Sunday
Sep232018

The Zombies with Liz Brasher at The Neptune - Seattle 

The list of musical groups that release a monumentally influential album, break-up a few years later, reconvene decades later and still go on tour and sell-out venues is incredibly short. In fact, it can likely be narrowed down to one name: The Zombies.

Now well into their 70s, the four surviving original members - joined by one new member - hit the road to commemorate the 50th anniversary of their legendary album, Odyssey and Oracle. Granted, that album predates many of you who may be reading this post, but it’s a near guarantee that many of your favorite artists and bands were heavily influenced by it. So, a tour was in high order.

One wouldn’t be blamed for thinking The Zombies could have easily phoned in the performances on this tour. (After all, we’re now fifty years removed from the release of that classic.) But the truth is, they performed with craftsmanship, showmanship, and energy that far exceeds most groups half their age. Classics like “She’s Not There, “Hold Your Head Up”, and “Time of the Season” were well couched between more contemporary cuts from Still Got That Hunger and Breathe Out, Breathe In. The sense in the audience that everyone was viewing living history was just and deserved. Bravo, gentlemen.

It’s also imperative to note the opener, Liz Brasher. Wow. Talk about one of the most raw, powerful voices that many people have yet to hear. If you haven’t heard of her, you should check out her Outcast EP, especially if you’re a fan of Amy Winehouse or Patsy Cline, or women who can sing like crazy and completely shred on the guitar. It’s a guarantee she will become a household name soon enough. She and her band are lightning in a bottle.

Photos // Words by Alexander Hallet

Sunday
Aug052018

Newport Folk Festival 2018

Each year the Newport Folk Festival arrives with the promise of something special. And astonishingly, each year it delivers.

This year’s annual gathering of like-minded music lovers - now in its 59th year - again leaned on the alchemy of music, community, and optimism to forge one of America’s premier music festivals. The blend of notable newcomers (Tank and the Bangas, Khruangbin, War and the Treaty) woven with established legends (like Mavis Staples, John Prine, Toots and the Maytals) ensured a fabric of continuity that already has us looking forward to #60.

Friday brought sunshine and smiling faces, particularly as Margo Price’s smooth pop-country stylings got the capacity crowd to their feet, especially when she and Brandi Carlile belted out Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5”. Elsewhere, the gonzo tiki bar vibe of Glorietta, helmed by Matthew Logan Vasquez, kept the party vibe alive.

Saturday’s highlights included Hamilton Leithauser and Rostam Batmanglij teaming with a string quartet to give life to absolute gems like “Blackout”, “1000 Times”, and “Gwan”. Later, Tank and the Bangas bumped up the energy level up another notch in the Quad with inescapable enthusiasm. At the end of the day, the unannounced headliner of Mumford & Sons only disappointed the most jaded of afficianadoes. From this writer’s perspective, the group deserves loads of credit for pioneering and popularizing today’s ubiquitous folk-pop sound - and they delivered with a smashing set. Marcus Mumford and crew transitioned effortlessly from stomping numbers like “I Will Wait” and “Little Lion Man” to favorites like Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer”. They also expertly continued the Newport tradition of collaboration, inviting out Maggie Rogers for the amazingly chill groove of “Alaska”, as well as the indomitable Mavis Staples for an outstanding “The Weight”. To hear Mumford, Staples, Rogers, Phoebe Bridgers and Carlile take on the classic number is the stuff Folk Festival dreams are made of.

After an evening of sizzling local music at Jimmy’s Saloon (listen local, y’all) from The Silks and the Z-Boys, the low-key grooves of Khruangbin hit the spot. The 60s/70s-indebted sounds were refreshing, and when the trio leaned into a hip-hop medley featuring “The Next Episode”, “It Was A Good Day”, “Regulators”, it was unexpected and borderline enlightening.

After guest-starring across stages all weekend, Brandi Carlile finally took to the Fort stage on Sunday. Her voice swung between searing, soaring (“The Story”), tender (“The Mother”), and ultimately triumphant (“Hold Out Your Hand” - featuring the Lone Bellow, the Watson Twins, and the War & Treaty). Carlile was everywhere this weekend and gets the MVP vote for this year's festival.

The affair came to its inevitable end with “A Change Is Gonna Come”, a star-studded stage featuring Jon Baptiste, Leon Bridges, Gary Clark Jr., Chris Thile, with help from the Dap Kings and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Lake Street Dive’s Rachael Price stuck the landing on the set’s title track as the sun was setting, giving the moment the appropriate gravity. But Mavis Staples again stole the show as she led the stage and the crowd with a stirring rendition of “Freedom’s Highway”. It served as a fitting reminder that as long as this country has existed, there have been civil rights issues to reckon with. And as long as these issues continue to fester and perpetuate, there are going to be huge crowds of folks prepared to fight for every inch of justice and fairness.

The Newport Folk Festival may not solve all the world’s problems, but for at least one weekend, thousands of music lovers in attendance had a vision of what a better world could look like - and were given a wake-up call we all desperately need.

 

Words by Brian Hodge

Photos by Bethany Hodge

Friday
Jul202018

Timber! Outdoor Music Festival 2018

Douse


“Take me back outside / Clear the wreckage from my mind.” The sounds of Vancouver band Douse opened Timber! Fest early Saturday afternoon like a window. Light and air swirled out from the stage and across the grass-seated crowd. Often an ambient art trio, they were joined by bassist Victoria Spooner that day, creating in an aerated alternative mood together. Their latest LP, The Light In You Has Left, gives me hints of John Frusciante’s instrumental works and lyrics that grip my ribs with nostalgia. Thanks to glossy vocals and laughter between each song, their live set was as relaxing and clean as the soap they sell.


Beverly Crusher

If Douse was like a dip in a wading pool, Beverly Crusher was a Gatorade splash to the face. They writhe and wail about heaps of my favorite things! Drugs, unrequited crushes, spells cast across the chasm of life and death. The crowd woke right tf up for this set as the trio got the audience yeah-yelling along to their songs. I saw young children shimmying, parents snapchatting jam after jam, and a collective hangover sloughing off people who got up to bop around. The whole set was tight musically, and letting-it-all-hang-out attitude-wise. Keep your eyes on these guys.

 

 

Brothers From Another

Why hadn’t I seen this hip hop crew before?! They groove, they grin, they get entire fests going. “This is the part where we pretend we can dance!” “It’s like a family reunion up here!” Every exclamation felt like a celebration of the day, and all they’ve accomplished in their hometown of Seattle and beyond. Some bands feel strange to see in the daylight, as if they only belong in dark venues and basement shows. Not these three. They’d obviously thrive in all the above, but getting to experience them for the first time in pure sunlight felt pretty right. We were all sweating our faces off and it was perfect. It’s a good sign when you want to literally jump into a body of water after a show. (And thanks to the Tolt River running through the campgrounds, that’s exactly what I got to do.)

 

 

Industrial Revelation

Worldly and world class. You know it’s real when you choose to leave your inner tube to catch a concert. Not a fan of jazz? Psshh, listen to this group and you will be. Infectious, funky, full-flavored. The late afternoon haze set in, the sun began to slope, and the four-piece’s instruments elevated minds from the front of the stage to the far edges of Carnation, WA. I first saw this group back in 2015, and still haven’t seen another act quite like them in the Pacific Northwest. If you have, please send me your recommendations! In the meantime, I’m hitting every show of theirs that I can.

 


Naked Giants
Due to other obligations I had back in Seattle, Naked Giants was the last act I could catch Saturday night. But thanks to their spirited, smile-filled set, I was able to leave happy. Like, try watching their music videos without feeling charmed by their goofball antics and love of the PNW arts community. Having released their debut album this spring, it definitely seems like the trio is staying committed to punky meaninglessness and checking their privilege. Good stuff (or should I say SLUFF?) all-around.

As a total Timber! rookie, I was impressed the entire day. The local musicians, variety of activities available, safe-space vibes, and laidback-ness made this the most chill music fest I have ever been to. 10/10 would recommend, especially if you’re into river floats, Rainier beer gardens, and not having to walk ten miles to reach your campsite. See you there next year!

 

Words // photos by AJ Dent

Thursday
Apr262018

Kris Orlowski and Budo - "Astronauts, Divided"

Kris Orlowski has long been known for his striking sincerity and understated song craft. Which is why, in 2016 when he released “Waterski to Texas” with Macklemore producer Budo, it created quite a stir. Was this a transparent attempt to become algorithmically palatable to trigger-happy teens? Was this a name-boosting exercise, a crass commercial media play? Call me cynical but this is the music industry where crass commercial name-boosting exercises are more common than White House indictments.

Then I listened to the song. Orlowski’s understated delivery and Budo’s atmospheric tone collage swelled in harmony, accented beautifully by an Andrew Joslyn string arrangement. So much for educated cynicism, I’m just an asshole.

After a performance at Upstream, a prime time tv sync and some radio play, Orlowski retreated from the public eye while Budo soared to new heights, producing Macklemore’s “Gemini” and touring extensively to support it.

Now, after two years of collaboration, the duo have come back together to release their debut EP “Astronauts, divided”. The creative potential evidenced in “Waterski to Texas” has been refined, Budo’s gift for ethereal texture plays beautifully against Orlowski’s elegant, stirring melodies.  

“I Arrange”, the lead track, sets the tone for all that is to come. Beginning with vocals and a simple piano, the song craftily introduces subtle psychedelic elements before cascading into a thundering climax. “Stormy Weather (feat. Embee)” takes a more contemporary approach, almost entirely electronic with Orlowski singing outside of his comfort zone successfully.

Circling back to the first paragraph, I can now say that Kris Orlowski and Budo created an unlikely collaboration that is likely to be algorithmically palatable to trigger happy teens. It will also likely boost Orlowski’s name ID. But all of that comes about as the result of a genuine experiment that yielded remarkable results. “Astronauts, divided” is a most worthy endeavor.

Kris Orlowski and Budo will be celebrating the release of “Asronauts, divided” this Saturday, April 28th at Barboza. Tickets available at https://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/1661269?utm_source=artist.

 

Words by Patrick Galactic

Monday
Mar122018

Brandi Carlile at Mount Baker Theatre 

If you take away only one thing from this show review, let it be this: you need to see Brandi Carlile live. Right now. Don't wait until the next tour. Go now. It's rare to see an artist and band in such perfect union, and the live show perfectly mixes anthemic rock with soulful ballads. You'll dance, even if you never do. You'll applaud. You'll laugh. Go.

Brandi kicked off her "By the Way I Forgive You" tour in Bellingham, WA at Mount Baker Theatre. A Northwest native, Brandi sold out the show well in advance of its opening, and it quickly became apparent why: to see her perform live is an experience one doesn't forget.

Opening for Brandi was Boston-based Darling Side, a four piece indie folk band. NPR referred to them as an "exquisitely-arranged, literary-minded, baroque folk-pop", and that description is pretty apt. Their set was nearly equal parts engaging the audience with stories about their time in Bellingham as it was music. Both were handled with showmanship and quiet flair, and you'll no doubt be seeing them headline their own tours shortly.

Now, having listened to Brandi Carlile's new album, "By the Way I Forgive You" in advance of the show, I was interested to see how it would translate to a live performance. Halfway through the set, it was obvious this is an album that is meant to be heard live. Playing with "The Twins" on guitar, a drummer, a string ensemble, and a multi instrumentalist, the album is only enhanced by the live format and sounds even better than the record. And that's saying something, because the album itself is a fantastic listening experience.

After a 90 minute performance, playing the album in its entirety as well as a few cuts from older albums, Brandi and her band closed out the show with an acoustic encore, deftly switching gears from rock that brought down the house to intimate, almost coffee-shop volume acoustic. It was beautiful. It was joyous. It was one of the best shows I've seen in years.

For tour dates: http://bytheway.brandicarlile.com/

 

Photos // Words by Alexander Hallet

Monday
Mar052018

Why? at Neumos in Seattle

Yoni Wolf has always been a bit of a genre-defying enigma. You may know him as the front man of the rock band Why?, or you might know him from his work with the now disbanded hip hop group cLOUDDEAD, or as a producer. In whatever musical capacity you're familiar, perhaps you're not yet, one thing is apparent: Yoni is one talented dude.

Why?'s soldout show at Neumos was equal parts acoustic rock concert, sort of rap show, sometimes ambient. The fact that each of the songs blended together more smoothly than they had any right to speaks volumes to the cohesion of Why? as a band, and member's control over their artistry. A show not to be missed.

Catch them on tour now, with dates available at https://whywithaquestionmark.com/

 

 

Photos // Words by Alexander Hallett

Tuesday
Feb202018

Lights (Featured)

Lights is the pseudonym of Valerie Poxleitner - musician, songwriter, and comic book artist extraordinaire. Based out of Canada, she may not be as much of a household name in the States as she would be if she were from, say, LA. Yet, as a recent sold out show at Seattle's Showbox, a decade of touring worldwide, and several million diehard followers across social media can attest, Lights is an artist who has carved her own path through a wholly unique vision and a tireless work ethic.

To be clear, she puts on an incredible show. As of this writing, she's currently in the midst of her We Were Here tour, to which you'd be highly encouraged to attend. Outside of the music itself, Lights has her hands in every creative aspect of her art: from creating a comic book to accompany her latest album, "Skin & Earth", to designing much of her merchandise, to seamlessly transitioning between acoustic guitar, piano, dancing, and playing an instrument out of a gigantic pizza box during her live set.

Her versatility and ability across many artistic disciplines is an anomaly in a sea of singular pop stars, and something which fully deserves your attention.

For tour dates, www.iamlights.com

Photos // Words by Alexander Hallett
Wednesday
Feb072018

Genreless Abomination - A two night event at Substation in Seattle

Live music is one of the healthiest risks you can take. It's a gamble on any given night in a city as culturally and musically diverse as Seattle. Often times the hardest part is choosing which show to see, and thus which show to miss. The Genreless Abomination is a celebration of this multi-faceted gem. Over the course of 2 days 14 bands with a variety of sounds will gather together in one place, along with their supporting communities to celebrate this distinct, vibrant place. Rather than attempting to showcase bands in order of skill level, and popularity, the two nights shows have been curated by music writer Sean Jewell like a mixtape, ranging in moods, sonic experimentation, and styles to create a listening experience different from the average live show.

Music will take place continuously, alternating between two separate stages, mixing sounds and crowds of supporting listeners with the hopes that attendees will come for one thing and discover another. $10 gets you in at the door, every penny you pay goes directly to the bands. 
Here's what you can expect, and here's a Genreless Abomination Compilation album to listen along:
  • Guayaba: Bremerton via Olympia eccentric, personal, and powerful hip-hop force fka Aeon Fux. Guayaba's album Black Trash, White House personifies genrelessness, ranging from hip hop to r&b and spanish folk.
  • Taylar Elizza Beth: all in your feels hip hop & r&b. She writes lyrics and invents character voices in which to rap them, she's so self aware she forgets the crowd is there.
  • Falon Sierra: 2017 R&B queen, and Sound Off! finalist, who we're told will have new material to croon Saturday night.
  • Corespondents: Balkan based big beat bar-of-soap album releasing bazaar of virtuosos, divining psych and surf and dancehall through common electric guitar and not so common vietnames dan bau.
  • Double Or Muffin: Smart like Devo, sexy like Stooges, smart ass Seattle rock. They don't even have an album out yet and don't give a damn if you don't like that. If you've been lucky enough to see them around town then you know, you have to see them at this show.
  • Barry Walker Jr.: Portland based pedal steel player best known as a member of Roselit Bone. His 2017 self-titled album mixed field recordings, folk songs, and a spirit of death. Saturday night he's bringing a full band that may well answer the question "What if Townes Van Zandt had played in The Band".
  • The Salt Riot: Seattle alt-rock power pop power trio led by Julia Vidal, classically educated violinist who has put down the bow and picked up electric guitar. 
  • Wild Lips: Gritty insurgent country verging on Replacements punk from this drum and guitar duo of dudes regarded as "fucking loud".
  • The Crying Shame: Seattle's best kept country and western seven-piece secret. Led by husband and wife Arlan and Lucile, The Crying Shame combines the timeless lyricism one might find in the Smithsonian Archive, with the disheveled, disillusioned rock of Old 97's early aughts good alt-country.
  • Roselit Bone: "Like Marty Robbins meets The Cramps, or a Goblin sountrack to a spaghetti western, ranchero fantasy meets greased up country in a magical reality", wear your leathers, and dose accordingly, this huge, haunting band will play the vihuela at the apocalypse, also known as the closing of The Genreless Abomination on Saturday night.
  • Ben Zar: We are so stoked to have the improvised Guadalajaran exotica of Ben Zar on tour all the way from Mexico. He's played with locals like Correspondents and Ben Von Wildenhaus before, and as a bonus members of Bainbridge drone-age heavy-hippies WEEED will be joining him in the band.

 

Day 1 Details

Day 2 Details

 Words by Sean Jewell

Monday
Jan222018

K.Flay at the Showbox - Seattle

Fresh off her recent double Grammy nominations (for best rock song and best engineered album), K.Flay packed the Showbox in Seattle to capacity. Backed by a three man band, Flay put on an exceedingly energetic show.

The music was killer, and over the course of an hour and 15 minutes, spanned an ever growing catalog of hits. Blood in the Cut and Cops were two standouts, but the entire set of buttoned down, brutally honest tracks flowed together seamlessly.

All that's to say, the show would've been great based on the merits of the music alone, even if she decided just to stand still and sing. But it was clear she came to put on a show, as evidenced by her jumping off various heights of the stage, enthusiastically inviting two women on stage (resulting in a proposal!), and otherwise controlling the crowd like an absolute boss.

If you haven't heard of K.Flay, no doubt you will soon, as her star continues to climb at a breakneck pace. And if you have, well, you know that you need to see her in concert. Right now.

For more info, dates, and tickets, visit www.kflay.com

 

Photos // Words by Alexander Hallett