Thursday
Aug012019

Newport Folk Festival 2019

In the world of music festivals, Newport Folk towers. Now in its 60th year, it has the longevity, history, and allure that other festivals can only dream of. But despite, or in part because, of its grandeur, you would be hard-pressed to find a more overwhelmingly inclusive event. It uses its towering tent poles to welcome more people into the fold. And it uses its wide reach to span generations, bring people together, and embrace them. We don’t have to go out searching for an illusory “Rainbow Connection,” we have a real one right here. The lovers, the dreamers, and anyone who wants to join. Kermit included.

 

This year was similar to the last nine I’ve attended in that it was both better than expected and better than previous years. Producer Jay Sweet continues to program a heady mix of old and new which fosters fun connections, and his capitulation of main stage sets to Brandi Carlile and Chris Funk for collaborations led to showcases that were simply sublime.

Carlile’s crew of The Highwomen stole the show on Friday. The troupe of Carlile, Maren Morris, Amanda Shires, and Natalie Hemby tore into songs from their forthcoming album, and the group can certainly expect a “Crowded Table” at their next performance. Some songs like “Redesigning Women” and “If She Ever Leaves Me” are destined to be stamped in country music canon.

By now you’ve likely heard about Saturday’s surprise guest, Ms. Dolly Parton, who checked off slews of bucket lists before even belting out a note. “Me and Rhode Island have a lot in common,” she opined. “We’re both little, but we make a lot of noise.” After “9 to 5” there wasn’t a person in the crowd not having fun, marking a perfect Saturday night closer and a historic one at that. ♀♀♀♀: The Collaboration was the first all-female act to headline Newport.

Sunday’s closing “If I Had A Song” collaboration spawned such gorgeous moments, it’s hard to pinpoint the highlights. There was Kermit the Frog (!) and Jim James singing “Rainbow Connection.” Trey Anastasio and Lake Street Dive’s Rachel Price singing “God Only Knows” backed by the Berklee Instant Strings. Eric Johnson, Robin Pecknold, and James Mercer singing “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” with Judy Collins!

But the tenderest moments came on the smaller scale. The festival distributed lyrical songbooks to the crowd before the last set, featuring not only song lyrics to the performance, but lovely photos of Pete Seeger as well. It served as a tactile connection from the past to the present, and ultimately the future. It felt tender, and sweet, and hopeful. In other words, it felt exactly like Newport. 

Other highlights:

  • DOLLY PARTON

  • The Highwoman - Complete set

  • Yola - Complete set

  • Hozier (with Mavis Staples) - “Power” 

  • Cooks in the Kitchen (with Tallest Man on Earth) - “Rock of Ages”’

  • Kevin Morby, Complete set

  • Phil Cook - “Ain’t It Sweet”

  • Sheryl Crow - “If It Makes You Happy”

  • Stephen Marley,  “Three Little Birds”

  • Courtney Marie Andrews (with Brandi Carlile) - “May Your Kindness Remain”

  • Trey Anastasio - “Sample in a Jar”

  • Song for Beginners - “Better Days”

  • Jade Bird - “Uh Huh” 

  • Nilufer Yanya, Complete set

  • Adia Victoria set at Newport Blues Cafe

  • Billy Strings and Molly Tuttle

  • Caamp surprise pop-up set

 

Photos and Words by Brian Hodge 

Additional photos by Bethany Hodge

Thursday
Jul252019

Capitol Hill Block Party 2019

It’s official, Capitol Hill Block Party 2019 is one for the books. The music festival boasted an impressive lineup this year (Lizzo!) and was chock full of incredible moments and performances. Here’s what went down:

 

Friday:

Showing up to the festival in the afternoon, one couldn’t help but be drawn to JPEGMAFIA’s Main Stage riot. The indie New York rapper provided the perfect balance between carefully placed rhymes and mosh-inducing screams, all over lo-fi beats served from his iphone plugged into the aux cord.

Up next came indie-rock vocalist Mitski, who’s choreographed performance included acrobatic moves and table flipping, all in sync with her undeniably danceable songs. Throughout the performance, Mitski’s movements and facial expressions accentuated the stories of her breakup-themed songs, creating a work of art that felt like one-woman musical theater.

Saturday:

New York multi-instrumentalist Vagabon was my favorite act from Saturday afternoon. Vagabon’s haunting vocals paired perfectly with her emotional guitar riffs, as her backup band provided the base rhythm for the crowd to sway to.

When Still Woozy took the stage on Saturday evening, the air was electrifying. The groovy Oakland pop artist and his band brought a vibrant energy to the stage. From bass-breakdown dance offs to spontaneous stage dives, Still Woozy had the crowd on their toes for the duration of his set. When he performed his hit song “Goodie Bag,” it was impossible to not sing along.

Saturday night was an absolute throwdown, to say the least. The undeniable festival headliner Lizzo managed to turn East Pike Street into a giant game of sardines. Lizzo danced, twerked, and fluted, all while seemingly half of Seattle belted her chart topping hits along with her.

For those not fortunate enough to score a good view of Lizzo dominating the Main Stage, another of my favorite performances took place on the Vera Stage: A Tribe Called Red, a pair of Indiginous Canadian DJ’s who combine dubstep and First Nations music. “We are not a conquered people,” blasted through the speakers before dropping into one of the greatest mixes of tribal cries and bass wobbles you’ll ever hear.

Sunday

After an afternoon schedule shift, Seattle singer/writer Umi made it on to the Main Stage, and she gave us every reason to believe that’s where she belongs. Umi had complete control of the crowd while her sweet vocals floated over her backup band’s groovy breakdowns. In between songs, she repeatedly preached love and positivity. Umi’s energy and catchy songs made her impossible to walk away from. There’s no reason why we can’t believe she’ll be the next SZA.

Dressed in all black, Vancouver post-punk band ACTORS brought goth to the summer on the Vera Stage. Their sound is rhythmic, dark, yet pleasantly uplifting. The group looked good, sounded good, and all around rocked the stage. ACTORS became an instant favorite among the crowd.

 

A last minute Main Stage booking of Portland indie rock heroes STRFKR proved to be a great success. As soon as the first song began, out came a crew of flamboyant backup dancers, including an astronaut, a man in a dinosaur suit, and Gandalf himself. Playing hit after hit, STRFKR felt like kings of a dance party. STRFKR’s evening set perfectly captured the easy going, weird, and party vibe of Capitol Hill Block Party, especially when Gandalf embarked seemingly on one of the furthest crowd surfs of all time.

While DJ RL Grime thumped away at the Main Stage, California indie-pop prince Cuco treated the crowd at the Vera Stage to a delightful and youthful performance. Cuco served sweet guitar licks, reverb-heavy keys, and a mix of mellow English and Spanish vocals. Cuco’s performance was a soothing juxtaposition to the chaos that occurred the night before, and his songs proved to be the perfect lullabies to end the 3 day music festival.

 

Words and Photos by Peter Sullivan

Thursday
Jul252019

Pickathon 2019 Preview

We all remember our “firsts”. You only get one! First love, first time you heard a particular song, first time driving a car, first time living on your own... Most things become repetitive or ritualistic but the first time will always stay with you.

This will be my first time going to Pickathon. For various reasons I haven’t made it in the past but this year is the year! I don’t know exactly what to expect or where to go when I get there… and I’m not going to lie… I am kind of nervous.
Not only is it my first time but I am a parent now so I am bringing the family along! One major attribute that I frequently hear about Pickathon is it’s family friendly nature. My goal is to see what that means as a person with a toddler trying to balance the festival experience with having a kid along for the ride.

It may sound like I am over dramatizing a music festival but these are the places where you hear a band for the first time and make memories with your friends and family. I think it's important to stop and take it in. You will never get it back.

Stay tuned! If you dont have your tickets yet it's not too late. Get them here!

Friday
Jul122019

Chase Atlantic - Neptune Theatre - Seattle, WA

From Sia to Silverchair, Kylie Minogue to Natalie Imbruglia, Australia has continued to produce artists and bands over the years who have raced into the mainstream in almost every genre there is. If the sold-out  Seattle stop on their global tour is any indication, it's likely just a matter of time until Chase Atlantic, one of Australia's newest musical exports, continues that tradition.

Readers of Visible Voice may recall the spotlight on the uber-talented Canadian artist LIGHTS earlier last year. Well, LIGHTS thought highly enough of Chase Atlantic to invite them on her global tour, which is pretty much the highest form of vouching there is in the music industry. Just as Muse is a three piece band that sounds much, much larger, the same can be said for Chase Atlantic's three member formation: somehow, they produce a sound that one would swear must have come from a band with a minimum of six members. 

Chase Atlantic's blend of catchy choruses with bass heavy alternative R&B over live drums - think Tame Impala mixed with The Weeknd - is a sure-fire recipe for success on the airwaves, Spotify, and the Billboard charts. For you Lyft and Uber drivers out there, prepare yourself to pass the aux chord to many passengers in the near future and be introduced to Chase Atlantic. 

Catch them on tour in support of their new album, Phases, here: https://chaseatlantic.com/ 

Photos / / Words by Alexander Hallett of Sattva Photo

 

 

 

 

Monday
Jul012019

Preview: Capitol Hill Block Party 2019 

Get ready to bust out those vintage circle sunglasses and faded jorts: Capitol Hill Block Party 2019 is on it’s way.

The iconic Seattle music festival takes place July 19-21, dominating the Capitol Hill district with throbbing bass and sweet guitar riffs. This year’s lineup boasts over 60 artists, providing a tasteful mix of chart-topping pop, earth-shaking electronic producers, bedroom indie artists, and party prompting hip-hop.

Headliners include college party-anthem bass producer RL Grime, undeniably talented twerking flute legend Lizzo, and legendary psych-pop heroes Phantogram. More mainstage performances will come from rapper & PNW native Aminé, UK hitmaker’s Snakehips, electronic engineer Big Wild, and Indie anthemist Mitski.

We’re especially excited to see Lizzo, who’s chart topping song “Truth Hurts” from her 2019 album “Cuz I Love You” is set to be the song of the summer, and perfectly captures the carefree playful vibe of CHBP.

Denzel Curry, who’s acclaimed 2019 album “ZUU” has solidified himself a position of respect in the ever competitive hip-hop industry, will be a treat to watch as he warms up the mainstage for Jungle, Aminé, and RL Grime on Sunday.

The festival’s lineup runs deep, promising unmissable performances from the likes of pop-kings Peach Pit, garage dream-pop artist Still Woozy, New York multi-instrumentalist Vagabon, Seattle native soul-rockers Black Tones, and the Seattle post-punk band Tres Leches.

Prepare to dance your pants off.

Tickets and the full lineup/schedule are available at: www.capitolhillblockparty.com

Words by: Peter Sullivan

Wednesday
May082019

Ceschi - High Dive - Seattle, WA

Ceschi is a bit of an anomaly. Some listeners label him rap, some indie folk, some indie folk rap shoegaze metal grindcore (probably). Others would be quick to tell you he defies classification, and that feels accurate when you take in his live show for the first time. 

Ceschi hit the stage at the High Dive in Seattle in support of his recently released album, Sad Fat Luck, with producer extraordinaire Factor Chandelier. Joining him on the bill were Fake Four Inc. label mates Dark Time Sunshine, as well as fellow musical anomaly Kimya Dawson. The lineup exemplified the diversity of sound which Ceschi’s music employs. In testament to just how loyal and attentive Ceschi’s fanbase is, there were a large number of folks in the crowd who were singing and rapping along to almost all of the songs from Sad Fat Luck - an album which had only been out in the public sphere a scant few weeks prior. 

Now, it’s one thing to be a virtuoso at rapping, and another to be equally adept at playing the guitar. It’s a whole other beast entirely to be fully at home on both, but that’s Ceschi for you. Stellar musicianship aside, it’s the soul-bearing, heart-rending lyrics that have earned Ceschi his own lane in the music world at large. Sad Fat Luck, especially in its live form, is an exploration of loss and grief and the search for brief respites of happiness and understanding set against a deceptively upbeat and beautiful soundscape. Many were the occasions where one song would have audience members head bobbing (“Sad Fat Luck”), while another would result in tears shed (“The Gospel”). It’s music that feels deeply and implores the listener to do the same.

See Ceschi live, buy the record, and support an artist whose music exemplifies the peaks and valleys that mark the topographical map of what it means to be human.

For Ceschi’s tour dates + music: https://www.sadfatluck.com/ + https://fakefour.bandcamp.com/album/sad-fat-luck-3

Photos // Words by Alexander Hallett of Sattva Photo

 


Wednesday
May012019

Murs (Feature)

Sustaining a 20+ year music career is something only a handful of artists achieve from their genesis. Even fewer are able to do so successfully across multiple iterations, groups, and record labels. When you couple those feats with an artist who put together one of the most iconic hip hop festivals and set a Guinness World Record for rapping for 24 hours non-stop, you’re left with one artist, in a lane entirely all their own: Murs. 

It’s difficult to adequately grasp and convey just how prolific, resonant, and diverse Murs’ career is to date. From a quick bird’s eye view, he co-founded the legendary indie hiphop supergroup Living Legends in 1996, is a member of 3 Melancholy Gypsies with high school classmates Scarub and Eligh, co-artist of the group Felt alongside Slug and Melorse with Terrace Martin, as well as the lead vocalist of the groups The White Mandingos and The Invincibles - and this doesn’t even encompass all of the various offshoots from many of these projects. 

He has been signed to major record labels (Warner Brothers) and stalwart indie hiphop labels (Def Jux, Rhymesayers, Strange Music). He put together the most insanely stacked hiphop festival, Paid Dues, for 8 years  running, which saw headliners like Wu-Tang, Kendrick Lamar, Mac Miller, Odd Future, Nipsey Hussle, Scarface, Joey Badass, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Mobb Deep, and…well, you get the idea.

Prolific. Resonant. Diverse. 

Despite such a storied career, Murs remains a bit of an enigma. Case in point: the official website to which his Facebook page points doesn’t exist, nor does his artist page on Definitive Jux (since the label shuttered years ago). This may partially be a byproduct of launching a career at the advent of the internet and before social media was a thing, but there’s no denying the influence the guy has had - and continues to have - across so many artistic avenues.

So it was an honor to attend a recent Sunday night show at Bellingham’s Wild Buffalo and see the man perform a set encompassing so much of his storied career. A career which, if his showmanship and performance that night are an indication, still has plenty left in the tank.

Keep up to date with Murs here and - in case that disappears - on Spotify.

Photos // Words by Alexander Hallett of Sattva Photo

Tuesday
Apr232019

Lennon Stella (Feature)

For fans of the TV drama Nashville, Lennon Stella is already a household name (alongside her younger sister, Maisy). For those of us not familiar with the show, our first introduction to Lennon Stella will undoubtedly be forthcoming. With an exhaustive global tour underway, including an arena tour across the US in support of the Chainsmokers, it will only be a short matter of time before she hits the airwaves to the world at large.

Lennon grew up in a musical family (her parents are husband and wife duo, The Stellas), and it shows. At just 19 years-old, Lennon's pitch perfect vocals glide effortlessly over breezy instrumentals, with pop songwriting sensibilities that belie her age. The fact that she already sold out Seattle's Neptune Theatre bodes well for Lennon's future, and there's no question headlining arena tours are in her future.

Check out her tour dates , and catch a pop star in the making.

 

Photos // Words by Alexander Hallett of Sattva Photo

Wednesday
Apr172019

The Faim - El Corazon - Seattle, WA

Seattle's El Corazon was the perfect place to see The Faim for the first time. Their sound has fingerprints of Seattle's grunge apex, and - while their sound is also reflective of the contemporary soundscape - one can easily envision them sharing the stage with bands of that era.

Hailing from Australia, The Faim have cultivated a loyal fan base across the world thanks to an extensive global tour schedule, as well as a string of singles co-written with some of pop-rock's heaviest hitters: Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz, blink-182's Mark Hoppus, and beyond. While working with prolific songwriters such as these helps to open a few doors, it's still up to the band to make their own name for themselves, to pave their own path. And The Faim do just that.

Their live show is kinetic and seasoned. A handful of sound problems were worked around with veteran ease, and the capacity crowd on hand - most in their late teens and early twenties - were engaged throughout. For those who are fans of Panic! at the Disco, Fall Out Boy, or blink-182, you'll find yourself right at home with The Faim. Live in concert is definitely the recommended way to hear them for the first time, and if you're already familiar with their music, it will only deepen your appreciation.

Catch them on tour here.

 

 Photos // Words by Alexander Hallett of Sattva Photo