“Have you Ever Heard of that Place?”: A Review of ‘Phonic Seattle’

When searching for films about the Seattle music and arts scene, you’ll be hard pressed to find any.  On one hand, Seattle is a footnote in many bands’ histories.  Documentaries about Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Ray Charles, and a number of other performers usually have a feature about Seattle.  You might also find 30 to 45 minute specials which provide short profiles of the Seattle music scene.  However, when it comes to full length documentaries solely about Seattle music culture only two major ones come to mind, the grunge focused “Hype”, and the jazz focused “Wheedle’s Groove”.  Both documentaries feature a snapshot of Seattle music culture and have been released nationwide to a mostly positive critical response.  Last Friday I was fortunate enough to attend the premiere of a new documentary about the Seattle music scene, “Phonic Seattle”.

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Art by Izzi Vasquez on display during the premiere

The film’s director Alaia D’Alessandro looks to introduce musical spaces and performers you never knew of, by following three local musicians, Carlarans, Julie-C, and Reese Tanimura, to their favorite underground music spots and events around Seattle.  The film’s decision to follow three musicians representing different backgrounds is brilliant as the documentary spotlights a diverse range of venues and events around the city.  The documentary’s approach to introducing this premise is unique in that it hits the ground running.  The documentary lays out the premise almost immediately and goes right into the first of the three musicians.  This quick paced approach of interview, segment about the venue, coupled with clips of a live performance carries through the entire documentary, and creates a feeling kind of like a DJ mixing at a night club.  It’s an ebb and flow approach where the music being mixed, are the video segments and the great camera angles.  At first it feels a little manic, but the more you watch it, the more it doesn’t feel like a simple compilation of interviews.  Rather it feels more like a visual mixtape of our community.

The documentary aimed to introduce new venues and performers, but I believe the real takeaway is how so many diverse music experiences exist almost independently from one another within the same city space.  It’s incredible to think you could experience nearly every musical genre on any given night in the city.  The documentary demonstrates Seattle isn’t solely a grunge city or a jazz town anymore.  This documentary shows how the changes in our communities and the economic flow are helping dictate the direction of the music and arts scene, and in some cases causing others to be more steadfast in their response to that change.  It felt like the response to the changes was just more creativity.  Creativity in what a space can offer.  Creativity in what defines the audience.  Creativity in marketing campaigns.  It seems like for the community to survive the influx, the performers and the spaces adapted their definition of self to the influx, and this feeling of adaptation is on display in the documentary.

As a person who was born and raised in Seattle, I felt like this was a great representation of our city and definitely fulfills on it’s tagline of “introducing musical space and performance you never knew of”.  I attended the screening with my cousins and on more than one occasion we found ourselves leaning in and asking one another, “Have you ever heard of that place?” or “What was the name of that artist?”.  If you have people who are engaged in the local arts and music community, who grew up in the city, asking one another if they recognized something, then you really have accomplished your tagline.  When it comes to the question of welcoming “outsiders” into the music community, I felt like the best response to this question came from both Carlarans (who hosts “The Beat”) and also the owner of Clock-Out Lounge.  Carlarans explained that it’s okay for “outsiders” to come into these new experiences as long as they do so under the understanding that they’re guests.  The owner of Clock-Out Lounge, reiterated the same message and added “Also, just don’t be an a**hole.”  I feel like this is the perfect reflection of Seattle and for me the biggest takeaway from the documentary.  Everyone is welcome, be cognizant of the people who established the longstanding community structures, and above all else, just don’t be an a**hole. (haha)

From a born and raised Seattle person, I recommend checking out Phonic Seattle.

“What the Punk are you listening to?” Playlist 8/20/19

For this playlist I felt like last week’s was a little too light and I wanted something with more edge, so I checked my iPod for the last 10 Punk songs I listened to.  I arranged them in a way I felt was appropriate and here they are.

“What the Punk are you listening to?” Playlist
1.) “I Remember” – Bully
2.) “Monsoon Rock” – Amyl and the Sniffers
3.) “Wasted Nun” – Cherry Glazerr
4.) “Pills” – Beverly Crusher
5.) “Vicky Crown” – Murphy’s Law
6.) “Bet My Brains” – Starcrawler
7.) “Savage 512” – BBQT
8.) “Big Sin” – MONSTERWATCH
9.) “Got you” – Amyl and the Sniffers
10.) “Whatever – Live” – The Frights

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/6tjGkxoNqUVwentzmTD699

“Are you creative?”

It’s been 3 months since I’ve written a blog post.

I got back from vacation in mid February and I just couldn’t get myself to start writing again.

I had built up momentum prior to leaving. I was interviewing bands and writing posts on a consistent basis but when I got back, things at my day job picked up and a post-vacation slump really set in.  In the back of my mind all I could think about was the idea of “delaying a response”.  The idea of “delaying a response” is, if someone means enough to you then you’ll take the time to message them back if they reach out.  The only time you’ll stretch a situation and either not reply or delay a response is if it’s a person that you really don’t care about, or you’re nervous.  For example, if someone wants to set plans, it’s not hard to reply “sounds good”, yet there are people who we hold that two word response for, and assume that’s alright.

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Monsterwatch, Mercer X Summit Block Party 2018

To me, writing a blog was that thing that was reaching out, asking me to give it a shot, but for some reason I found myself “delaying a response”.  I was racking my brain trying to figure out did I just not care about writing posts anymore, or was I nervous to get my ideas out there? I could keep saying my day job was keeping me busy enough, but how long could that excuse hold before I just had to will myself to get back to writing posts?  I had to figure out my motives for beginning a blog in the first place.

I saw a documentary about Studio Ghibli figurehead, Hayao Miyazaki.  I’ve always been fascinated by artists.  Were they just regular dudes who found themselves saying inspiring things like John Lennon, or were they living up their legends like Andy Warhol?  This documentary followed Miyazaki a little over a year after his sudden retirement, when he decided to return to animation.  It’s hard not to be inspired by Miyazaki.  Throughout the film, he wears an artist’s apron, even when the animation team he’s working with is animating almost entirely through CGI. Another scene has Miyazaki putting stuffed goats on his roof, for no other reason then just to entertain a group of pre schoolers who were walking passed his home.

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Flume, Bumbershoot 2017

A quote that stuck with me from this documentary, Miyazaki and the camera guy are talking about children’s movies that were released around that time and the conversation drifts to “Frozen”.  When asked about “Frozen”, Miyazaki said, “That song “Let it Go” is popular now.  It’s all about being yourself, but that’s terrible.  Self satisfied people are boring.  We have to push hard and surpass ourselves.”  That was it.  That’s the reason I started a blog. Writing a blog was a new challenge.

My day job consists of examining and writing contract language.  When you write contract language, you have to be calculated in your ambiguity, and in doing so you tend to be very wordy and at times overly descriptive.  In an age when a four minute YouTube video feels too long, writing a blog forces you to either be more concise or more compelling in your writing in order to keep an audience.  Writing a blog is a great antithesis from what I do for a day job, and what I see as a great way to help develop my writing style.

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Great Grandpa, Upstream 2018

Aside from challenging myself to experiment with my writing style, it also gives me a chance to put a spotlight on some bands and artists that I felt need to get some sort of press.  I’m born and raised in Seattle.  The Seattle music scene is so vibrant and unique right now.  There are times when I would read a best “Seattle bands” list or this “publication” recommends this “concert” this week, and I would have no idea who some of the names were.  I go to two or three concerts a week and I comb through various venue websites and publications all the time, to not recognize band names tells me that the size and quality of the Seattle music scene is at a different level than most other major cities.  I want to contribute to the music scene in some way.  You can’t put a spotlight on everyone, so giving some of the smaller bands an opportunity to get a write up or taking a killer photo at a show, can be my contribution to this diverse music scene.

This is why I want to write a blog.  To work on my writing skills and to put the spotlight on the Seattle music and arts scene as it exists today, vibrant, diverse, and motivating a generation.  I’ll do this by describing my experiences at shows, providing suggestions for shows, and every now and again I’ll just write about Seattle.  With or without this platform, I’ll still be the guy that will go to a show each week and I’ll still talk up the performers that impressed me the most.

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Trash Fire, Cha Cha Lounge 2018

If I’ve learned anything from being around the Seattle arts and music scene the one constant is, like the city, it’s “Come as You Are”. Everyone is welcome but it’s up to you to determine how you want to interact once you’re there.

DEFY Pro Wrestling: 2 Years of Seattle Strong Style

January 13, 2017, DEFY Pro Wrestling (DEFY) changed the landscape of professional wrestling in the Pacific Northwest with the promotion’s landmark event DEFY: Legacy. On that night in the historic Washington Hall, this new promotion began a campaign to turn the Pacific Northwest from the “black hole of professional wrestling” into a territory, nationally recognized talents would be proud to have on their resumes.

20190113_132214(Poster from the first DEFY event, DEFY Legacy, signed by Cody Rhodes, Shane Strickland, Jeff Cobb, and Matt Cross.)

If you’re a professional wrestler from the Pacific Northwest in order to gain experience, make contacts, and receive valuable feedback from veterans, you have to leave the Pacific Northwest. I believe it was someone on Colt Cabana’s “Art of Wrestling” podcast who said that the Pacific Northwest exists as it’s own kind of microcosm in professional wrestling, in that there are some valuable talents and fans who love the sport in the area, but outside of that area they just aren’t as recognized. In a span of two years, I believe DEFY Pro Wrestling has changed that perception and has sent a message to the professional wrestling community that the Pacific Northwest not only has a viable wrestling community but also the sky is the limit in terms of where it could go.

The promotion has a defined look, (with Steve Migs on the mic) it has a defined sound, and with the level of talent that is brought in monthly from around the country, it has a defined expectation of show quality. Without question I can say this company has been nothing short of impressive and at times surprising. Whether it’s the Lucha Brothers making their “unannounced prior to the show” debut, to a random fire alarm evacuation, DEFY shows always seem to create memorable moments for the fans. I’ve attended every DEFY show at Washington Hall. Here are five of my favorite moments from DEFY Pro Wrestling’s first two years:

5.) Tommy Dreamer’s Post Match Speech from DEFY: Vibes (April 13, 2018)
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In recent years, I feel like major stars and veterans on the independent circuit have shied away from expressing or “taking a side” when it comes to politics. In a profession that is dependent on a person’s marketability to a crowd, it’s probably best if a talent stays indifferent in terms of political leanings, in order to maximize bookings. Some characters like the sexually ambiguous Randy Myers can build a backing by being both talented and outrageous. Randy is a perennial favorite in DEFY.  During this match, after several failed attempts by Randy to make out with Dreamer, many expected Dreamer to have a gimmicky moment with Randy and just leave the ring, however once he got the win, Dreamer took the mic, and began an impassioned speech in which he basically said that he doesn’t care if you’re a homosexual, straight, or whatever Randy is, professional wrestling is a community that accepts you. You’re welcome here, and it’s one of the reason’s he’s proud to be in it. He then made out with Randy, laid one on the referee, and made his way out of the ring to the cheers of the DEFY crowd.

Thank you for letting us know how you feel, Tommy.

4.) When the fans got loud, and threw stuff.
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The atmosphere at a DEFY show in Washington Hall is different. In large part it’s due to the DEFY fanbase, the DEFYance. It’s hard to pick one moment, but I feel like all the moments that created the identity of the DEFY crowd, deserve a spot on this list. Be it the first show when the fan run “Streamer Club” added flair to a wrestler’s entrance by throwing streamers or toilet paper (*Steve West) as they entered the ring, to the two matches (Mexablood and Rey Horus vs British Strong Style, and Artemis Spencer vs Rey Fenix) where the fans showed appreciation by throwing dollars into the ring, to every show where the DEFYance lived up to the slogan “At DEFY, WE GET LOUD!”, the DEFY crowd has built an identity all their own, and it’s these moments among others that helped create that image.

3.) Lio Rush’s run in DEFY.
There have been a number of notable stars that have performed for the DEFY audience. In two years, it’s remarkable how many talents have made their presence felt, only for us to learn that a month or two later they have signed some sort of deal with a major organization and that match they had (or some match set for a later date) was their last performance at DEFY. Brody King, Jeff Cobb, reDRagon, Matt Riddle, etc. It feels like DEFY has become a step, before a major independent star leaves the independents.

Of the “runs” (match series) in DEFY, very few were as memorable as the 4 or 5 matches of Lio Rush. It felt like every match Lio Rush had in DEFY was a contender for the promotion’s match of the year. His style was just perfect for the promotion. He was hard hitting, high flying, and showed a level of perseverance in his matches, that was rarely duplicated. It’s no surprise that he is currently on the WWE main roster. Even if it was short, it’s going to be hard to forget his run of matches in DEFY pro wrestling.

2.) Shane Strickland vs Artemis Spencer, DEFY: On Edge (December 14, 2018)
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This match had to be the most important in DEFY history. Not only was the match thrilling but it felt like the culmination of the company’s development. At the first show, Shane Strickland was the main event talent representing the Pacific Northwest. Even if he was a nationally recognized “outsider”, Strickland was from Tacoma and therefore represented our region. It felt like the organization was basically built with him as the main event focal point. Strickland won, lost, and helped develop the heavyweight title picture of the organization into something special. At the same time, Artemis Spencer wasn’t as recognized nationally, but his matches in DEFY (and other local organizations) made him recognized as an emerging star. This match felt like a passing of the torch. It felt like Strickland, this well known star outside of DEFY, by losing the belt was saying “DEFY now has it’s own stars and they can contend with anyone outside of DEFY.” Artemis Spencer winning the belt felt like validation of the talent we had been cheering for. That maybe the homegrown talent like Artemis Spencer, Cody Chuun, The Amerikan Gunz, or even Carl the Catch, could make a play on the national stage.

1.) Progress Wrestling weekend (August 9 and 10, 2018)20180809_212656
One of the biggest validations that not only DEFY, but the Pacific Northwest has now emerged as a viable territory for professional wrestling, had to be the weekend when Progress Wrestling came to Seattle. It was big news in the pro wrestling community when one of the top (if not the top) organizations in the current European professional wrestling scene announced a Summer tour, and Seattle would be the sole West Coast stop on the tour. The prospect that the Seattle pro wrestling community had gained enough of a reputation that a foreign pro wrestling company would want to hold a show here is astounding. We went from the “blackhole of professional wrestling” to the sole West Coast stop for a top European professional wrestling organization. Not to mention the shows were incredible.

Some of the best matches and most unlikely match ups occurred that weekend. For example, in one show we saw Pete Dunne (the defending WWE NXT UK Champion) take on Brody King (currently signed to ROH) with Lucha Underground ring announcer, Melissa Santos, provide an intro for the match. The first time the DEFYance threw money into the ring was after the Mexablood and Rey Horus versus British Strong Style match. Who knew a piece of paper could raw as many cringe moments as it did when Randy Myers took on Jimmy Havoc? The room was packed. The crowd was loud. I think DEFY left a great impression on the Progress Wrestling fanbase.

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In two years, DEFY Pro Wrestling has become the top professional wrestling organization in the Pacific Northwest. DEFY has helped Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, shake the stigma of the professional wrestling community in the area, and helped it emerge as a stop for talents on their way to the top. With as much as the past two years have felt like a rocket ship, I look forward to seeing where DEFY Pro Wrestling will go next. Really the sky is the limit for this fairly new organization.

Thunderpussy, Red Fang, and The Black Tones Slam the Door on 2018

2018 felt contentious.  It’s like the narrative of the whole year was culture clash.  News outlets pushing for unification in the face of some cause that would shift daily if not hourly.  Everything from the presidency, to local issues like the possible closure of the Showbox, it felt like everyone had to take a side this year, and there was no gray area.  You were either one or the other.  It was draining. 

With an eye to tomorrow, I think everyone was ready to leave 2018 behind them.  Put that negativity, that black and white attitude, and any other energy drains in the past, and look towards 2019 with hope and positivity.  Where most would probably want to ease into 2019, I wanted to jump into the year with one of my favorite bands.  A band that wouldn’t simply close the door on 2018, but slam it shut.  A band that didn’t want it’s audience to just chill, but instead wanted us to rock.  I got to watch Thunderpussy.

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I’ve seen Thunderpussy perform live at least 10 times since 2016.  This was my third year in a row bringing in the New Year with Thunderpussy.  I’m a Thunderpussy fan.

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The Black Tones
The first act of the night were The Black Tones.  Seattle Met magazine named the trio one of the “Next Wave” of artists to keep an eye on in the area.  Having seen them perform before, I was interested what they had in store.  To say they left a memorable mark on the audience with this special “stripped down” set, would be an understatement.  “Stripped down” in that upon taking the stage, Cedric (the drummer) looked over to his sister Eva (guitar, vocals), and immediately began to strip to his underwear.  Seeing this, Eva said out loud, “So we’re really doing this.” and she and the bass player began to strip as well.  The Black Tones were now in their underwear playing several of their bluesy grunge songs live on stage.  Being in their underwear, became a running gag for the remainder of the night.  For example, the lead singer of Bear Axe joined them on stage at one point and exclaimed “I didn’t get the memo about dressing down for this performance.” (haha)

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A great (if not slightly awkward) moment was when Eva welcomed their mother and sister to the stage to assist in the remaining few songs.  Once her mother and sister had taken the stage and they performed one song, Eva first apologized to her mother, and then took off her bra revealing pasties, while her mother jokingly covered her eyes. (haha) The set was fun and memorable.  Seattle Met magazine was correct in naming them a “Next Wave” artist/group.

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Red Fang
This was my first time seeing Portland favorites Red Fang, and I was impressed.  I had seen videos of their prior sets, and honestly I was itching to get into a good mosh pit.  Right from the beginning, Red Fang delivered head banging tunes that had people dancing. I looked over my shoulder and there was a small pocket of people shoving.  I looked at a friend that came with to the show and gestured that we should get in there.  As we jumped in, the mosh pit started to form.  At first there was maybe 5 people and slowly it ballooned, until there was a fairly large cluster of people slam dancing in the middle of the crowd.  Everyone was fairly respectful (the ones who were trying to be respectful, outnumbered the folks who weren’t).  If someone went down, they were helped back up.  If someone was getting overly aggressive with another, they were split up.  It was just a good pit.  Red Fang did great motivating people to action as well, with their high energy songs.  They’re a band I wouldn’t mind seeing again.

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Thunderpussy
I’ve seen a Thunderpussy perform several times so much so I could kind of predict the song order, or with the first few chords tell what song was coming next.  This set was different.  This performance felt new and fresh.  It felt like the band was so much more seasoned than previous performances.  The songs sounded different.  Like there was just a little more intricate flourishes, or different aspects of the songs were accentuated and it made the songs shine in new ways.  In particular, I liked the renditions of “Badlands” and “Velvet Noose”.  I felt like Shreddy Petty in particular did some different stuff to make those two songs stand out.

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It’s hard to call out who shined more during this performance as it felt like each member’s skills really advanced in this show.  It’s crazy, really.  I liked watching this band because each member was already so proficient.  Seeing Ruby go wild on those drums, Leah grooving on that bass, Shreddy Petty destroying on that guitar, and Molly making singing while dancing look easy, the idea that they are only getting better is almost mind blowing.  Not only getting better but during this set they even showed prowess playing each other’s instruments when, right before midnight, each member swapped instruments.  Molly helming the keyboard, Petty sitting in on drums, Leah strumming the guitar, and Ruby playing bass.  I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised.  They’re just that talented.

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Overall, I was happy to bring in the year with Thunderpussy.  It felt like the Thunderpussy I saw perform was a band ready to grow beyond Seattle, but still carry that Seattle attitude.  The performance solidified my fandom, and also made me look forward to seeing what they might have in store for us next time.

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My New Years was great.  I was there live as The Black Tones performed a memorable “stripped down” set, I got to get out some controlled aggression with Red Fang, and I got to see one of my favorite bands, Thunderpussy, perform a great set.

I don’t know how else to describe the experience other than, we slammed the door on 2018, properly welcomed 2019, and it was a night I was more than happy to talk about at the office. (haha) Happy New Year!

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

Sub Pop 30: The Most “Seattle” Event I Ever Attended

I was at Barnes and Noble when the latest copy of Uncut magazine (November 2018) caught my eye. Other than David Bowie on the cover, the magazine included a free Sub Pop mix CD compiled by label head Jonathan Poneman. The mix is a really good blend of what Sub Pop has to offer from the grunge sound that the label had become known for in its early years, to the notable “alternative” artists the label represents today. Whenever someone mentions “alternative” as a genre, it usually means “we couldn’t think of a good label to put this artist in, so because they bridge and blend genres, they are now alternative”.

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The mix CD was great. It motivated me to actually pick up three albums from artists I had heard for the first time on this mix (*LOMA, Mass Gothics, and King Tuff). The label head not only selected great artists to feature but picked some of their best songs. The corresponding article to the album discussed each track, but also talked about Sub Pop Fest 30, one of the most “Seattle” events I attended this past summer.

I’m from Seattle. Born and raised in West Seattle. My experience at Sub Pop Fest 30 (SPF 30) was ultimately positive, but from the weather to the crowd, SPF 30 on Alki had to be the most Seattle music event I ever attended.

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I remember getting to the event site and the first band to open the festival was Jo Passed. Jo Passed impressed and did a great job opening the event. The hair flipping, the running around the stage, the getting tangled in wires, it really painted a picture of what you could expect as the day went on, and really drew the crowd even as it began to rain. Once Jo Passed wrapped, the rain began to pick up. The crowd undeterred still milled around the various stages. I remember catching Moaning and LVL UP, but the next act to really catch my attention was LOMA. I had never heard LOMA before this event but their set was so different from the other sets that were presented that day, that it really stuck. It was a much softer, somber set in comparison to the heavier grunge and hip hop that populated the afternoon.

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I left LOMA close to the end of their set, in order to get a good spot for Bully. I was next to the front of the stage for Bully, when I ran into several people who I had met at other local shows, some as recent as a week or two prior. As Bully began to play, the group of other concert regulars and I tried to start a pit, but the crowd wasn’t into it, so we eventually let it rest. Bully was great. I had seen them perform live for the first time at this past Capitol Hill Block Party, and they played so well there, I had to see them again at this event. As they wrapped, I made sure to get a great spot for Clipping. As I was milling around the crowd I met a group of Canadians who had come down just to see Clipping. We discussed the rest fo the lineup and they had no clue who they were. They were there for Clipping. I hung with them for a while and caught Clipping’s set. They were nothing short of impressive. Aside from whipping the crowd into a frenzy, their talent showed me why these Canadians came down for this set in particular.

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Close to the end of Clipping’s set, I made my way to see Hot Snakes. I had caught Hot Snakes at Upstream and I had to see them again. There set was fun. I read later reviews about how it wasn’t technically proficient, but really it’s grunge/punk music. I think the point is to hear the lyrics, head bang, and mosh if you can. I remember running into a group I had met at the TacocaT show 2 weeks prior. We saw each other, and next thing you know we were moshing. I finally got to get into a pit at a Hot Snakes show! I was tired after the Hot Snakes set, and made my way to Shabazz Palaces. At this point in the afternoon, the clouds had opened up and it was a beautiful afternoon. I don’t know if it was the sudden nice weather, or that more recognizable names were taking the stages, but this is when the crowd began to swell. Up to this point in the afternoon the crowd was also a lot of people I’ve seen around the local concert scene. People you would recognize as faces in the crowd at shows. I would say around 6:15pm in the afternoon, it was less of those familiar faces, and more families, folks who didn’t seem like the regular “stand for hours for your favorite band” concert crowd, and people who were more interested in the spectacle than the music.

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I couldn’t see Shabazz Palaces. The crowd was too large to navigate and was it extended into the beer garden which was a “soccer field” away from the stage. I stood as close as I could get (close to the back but still mid crowd-ish), but everyone in the spot I was standing were talking full volume as the show was going on. It’s as if a concert wasn’t happening. Mid set I decided I would get a good spot for Mudhoney. I got there early and posted up mid crowd. The crowd looked excited. Many of which looked like some of their fans from the 90’s sporting various very worn Mudhoney shirts. As Mudhoney began playing, inevitably a pit formed. As I tried to make my way to it, several crowd members blocked myself and a few others from joining. This ring of dudes had decided no one was going to get past them as they wanted a great view of the show and anyone who would make them shift from their spot, would ruin it. They weren’t dancing, head banging, or smiling, they just watched the show from their spot and talked. Like the whole set they stood and chatted. Eventually it got very contentious. A lot of people got in their faces about preventing people from joining the pit or moving up, and they did things like push people back or put palms in people’s faces when they would try to talk. I felt like they had a point in not wanting others to ruin their view, but it really killed the vibe. Not to mention it didn’t seem like they were having a good time. After seeing a handful of scuffles and someone climb the port-o-pottys, I decided to check out Beach House.

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The crowd for Beach House was just as packed. It was full and people were talking as if a show wasn’t happening. I decided I would let this one coast and met up with a friend in the beer garden. We drank as the sun began to go down, and Beach House played in the background. We ended the night by making our way to Father John Misty. This would be my 5th time seeing Father John perform and I was pretty excited. The crowd seemed good. A lot of families were posted up for this set. There were also a lot of tense looking people. This was evident when Father John began his set, and seconds into the first song, stopped and called for security to take care of some situations that sprang up mid crowd. Father John was as incredible as he always was and as the sun hit that point between day and night where the sky was almost purple and orange, the moment was almost surreal. You had to stop, listen to Father John talk about humanity, take in the setting and Alki, and think this was a perfect ending to the event. As Father John wrapped, I made my way back to the Water Taxi and that was my memory of SPF 30.

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For me, SPF 30 was great before 6:15pm. I saw a lot of familiar faces, got to see a lot of bands I enjoy seeing perform live, and everyone seemed to understand regular concert etiquette. After 6:15pm, it felt tense and crowded. I felt like it wasn’t a crowd that attended shows regularly, but rather were there to see the spectacle and also catch a lot of the bigger names. This in no way is a negative. It’s good that Sub Pop was able to throw an event that could draw a diverse audience, but when people were willfully getting into fights at the drop of a hat over positions in an audience, or talking full volume during a concert not close to the back of the crowd, it makes you wonder what shows has this person attended where that was normal/acceptable behaviour? Overall, I’ll remember SPF 30 as one of the most Seattle events I’ve ever attended. On Alki, in the rain and the sun, we danced, moshed, head banged, and had a great time until it got too crowded, then those of us who were already there from the beginning made the best of the situation (haha). It was very Seattle.

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(All photos were taken by me. I have a bunch more from the day. The one of the sun finally coming out of the clouds, I call “My view of Shabazz Palaces from SPF 30”)