Spin the Black Circle

Music journalist Travis Hay drops some knowledge and insight about local and national music news, offers reviews and offers a place for conversation on all things music.
Subscribe to RSS
Back to Spin the Black Circle

Archive for April, 2009

Sonic Youth, Jesus Lizard, Gossip, Thermals, to play Capitol Hill Block Party

Monday, April 27th, 2009

The organizers of the Capitol Hill Block Party released initial details of this year’s two-day festival which is taking place July 24 and 25.

As reported here several weeks ago, venerable indie icons Sonic Youth will headline as will The Jesus Lizard, a band that was banned from playing live shows in Seattle 12 years ago. Along with Jesus Lizard and Sonic Youth, the lineup includes several up-and-coming buzz bands (Black Lips, Deerhunter, Starf*cker) and loads of local talent (The Gossip, Moondoggues, Past LIves, They LIve!).

According to the CHBP Web site the festivities will take part on three stages this year and advance tickets, which go on sale Tuesday, will cost $40 for two-days or $22 a day. It is unknown whether the reference to three stages means there will only be three stages or if there will be three main stages with bands performing at indoor venues such as Neumos and various area coffee shops and other businesses like last year.

According to a Seattle P-I article from 1996, the Jesus Lizard was banned from playing in Seattle because singer David Yow liked to stage dive and this was seen as a safety hazard and is also a misdemeanor. Both Sonic Youth and Jesus Lizard have ties to Seattle’s biggest rock export, Nirvana. In 1996 Sub Pop Rerds released a split 7″ recording with Jesus Lizard’s “Puss” on one side and NIrvana’s “Oh, The Guilt” on the other and Kurt Cobail often sited the band as an influence on his work. Nirvana decided to sign with Gefffen Records in part because Sonic Youth, a band they admired, was also on the label.

Here’s the lineup as announced earlier today. More acts are expected to be added soon.

SONIC YOUTH, THE JESUS LIZARD, THE GOSSIP, DEERHUNTER, BLACK LIPS, EARTH, THE THERMALS, THE PAINS OF BEING PURE AT HEART, MOONDOGGIES, SPINNERETTE, THE DUTCHESS AND THE DUKE, MIKA MIKO, THE BLAKES, SLEEPY EYES OF DEATH, GIRLS, HEY MARSEILLES, THE MALDIVES, TRUCKASAURUS, AKIMBO, PAST LIVES, FUTURE OF THE LEFT, MICACHU, STARF*CKER, FAUX PUNK, NEW FACES, HOTELS, PICA BEATS, FLEXIONS, THEY LIVE!, AUDICITY, BOW+ARROW, SOL, JAPANDROIDS


Photo slideshow: Death Cab For Cutie at Gonzaga

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

Death Cab For Cutie played to a sold-out crowd at Gonzaga University’s McCarthy Athletic Center Friday and the Spokane crowd seemed to hang on Ben Gibbard’s every word throughout the group’s 90-minute set. I’ll have a review later Monday, for now here’s a slideshow from the set.


Jason McGerr of Death Cab For Cutie on Bumbershoot, touring and unreleased Death Cab

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Jason McGerr by musicisentropy

The last time Death Cab For Cutie played a show in Washington they were kings of the rock ‘n’ roll world, triumphantly celebrating the success of their latest album “Narrow Stairs” with a headlining set at Bumbershoot last year.

The show capped a great year for Death Cab that saw the band rack up its first No. 1 record on the Billboard charts (“Narrow Stairs”) and more or less completed the group’s transformation from a group of indie kids only trendy scenesters knew about to a full-blown, stadium-packing rock band.

Just how much of a full-blown, stadium-packing rock band has Death Cab become? The set ended with a pyrotechnic punctuation mark of golden showers of sparks raining down on the stage during the close of “Transatlanticism.”

“I had my back turned to it so I didn’t have the opportunity to turn around and take it in. I saw a few YouTube clips of it but I don’t think that does it justice,” Jason McGerr, Death Cab’s drummer, said during a tour stop in Chicago last week.

He said the group didn’t take the decision to try something different, and unexpected, lightly.

“You’ve got to walk a fine line between cred and over the top. You want to give a show and you want to send people home with some sort of memory of a great performance rather than do the same thing every time. We have played so many shows in Seattle, between playing Sasquatch at the end of the Plans tour and paying KeyArena and doing a couple of Paramount shows, when the idea of doing a little bit of pyro and sparks came up we were like ‘Sure, why not give it a shot?’ ”

The end result created one of those powerful concert experiences where the audience knew they were witnessing something special while it was happening.

“What I do remember that I will never forget is the look on people’s faces in the front row when that thing went off. They went from elated to uber-elated. You could tell a lot of kids had never probably been exposed to anything like that because they had only been going to concerts for three years or four years. If you’d seen a KISS show and were at the Death Cab concert you were probably pretty unimpressed. But for people that don’t usually get to see things like that I think it was pretty epic,” McGerr said.

Ben Gibbard at Bumbershoot by Steven Friederich

The band is currently on the tail end of the touring cycle behind “Narrow Stairs,” and has closed the “Stairs” chapter with the release of an EP titled “The Open Door.”

“We knew we were going to tour regardless. The timing of the EP was such that it would be nice if it came together around the tour and we made it happen that way,” McGerr said. “The songs were mostly done … It all started the same time as ‘Narrow Stairs.’ They weren’t b-list songs or afterthoughts. We sought to record 20 songs for the album and we knew a few would get widdled away.”

Although the four new songs on “The Open Door” got cut from “Stair’s” final track list, the band kept them in mind for possible release down the road.

“We knew these songs would have a home at some point and we kept them close to our heart and the idea of an EP came together around last fall. We thought it would be great to let the world know there is another component to the ‘Narrow Stairs’ era before this album cycle is done.”

Does that mean there is more unreleased Death Cab material from sessions for past records that could be released in the future?

“I think if a person looks hard enough between everything that has been released in the U.S. and maybe Japanese B-sides and comps you could probably put together a fairly extensive list of Death Cab material. If I said there was some long, lost collection of songs out there I’d be lying,” said McGerr.

The band’s tour includes four shows in Washington including a sold-out show that is happening in Bellingham at the Mt. Baker Theater as I write this. McGeer grew up in Bellingham and said the show will mean a lot to him.

“Playing Mt Baker Theatre, which is somewhere I went a lot to see shows, although they were mainly theater productions, is really exciting for me. Especially playing there in the middle of the tour when we’ve hit our stride,” he said.

The other three home state shows include a trip across the state where they will perform at Gonzaga’s McCarthey Athletic Center Friday night with Ra Ra Riot and Cold War Kids (7 p.m.; $35) and two back-to-back shows at Redmond’s Marymoor Park July 18 and 19 with the New Pornographers and Ra Ra Riot (7 p.m.; $35) that end the tour.

Since the last time Death Cab played in Seattle they surprised fans with fireworks, does the band have any tricks up its sleeve for the Marymoor concerts?

“We’re trying to think big for the next time around in Seattle at the end of July. But I don’t know we’ll see what happens,” McGerr said.


Portugal. The Man: The best band you’re not listening to

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Portugal. The Man

Chances are you’ve heard of Wasilla, Alaska. You know it as the home of snow machines and as a place where a certain former Republican vice presidential candidate can see Russia from her doorstep. That’s probably just about all anyone knows about this arctic town tucked far, far away from the rest of the continental United States.

What you likely don’t know about Wasilla is that it’s home to one of the most exciting live bands making music today. A band with a name as obscure as its hometown used to be prior to the 2008 presidential elections. That band is Portugal. The Man and they put on a mini rock spectacle at the Crocodile April 16 filled with smoke machines, fancy lights and loud guitars coupled with intense rhythms.

If you take the spazz out of the Mars Volta and the art out of … And You Will Know Us By the Trail of the Dead you’ve got Portugal. The Man, the best band you’re not listening to. Their songs are not overwhelmed by too many grandiose, proggy jams and they aren’t filled with ambitious concepts or massive artistic statements. Portugal. The Man’s music just flat out rocks.

Led by John Gourley, a small man in stature who plays a big guitar (see above photo for evidence), the band blazed through a 90-minute set that was heavy on material from its best record “Church Mouth.” The set kicked off with the title track from that record with the band seamlessly folding “One Is The Loneliest Number” into its tail end. From there it was all business as these rugged-looking Alaskans proceeded to give the new Crocodile its first real rock show.

continue reading


Marilyn Manson, Slayer and motorcycles coming to White River for Mayhem Festival

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Summer is such a wonderful time for music festivals. Rock The Bells draws the hip-hop heads. Coachella, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Sasquatch! and others draw the indie crowd. The punk rock summercamp known as Warped Tour attracts all the pasty-skinned Hot Topic people.

But what’s a long-haired, head-banging, denim-biker-vest-wearing, red-blodded metalhead to do now that Ozzfest is no longer an annual touring Mecca of all things hard and heavy?

Well, looks like Marilyn Manson and Slayer have the answer to that question. The scary duo bring their Mayhem Festival to White River Amphitheatre Tuesday, July 14 and as part of the festival they are bringing tons of their metalicious friends with them, including Killswitch Engage, Trivium and Bullet For My Valentine just to name a few

From the press release announcing the show (emphasis added, but not the caps, typing with the caps lock on is not how I roll):

“… the second annual Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival will feature a gaggle of rock’s heaviest bands: the main stage will see Marilyn Manson and Slayer joined by KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE; the Jägermeister stage will feature TRIVIUM, ALL THAT REMAINS, GOD FORBID and the Jägermeister Battle of the Bands winner; the Hot Topic stage will feature extreme metal bands CANNIBAL CORPSE, JOB FOR A COWBOY, BEHEMOTH, BLACK DAHLIA MURDER and WHITECHAPEL. The World’s Greatest Freestyle Motocross team METAL MULISHA will also be revving up the crowd with their unique style of death-defying motorcycle stunts on all dates.”

Heavy metal and motorcyles? Sign me up!

Tickets for the Mayhem Festival go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. and cost $25, $29, $39.50, $49.50, $55 and $99. You can also purchase a four-pack of lawn seats for $79.


Lollapalooza apes Sasquatch! and adds more for its 2009 installment

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Perry Ferrell’s Lollapalloza released its 2009 lineup today and it includes some pretty heavy hitters that will be filling Chicago’s Grant Park Aug. 7-9 including Tool, Depeche Mode, The Beastie Boys, Ben Harper, The Decemberists and others.

After taking a quick glance at the bill for the three-day event it looks like most every major band that is performing at this year’s Sasquatch! Festival will also be at Lolla. Although Lolla may have most of Sasquatch’s! big names, it doesn’t have The Gorge. So Washingtonians will definitely get the benefit of having a beautiful concert setting with fewer people as opposed to the near 100,000 people that will cram into Grant Park on a hot summer day in the Windy City. But then again, Chicago gets Tool, so it’s a wash.

Here’s the lineup:

* Depeche Mode * Tool * The Killers * Jane’s Addiction * Beastie Boys * Kings of Leon * Lou Reed * Ben Harper and Relentless7 * Thievery Corporation * Snoop Dogg * Rise Against * Andrew Bird * TV on the Radio * Vampire Weekend * The Decemberists * Neko Case * STS9 (Sound Tribe Sector 9) * Animal Collective * Band of Horses * Of Montreal * Arctic Monkeys * Coheed and Cambria * Ben Folds * Fleet Foxes * Silversun Pickups * Kaiser Chiefs * Crystal Castles * Bon Iver * Santigold * Atmosphere * Dan Auerbach * Cold War Kids * Deerhunter * Lykke Li * Robert Earl Keen * Peter Bjorn and John * Heartless Bastards * Gomez * Glasvegas * Federico Aubele * Dan Deacon * Passion Pit * Zap Mama * The Raveonettes * The Gaslight Anthem * The Airborne Toxic Event * White Lies * Ra Ra Riot * No Age * Asher Roth * Los Campesinos! * Bat For Lashes * Chairlift * Gang Gang Dance * The Virgins * Amazing Baby * Portugal. The Man * The Knux * Ida Maria * Delta Spirit * Friendly Fires * Manchester Orchestra * Constantines * Ezra Furman & The Harpoons * Hockey * Miike Snow * Alberta Cross * Hey Champ * Sam Roberts Band * The Henry Clay People * Davy Knowles and Back Door Slam * Cage the Elephant * Living Things * The Low Anthem * Blind Pilot * Langhorne Slim * Other Lives * The Builders and The Butchers * Eric Church * Joe Pug * Kevin Devine * The Greencards * Carney * Thenewno2


Chateau Ste. Michelle, Maryhill winderies release summer concert series lineups

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Woodinville’s Chateau Ste. Michelle winery and the Maryhill Windery in Easten Washington outside of Goldendale revealed their their summer concert series lineups today. Highlights include Counting Crows, James Taylor, John Legend, Bonnie Raitt and others.

I have been to shows at both wineries and while the drive to Goldendale, which is very close to the Oregon border, is absolutely beautiful, Chateau Ste. Michelle has the edge in my book as far as concert venues are concerned. At Maryhill you’re facing rows and rows of grape vines. While that makes for a great view at a winery, it doesn’t translate into a natural concert-viewing experience.

On the other hand, Chateau Ste. Michelle has lush green grass and trees along with a nice, tucked away suburban setting. For my money I prefer catching shows at the Woodinville winery as opposed to trekking to Goldendale. Plus, for this season, Maryhill is hosting three concerts and Chateau Ste. Michelle has a full slate, boasting a baker’s dozen worth of concerts. Also, only one of acts at Maryhill is not playing in Woodinville.

Here’s the lineups for each venue. Tickets for all shows at both wineries go on sale April 25 at 10 a.m.

CHATEAU STE. MICHELLE LINEUP

TEARS FOR FEARS

Friday, July 10 • 7PM $40.00 GA / $60.00 Res.

STEVE MILLER BAND

Saturday, July 11 • 7PM $49.00 GA / $89.00 Res.

THE MOODY BLUES

Wednesday, July 29 • 7PM $45.00 GA / $95.00 Res.

LYLE LOVETT and His Band

Friday, July 31 • 7PM $47.50 GA / $77.50 Res.

KWJZ SMOOTH FESTIVAL

Saturday & Sunday, August 1 & 2 • 2PM $45.50 GA / $80.00 Res.

Saturday: Jazz Attack, Lee Ritenour Novello/Marianthal, Roger Smith

Sunday: Spyro Gyra, Jesse Cook, Wayne Brady, Kyle Wolverton

JACKSON BROWNE

Friday, August 21 • 7PM $45.00 GA / $65.00 Res.

ELVIS COSTELLO and the Sugarcanes

Sunday, August 23 • 7PM $40.00 GA / $65.00 Res.

JOHN LEGEND with special guest INDIA.ARIE

Friday, August 28 • 6:30PM $49.00 GA / $76.00 Res.

DIANA KRALL

Saturday & Sunday, August 29 & 30 • 7PM $49.50 GA / $99.50 Res.

CHRIS ISAAK

Friday, September 4 • 7PM $45.00 GA / $79.50 Res.

GIPSY KINGS

Saturday, September 5 • 7PM $50.00 GA / $90.00 Res.

BONNIE RAITT with special guest TAJ MAHAL

Sunday, September 6 • 7PM $49.75 GA / $79.75 Res.

PINK MARTINI

Saturday, September 12 • 7PM $35.00 GA / $55.00 Res.

MARYHILL WINERY LINEUP

COUNTING CROWS

Friday, July 17 • 8PM $45.00/$65.00/$140

JACKSON BROWNE

Saturday, August 22 • 8PM $35/$65/$140

JOHN LEGEND

Saturday, August 29 • 8PM $45/$75/$150


Nirvana’s 1992 Reading festival to be released on DVD May 4

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Over on Ear Candy the Web site there’s a story about Nirvana’s 1992 Reading Festival gig being released on DVD. It will contain the full 27-song set from the band.

Click here for more details.


The weekend in photos feat. Portugal. The Man, Moondoggies, Alligators, Mates of State and more

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

I’m still recovering from a crazy busy couple of days and I haven’t had a lot of time to digest all the awesomeness that was last weekend. Unfortunately that means I haven’t had a lot of time to think about what I want to write about the shows and events I attended. Fortunately, a picture is worth a thousand words, so here are some photos of my weekend to hold you over until I can figure out what exactly it is I want to say.

Portugal. The Man Alligators H is For Hellgate Moondoogies Judgement Day Black Kids Mates of State


And on the fifth day, I rested

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

moondoogies

I spent the last few days in a hectic state of musical bliss that involved traveling 350 miles, watching nine bands (and being somewhat blown away by one of them while stumbling across another great local group to boot), interviewing a rock star, celebrating the awesomeness that was Record Store Day and hitting up the Experience Music Project’s annual Pop Conference.

I am taking the next 24 hours off to recuperate, but in the meantime here is a listing of some of what you’ll be reading about the rest of the week here:

Portugal. The Man is the best band you aren’t listening to. Find out why I just made that bold declaration in the upcoming review of Portugal. The Man’s show at the Crocodile with H is For Hellgate and Alligators

Death Cab For Cutie is playing in Spokane Friday night at Gonzaga with Ra Ra Riot and Cold War Kids. Ear Candy chatted with Death Cab’s Jason McGeer about headlining Bumbershoot, the band’s new EP and the prospect of unreleased Death Cab being released from the Death Cab vault.

The Moondoggies played a few free shows in Seattle during the weekend. All three were completely different from one another in atmosphere and sound. Read about two of those sets soon.

The Pitchfork lovers orgasm double bill of The Black Kids and Mates of State played Neumos Friday. Their opener, a band out of San Francisco called Judgment Day, took me by surprise.

Saturday was Record Store Day and I felt like a kid on Christmas at the Queen Anne Easy Street Records purchasing lots of limited-edition candy for my ears in the form of some great vinyl.

Saturday was also the third day of EMP’s Pop Conference. Unfortunately I was only able to attend on day, but man the things I learned and the panelists I heard speak were fantastic. My brain hurts (in a good way) just thinking about all the cool conversations that I had the privilege to listen to during my 7 hours at PopCon 2009.

The weekend was capped off by dropping by El Croazon for a late-night set by Texas’ own The Toadies. I wasn’t able to stay for the whole show, but during the 75 minutes I was there they played almost everything off "Rubberneck."

So that’s what you’ll be reading about from me pretty soon. How soon? Well, that all depends on how much free time I have to write and how much I can write without getting exhausted again. In fact, I’m getting pretty tired right now just thinking about writing all of this so I am going to stop writing now.


Available on Kindle

This Blog

Music journalist Travis Hay drops some knowledge and insight about local and national music news, offers reviews and offers a place for conversation on all things music.