for reading a magazine in a hospital room while someone you love slowly dies from [insert terminal illness here]. Don’t worry my dear, Seabear is here. Their name in Icelandic means “we’re really good friends with Sigur Ros and Bjork, who are you again?” Seabear’s song “Teenage Kicks” makes me want to put on a high school varsity jacket and do the twist, very slowly. Excellent.
Last but certainly not least, the headliners of the evening are Portland’s Blitzen Trapper. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but this band sounds familiar. I know “familiar” is not quite a sound or even a decent description of music, but that’s the choice I am making. It’s better than me saying the sound like Portland, right? What the hell does that mean? No, but seriously, if Portland were a sound….
Show starts at 8pm. That means Wye Oak starts at 8pm. That means you’re there at 8pm. Don’t ask questions.
Yes it’s that time again boys and girls. It’s festival time! Time to put the face paint on, run the trusty silver flask through the dishwasher and go buy a bottle of aspirin. Not for you silly goose. The mild pain relief is for your checking account and not your own aches and pains. How do I know you’re poor? You read this blog. Rich people don’t read this blog. If you’re rich, may I suggest you buy advertising on this website. It’s almost 2011, you can never have enough self promotion.
City Arts Festival is brand spanking new. I mean that literally, this is the first year that it has taken place. The festival circuit is a dogfight for concert promoters. Scheduling the festival in itself is an almost impossible feat. Then you have you to get notable, diverse acts that will separate your festival the dozens of others that seem to pop up every year. We haven’t even gotten to the point of hiring vendors or working with local venues. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. I just woke up and I need a nap.
What I’m really trying to say is, this festival might be executed perfectly or it might go down in a blaze of infamy like the Hindenberg. While City Arts Festival features more than just musical performances at your disposal, here at Sound on the Sound music is all we care about. Keeping with that theme and my complicated contractual obligations, music is the only thing my hands are at liberty to discuss with you. Without further adieu….
Tonight — Wednesday October 20th
I know I’m running late to the party but in the day and age of the “smartphone”, it’s never too late to write a preview. As per usual you’re about to bossed around by technology. Where do you want to be tonight? You’ve got options:
Sometimes a song hits you in the gut so hard you have to catch your breath. “Otherside” is such a song. And what was already a heart-aching anthem in its original form, has only had its power heightened in its new form: a sparse but soaring collaboration between Macklemore and Seattle singer-songwriter Fences (Chris Mansfield), remixed by Ryan Lewis.
Mansfield’s voice has never sounded so broken or beautiful and without a beat, Macklemore’s brave confessional is laid even more heart-breakingly bare. The collaboration, between two young men who have struggled with addiction and are creating their best work now sober, takes Otherside from a warning song to a powerful promise made between two artists that we all bare witness to.
Potential and expectations. They are a hell of a burden to bear. With the “Otherside” remix, Mackelmore and Fences have met and exceeded both.
You can catch Macklemore as part of the City Arts Festival this Wednesday at the Paramount with other local hip-hop luminaries: Blue Scholars and Mash Hall.
Fences next Seattle show is October 30th at Columbia City Theater with Hey Marseilles.
Few phrases send chills down my spine and fingers in my ears faster than “celebrity singer.” Press releases and singles featuring the auto-tone vocal stylings of the cast of Gossip Girl, The Real Housewives, or My So-Called Life are the things my sonic nightmares are made of.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule and when it comes to actresses turned singers, that exception is Zooey Deschanel and the sweet, retro songs she croons alongside M. Ward as She & Him. That M. Ward would seek out Deschanel to form a band and share song-writing duties and have her take the vocal lead, should be proof enough she isn’t your typical celebrity singer. Eschewing auto-tone and producer-penned tracks completely, She & Him is a trip back in time to garden parties, Phil Spector girl groups, full skirts, simple, saccharine, sentimental songs and swelling harmonies. She & Him is so on-the-nose for another era, it would be easy to mistake the band’s albums for a forgotten vinyl gem, dug up in some dusty two dollar bin. And I say that as a sincere compliment.
Courtesy of City Arts Magazine we have a pair of tickets to give away to see She & Him at the swanky 5th Avenue Theater on October 23rd during the inaugural City Arts Festival. Leave a comment below, with your real email (which we’ll never share or abuse) and we’ll pick a lucky winner at random next Thursday (10/14) at noon! Good luck!