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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.
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Archive for June, 2010

More intimate without the Hype: Brad & Stuck on a Bus @ the High Dive 06.16.10

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Brad continued its recent flurry of activity leading up to the late-summer release of its fourth studio album, “Best Friends?,” during the final night of a two-night stint at The High Dive Wednesday.

Within the past few months the band – which features the soulful and at times beautifully falsetto vocals of Shawn Smith and the guitar heroics of Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard –performed a high-profile show at the Showbox and landed a main stage slot at the Sasquatch! Music Festival.  That’s quite a bit of activity for a group that only surfaces every few years. The two High Dive shows were less-hyped occasions with a more intimate environment and if the new material previewed at the High Dive is any indication, especially the excellent “Every Whisper,” the new record scheduled for released on Aug. 10 will be one of the band’s strongest offerings to date.

Aside from the new songs, “Let Go” was a highlight early on and the funky “20th Century” was a late set centerpiece. Smith is one of the Northwest’s most unique and underrated rock vocalists and getting to hear his golden pipes ring through the close-quarters confines of a packed High Dive made the show well worth the price of admission. Plus, it’s always good to hear Gossard play lead guitar, which is something he doesn’t do too often as a member of Pearl Jam. Most of the moments of the show that stood out were those when Gossard’s guitar was able to soar through the venue as freely as Smith’s voice effortlessly floated through the air.

The main set closed with the one-two combo of “Buttercup” and “Day Break,” a pair of songs that always sound good together. And as with the last few Brad shows there was a surprise at the end (the Showbox show saw Smith front a reunited Mother Love Bone and the Sasquatch! set featured an unannounced two-song Satchel set) making for a memorable encore. This time the surprise came in the form of Smith playing a few solo songs including some choice covers. A soulful “Purple Rain” was the last song of the night and it nearly outshined everything that came before it with one exception.  That exception was a slowed down, slightly R&B-tinged version of “Crown of Thorns.” While Smith performed the song with the remaining members of Mother Love Bone at the Showbox a little while back it was clear the song isn’t a regular part of his repetoire. He restarted the song a few times because he flubbed the lyrics. It came across as endearing instead of unprofessional which made it a special moment worth savoring.

As surprising and enjoyable as the encore was, opener Stuck on a Bus nearly stole the show before Brad even took the stage. The group of kids, and I do literally mean kids as the oldest member couldn’t have been older than 15, played an amazing set of covers. Watching Stuck on a Bus play for 45 minutes was the most fun I’ve had at a show in months. Featuring a spunky preteen female vocalist  Stuck on a Bus expertly ripped through Maiden (“The Trooper), Sabbath (“Sweet Leaf’ & “War Pigs”), Zeppelin (“Immigrant Song”), Radiohead (“My Iron Lung”) and more with jaw-dropping technical skill and rock prowess. It was enough to make me fall in love with rock ‘n’ roll all over again.


Unreleased material from Soundgarden coming later this year

Friday, June 18th, 2010

The first bit of new music from Soundgarden will be released later this year in the form of a playable song on the video game Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock.

The unreleased song “Black Rain” is a part of the tracklist for the game, which will be released Sept. 21, 2010. The song will be the first bit of new music from the newly reunited band in more than a decade. Since reuniting not much has been going on in the Soundgarden camp this year aside from playing a one-off reunion show at the Showbox (read Ear Candy’s review here) and prepping for its upcoming Lollapalooza headlining set. A heavily rumored box set that is expected to include rarities, b-sides and more unreleased goodies has yet to be dated for release. Perhaps “Black Rain” surfacing is a good sign the box set will see the light of day some time this year.

A reunited band releasing highly anticipated new music via video game isn’t a new marketing tactic. A few years back Rock Band 2 featured “Shackler’s Revenge,” a then unreleased song by Guns N Roses, when Axl Rose was attempting to make a comeback with Chinese Democracy. Of course, Soundgarden is a bit of a different beast than GNR.


Mark Pickerel, Jesse Sykes, Curtains For You to play West Seattle Summer Fest

Friday, June 11th, 2010

The lineup for the annual West Seattle Summer Festival was announced earlier this week. The festival, which takes place in the West Seattle Junction (California Ave SW & SW Alaska Street), goes down on July 9th, 10th and 11th and will include tons of local bands all playing for free. Here’s the initial lineup with a few additional acts to be added soon, including a “special, secret, surprise band.” (more…)


Victor Shade, Fatal Lucciano, Black Whales and more to play Georgetown Music Festival

Friday, June 11th, 2010

Organizers for the Georgetown Music Festival, which will take place June 25 and 26, revealed the festival’s schedule early this morning and as always it features loads of local talent. It’s a bit smaller than previous GMFs, which have included national acts like Helmet and Okkervil River, but this year’s focus on all local and loads of hip hop is perfect for the industrial and gritty hood of Georgetown. Plus it’s free, so you can’t beat the price.
There are plenty of my local favorites on the bill ranging from Victor Shade to Skeletons With Flesh on Them which should make this summer festival a great way to spend a (hopefully) sunny weekend at the end of the month. Other acts worth checking out include Tea Cozies, Hotels, Fatal Lucciano, Black Whales, Candysound, SOTA and more. The complete lineup is below:

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Atmosphere, Dead Weather, MGMT to headline Capitol Hill Block Party

Friday, June 11th, 2010

The Capitol Hill Block Party announced its lineup last week and it’s looking like you’ll want to be in Capitol Hill July 23-25. Atmosphere is sandwiched between Dead Weather and MGMT as headliners for the three-day festival. A limited number of three-day passes for $60 are on sale now. Single-day passes cost $23 and are on sale Friday. Tickets cost $25 day of show online or $30 cash at the door. Here’s the initial lineup with more acts expected to be announced soon.

Friday:MGMT, Yeasayer, Holy Fuck, Shabazz Palaces, Bear In Heaven, Head Like A Kite, Macklemore, Unnatural Helpers, Jaguar Love, Champagne Champagne, Fences, Chris Pureka, Stay Hi Brothers, The Physics, Fences, Candit, J.Pinder, Hella Dope, Mahjongg, Police Teeth, Naomi Punk, US

Saturday: Atmosphere, Blonde Redhead, !!!, Blitzen Trapper, Mad Rad, Obits, Here We Go Magic, Zola Jesus, Night Marchers, Past Lives, The Redwood Plan, THEESatisfaction, Beach Fossils, Grand Hallway, The Drowning Men, Cold Lake, Air 2 a Bird, Black Breath, Grynch/Spaceman/State of the Artist, Eastern Grip

Sunday: The Dead Weather, Blue Scholars, The Dutchess and the Duke, Harlem, Cynic, Fresh Espresso, Victor Shade, Truckasaurus, Villagers, Flexions, Globes, Steel Tigers of Death


Seven bands I plan to check out, or at least give another listen to, thanks to Sasquatch! 2010

Friday, June 11th, 2010

It’s hard to believe that almost two weeks have passed since the wonderful weekend at the Gorge Amphitheatre that was Sasquatch! 2010. Most of my Sasquatch! 2010 coverage can be found on Ear Candy (check it all out over here). Since the festival is all about musical discoveries, here’s a list of seven artists I plan to spend more time with in the coming months thanks to my experience at Sasquatch! 2010.

The Heavy: This UK  group got added to Sasquatch! late and they sort of got screwed by having a noon time slot on Monday. The main stage crowd was sparse for their performance but those who were there witnessed one of the most electrifying sets of Sasquatch! The band’s dirty R&B garage rock was spiked with horns and featured an amazingly energetic and passionate frontman in Kelvin Swaby. It was impossible not to shake your booty in a dancetacular frenzy to The Heavy’s highly polished modern take on retro rock. Catch them live when they come to the Showbox at the Market June 21.

The National: I missed most of their set at Sasquatch! a few years back and I had to miss most of their set this year because they were playing opposite America’s greatest festival band, The Hold Steady. I heard some really great things about the entire set by The National so I plan to give The Boxer a good listen in the coming weeks and I also plan to check out High Violet. There has to be a reason why everyone seems to like these guys, right?

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Mudhoney + SAM = Party in the Olympic Sculpture Park

Friday, June 11th, 2010

The Seattle Art Museum is having one heckuva fundraiser at the end of the month that will feature none other than Sub Pop legends Mudhoney. If you think Mudhoney and SAM sound like an odd combo, well wait until you hear the location of the fundraiser — the Olympic Sculpture Park’s Gates Amphitheatre.

The fundraiser, which will take place June 25, is being called SAM’s Party in the Park and tickets cost between $75 and $125 depending on  when you buy them ($75 if purchased before June 15, $100 after and $125 day of show). Tickets include food, a hosted bar with beer and one VIP ticket to the Kurt exhibit at SAM. All funds raised at Party in the Park will benefit SAM’s artistic programs including programming at the Olympic Sculpture Park.

Sure the tickets are a bit on the spendy side for a Mudhoney show, but hey it is a fundraiser for a good cause which makes the purchase well worth the cost. And how many opportunities will you get to see Mudhoney perform outdoors in front of massive pieces of public art? You can buy tickets here.


Is this Kia commercial ripping off the Moondoggies?

Friday, June 11th, 2010

A reader sent a tip my way about potential copyright infringement involving the Kia car company and Seattle’s own Moondoggies. The below Kia commercial, titled “Home,” uses some music that’s awfully close to sounding like the Moondoggies “Undertaker.” Check the videos and hear the comparison yourself. I’ve been told the band is aware of the similarities. Hardly Art, the Moondoggies label, declined to comment at the moment.

The Moondoggies “Undertaker” from The Crocodile on Vimeo.


My Morning Jacket, MGMT, Vampire Weekend and Dr Dog own Sasquatch! 2010

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Editor’s note: The Sasquatch! Music Festival took place during Memorial Day Weekend at the Gorge Amphitheatre. While I was busy covering the festival for another media outlet my good friend Brent Stecker managed to cover the festival on my behalf for this site. Here’s what he had to say:

The first day of Sasquatch! 2010 was certainly an eventful one, full of indie stalwarts, power-popping veterans, and the usual aches & pains that go with 12 hours of hoofing it up and down the hills of The Gorge. But without a doubt, any pain I may be feeling right now is well worth it after the unbelievable main stage-closing set by one of my personal favorite bands, My Morning Jacket.

MMJ immediately took the stage by storm, blasting a several-minute long power-chord jam before kicking into their classic “One Big Holiday.” Frontman Jim James (or Yim Yames, depending on which day it is) was a ball of fire, and the rest of the group was in rare form as they tore through a two-hour set that was highlighted by an epic, 15-minute-plus version of the slow-burning “Dondante,” and several other well-received cuts from their breakthrough album Z.

Earlier, Vampire Weekend played to a massive and energetic crowd at the main stage. After starting out strong with their signature afropop stylings, VW’s set seemed to get bogged down as the songs took a more electro turn. The crowd seemed to embrace it all, regardless.

Other first day highlights included a tight early afternoon set from Seattleites Minus the Bear, The National’s intense turn on the main stage, and The Hold Steady’s charisma-fueled show on the Bigfoot stage.

One other quick note: This year’s attendees don’t seem to be too enthusiastic about no-frills rock bands. The Bigfoot stage was overcrowded for Mumford & Sons and Portugal. The Man, while sets by Brad, The Hold Steady, and The Posies were all poorly attended. The crowd at My Morning Jacket also thinned considerably as the show went on, likely because of DeadMau5′s laser-heavy late set at Bigfoot.

SASQUATCH! 2010 DAY 2

Two days in, it was clear the hype that surrounded this year’s Sasquatch! was be well earned.

Sunday saw highly-anticipated sets from Pavement, LCD Soundsystem, and Massive Attack, plus turns by Public Enemy, Local Natives, and surprise fill-in act Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band on the Bigfoot stage.

Pavement showed why the indie world basically demanded a reunion tour, playing for more than 90 minutes with a playful-yet-precise irreverence. The five-piece suffered only from an early bass-tuning snafu, which made for a surly Stephen Malkmus for the rest of the show, ironic considering the tone of their work.

LCD Soundsystem was a big hit with the crowd, and really did turn The Gorge into a giant dance party with its bleepity-bloopity goodness.

Massive Attack was visually stunning and aurally hypnotic, while at the same time Public Enemy soldiered on for a fiery and political show despite issues with the P.A.

Early in the day, buzz band Local Natives impressed a sizable crowd, the Long Winters played some new material and covered the Grateful Dead’s “Touch of Grey,” and They Might Be Giants delivered on an entertaining set, at times coming off like an endearingly low-rent Flaming Lips.

SASQUATCH! 2010 DAY 3

An eclectic mix of acts and a very receptive crowd made the final day of Sasquatch! the one to remember from this year.

Topping the list of highlights from Sunday was MGMT’s evening set, which was rivaled only by Vampire Weekend on Saturday for audience enthusiasm. The place was packed for the boys from Brooklyn, and seeing the crowd bounce along to the group’s holy triumvirate of “Time To Pretend,””Electric Feel” and “Kids,” I anticipate that the performance will go down in the annals of Sasquatch! as one of the landmark moments in the festival’s history.

Just before MGMT, Band of Horses played a well-chosen set of songs that coaxed the large turnout into a borderline singalong. And whereas MGMT was seemingly going through the motions onstage (the crowd clearly was going to love them as long as the aforementioned trio of songs was performed), Ben Bridwell and Co. actually brought their A game.

The early evening was the perfect time for She & Him’s pleasant pop. Zooey Deschanel has great stage presence — you know, somebody should put her in a movie or something — and M. Ward kept the crowd from getting sleepy with a rip-roaring take on “Roll Over Beethoven.”

Passion Pit made waves earlier in the day on the main stage, but Dr. Dog was secretly melting faces at the Bigfoot Stage at the same time. While the Philadelphia natives are relatively sunny and polite on record, they proved to be loud and captivating on stage. The four-piece clearly puts a lot of emphasis on taking a good song and enhancing it with dynamics. But the thing that I really loved about them was that unlike other bands that rely heavily on harmonies, they don’t shy away from rocking out. And that’s not because they’re full of testosterone and need a release; it’s because rocking out is fun, especially if the songs are good.

Finally, the three days came to a close with Ween, a band I knew absolutely nothing about heading into the day. It was a neat to experience them for the first time in that setting, and I genuinely enjoyed their Zappa-esque combination of instrumental mastery and screwball mentality. I can see why they’ve been embraced by a loyal fan base (almost like that of a jam band), and they were a good fit to end the most eclectic day of the weekend.

*** All photos by Chris Nelson for Live Nation


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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.