Capitol Hill Block Party 2019: “So you want to avoid the main stage?”

Capitol Hill Block Party 2019 is next weekend.  What I love about Capitol Hill Block Party is that it’s an opportunity to discover some great talents in the local music scene.  If I were to describe the ratio of local acts to main stage acts I would say it’s a little over 4 to 1.  That would mean for every one main stage act, there’s probably four other great acts performing around the same time at a different stage.  This year’s line up features some of the Seattle’s best performers.

If you want to avoid the crowded craziness of the main stage but have no idea who any of these non main stage performers are, the following are some of the bands I suggest checking out at Capitol Hill Block Party 2019:

20170723_173518_001
Danny Brown, Capitol Hill Block Party 2017, Main Stage 

Friday

  • MirrorGloss – Neumos Stage, 5:45 to 6:30p – Dance pop meets hip hop duo, MirrorGloss are ready to captivate and get the party started.
  • Actionesse – Cha Cha Stage, 7:45 to 8:15p
  • Little Wins – Barboza Stage, 8:30 to 9:00p – One half of Sisters Andrew Vait’s solo project, Little Wins, is worth checking out.
  • Wimps – Cha Cha Stage, 8:45 to 9:15p
  • Bearaxe – Neumos Stage, 9:30 to 10:15p
  • Black Tones – Neumos Stage, 10:45 to 11:30p – the must see Blues-Punk trio that are always a highlight of festival lineups.

Saturday

  • Wild Powwers – Vera Stage, 4:00 to 4:30p – local Grunge band Wild Powwers, have been described as: “made you feel like you might want to smash some bottles down by the train tracks with your juvenile delinquent friends while skipping 5th period”.
  • OK SWEETHEART – Neumos Stage, 4:00 to 4:30p – Folk pop and soul come together in the music of singer song writer Erin Austin’s band OK SWEETHEART.
  • Reader – Barboza Stage, 4:45 to 5:15p
  • Tres Leches – Neumos Stage, 6:30 to 7:15p
  • Dyed – Cha Cha Stage, 6:45 to 7:15p
  • Scarlet Parke with Jake Crocker – Neumos Stage, 7:45 to 8:30p
  • A Tribe Called Red – Vera Stage, 11:00 to 12:00a – Canadian Dance music collective A Tribe Called Red, blends indigenous cultural influences with modern hip hop and electronic music production styles.

Sunday

  • Left at London – Wildrose Stage, 4:30 to 5:00p
  • Whitney Monge’ – Wildrose Stage, 6:45 to 7:15p – “Alternative Soul” artist Whitney Monge’ blew me away with her performance at Volunteer Park Pride Fest, and I am looking forward to seeing her perform again.
  • Nick Weaver – Neumos Stage, 6:30 to 7:15p – One of my favorite Seattle based hip hop artists who’s lyric style has to be seen to be believed.
  • Marshall Law Band – Barboza Stage, 8:45 to 9:15p
  • Razorclam – Cha Cha Stage, 8:45 to 9:30p – if you like New Wave and 80’s synth pop, femme glam rock band Razorclam is the band for you.

20180721_230452Capitol Hill Block Party 2018, Main Stage

When I go to Capitol Hill Block Party, some years I’ve camped out at the main stage the whole day and watched every main stage act, while other years I’ve avoided the main stage entirely and just hung out at the side stages. I’ll try to take time to catch performers I’ve either never heard of, or have heard of but have never seen perform live.

My biggest piece of advice when going to any music festival is to be open to checking out music you’ve never heard of, and know that if you’re not enjoying what you’re hearing/seeing, there’s probably 4 other acts performing at the same time also worth checking out.

2 Coffee Show Review: Richie Dagger’s Crime, Eastern Souvenirs, and Katie Kuffel at Barboza (1/17/19)

A new feature for this blog will be what I call a “2 Coffee Show Review”.  A “2 Coffee Show” is a show whose ticket costs as much as the cost of two coffees or specialty drinks at Starbucks.  Usually this means the price of a single ticket cost me less than $10.  This is no way is an indicator of the quality of the show.  I’ve been to a lot of incredible “2 Coffee Shows”.  It usually means the bands are young or still trying to gain a foothold in the local market.  Characteristically the crowds are normally small and it’s a great opportunity to meet and hang out with the talents before or after their sets.  For these reviews, I’ll provide an introduction, at least a paragraph on each performer, and a conclusion about whether or not the show was worth more than the two coffees I gave up by going to the show.

Last week I attended a show at Barboza which featured Katie Kuffel, Eastern Souvenirs, and Richie Dagger’s Crime.  I decided to attend this show kind of spur of the moment.  I was looking for a show in the area that was reasonably priced but featured acts that I knew would deliver, and then I saw the lineup for this show and was a little taken aback that these performers were all on the same $8 lineup.  I happily paid my fee and made my way to Barboza.  In terms of crowd size, I would say it never got past 20 people at one time.  Still I was excited for what I was going to see. (Photos and videos below)

Katie Kuffel
I’ve seen Katie Kuffel perform a number of times.  She has one of the most unique powerful voices in the current Seattle music scene, and when you see her perform, she seems very nonchalant, like what she’s doing just comes naturally.  Having recently released an album, I was excited to see her perform some of these songs live.  There wasn’t much of an audience when she began, but by the end, everyone in the room was standing in attention.  She tried out a new song at the end of her set, that if I’m honest needs more ironing out (all I remember was she said the word “swallow” a lot in the early portion of the song).  Otherwise, a fantastic opener, and I’ll personally never get tired of hearing the song “Fault Lines” performed live.

Eastern Souvenirs
I’ve never seen Eastern Souvenirs perform live but in research for this show I found out they were set to headline a show the following week at Chop Suey.  This felt like a warm up for that set.  I found the trio entertaining.  The vocals performed over synths and fast paced drums motivated the audience that was present to dance.  In a room of less than 20 people, if you could get folks to dance and move without embarrassment, that’s a great sign of talent, or at least good songs.  From what I saw, I wouldn’t mind seeing Eastern Souvenirs perform again.

Richie Dagger’s Crime
This was my first time seeing Richie Dagger’s Crime perform.  I had heard the album “Sea of Dysfunction” and was curious how these songs would be performed, because it featured multiple layered instrumentation and when I was there, the band consisted of just three people.  It was either the set was quick paced or it felt short, but he did perform the songs I was hoping to hear,” Absence” (Part 1 and 2) and “I Bleed the Future Seeds”.  Other than the feeling that the set was short, I thought it was a good show.  I thought the band were fun performers, and it was interesting seeing those songs performed live.

Overall for a 2 Coffee show I felt the price was justified, if not undervalued.  None of the performers were bad, two of the performers put out albums recently that drew positive reception, and one of the performers are set to headline a show in the upcoming week.  For $8, this was a great show.

10 Photos That Remind me How Cool 2018 Was.

In 2018, I attended 80+ shows and events. I saw well over 300 different acts and got to spend a lot of time meeting and mingling with dozens of people in the local music scene.

When looking back on the year as a whole and reviewing photos I took throughout, I kept having moments of revelation.  I saw so many interesting acts this year that as I see some of these images, it hits me, “Oh yeah! You were there for that.”  Below are 10 photos that remind me how cool my 2018 was:

20180811_180934View from the Beer Garden – Sub Pop 30th Anniversary – Alki – 8/11/18
As much as I thought Sub Pop 30 was a cool event and definitely an anniversary party fitting a record company that had such a positive impact on the community, at a certain point in the afternoon it just got crowded.  A combination of recognizable names, no admission fee, and the sun coming out, really caused the crowd to balloon. I took this picture on the way to see Shabazz Palaces.  The sky just looked so cool.

20181130_204311
Kailee Morgue – Neumos – 11/30/18
This photo is a personal favorite of mine.  It’s just a great visual representation of how it feels to go to a smaller live concert “today”.  It also features one of my favorite out of town performers.  I first saw Kailee Morgue live at Bumbershoot, and I instantly fell in love with her sound.  Of the young acts I saw this year, I believe Kailee will be one to keep an eye on in the years to come.

20180314_225335
A Tribe Called Red – Neumos – 3/14/18
This picture is just visually amazing.  The lighting kind of cast a purple light on the room, but the amount of colors coming off of the Native costume worn by this dancer during this set was incredible. A Tribe Called Red put on a show that was as visually pleasing as it was to hear.

IMG_20180819_203531_792
Monsterwatch – Mercer + Summit Block Party – the corner of Mercer and Summit – 8/18/18
If I had to pick a favorite top to bottom event, I would have to say this year’s “Mercer and Summit Block Party” was something special. Other festivals like Upstream, Bumbershoot, and Linda’s Fest had great things to offer and had moments that were memorable, but from beginning to end, I felt like every act at this year’s “Mercer and Summit Block Party” really brought it and the crowd seemed to really accentuate a good vibe throughout the day. I snapped this photo at the end of Monsterwatch’s set. Of all the acts, I felt like Monsterwatch really had a breakout performance at this festival.

20180902_185913
The Regrettes – Bumbershoot: KEXP Stage – Seattle Center – 9/1/18
Bumbershoot for me is a “reset”. Everyone has to have something, that brings you back to “earth” and makes you feel like you’re ready to approach the world after letting out some steam. An act that stood out at this year’s Bumbershoot mainly because of how absurd their set was, were The Regrettes.  Their set this year was at KEXP and they (in short) motivated the crowd to mosh, crowd surf, and even have a wall of death in the KEXP public space.  (haha!) I love this shot because all the members are featured. They’re the most prominent focal points of this photo.

20180920_131047The Pink Slips – Bumbershoot: Main Stage – Seattle Center – 9/2/18
The main stage at Bumbershoot is huge.  I feel like it would be hard for groups to make use of the whole stage unless they were highly seasoned or had elaborate set pieces and visuals.  The Pink Slips made great use of the stage, and created opportunities for photographers to snag some great shots of their set.  I like this shot because of the activity in it.  The bass player’s hair and the lead singer’s facial expression are just small examples of how this photo captured the activity of this set.

20180603_205251
Tres Leches – Upstream Music Festival and Summit – Pioneer Square – 6/3/18
Tres Leches had a pretty big year this year.  I saw their name on multiple lists, they released an album, and I feel like I saw them perform at multiple events and concerts. This photo is interesting to me because you can’t see any of their eyes.  I think it was just timing and position, but it makes a fascinating photo.  This photo is also special for me because it was the first time my oldest cousin came with me to the front of a crowd for a local show.

20181208_210630
The Requisite – Chop Suey – 12/8/18
I first saw The Requisite at this year’s Capitol Hill Block Party.  When I saw them take the stage I thought, “Oh cool. I have no idea what this act is, but they look like a bunch of metalheads.”  When I heard them perform, it wasn’t metal, but I was impressed by the punk rock that I heard.  They had a great sense of humor about themselves, and they were an act I wanted to see again.  I took this photo at a show they headlined at Chop Suey.

20180522_223611
Taylor Swift – Reputation Tour – Century Link Field – 5/21/18
Taylor Swift’s Seattle stop of her Reputation Tour was the only stadium sized concert I attended this year.  Being at a show this massive was impressive.  I was in a crowd where everyone seemed to know the lyrics and had the urge to dance.  It’s just humbling seeing the size and scope of this event.

20181030_160112
My desk at my day job – 10/25/18
The last photo in this set is one of my desk, at my day job. I decorated at first for Halloween, but I kept it up and just kept adding to it. I made the doorway a glam rock explosion with lanterns and streamers weaved overhead.  It was just so much fun having that stuff up.

2018 for me was fun, but I look forward to what 2019 has in store.  I think I’ll take this blogging thing a little more seriously (haha).  Have fun everyone!

 

Sure Sure has an “Infectious Live Show”

Tuesday night. Mid Term election night in America. After a rocky two years, hearing the news that the Republicans will maintain control of the Senate and the Democrats will now control the House, I felt like I could breathe a sigh of relief. This mid-term really had brought things down to the wire, and it felt like it was time to celebrate a little. If not, relax a bit. Which brought me to Sure Sure and Wilderado at Chop Suey.

20181106_224533

I’ve heard Sure Sure prior to this show and was very interested how they would play live. Their show description said they had an “infectious live show” which has “quickly solidified them as one of the most exciting up and coming bands out of LA”. Based on their albums they did sound like a fun experimental pop band, but I wasn’t entirely sure how it would translate to a live experience. On the other hand, I had no idea who Wilderado was going into this show. Rather than research, I wanted to be surprised.

When I got to the show, the first thing that jumped out was majority of the crowd seemed to skew to the 23 and younger range and were very enthusiastic. More than a few were sporting Sure Sure t-shirts.

Wilderado took the stage around 9pm. I’ve been to a few shows at Chop Suey, and Wilderado is the only band I’ve seen not enter through the stage door, but rather weave through the crowd and climb onto the stage from the front.

20181106_210836

I had never heard Wilderado prior to this show, and if I were to describe their set in one word, it would be “impressive”. Granted it, it felt like they weren’t as seasoned as some other bands, but the way they played at this show it felt like these guys could be something to keep an eye out for in the future. In terms of genre, I couldn’t nail it down. One minute they were playing a rock song, then a country song, which would be followed by a hard rock song. I asked the lead guitarist after their set if he could define their genre, and he just said “We play what feels good, so I can’t nail down our genre either.” Can’t dispute that answer, their sound felt good. Also, props to them for agreeing that Seattle is the most respectful crowd they’ve played in front of (haha). As they wrapped their set, they exited the way they came in, by jumping off the stage single file, right into the crowd.

20181106_225722

Sure Sure had one of the most unique sets I’ve seen at Chop Suey. The young crowd was very into the music which really set the tone for the rest of the show. There was a lot of dancing and jumping to music I didn’t think would garner such an involved reaction. I expected there to be audience participation with songs like “Hands Up Head Down”, but hearing songs like “Freinds”, “New Biome”, and “This Must Be the Place”, I expected more of a head bobbing reaction, but the crowd was pretty active. The crowd would only get more active when the band introduced an award for “The Best Crowd Member”, which would be presented at the end of the show. Once the prospect of being awarded “The Best Crowd Member” became a possibility, all the audience members who had already been pretty actively engaging the band, just grew way more energetic. Smart move on the band’s part. This kept the audience involvement going throughout the show.

The band themselves looked very intent in their performance. I’ve never seen a bass player so involved in crowd participation. The lead guitarist at times was rocking harder than the song seemed to warrant. While the rest of the band would be kind of grooving he would be jumping around, jamming as if the song was a harder rock song than what was being performed. This isn’t a negative as it’s always great seeing a musician enjoying his art form.

20181106_221301

Overall, I enjoyed seeing both Sure Sure and Wilderado. I feel like Sure Sure surpassed my expectation of how they would perform live. With the recordings I’ve heard, I wasn’t expecting the audience to be as active as they were and I didn’t expect the band to kind of egg them on. Wilderado on the other hand, since it was my first time seeing/hearing them, I was thoroughly impressed. I wouldn’t mind seeing them again if they came through town.

Both bands did great and I would classify Sure Sure as a band who’s live show experience is different from how they sound in recordings. I would agree with their show description. Sure Sure definitely has an “Infectious Live Show”.

I saw Hop Along perform songs from “Bark Your Head Off Dog” with a dog in the crowd.

On Sunday night I got to see Philadelphia band Hop Along play Neumos. The band’s third studio album, “Bark Your Head Off Dog” has received a number of favorable reviews. Personally I enjoy the album.

I grew up in the 90’s and the songs made me feel like I was hearing someone from that mid 90’s transitioning to the 00’s era. Performers in the same vein as early Sheryl Crow or Jewel, but with the passion laden vocal style that kind of reminded me of Kurt Cobain. Lead singer songwriter Francis Quinlan is truly a unique performer in today’s music scene, performing songs that are both easy to listen to but you could tell are meaningful.

20180812_222246

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this show. Would the same emotion Francis is able to express on the album come through in a live performance?

I got to the venue. It was a sold out show. An hour before showtime and the line was already wrapping around the corner (those familiar with Neumos, it went past Bait, and was already a little past the coffee shop). As we made our way in I think it’s worth noting, this was the first indoor event where I saw someone bring a dog into the venue and stand within 3 people of the stage (haha). It’s within 45 mintues of showtime and the crowd was already filling into the room.

20180812_210246The opener was another Philadelphia based band called Thin Lips. Having never heard of Thin Lips prior to this set, I was impressed and found them a decent opener. The lyrics I felt were really where this band shined. Songs like “Sex is Complicated” and “Gaslight Anthem” were especially memorable. I believe it was before “Sex is Complicated” that the lead singer told a story about the first time they played Seattle, they had played the Comet Tavern. After the set, the lead singer went to dance party and every girl at the party looked like “Marcie”. As a person born and raised in Seattle, that sounds about right (haha). Overall, I enjoyed Thin Lips and it was a fun surprise during this set to see Francis Quinlan provide backing vocals for one of their songs.

20180812_225840

As the openers wrapped their set, anticipation for Hop Along grew. A person at the front of the crowd was able to snag a photo of the set list and five or so people leaned in just to get a look. Needless to say the crowd was brimming with excitement as Hop Along took the stage. As they began to play, the crowd was all smiles. Everyone sang along to each song and danced as well they could in the packed audience. Francis’ voice sounded great in person. The emotion in the album could be felt at the live performance. Not only was Francis impressive, but I found the other members of Hop Along intriguing as well, in particular the guitarist on the left side of the stage. You can tell the band was great at playing based off of feel, which was pretty cool to see in person. Songs that really stood out to me were “Fox in Motion”, “What the Writer Meant”, “Prior Things”, and “Well Pressed”. Hearing these songs live especially the closing jam at the end of “Prior Things” was something that was really cool in person.

20180812_211405

Going into this show I wasn’t sure how the performance on the album would translate to a live show. Having now seen it, I have to say I was impressed. The show was enjoyable, Francis Quinlan has to be heard live, and this would be a band I wouldn’t mind seeing again if they came back to town.