Tacocat Halloween 2019!

Aside from my 7am to 4pm Monday to Friday day job, last week was busy.  Monday, after work I went boxing, and then I attended Rhein Haus’ Super Meat Raffle Monday where in the span of a 2 hour period, they not only raffled off deli quality meat, but also raffled off high dollar gift cards.  I walked away with $90 in gift cards while a friend walked away with $170 in gift cards.  Tuesday was a family member’s birthday dinner.  Wednesday, after work I went to a pro wrestling screening at Rhein Haus, followed by Disney Villain Trivia at Optimism Brewery (4th Place), left with a friend for Drag Bingo at The Runaway, and closed out the night with a great concert at Barboza featuring Joza, Claire George, and Maiah Manser.

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Maiah Manser (above)/Claire George (below)

As much as I loved that show and would highly recommend all three performers, the highlight of my week was the Tacocat Halloween show on Thursday night.  Thursday was Halloween.  I was running on maybe four hours of sleep from the night before and decided I would go boxing after work.  After boxing I went to Starbucks and the café was rocking with a Halloween soundtrack.  The cashier after ringing up my coffee looked at me and said, “I got Cranberries on the brain.”  I looked at him confused, but it hit me after a few seconds, “Zombie” by the Cranberries was playing over the speakers.  I made my way to Neumos after finishing my coffee, and upon entering the room, I was immediately impressed by the stage set up.  The stage had sparkled cowboy boots with skeleton flamingos, a woman praying with heavy goth style makeup, a sparkly background with Tacocat and a spider on it, multiple cauldrons, tombstones, and an area in front of the stage barricaded off with a kiddie pool and tarp.

20191031_213951“Britney Spears Dance Break”

Dog Sister
Dog Sister took the stage a little after 8:30pm to open the show and provide entertaining vignettes between sets throughout the night.  Sporting several outfit changes, I found Dog Sister charming and her between set vignettes were fun if not a little manic.  The vignettes ranged from performing a spell/dumping leaves on the lead singer of Sundae Crush, to a “Britney Spears Dance Break”.  A more memorable vignette came near the end of the night when a mock Jeff Bezos was introduced, ushered into the kiddie pool where he was showered with garbage and eventually hit with a cream pie.  The cream pie hit so hard, the cream hit a number of the audience members directly behind him.  Dog Sister did a great job as the night’s MC and kept the fun going throughout the show.

Sundae Crush
The first opener of the night was Sundae Crush.  From a visual standpoint the band looked great.  The whole band was dressed in various costumes, my favorite being Britney Spears from “Oops I Did It Again” video.  Of the three acts, Sundae Crush was the act I was the least familiar with, but they definitely made a case to see them perform again.  The songs were fun.  Not to mention the lip creature who couldn’t navigate the stage and was essentially blind, why wouldn’t you want to check that band out again?

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Donormaal (above)/Sundae Crush (below)

Donormaal
I’ll be the first to admit, I was wrong about Donormaal.  I’ve seen Donormaal perform at least seven different times in the past three years.  She was normally the opening act for a headliner I was excited to see, and like I’ve done since the first show I attended, I make an effort to watch every performance on the card.  I always felt Donormaal was a mediocre performer and I didn’t understand why so many publications were giving her so much credit as the future of Northwest hip hop.  I saw her twice in 2019, and have to admit, I was wrong.  She killed it and I can totally see how she could be seen as the future of Northwest Hip Hop.  Donormaal announced she would be leaving Seattle soon, but as long as she performs as well as she did that night, then I know she is going to make splash wherever she ends up.

Tacocat
After a brief Raven Hollywood moment, and the Dog Sister vignette featuring the mock Jeff Bezos, Tacocat took the stage.  As they do every year, their costumes were impressive.  It’s hard to pick a standout of the group but I would have to lean towards either Emily as a spirit/ghost, or Bree who was the Space Needle.  It’s one thing to look impressive, but they both seemed like they were having some difficulty performing in their outfits (Emily with the wig and contacts, Bree kept adjusting her hat and the base of the tower kept hitting decorations).  Despite those minor difficulties, if there was a list of currently active Seattle bands that consistently put on solid fun memorable shows, Tacocat has to rank in the top ten, if not top five.  The sold out crowd danced and sang along to all the songs presented from the opening cover of “Zombie” by the Cranberries, to the various hits from their latest album “This Mess is a Place”.  It’s hard to pick single songs that jumped out from this set because the crowd was engaged the entire performance.  The “Zombie” cover was special.  Seeing how hard Lelah would bang on those drums on “New World” was memorable.  During “Bridge to Hawaii” there was an inflatable surf board, crowd surfed around the audience.  Seeing how much the songs from the latest album blended so well with the regular canon was impressive.

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Tacocat

Overall, that night was a lot of fun and energizing.  I did my best to get to sleep but still only got maybe four hours in before I had to get up for work the next morning.  Friday was my rest day.  Other than going to my day job and the gym, I stayed in Friday night and caught up on my sleep.  I feel like I did Halloween week right, and in large part I have to thank Tacocat and the other performers I saw that night.  I may have only gotten eight hours of sleep in two nights, but to see that level of talent two nights in a row, it’s hard to say that it wasn’t worth it.

 

For Photos and Videos of this performance, check out my Instagram: Cakeintherain206

7 Questions with Bree McKenna

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It’s 1:12p in the afternoon at Arcaro Boxing Gym. The air in the room is heavy after another hard workout.

Arcaro Boxing Gym is one of my favorite gyms in Seattle. The welcoming “barbershop”-style atmosphere attracts people from all walks of life. Around the room you’ll see corporate analysts mingling with firemen, helicopter pilots, and college students. You’ll see film directors holding mitts for members of the local music scene. You’ll see slam poets doing sit ups alongside restaurant owners. It really is an interesting atmosphere to both learn how to defend yourself, get a great workout, and meet a lot of interesting people.

After a mid day “lunch box” workout, I was sitting with Bree McKenna and Ryan Moon. I met Bree and Ryan at Arcaro Boxing Gym around a year ago. Both perform in local bands. Ryan for the band Turian. While Bree performs with several local bands including Who is She?, Childbirth, and of course, Tacocat.

Bree has always been one of my main motivations for exploring the local music scene. She’s just so down to earth and welcoming. There are times where I’ll see her at a show or we’ll catch each other at the gym and we’ll just chat about music. You would never think, this person played Coachella last year, this person performed on the main stage at Upstream Music Festival a few months ago, or that I saw this person perform at Bumbershoot back in 2012. Nope. She’s always just been Bree, that fun person who can throw a mean right hand, has questions about the last live music event you attended, and is more than happy to talk about the next live show you should check out.

Our workout had just ended. Bree, Ryan, and I were throwing around ideas of great interview gimmicks for this blog, when it hit me, what if I just asked some questions right now? I threw the idea out there to Bree, she smiled, and said, “Sure. Let’s do it.” So with Bree sitting on some seats outside of a boxing ring and myself sitting inside the boxing ring, we began our interview. After hearing the first question, Ryan looked at us and said, “I have to go, but this sounds like something I’ll want to read later.” We laughed, and he made his way out.

Right off the bat, I asked a question that had been on my mind for a while…

1.) I have to ask, what was with the Dave Mustaine article?

(haha) Well Vice had a series of articles about smaller musicians and their encounters with bigger musicians. The person who was organizing the series didn’t put in the introduction that the article was fiction and eventually it just got around. I didn’t want people to be disappointed especially big Metallica fans, so when people ask me about it I usually tell them I don’t want to talk about it.

Why’d you pick Dave? I mean the article was well written and I wouldn’t have been able to tell it was fake if it wasn’t for your Wikipedia page.

(haha) Yeah. We just look similar.

It’s the hair.

Yeah (haha)

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2.) A theme for most of the bands I’ve seen you perform in has been feminism and strong feminist ideals.

Yes.

However, another theme I noticed was a love for the 90’s.

Yeah, it’s a way for me to keep in touch with my teen self.

Without an explantion, what are three things from the 90’s that help motivate that love and attitude today?

Grunge, 10 Things I Hate About You, and Josie and the Pussycats (the film)

3.) Where’d the idea for Witch Chat come from (for those who don’t know Bree does an ongoing Insta-story feature called Witch Chat, which involve moments and stories told while participants wear witch hats)?

My freind had bought a bunch of witch hats online. We took a stack on tour and it just seemed natural. This was also around the same time Insta-stories were becoming a thing.

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4.) Speaking about hats and fashion, I love your fashion sense.

Thanks!

Is there any style or fashion motif you wouldn’t by any means try?

Normcore (haha)

Alright. Asked and answered (haha).

5.) Of the people I’ve met in the local music scene, you seem like one of the more enthusiastic and welcoming, what makes you so excited about local music?

I work at a club and am around a lot of it. I try to be supportive. There’s a lot of good music.

Do you feel with the rapidly changing neighborhoods, that it’s having an effect on the “Seattle Sound”?

Kind of. People are more angrier about it. It’s more expensive to live in the neighborhoods like Capitol Hill than it used to be, and that’s motivating some of the music, but I kind of think the music is better now than it was when I first started.

We’ve both seen the documentary “Hype”. You can’t say it’s the same neighborhood that you saw in that documentary.

Yeah, but the problems we’re seeing in Seattle, it’s the same thing all across America. Things like Tech Companies and Big Business. Everything is getting expensive and it’s those pressures motivating things. It’s an interesting time to be living in America.

6.) Speaking about Seattle, what’s the coolest thing I can do in Seattle, if I only had one day in Seattle?

That ones tough. Let’s go back to that.

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7.) Alright (haha), and as my last question, what bands should I be listening to right now?

Oh wow. Local bands, I would say The Black Tones and Tres Leches, otherwise Lizzo.

I saw her at last year’s Block Party.

She was here?

Yeah. “Lizzo be eating”. She puts on a great show.

I’m thinking of trying to catch her with St.Vincent. Looks expensive though.

Is that the one with Florence + the Machine, and St.Vincent? With Lizzo on there, that’s a cool lineup.

Yeah, it should be fun.

Going back. What’s the coolest thing I can do in Seattle, if I only had one day in Seattle?

Come boxing at Arcaro boxing! First Class is free. (haha)

Upstream Music Festival and Summit 2018 – My “Living Playlist”

Friday night. Outside the Zocalo Stage. Outside the restaurant venue, a large man wearing a 3 day festival wristband is yelling to passersby, “This Festival sucks! There’s no blues, no metal, no jazz, and not enough rock. All the artists are young, it’s like they rejected all the old talent. And you can’t find anything. The venues are too spread out…” This quote is a perfect example of the wrong way to approach Upstream Music Fest.

20180601_191502(0)If you approach Upstream Music Fest as a series of opportunities then it could really be something special. I spent my weekend exploring new music (left, SuperDuperKyle), connecting with members and fans of the local music scene, and enjoying main stage caliber performances both on the main stage and in intimate venues. This festival feels tailored to folks like me. People who are more than happy to give artists a chance. The artists I saw were seasoned. The sets I saw demonstrated talent who have dedicated themselves to their craft. Age is one thing, but time spent gaining experience is another. You can tell these folks put in the time. It’s hard to say most fall into one specific genre. If anything, the artists I saw that weekend seemed to blend genres. To lump them as one label kind of marginalized their act and limits the perspective of what they do.

Here’s a breakdown of my Upstream experience.

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KEXP Stage @ Little London Plane – The mini sets performed at the KEXP Stage this year were amazing. I was lucky enough to catch a set each day of the festival. I was able to see Little Dragon, Zola Jesus (left), TacocaT (above), Hot Snakes, and Khris P., all perform sets broadcast live on air. The atmosphere provided by the venue lent well to each artists performance. It was great getting to head bang outside the windows during Hot Snakes. Zola Jesus hung around before and after her set, and was very approachable. Seeing how relaxed she was showed a direct dichotomy from how heavy her sets eventually were. A major highlight during the Tacocat set were the characters milling around in the windows behind them. There were confused tourists, photographers, street performers, and even a man wearing a full purple jumpsuit, rainbow helmet, and carrying a magenta shovel.

Friday

The Summit – I started my Upstream by attending the Summit. The Summit portion of Upstream was aimed towards educating people about the music industry. This year’s Summit was a vast improvement from last year’s. The separated venues allowed for little to no sound bleed, and the cheaper price tag facilitated a definite increase in attendance. Of the two talks I saw (Roadmap to Success, and Artist Management), attendance was well enough so that people were standing along the edges as most of the chairs had been filled. Overall, the talks were informative and the crowd seemed engaged.

20180601_203548So Pitted – At this point into the festival, I had attended the Summit, saw Zola Jesus, Little Dragon, and SuperDuperKyle all perform. Last year, So Pitted’s set was a highlight of the festival after one of the members cut off his pony tail and tied it to the front of his head during the set. Not wanting to miss another possible highlight, I attended So Pitted’s (left) set. If the outfits of the members didn’t catch your attention, then the culmination of this punk rock trio’s set definitely did. At the culmination of the set, one performer threw a giant inflatable cube into the crowd. The crowd confused at how to proceed, picked up the cube and tossed it around as if it were a beach ball. Then a member of the crowd grabbed the cube walked it to the front and began spinning, while another band member put down his guitar that he was playing, jumped off the stage wearing a light on his chest, and plugged himself into a floor plug-in the ballroom. As the light began blinking on and off, the performer’s brother jumped on stage and continued the set with the band until the set ended. The member with the blinking light was then brought the cube, which he posed with. Awesome. (Video of this on my Instagram.)

Storme Webber – I had time between sets (after So Pitted, but before Miguel), so I decided I would walk around and just see what sounded good. As I was walking I saw a guy who looked like he was in a hurry and was carrying a lot stuff, so I offered to help carry a box to his set. He was grateful and asked if I would be interested in checking out his set. I had time, so I decided to sit in. The performer’s name was Che Sehyun, and he was performing with Storme Webber. This set was different from everything else I saw at Upstream. Storme Webber, Avery R Young, Che Sehyun, and Tuesday Velasco brought social issues to the forefront and made me feel inspired after their performances. I didn’t think a performance with such a social conscience like this would be showcased at Upstream. In the end, I walked up and thanked all the performers. A few days later I was surprised to see Che had an article written about him in the latest issue of City Arts Magazine (page 19).

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Miguel – Easily Miguel (above) was the most packed performance at the main stage that weekend. People were pushed up against the beer garden rails. My favorite part of Miguel’s set was when he told everyone to put away their phones and just be there with each other. Enjoy the moment. I took two photos and put away my phone for the remainder of the set. This was a good set.

Saturday

20180602_203037Great Grandpa – By the time I was at this set, I had seen Tacocat, Zola Jesus, Hot Snakes, and Strange Ranger. Great Grandpa (left) was a band I was looking forward to seeing again live. They remind me of an early No Doubt. I stood on the far left side. As we saw the lead singer captivate the crowd, all of a sudden a bubble machine went off. A combination of the packed crowd and the direction the bubble machine was pointed, caused the bubbles to both fly over the crowd and also cover anyone standing near the machine in soap. Most other crowds I feel this would be a negative, but covered in soap we all looked at each other and just laughed. One guy commented, “I guess Great Grandpa just helped me skip a shower.” The set was great, the ground was slippery, and was definitely a performance to remember.

New Track City – This was the first set I saw at the Comedy Underground. This venue was perfect for a hip hop show and lent great to a high energy duo like New Track City. A moment that stood out to me from this set was when one performer prompted the crowd, “We’re from Federal Way. Who here’s reppin Federal Way?” (light cheers) “It’s all good. I take it ya’ll reppin Seattle then?” (loud cheers). I like seeing a performer surprised when they realize they have a great following outside of their home neighborhood, especially a duo like New Track City who I felt with the performance they put on deserve the following they’ve cultivated.

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Jawbreaker – I had one goal for Saturday: Get in the mosh pit at Jawbreaker (left). I showed up to the set a little late so I hung around the edge of the crowd trying to scope out where the inevitable pit was. I finally saw the pit in the heart of the crowd and not wanting to be a jerk, I gave it 5 songs before I saw my opening to run in. I charged in and had a great time. I found myself jumping, pushing, and singing along with fellow fans. I ran into a few friends (literally and figuratively) and pretty soon arms on each others shoulders we were in this kind of unbelievable situation. I never thought I would be able to say I moshed at a Jawbreaker show, but I seized the opportunity at Upstream.

Sunday

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Moorea Masa and the Mood – I don’t know why but the third day of Upstream I was more in a partying mood than I was any other day of the festival. By the time I was watching Moorea Masa and the Mood (above), I had seen Khris P, The True Loves, Whitney Ballen, and Spesh, and I had maybe a drink or two at each venue. By this set, I was feeling it. Even in that haze, I remember hearing Moorea perform and falling in love with her voice. Her set was impressive, and reminded me of the first time I heard Norah Jones. I bought her album after the festival concluded.

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Tres Leches – By the time I made my way to the Central Saloon to catch Tres Leches’ performance, I was pretty “faded” and had already stopped imbibing. I had seen a few bands perform at prior shows, and Tres Leches I had most recently seen perform at Folk Life the week prior. I remember dancing during their set and enjoying the style of music they dubbed “Dark Basement”. You know a band must be special when you look around the room and see members of other bands (pretty sure I saw Tacocat and Terror/Cactus) as well as local personalities (like fashion blogger Fresh Jess). At one point in the set, one of the band members took a globe with South America cut out with the words “Trapped” and “Denied” scrawled across it, put his mic in the globe, and began yelling into it as the other members continued playing. The set was fun but also controlled chaos I would want to see again. As the set ended, I met up with some freinds, and we all made our way to the Flaming Lips set.

The Flaming Lips – I saw The Flaming Lips (below) perform last year at the Paramount and remember having a feeling of elation. People around me were crying from being overwhelmed with emotion during that Paramount set. The set I saw at Upstream was entertaining but nowhere near the emotional trip the Paramount set had been. The set had a lot of the same gimmicks (balloons, the unicorn, etc.), but I think what I’ll remember the most from this experience was being in that crowd singing along to the music. As the alcohol was wearing off, it was while singing “Do You Realize?” that it hit me just how cool this festival had been, and how great this crowd was. Any crowd where you could turn to your neighbors and see everyone singing the same song will probably give you that feeling.

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Eventually my festival experience had to come to an end. It was a weekend of great opportunity, fun, and just deep appreciation. I appreciated every act I saw that weekend. I feel like if you approach this festival with a sense of exploration and love for music, any music really, you can come away feeling like you had a great time.

I split away from my friends and began making my way to the street car. On the way I heard a sound coming from the Starbucks stage. It sounded fun so I decided to go in. I made my way close to the front and began dancing. This band had a ton of energy and although the crowd wasn’t too large and looked pretty tired, were really giving it their all. I danced even if it seemed like those around me were more grooving, if anything. Eventually after maybe 3 songs had passed, I turned to the person standing next to me and asked a question that perfectly encapsulates both my experience and also the spirit of “Upstream Music Festival and Summit”, “Do you know what band this is?”.

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The band was Lavoy (above). I bought their album after the festival.
All photos were taken by me. Photos of all the acts I saw can be viewed on my Instagram: Cakeintherain206