Friday
Sep292017

Nada Fest 2017 - Preview

In the aftermath of a Seattle summer that found the sky engulfed with smoke, the mayor resigning in disgrace, and something like 400 music festivals, there is only ONE thing this city needs...another music festival. Oops wait...NadaFest, the progeny of Seattle music and culture site NadaMucho.com, does NOT like being called a festival, so much so that the last two years the festival's tag line was "We are not having a festival". Orwellian irony? Perhaps. But, whatever name you give it, Nadafest is a 3-day, 2-stage celebration of soon-to-be-discovered and criminally-underappreciated Seattle bands and artists of all genres.

Hosted again at Substation, itself a refuge for the Seattle arts underground, Nadafest will feature more than 20 bands from NadaMucho's #41for2017 list with 100% of the door profits going directly to the artists. The main and back room stages alternate between performances so attendees never have to choose one artist over the other. Essentially, it's a 3-day, super-sized basement show with real stages, better beer, and no need to worry about your parents coming home early from vacation.

Entirely devoid of corporate sponsors (no free Cliff Bars for you) and with a very modest entry fee of $10/night, NadaFest serves as a genuine alternative to the high-dollar summer blockbuster festivals that have become their own cottage industry in Seattle. At a total cost of $30 for 24 bands, it is a steal.

NadaFest will take place October 19, 20 and 21st at Substation, 645 NW 45th St, Seattle, WA 98107. Admission is $10/night, 21+

100% of door sales will be split evenly between bands.

Don't Miss: Mind Beams, somesurprises, Low Hums, RVN, DoNormaal, Mirror Ferrari, Sleepy Genes, Crazy Eyes, MonsterWatch

THURSDAY 10/19

7:30-8:00 The Screaming Multitudes (BACK ROOM) facebook.com/screamingmultitudes/

8:00-8:30 Killer Ghost (MAIN ROOM) facebook.com/diggitydownandthegraveyards/

8:30-9:00 HellerGrave (BACK ROOM) facebook.com/Hellergrave/

9:00-9:30 Mind Beams (MAIN ROOM) facebook.com/mindbeams/

9:30-10:00 somesurprises (BACK ROOM) facebook.com/somesurprisesmusic/

10:00-10:30 Tit Nun (MAIN ROOM) facebook.com/titnunminion/

10:30-11:15 Maklak (BACK ROOM) facebook.com/themaklakproject/

11:30-12:30 Low Hums (MAIN ROOM) facebook.com/lowhums/

$10. 21+.

FRIDAY 10/20

7:30-8:00 Cavegreen (BACK ROOM) https://www.facebook.com/cavegreen/

8:00-8:30 Astro King Phoenix (MAIN ROOM) https://www.facebook.com/astrokingphoenix/

8:30-9:00 Le Grotto (BACK ROOM) https://www.facebook.com/legrotCHOD3/

9:00-9:30 DoNormaal (MAIN ROOM) https://www.facebook.com/donormaal/

9:30-10:00 Downtown (BACK ROOM) https://www.facebook.com/therealdowntown/

10:00-10:30 RVN (MAIN ROOM) https://www.facebook.com/rvnrecords/

10:30-11:15 Mirror Ferrari (BACK ROOM) https://www.facebook.com/mirrorferrari/

11:30-12:30 Scribemecca (MAIN ROOM) https://www.facebook.com/BAthescribe/

$10. 21+.

SATURDAY 10/21

7:30-8:00 Sleepy Genes (BACK ROOM) www.facebook.com/sleepygenesband/

8:00-8:30 Oliver Elf Army (MAIN ROOM) www.facebook.com/dubstepforpensioners/

8:30-9:00 Zelda Starfire (BACK ROOM) https://www.acebook.com/Zelda-Starfire-1472329643005249/

9:00-9:30 Crazy Eyes (MAIN ROOM) www.facebook.com/crazyeyesarelookingatyou/

9:30-10:00 Shivertwins (BACK ROOM) https://www.facebook.com/shivertwinz/

10:00-10:30 SSDD (MAIN ROOM) https://www.facebook.com/stealshitdodrugs/

10:30-11:15 Snuff Redux (BACK ROOM) https://www.facebook.com/snuffredux/

11:30-12:30 Monsterwatch (MAIN ROOM) https://www.facebook.com/monsterwatch/

 

Words by Patrick Galactic

Wednesday
Sep062017

Bumbershoot 2017: Part Two

It was earlier than I wanted to be off of the couch, but the reason I found myself at Bumbershoot early on Sunday was to see my sis. Stasia Irons, AKA, Stas THEE Boss, current KEXP Street Sounds host, former one half of the prolific ahead-of-the-wave Sub Pop queens THEESatisfaction, one of my favorite people. Weeks ago she dropped her debut solo mixtape’ #SWOMEN, caught love for it in places like Pitchfork, and was asked to open up the main stage on this, the same day as Solange. Pure Black Girl Magic from the feet up. Stas’ lowkey, aqueous vision was slick with one liners and delivered with an icy cool; she was joined by singers Jus Moni and Dee Butler, DJ Kween Kaysh and dancer Takiyah Ward. A mix of women’s Olympic swim meets, surf footage and classic rap and r&b videos spliced together by local hero OCnotes looped behind them, keeping everything topical as THEE Boss ran her laps. My heart was proud.

Now, Atlanta-made rapper Lil Yachty is someone I was once conflicted about. Even though he seemed to be little more than a jokey troll, custom-made to infuriate anyone old enough to have been excited about EPMD, his debut mixtape Lil Boat was an objectively-pretty-good bit of dessert-first Teletubby nursery-trap. He hasn't really done anything that good since, yet his profile has soared—more on strength of his willful “King of Teens” rage-baiting than his art. I stopped being conflicted a long time ago. Going to his mainstage show was an experiment in seeing how he could perform beneath my already-low expectations, and in that sense he didn't disappoint. As a live MC, he's pretty worthless, deigning to rap into the mic for about 20% of his material, letting his hypemen do most of the work—it would seem Lil Boat has as much regard for his work as his own detractors. Did he really make 50-or-so K for that? I would be mad. The kids, raving on, couldn't care less.

Or at least maybe they didn't have any illusions about Yachty’s work ethic—any of them wanting to see some world-class live rapping were surely in Key Arena later for Long Beach MC Vince Staples, who delivered a thrilling clinic in lean bombast, ripping though cuts from Big Fish Theory as well as older favorites “Blue Suede” and “Norf Norf”. Vince is unquestionably at the opposite end of the millenial rapper spectrum from Yachty, in terms of how he carries himself on and off the mic. There was no forced banter, no water-bottle-chucking, nobody but Vince stalking the stage like a black-clad Panther. (His spare aesthetic and athletic rapping very much reminded me of seeing Kendrick Lamar open up the Yeezus tour, also in the Key, back in 2013. Here's to Vince enjoying a similar glow-up in the days to come.)

I was pleasantly surprised by The New Respects while getting drinks by the Mural Amphitheater stage. This Tennessee-bred quartet (three siblings and a cousin) delivered some hard-charging, old school rock & roll with all the bluesy, soulful trimmings. This was no amateur hour bar band—they made it all sound fresh, fierce and free.

What is there to say about Solange? She was a radiant sun, her band a solar system rotating around her in flawless synchronicity. Solo performed some choice songs from earlier in her career but it was the songs from A Seat At The Table, naturally, that made it feel like the rapturous event it was. For being a universally hailed masterwork, you have to be willfully blind to miss the explicit pro-Black intention of that album—and as she sang “F.U.B.U., she actualized those intentions as she crept to the edge of the barrier and sang it directly to a young Black girl, holding her hand the whole time. When the big screens showed this lucky fan’s face, she was in tears, and the crowd lit up with a cheer for her. It was a detail of an arena show that felt intimate, a detail that was quietly revolutionary. Solange’s bar-raising Black love was a singular sight to behold, and one of the best performances I've ever seen at Bumbershoot. Sorry if you missed it.

 

Words by Larry Mizell Jr.

Photos courtesy of Bumbershoot

Tuesday
Sep052017

Bumbershoot 2017: Part One

“Who are these scantily-clad children and where do they get their money?”

-       Inner monologue

Bumbershoot is too expensive. It is not what it used to be (namely, free or at least affordable). It is hard to get as excited about a festival in September after there were 25 other festivals already this summer. Have I covered my bases? It’s hard to argue with any of these points. What was once a city-wide celebration of culture has evolved (devolved?) into a celebration of culture for those with $150/day to celebrate it.

That said, the actual experience once you walk through the gates isn’t all that different. Lots of food, music, visual art, dudes jumping over a line of 4-5 people, statue people, buskers, and retail booths. It’s a little bit of a lot and, with the beautiful weather, there was more than enough to do.

 

The Spider Ferns

Seattle mainstay The Spider Ferns kicked things off on the KEXP stage in style. With live psychedelic visuals by CTPAK Film Crew’s John Theroux and two interpretive dancers, their set offered a preview of their forthcoming album “Blossom”. Already known for their fever dreamy, down-tempo electro grooves, their new songs expand that territory and mine new domains of sonic interest. More guitar-driven than their previous releases with occasional baroque electronic flourishes, The Spider Ferns commanded the stage and the collective imagination of their audience effortlessly.

 

Acapulco Lips

In an industry that celebrates innovation (real or imagined) as its holy grail, there is a lot to be said for a band that does conventional rock really well. Acapulco Lips are just such a band and the packed crowd inside KEXP went along for the ride without reservations. Blistering through a set of catchy psych-surf party rock, the band evoked an image of Link Wray and Dick Dale crashing a Cramps rehearsal that ended with everyone high and happy.  

 

Foster the People

I won’t claim to be a super fan of Foster the People but I will say that I’ve always respected them as dorks with the ability to write a great pop song. At Memorial Stadium, those dorky indie kids were replaced by leather jacket-wearing, paint-by-numbers extras from “Grease” who were out to prove that they were…tough or something? They kicked their set off with some aggressive, undeniably catchy electro pop from their most recent release “Sacred Hearts Club” that had the crowd moving before launching into their hits “Pumped Up Kicks” and “Helena Beat”, among others. Artistic evolution is essential but the tough guy makeover was a little distracting.

 

Moon Duo

If I ever get murdered in the desert, I want Moon Duo to be playing on my killer’s stereo. Dishing out roadhouse guitar riffs with smart synth parts that bound together effortlessly, they played for an intimate, engaged audience. Long psychedelic instrumental passages and haunting, disembodied melodies added another layer of surrealism and escape that I needed after a solid 4 hours of stage-hopping.

 

It was at this point that my photographer Sidney and I were sitting at a fountain when a long line of women, dressed in what looked to be red prison uniforms, marched single-file directly to where we were sitting. They paused for a long time. Then they marched single file into Seattle Center’s big-ass fountain and walked around it for quite a while. It didn’t take long till there was a young man jumping around, acting as though he was leading the march and two teenage-ish girls following them and taking selfies feverishly. I never did find out the purpose of it. But it was worth noting.

 

Broods

Playing to a small but enthusiastic crowd at the Fisher Green Stage, Auckland, New Zealand’s Broods gave a solid performance of their danceable electro pop (how many times do you think I’ll say electro pop before it’s over?) that was pleasant enough, if not terribly distinctive.

 

Watksy

I didn’t know a thing about Watksy and I only caught his set because the grass at the Fisher Green stage was really comfortable. It was a happy accident. With a full live band blasting epic funk rock, blues and jazz, George Watsky commanded the stage and the crowd, at one point leading everyone in a “Fuck Donald Trump” chant. His raps alternated between social consciousness and silliness but were always amusing, at least. Toward the end of the set, his marathon flows did get a bit tedious but overall, this was a stand-out performance that I won’t soon forget. 

Die Antwoord

Nihilism with a budget. Die Antwoord live is everything you’d expect them to be: hilarious, crass, hyper sexual, hyper stylized and…well, hyper. With DJ Hi-Tek perched high atop a glorious LED rave pyramid, Ninja and Yolandi Visser kept the energy high with what may be the loudest sub-bass tones I have ever heard in my life. If you were expecting back-up dancers dressed as sexy ghosts, you were in luck. If you wanted LED animals with gigantic penises and testicles, you were in luck. Even with Key Arena slightly less than half full, the energy was palpable. Bottom line, this was a celebration of righteous excess, the music was secondary, and nobody cared. This was sensory overload and a great way to finish the night.

 

Words by Patrick Galactic

Photos by Sydnie, Deer Creek Media

 

 

Friday
Aug042017

Newport Folk Festival 2017

With political tumult still hanging in the air, and a President in office that is, shall we say, unpredictable, the Newport Folk Festival is a salve. A yearly gathering of like-minded music lovers congregating on the water to speak out, sing loud, and renew our hopes.Angel Olsen

The festival always tends to have a political bend, but this year was particularly sharp. Shirts like “Resist”, “Make America Read Again”, and “Nasty Woman” were commonplace. And if some of this year’s stand-outs are any indication, “the future is female” is much more than a slogan.

Female voices rang out from all three stages this year, including Margaret Glaspy breezing through the Quad stage with her assured singing style, Angel Olsen gripping Fort stage listeners by the collar with songs like “Shut Up and Kiss Me”, and the over-the-top Vaudevillian action of Nancy and Beth at the jam-packed Harbor stage.
Nancy and Beth

New acts helmed by female lead singers stole the show all weekend. Expectations were high for Big Thief, and the Brooklyn-based band delivered. Singer Adrianne Lenker alternated between ripping extended guitar solos like on “Real Love”, and bringing the house down with a show-stopping turn of “Mary.”

The Wild ReedsThe Seratones, from Shreveport, La., showcased the festival’s penchant for genre-defying acts as their blend of rock, soul, and punk invigorated the festival. Singer A.J. Hayne’s voice was like a scythe cutting through the crowd, clearing the way for an unforgettable performance.

One of the weekend’s most memorable acts was the Wild Reeds. Their sharp songs and rich tones lingered in this writer’s head long after the festival came to its sonorous sunset. The song

“Capable” will undoubtedly help the band reach scores of new listeners, with its prescient lyrics of “You’re capable of so much more/ than these people give you credit for. /And you just need to show it.” We have been huge fans of these ladies for quite some time now and are so elated that they were able to kill it on a Newport Folk Festival Stage.

 

The Newport Folk Festival boasts an illustrious history, a potent present, and with an eye for spotting up-and-coming acts, the future is in good hands, female and otherwise.

Here are are a few more of our favorite sets:

Regina Spekto

Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats

 L.A Salami

 

Fleet Foxes

Wilco

 

Robert Ellis

Words // Photos by Brian Hodge

Photo // by Bethany Hodge

Tuesday
Aug012017

Capitol Hill Block Party 2017: A Fresh Take 

Sometimes when you go to a festival year after year you get a bit jaded; you know the pace and exactly where to go for who you want to see (which is not a bad thing...) But, there is something about the feeling of not knowing what to expect; taking the time to figure things out and enjoying the initial moment when you walk through the gates that resonates with us all. I think we all chase that feeling of novelty at one point or another. So we decided to send fresh eyes to cover the festival to get a vantage point from a young and less experienced photo journalist who had never been to the Capitol Hill Block Party. We all envy this person…

 

Being a Capitol Hill Block Party virgin, as I entered the festival I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I had heard rumors of its wild and reckless nature, but it wasn’t until I walked through the gates that I realized the glory that is Block Party. Music and of course the "faint" smell of weed and sweat filled the air. Immediately, I knew I wasn't in Kansas anymore!

This siren of a three-day festival erects in the heart of Seattle and it's the best kind of pandemonium. Seattleites from all walks of life congregate in the streets of Capitol Hill, forget all their worries, and let loose to the rhythm of fantastic live music.

From the start, the mainstage was an absolute party. Performances from Danny Brown, Snakehips, and Angel Olsen kept the crowd roaring. Onlookers enjoyed the show from their third story apartment windows and seemed like angels when they tossed popsicles at overheated festival attendees below.

Even security was getting in on the fun, nodding along to the music and keeping the crowd cool between sets. My camera did take an unexpected shower - but hey, that buff hose-wielding security guy was just doing his job.

The Vera Stage kept things fresh, with appearances from the likes of Knowmads, Torres, and Perfume Genius. My favorite performance came from the fabulous Mykki Blanco. Her far from conventional 45 minute set kept the crowd bumping. Things got real when she tore off her wig, jumped offstage, and pranced around the crowd spitting rhymes and grinding on fans. As one does...

As the day progressed and the sun fell, tensions and expectations were higher than ever for the festival's headliner: a little DJ by the name of Diplo. The moment he took the stage, everyone’s inner party animal came out. The crowd turned into an absolute mosh pit. It was impossible not to join in on the party. I’d like to thank the kind fellow who helped me change lenses in the midst of the flailing bodies, I’d be lost without you man.

All in all, Capitol Hill Block party was pure fun, though I am thankful to have made it out in one piece. ‘Till next year!

 Words // Photo by Peter Sullivan

Thursday
Jul272017

Dan Blakeslee - Album review / Song premiere: "A Golden Turn"

Ring Dan Blakeslee and you’ll hit a friendly greeting of Dan singing and playing his guitar, followed by a full mailbox. Maybe this artful dodge is a relic from Dan’s time more than a decade ago in Portsmouth, N.H., when he owed so much artwork to folks around town that he took to walking the alleys to avoid disappointed customers. This time in his life is the impetus for the title of Blakeslee’s latest album, The Alley Walker, and like with most talented artists, he rewards your patience.

Piecing together tunes and stories from as far back as 2005, the album was a long time in the making, but one well worth the time.

“I planned to make it seven years ago,” Blakeslee says via phone when we connect. “I ended up making two others in between. I knew I wanted The Alley Walker to be a little more explosive, take a few more risks.”

Those explosive risks are dutifully explored and artfully executed with the help of producer Chris Chase and the backing talents of the Callabash Club. Longtime Blakeslee listeners will recognize the tunes, but the songs come alive on the record, capturing the band’s propulsive energetic live sound and giving life to Blakeslee’s vivid storytelling.

The songs take seed from Dan’s wanderings, with references to his time in Somerville (“The Somerville Line”), New Hampshire (“Pride of the Picataqua”), and the road (“Lone Star”, written in New Orleans). The album’s title track closes the album, a fitting capstone to complete the album’s journey. But like a record on repeat, Blakeslee recently found himself in a similar mental state as when he first wrote “The Alley Walker” more than 11 years ago. In a scramble to pay for the studio time, Blakeslee again took on more and more art projects, leading to an eerily similar mindset as to his first writing and lending a prescient tone to his work in the studio.

The album now complete, Dan Blakeslee and the Callabash Club no longer need to hide and shirk in alleys. In fact, they sound ready for the spotlight.

We are honored to be the first to share “A Golden Turn” from "The Alley Walker". In Dan's words:

"I have been playing music for over two decades and have known both triumph and struggle alike. I wrote "A Golden Turn" in hopes of seeking a little more balance to finally get to a more fruitful place in my career. Every day I am so grateful to be doing music and art for a living... it's not an easy road but I wouldn't want it any other way!"

 

 

 

Words // Brian Hodge

Wednesday
Jul122017

Murder By Death - Video Session 

I am not going to lie, I've listened to Murder By Death for many years and now I am meeting up with them right before they go on stage at The Showbox in Seattle. So needless to say, I was pretty excited. Adam (lead singer) was kind enough to perform a solo session for us in the green room.

You never really know what your going to get when you try to do a video production behind a stage. The one thing you dont want is for the opening band to start their sound check in the middle of recording. Unfortunately it happened... but like a pro Adam kept it going. We tried to dumb down the background noise as much as possible. Please enjoy!

Wednesday
Apr262017

Low Roar at the The Crocodile in Seattle

Hideo Kojima made writing about and photographing this concert possible (albeit, not personally). When a trailer for his upcoming video game dropped early last year, the song used in it immediately caught my attention. Upon Shazaming, I found out it was "I'll Keep Coming" by a group based out of Iceland named Low Roar.

Flash forward to today. Having listened to their discography rather extensively, I was excited for their live set, opening for San Fermin. It exceeded my expectations. The low-key blue lighting highlighted the mellow, often somber, yet somehow still raucous cuts that have come to define Low Roar's sound. Each member of the trio, highlighted by frontman Ryan Karazija, are multi instrumentalists and singers, and each brings a unique contribution to the whole. While "I'll Keep Coming" was certainly a set highlight, they had the capacity crowd at The Crocodile in the palm of their hand for their 45 minute set. See it.

In all transparency, I was preparing to head home after Low Roar's set in order to catch up on some much needed sleep. After hearing San Fermin's opener, though, I couldn't help but stay. The 7 member group, fronted by Ellis Ludwig-Leone, had one of the most electric live sets I've seen in years. From keys to trumpet, saxophone to guitars, the energy didn't stop for over an hour. The trumpet player walked out above the audience and danced while he was playing, for crying out loud. Everyone brought their A game. They've gained a new fan.

 

Photos // Words by Alexander Hallett

Friday
Mar172017

P.O.S. - at The Crocodile in Seattle, WA

When people talk about "paying dues" in the hip hop community, they're usually referring to opening as a local for touring acts for a few years, cultivating a nearby fanbase, slowly expanding outward geographically, and supporting other artists - all vital aspects of a lasting rap career. But there is paying dues and then there are P.O.S. - born Stefon Alexander - dues: a 16 year career of tireless work ethic, collaboration, exhaustive touring and recording...and both kidneys failing, 4 years ago, in the midst of it all. 
After a successful kidney transplant and recovery, P.O.S. is back on the road, his live show more powerful than ever. That's dedication. That's perseverance. That's part of what makes P.O.S. one of the most revered and respected artists of any genre. 
His set list at The Crocodile spanned much of his catalog, including cuts from Audition, Never Better, We Don't Even Live Here, and his new opus Chill, Dummy. It was cohesive, powerful, lively, reflective, and just a flat-out great show, as every one of the head-bobbing, jumping, hand-raised fans at the sold out show would attest. It was epic.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention openers Dwynell Roland and SIMS, as well as DJ Fundo. Supporting acts don't get much more polished than these, and it's no wonder P.O.S. hand-picked them to head out for his first headlining tour in years. 
Get out. See a P.O.S. show now: http://www.doomtree.net/pos/
SIMS and DJ Fundo are also touring Europe soon. Catch shows here: http://www.doomtree.net/SIMS
Photos // Words by Alexander Hallett