“The Comet is Coming”: I think this is Jazz?

One of my favorite shows I attended last week was “The Comet is Coming” live at Barboza.  I had originally bought tickets for this show because I had seen a poster for the event and thought it looked cool.  I went in with no real expectation of what I was about to see.  The only other research I had done prior to this show was I saw a post about how they had played a Boiler Room show in London, and watched maybe a minute or two of it.  I wanted to be surprised when I attended the event.

When I arrived at Barboza, J Justice had already begun his set.  J Justice did great as an opener.  His DJ set involved both vinyl and digital elements, intertwining both jazz and dance records.  When he wrapped I walked up and complimented his set, and he told us that he was a night DJ at 91.3 (radio station – KBCS).  Then it was time for “The Comet is Coming”.

20190620_222239

“The Comet is Coming” blew my mind.  Knowing they had played a Boiler Room show, I knew there would be opportunities to dance.  What I didn’t expect was what sounded like a mix of Jazz, Electronic Dance Music, and Prog Rock.  Really I would liken the experience to seeing a group playing the score to a great sci fi adventure, but also seeing how the crowd was reacting and playing off the mood in the audience.  The almost stutter style saxophone playing of Shabaka Hutchings was amazing live and it played well off of Dan Leavers (keyboardist) and Maxwell Hallett (drummer).  Leavers use of keyboards were what I would describe as a mix of EDM but with moments of slow levity, while Hallett on the other hand played very jazz style drums in that he read where each musician was going and played along that flow.

Overall it was a great experience and I highly recommend checking this band out live.  If Jazz in it’s early heyday were musicians from different genres kind of playing and working off one another, eventually blending into a new genre, this felt like a next step in that evolution.  The music being performed by “The Comet is Coming” deserves some sort of rock opera style music video, or even a great treatment in a laser light show style platform.

2 Coffee Show Review: Scarlet Parke (album release), Little Wins, and Jake Crocker (6/14/19)

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend the album release show for Scarlet Parke.  Her new album “Flight Risk” was released the same day as the event and the eight song album was receiving positive reviews going into the show.  Scarlet is a regular fixture in the Seattle music scene.  If she isn’t performing, you’ll normally run into her at popular venues and shows in the area.  Her approachable, warm personality translates to her show and was really evident in the crowd that came to support her that evening.

The show opened with DJ producer Jake Crocker.  Jake collaborated with Scarlet on this recent album and would back Scarlet later in the night.  Jake’s DJ set was what I would describe as fun.  There wasn’t too much of a crowd early into the show, and the crowd that did populate the dance floor were mostly Jake’s close friends. At several points Jake invited his friends on stage to either give an impromptu DJ lesson or just to dance.  It wasn’t a great set, but wasn’t a bad set.  Really, it looked like Jake was having fun and his friends were having fun.  If an artist is having fun, then it translates in the show, which is why I would describe this set as “fun”.

The next set was local performer Andrew Vait’s solo act, Little Wins.  Many folks will probably recognize Andrew as a co contributor to the local band, Sisters.  I’ve always enjoyed Andrew.  He’s a solid performer and he knows how to weave through a song.  At first the crowd which had now begun to fill the room were talkative during his set, but mid way he performed a cover of the Cranberries song “Linger” and the room was mesmerized. From that point on, the crowd was respectful of his talent and you could tell, really enjoyed his set.

Finally, Scarlet Parke closed out the night.  I’ve seen Scarlet perform before.  Myself and several others in the audience would describe her performance as having an Amy Winehouse vibe but with a more Latin almost crooner kind of feel to it.  In this set, she performed the full album and also debuted a new song she created in collaboration with Little Wins.  Having never heard the album until this performance, I enjoyed it.  The songs felt like they had a different pop/r&b vibe to them.  Some songs that stood out to me were Moonlight, Distractions, Man Like You, and Never Going Home.  Overall, I enjoyed this performance. Prior Scarlet Parke shows I’ve attended felt more like a jazz r&b show with a multi instrument live band, this felt almost opposite of that.  Her backing accompaniment was minimal (I think it was just Jake Crocker) and the songs were tailored to folks looking to dance.  If you’re looking for an opportunity to dance to some great pop r&b songs with a Latin vibe, definitely check out Scarlet Parke, and pick up her latest album “Flight Risk”.

XYLO and Corey Harper: An Eclectic Combo

I was in line for the bathroom at Barboza. Corey Harper had just wrapped his set. There was no other way to describe the night’s lineup than eclectic. The two acts who just performed, Gavin Haley and Corey Harper, were what I would describe as kind of an alternative style that leans a little towards R&B, while I knew the night’s co headliner, XYLO, had more of a dance music lean. As I stood in line, a cute blonde girl came up and stood next to me. She leaned in and said, “I hope you don’t mind, but could I cut in front of you?” The folks in the restroom before us were taking a while, but I replied, “Sure, but if these folks don’t hurry up, I may just use the upstairs restroom.” She smiled and said, “Thanks! I’m getting nervous. I’m performing next and I’m nervous they might go on without me.” I paused and said, “Hold on. Are you XYLO?” She smiled again and said, “Yeah.”

Of all the chance encounters I’ve had at concerts, this one was one of the more unique. Barboza is such an intimate venue that having the opportunity to meet a performer isn’t out of the question, but the headliner asking if she could cut in front of you to use the restroom because she is nervous her band will take the stage without her, now that’s a story.

20181126_203603

Gavin Haley
The first performer of the night was Gavin Haley. I found out afterward, this was his first tour. For someone I had never heard of prior to performing, I felt like his set had a lot of depth. Hearing his stories about his background, and how his first exposure to a wide range of music was through XM Radio was interesting. His voice sounded great, and the acoustic guitar and piano combo lent well to his performance. A song that stood out from his set was “Better Off”. I kind of regret not getting one of his long sleeve t shirts, that he was selling with the choice of an apple or banana included with each purchase.

20181126_210744

Corey Harper
The first headliner of the night was Corey Harper from Vancouver, Washington. As a Washington native, if not most, then a good portion of the crowd was there to see Harper perform. Harper mentioned it was his third time as a headliner and all three times the shows had sold out, so he was very happy for the support. His set was not quite country and not quite R&B, but felt like music you could go on a road trip to. The crowd was silent as Harper performed songs like “On the Run”, “California”, “I Fall Apart”, and a unique cover of Coldplay’s “Yellow”, among others. You could say his set was mesmerizing.

20181126_220045

XYLO
In a continuation from the story in the intro, XYLO’s band did not take the stage without her (haha). I enjoyed her set. She did her best to engage the crowd and bring the energy to the Monday night audience. Her hair started in braids, but with all the jumping and dancing by the end of her set it did not remain that way. Songs like “Don’t Panic” and “I Still Wait For You” sounded great live. It was my first time hearing the song “America”. After the show, I downloaded it. The story it tells is compelling (to say the least). In the end, the crowd was already dancing, but the song that had us jumping was her collaboration with The Chainsmokers, “Setting Fires”. Overall, seeing XYLO perform live on a Monday was a great way to energize for the week ahead.

20181126_223131

As the show wrapped, I made my way to the merch table. All three performers were milling around, meeting fans, and hanging out. As I walked up to XYLO, the first thing she said was, “We met at the bathroom, right?” (Haha!)

That reaction alone made my week.

An Evening with Quiet Slang

I’ll be the first to admit, that show exceeded my expectations.

When I heard that the lead singer of the punk band Beach Slang, James Alex, had created a soft rock album featuring stripped down versions of some Beach Slang favorites, and he was going to perform them live at Barboza, I was skeptical. I was expecting an almost Emo rock show. Dramatic lyrics sung over goth dirge style beats. Instead, last night’s show was more akin to what I think a private concert for their biggest fans would be like. It felt like Beach Slang had held a contest and we were the lucky few fans who won a spot at an intimate private show. There were candles, fluffy clouds, ballet projections, and flowers, a real juxtaposition to a regular punk rock show.

20180621_231203

Speaking to folks in the crowd about how they learned about the event, many had the same response, they had learned about it through social media. One person mentioned that because the show was Quiet Slang and not Beach Slang, most of the website alerts they received for shows in the area which featured bands they were fans of, didn’t recognize to alert them of this event, and they had just learned about it days before. In short, although the room wasn’t packed, the people who did show up created an energy which seemed to really fuel the performance and accomplish what James had intended which was to “Bring the spirit of a Beach Slang show to a Quiet Slang show.”

20180621_212204

The opener, Abi Reimold (left), was solid and showed a range of talent that brought everyone forward to get a better view. Her voice paired with her use of loops and pedals had everyone captivated to the point of silence during the performance, only to end up in applause by the end of each song. On another note, I’ve also never seen an artist slip her shoe on and off so many times in one performance.

Quiet Slang took the stage and the crowd was immediately enthralled by the voices of James Alex and Charlie. “We’re here to punch you in the heart.” James explained as they went into “Future Mixtape for the Art Kids”. His charming crowd banter between songs and his humorous back and forth with Charlie really helped elevate this performance and made you feel a better connection to them both. He explained that these lyrics really meant something to him and when there are people out there who can find some common place in these lyrics it means even more to him as the author. As the night went on people were singing along, a few people in the crowd began to tear up as they sung along to “Warpaint”, and overall the crowd remained as appreciative as both members of Quiet Slang were. “I love this crowd so much I swear if you email or contact me, I will write you a non recycled poem.” James said to the crowd.

20180621_232624

This show was something else. The Quiet Slang performance (left) wasn’t this dramatic overly artsy endeavor but rather felt like an appreciation event for the real fans which was motivated by real fans of Beach Slang. I decided to speak to James after the show. He smelled of wine which he had spilled on himself near the end of the set. He had this big smile on his face. Before I could even ask him to sign my CD, he said, “I want to thank you so much for coming, would it be alright if I gave you a hug?”. You could tell he was as happy to be at that show as much as we were. If you consider yourself a Beach Slang fan, I recommend attending a Quiet Slang show. It felt like an invite only private show for the fans.