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:

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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.

The Ocean Blue bridge generations at The Crocodile

If I were to describe the music of The Ocean Blue, I would say their sound is timeless.  Albums that came out when the band gained acclaim in the early 90s, still sound as fun, light, and relatable today.  Even their most recent albums, sound distinctly Ocean Blue but fresh.  As if to say we’re still the band you fell in love with but we have songs for the another generation of fans to enjoy.  It’s this appeal that really defined the audience who attended the show at the Crocodile that night.

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The National Honor Society
The first band of the night was The National Honor Society (above).  This was great light hearted rock to open the show.  The music felt like pop rock but with a little more of an edge during a handful of songs.  After the show I mentioned to my younger cousin that I had seen this band perform live and her reaction was, “I saw them a few years ago when they opened for the Jonas Brothers.”  I enjoyed their set and the lead singer mentioned the release of a new EP which I might check out.

The Dirty Sidewalks
The second opener was The Dirty Sidewalks.  If the first band was light hearted rock, The Dirty Sidewalks were rock.  I never thought I would have the urge to mosh at an Ocean Blue concert, but this band almost had me looking for a pit.  I was close enough to the stage, that I could barely hear the vocals but if there was anything I would point to as something that stood out to me, the lead guitarist was fabulous.  I felt all four members sounded great, but the lead guitarist was what drew my attention.  In all, the Dirty Sidewalks provided a variation in musical style for this show.

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The Ocean Blue
Having never seen The Ocean Blue (above) perform live but being a fan of their music, watching them perform live you realize very quickly, they sound as great as they do on their albums.  Most impressive was the ease lead vocalist David Schelzel sang each song.  His voice was as soothing as it sounded in their recordings.  The set list included many fan favorites like “Between Something and Nothing” and “Ballerina Out of Control”, alongside songs which showcased their talent like “Sad Night, Where is the Morning?”, “Cerulean”, and “Mercury”, and new favorites like “Kings and Queens” from their latest album.  The performance enthralled the crowd, singing and dancing along with the band.  The visuals added another element to the show.  Displaying behind the band were art pieces, slowed down visuals of clouds, chemicals and other vistas, and also clips of some of their music videos.  I loved the homage to Seventh Seal.  I really was impressed by the performance and would definitely see them again.  I have to give them extra props for the cover of Joy Division’s “Love will Tear Us Apart”.

The Ocean Blue is one of those bands who’s sound I believe could fit in today’s modern dream pop pantheon.  Their body of work and the performance I saw, shows a veteran band that sounds like they could hang with modern dream pop acts like Alvvays or even Beach House.  What I loved about being in the crowd at that show, although it did skew older, there were still a number of younger fans mixed in.  The Ocean Blue feels like a band that has an appreciation for and draws inspiration from art, and they create music that carries those sentiments.  That’s the kind of music I would like to see passed on for other generations to enjoy.  Music that spreads those feelings of inspiration, and that’s what The Ocean Blue accomplishes.

 

Outdoor Music Festivals for people who “live near downtown Seattle, don’t have a car, and love local music”.

I haven’t had a car for the past two years.  When it comes to live music choices and not having a vehicle, you’re limited to what you feel comfortable getting to either by foot, rideshare, bus, or bicycle.  Lucky for me, I live on Capitol Hill.  Live music is abundant when you live near downtown Seattle.  It feels like every neighborhood within walking distance, from West Seattle to the Central District, has at least three or more live music venues unique to that neighborhood.

When the “Seattle Summer” hits and we get that two to three month window of nice weather, outdoor music festivals are something you have to take in and enjoy.  Each event not only showcases the diverse neighborhoods around the city, but also it’s a chance to listen to new music and make new friends.  The following are the 5 best free outdoor music festivals, and 3 best ticketed outdoor music festivals, within walking distance of downtown Seattle, worth checking out this Summer.

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Black Pistol Fire, Elysian Search Party 2017

5 Best Free Outdoor Music Festivals
Seattle Pride at Volunteer Park – June 8th – In terms of free “all ages” day music festival lineups, this year’s is one of the best.  Local favorites, Thunderpussy, headline the stacked lineup alongside JGRGRY, Whitney Monge, Sassyblack, and Left at London.  It’s a great chance to experience a piece of Seattle’s Pride festival in one of Seattle’s most iconic parks.

Lindafest at Linda’s Tavern (on Capitol Hill) – late August – If you want an alternative to the mainstream Seattle music scene and want a 21+ event with more of a grunge almost heavy feel, then Lindafest is something you should check out.  Each year, Linda’s Tavern on Capitol Hill hosts a mini festival in the area behind the bar.  The event is free and showcases a local line up.  I usually learn about this event from street posters, so keep an eye out for more information.

IMG_20170715_002203_435Purple Mane, West Seattle Summer Fest 2017

West Seattle Summer Fest at The Junction – July 12th to 14th – I grew up in West Seattle.  West Seattle Summer Fest to me was always the big street fair that shut down large portions of the Junction every summer.  In recent years, it’s also set itself apart from other street fairs with it’s diverse music lineups.  This year’s Fest includes local favorites Jenn Champion, Razor Clam, Grizzled Mighty, DYED, among others.

South Lake Union Block Party at South Lake Union – August 9th – South Lake Union Block Party definitely feels like a reflection of South Lake Union today.  I remember there’s food trucks and plenty of activities for families, but the beer garden takes up 3/5ths of the whole festival space which shows how much the event tailors to the younger professionals who work in that neighborhood.  The music lineup is made up of local favorites, headlined by The Dandy Warhols, alongside Naked Giants, Polyrythmics, Whitney Monge, and Sisters.

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So Pitted, Mercer X Summit Block Party 2017

Mercer X Summit Block Party at the corner of Mercer and Summit – Mid August – This event is by far my favorite free music festival.  A good number of performers curated to play this event end up on larger festival lineups or on local television shows like Bands in Seattle.  It also feels like a purely neighborhood event.  Most block parties end up feeling bloated with corporate sponsorship, but Mercer X Summit feels like a bunch of local businesses got together and decided to throw a summer party for the neighborhood.  If you want an opportunity to work on your concert photography skills, this one is the perfect festival.

3 Best Ticketed Outdoor Music Festivals
Capitol Hill Block Party – July 19th to 21st – Aside from the major names which pull in the crowds, Capitol Hill Block Party is a great showcase for local talent.  At last year’s Block Party, it felt like every local performer put on some of their best performances.  This year’s lineup features a number of solid local acts including Kung Foo Grip, Wild Powwers, OK Sweetheart, Mirrorgloss, Nick Weaver, among others.

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Lizzo, Capitol Hill Block Party 2017

Elysian Search Party – July 6th – I’m a big fan of the Elysian Search Party.  For a little over $35, you get 4 beer tickets, and access to a great party backed by an action packed music lineup.  This is a great chance to try out nearly all of Elysian’s beer catalogue (40+ beers on tap) and also know that all proceeds (100%) will benefit local organization, The Vera Project.  This year’s lineup features The Darkness, The Murder City Devils, Black Pistol Fire, and local performers, Pink Parts.

Bumbershoot at Seattle Center – August 30th to September 1st – For many, Bumbershoot has become the local “Coachella”, but really I don’t think there’s comparison between the two.  If you approach Bumbershoot as a social media post, then you’re missing out on what a bunch of locals love about the event.  It’s really about the vibe.  If you go in wanting to have a friendly good time, not trying to harsh anyone else’s good time, then the event will be a great experience, but if you go in expecting a “Coachella” style experience, then of course you’ll be disappointed.  I’ve always approached Bumbershoot looking for a good time, hoping to find some great new music, and trying to find chances to experience curated activities outside of the music lineup (catch some movies at SIFF cinema during Bumbershoot).  This year’s lineup features many performers, that are known to put on a great shows including The Lumineers, Rezz, Tyler The Creator, among many others.

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Tyler the Creator, Bumbershoot 2017

Honorable Mentions
Concerts at the Mural at Seattle Center – every Friday in August – Every Friday in the month of August, the mural in Seattle Center hosts a series of free shows featuring three band lineups.  This year’s series includes Cherry Glazerr, Wolf Parade, Weyes Blood, Helado Negro, among others.

Events held by Friends of the Waterfront at the Waterfront – The diverse events held at the Waterfront by Friends of the Waterfront is pretty incredible.  Aside from the Rock the Docks concerts, I remember seeing the Parkour Visions Classic (a national Parkour competition), the 206 Zulu Beat Masters competition (an elite local DJ competition), and a KPOP concert, all hosted by Friend of the Waterfront.  Check their site for future events.

IMG_20180101_014141_627Kolars, Thunderpussy New Year’s Show 2017

I hope to see you out there this Summer!

“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.

“Happy/Sad Place Somehow”: 7 Questions with Tangerine

Bumbershoot 2014 was the first time I saw Tangerine perform live. I had heard a few songs and wanted to check them out. My initial thoughts from seeing them perform were their sound is a lot of fun, this is a pretty sizeable crowd for a local band at Bumbershoot, and it’s hard not to enjoy this performance. The sound reminded me of pop music you would hear in a sitcom that would air in the post “TGIF” generation. Like a sitcom that would have the Lawrence brothers or a movie with Rachel Leigh Cook.

IMG_4399Tangerine performing at Bumbershoot 2014

In the years that followed, I picked up their EPs “Behemoth!”, “Sugar Teeth” and “Radical Blossom”, and would try to catch one of their shows around town. I remember catching their set at an exclusive Upstream Music Festival and Summit preview party, and also catching the band’s farewell concert when they relocated to Los Angeles. On February 7th, with a brand new EP “White Dove”, Tangerine is set to make their Seattle return. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to ask a few questions to band members, Marika Justad, Miro Justad, and Toby Kuhn.

First and foremost welcome back to Seattle!
I read an interview for Grunge and Art magazine, where as a band you explained that certain bands and genres inspired your sound, but you also mentioned being inspired by movies and television shows, specifically you mentioned the films of Baz Luhrmann (“Romeo + Juliet”). I like the idea of a form of art and entertainment especially one focused on the visual element, inspiring the creation of another form of art and entertainment.
1.) What other films and television shows inspire you currently, and would you mind elaborating how they inspire your sound?

Marika: I’m so glad you picked up on those influences of ours! I have a feeling that a lot of musicians are inspired by so much more than just music. The music you make is sort of like this representation of how you experience the world in all its complexity, so of course all kinds of things find their way into our sound. We’re getting ready to release a new song on February 8th called CHAINS, that has this dark, dreamy, romantic feeling which was inspired by gothic romance novels like Jane Eyre (a favorite of Miro’s and mine that we’ve read many times), plus slightly trashier romance novels we’ve enjoyed that shall remain nameless. We tried to evoke that feeling in the visuals we created to go with the song. That’s just one example but I’m sure there’s more.

In past interviews, you mentioned how as a band you would love to curate the soundtrack for a film or television show, and how some of your songs were made with that possible intention in mind.
2.) Is there a regular storyline that you picture your music being used or you would hope they were used for (for example: A Cosmic Romance, A Modern Day Western, A Teen Road Trip Flick, etc.)?

Marika: One hundred percent we would love for our song Lake City (from our last EP, White Dove) to be in the sequel to Netflix’s “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before”. We’re all suckers for a good classic teen movie- Footloose, Pretty in Pink, Empire Records, Can’t Hardly Wait, 10 Things I Hate About You, etc. (fuck 16 Candles, no matter what anyone says). I think a lot of our songs would be good during like that moment in every TV drama where they do a cheesy montage of all the characters as they wander around pondering the meaning of life. Or maybe our songs would be perfect for the ending of a movie when somebody’s driving off into the sunset, and it’s a little happy and a little sad at the same time. All of our music seems to end up in that happy/sad place somehow.

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3.) Another thing I picked up from reading past interviews was a love for the Sci-Fi genre. What are some must see titles (film, television, teleplay, radio show, podcast, etc.) that you would recommend? (If you name a show, is there a specific episode that is must see?)

Marika: Buffy The Vampire Slayer! The title of our song “Monster Of The Week” comes from the TV concept of the same name and is inspired by Buffy. There’s an episode in season four called “HUSH” that has almost zero dialogue and it’s just weird and fun and completely brilliant.
Miro: The Arrival was one of the more recent science fiction movies that I have seen which really moved me because it teaches about having compassion for the unknown. The soundtrack really beautiful and abstract so I highly recommend checking that out!
Toby: Taken- It’s a miniseries presented by Steven Spielberg that takes place over half a century and focuses on multiple generations of families’ experiences with aliens. Very cool show, the score is awesome too, their theme song has been stuck in my head for years!

(These next 3 questions were provided by my last interview Alaia from the band Tres Leches.)
4.) From your last live performance, what’s one reaction from the audience that stood out to you and how do you perceive that reaction?

Marika: Our last show was for FOMO FEST at the Echo- there was one guy in particular who was dancing in the front giving it his all the entire set that stood out to all of us!

5.) What’s one thing you want to do that you’re not doing right now and why aren’t you doing it?

Miro: I’ve always wanted to tour Asia with TANGERINE! Marika and I are Korean American so performing in Korea is a shared dream of ours. It’s not in our cards for the immediate future as we are touring the West Coast and writing music in LA but hoping that we can make that work soon!
Toby: I’d love to learn to speak Italian, I’ve got family in Naples and every time I visit I deeply regret not having a greater understanding of the language. There are so many things I like to do when I get a spare moment I just haven’t committed to it yet!
Marika: I want to be able to run 5 miles! I can only run 2 at the moment….but I’m working on it.

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6.) What’s something that’s not tangible that is vital?

Miro: A constant sense of curiosity. I feel like there was a moment in my late teens and early twenties where I stopped questioning everything around me and lost a sense of awe for the natural world. The more curious I am the happier I have found.
Toby: Optimism. I try to be an optimistic person, for myself and the band, but also in terms of giving people the benefit of the doubt- trusting people, maybe too much haha. It’s certainly been vital to my well being.
Marika: There’s a Maya Angelou quote that is something along the lines of “people don’t remember what you said but they’ll remember how you made them feel” that’s always resonated with me. This question brings that to mind!

As a final question, as a band that started in Seattle, developed in this market, and left, do you have any advice for Seattle artists trying to expand beyond the Seattle music scene?

Miro: My advice would be to really take advantage of the supportive scene in Seattle and the surrounding areas because a strong base will carry you further in the long run even if you decide to leave.

(If you thought this band sounded as fun as they were to interview, be sure to support!  Tangerine will be performing live at Chop Suey, Thursday February 7th with Cumulus, and Emma Lee Toyoda, presale $10.  Listen to their music on most platforms, and be sure to check out their latest EP, “White Dove”, available now.)

Greta Van Fleet rock the Paramount (1/10/19)

Thursday night. 6:30pm. The entrance to the Paramount. Greta Van Fleet is set to perform Night 2 of a 2 night sold out engagement at the Paramount. Doors for the show don’t open until 7:00pm, and yet the line was still longer than I’ve seen for any other show I’ve attended at the Paramount. The line stretched from the entrance of the Paramount all the way to “Four Columns” park (roughly three to four blocks). Folks in the line came from Canada, Portland, New Mexico, among other places, and ranged in age from grade schoolers to “experienced” rockers. Walking up and down the line, scalpers and people selling bootleg merch were in full force.

I’ve been to a few concerts, but the atmosphere around this show was different. With good reason. In 2018, I feel like no other hard rock band has been as polarizing as Greta Van Fleet. From selling out multiple venues across the United States to the scathing review for their debut album, “Anthem of the Peaceful Army” in Pitchfork, the young band has been at the forefront of both a love/hate debate about their relevance in the current music landscape. Personally, for artists their age to accomplish what they have is impressive, and you can’t discount their proficiency at the craft. The kids are talented and deserve kudos for that aspect. With that, I was still curious how they would perform live, which brought me to the Paramount on Thursday.

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Ida Mae
The night opened with husband and wife duo, Ida Mae. The band was largely unknown to most of the folks in the crowd, but were quickly captivated by the British couple’s heavily blues inspired sounds. Maybe it was the songs chosen or the sound set up, but it felt like the husband of the group was featured more heavily in the performance. He was playing guitar, providing a beat on a foot pedal on a drum, and also providing a very distinct vocal, while his wife provided back up vocals and support on smaller hand held instruments such as shakers. One person in the crowd even remarked that the husband in the group could even be featured as a solo act. Nonetheless, they drew a very positive response from the audience using old school country licks, and (of course) a “Woody Guthrie” cover.

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Greta Van Fleet
Being able to see Greta Van Fleet perform live is something special. You’re seeing a set of young talents who are great in their roles, and have legions of fans of all age groups who know the lyrics and can sing along to their songs, but also as you see them perform, you have a feeling like they have yet to peak. The set list was a mix of songs that drew heavily from both “From the Fires” and “Anthem of the Peaceful Army”, equally. Being in that crowd singing a long to “You’re the One”, seeing the younger audience members light up when they began performing “Flower Power”, or everyone get on their feet for “Safari Song”, was nothing short of astounding. These are fans from several generations uniting with a love for these songs.

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It’s funny. The easy comparison for this group is Led Zeppelin, but seeing them live I was getting more of a Rush or even Aerosmith vibe. At times, sure the Led Zeppelin vibe was there, but really a lot of the songs had more of a Rush vibe to them in terms of lyricism and musical arrangement, while the performance felt more like Aerosmith. The way Josh Kiszka commanded the mic, felt more like some of the mid to later year work of Aerosmith leader Steven Tyler. His on stage look even was more akin to Steven Tyler’s. I felt like even the way Jake Kiszka performed was more Joe Perry than it was Jimmy Page. Overall, I enjoyed seeing Greta Van Fleet perform live. If there was any knock against their set, I would say the members could do more to command that stage. They were really just moving back and forth, and it felt like they were concentrating, but with good reason as their songs are complex.

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I always loved the reviews that dismiss this band as purely a “Led Zeppelin rip off”. I feel like anytime a band can demonstrate proficiency while also drawing these comparisons, the reviewer comes to the defense of the legendary band as if the younger band were coming for the crown. Really, I think these guys are just having fun, while also paying homage to their heroes. I saw elements of Led Zeppelin, but I also saw elements of Aerosmith, Rush, and a number of other 70’s/80’s rock bands. At some point the comparisons have to end. If a band is creating new music and sounds like an amalgamation of seven or so different bands, then the logical conclusion is they must be unique, and really there aren’t many bands in the current music scene on the same level that are as unique as Greta Van Fleet.

 

 

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!

 

Bringing in the New Year with Thunderpussy.

Thunderpussy. It’s a word that without context would confuse and have people thinking it was something dirty, but for people who are in the know, it’s something awesome.

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The first time I bore witness to the high energy action that is Thunderpussy, it was 2016. I was wandering the crowd at Capitol Hill Block Party when I saw a band playing songs reminiscent of classic rock drawing a crowd to the main stage. This band’s sound was sexy, fun, and technical. Each member was impressive. It was almost like they were competing on stage for who could draw more attention (Molly won that day, haha). In that set I remember hearing a Led Zeppelin cover, and I remember seeing on the screens the lead singer contorting herself on stage while the lead guitarist ran around with the bass player, and the drummer play hard enough to make you wonder how she wasn’t just running through drum sticks. There electrifying energy motivated me to get closer. By the time I made it within viewing range of the stage (not the screens) they were getting ready to go into their final song. As the song began, the lead singer kept saying the word, “Thunderpussy” and that got me. From that day on, I was a Thunderpussy fan.

20180704_233757Thunderpussy is on my list of “must see” live bands. I’ve seen them perform a total of 10 different times. I’ve seen them debut songs. I saw them perform in a movie theater, at block parties, at Bumbershoot, and I even saw them fill a basement at Upstream Music Fest. I’ve been in a mosh pit with them (Elysian Search Party). I’ve collected merch. I feel like I’m an active part of one of Seattle’s best fan communities.

20180101_220550The Thunderpussy fan community is something special. When you go to that many shows, it’s hard not to make friends with the other regulars. I remember one couple introduced themselves to me, by walking up and saying, “I don’t know your name but you’ve been on our desktop screen for the past year.” With a confused look all I could say was, “Okay… why?”. The couple laughed and explained they had a picture of me standing next to the female of the couple while at a Thunderpussy show, and that’s how they recognized me. That same couple had a song dedicated to them by the band at last year’s New Years show (“Torpedo Love”). I have similar stories about how I met other members of this crazy, enthusiastic, and very supportive community, but they all stem from our similar love for these hard rocking ladies. You could say we’re all freinds with a passion for good music and Thunderpussy.

20170714_223353This New Years I’m going to be in the crowd (most likely near the front) for Thunderpussy performing live at the Showbox with Seattle favorites “The Black Tones” and Portland favorites “Red Fang”. This will be my third New Years with Thunderpussy and I’m excited. I feel like it will be hard to top last year’s show. The dancers and the always amazing costumes created the perfect atmosphere to bring in the New Year with energy and excitement. With the release of a great full length debut album and this show serving as the culmination of a tour, I doubt this will be a show that will soon be forgotten. If anything, even without knowing what will happen, I’ve been to enough Thunderpussy shows to know it’ll be loud, sexy, and of course, an electrifying dose of girl power.

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(All Photos were taken by me. The baby one is my favorite, haha)