Tonight in Seattle:  

Built to Spill and Macklemore kick off Sasquatch! announcement party

at Neptune Theater

Spring is just around the corner, and with spring and summer comes the music festival circuit. Coachella recently announced some big names with Blur, the Stone Roses, and New Order set to play the California festival, so anticipation has been high for what Sasquatch would roll out. Monday night’s Sasquatch! Launch Party ended all the speculation with the announcement of a stellar lineup, but not before kicking the whole thing off with a killer show at the Neptune Theater.

Cody ChesnuTT started off the night with his own brand of high energy soul/funk/R&B. Wearing what appeared to be an army helmet, ChesnuTT had the crowd singing along as he bounced from one side of the stage to the other, his backing band sounding incredible. After a short video from Ron Swanson estowing the virtues of the festival “Thunder Closet," it was time for the 'special guest.'

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Latest comment by: Dead C: "Macklemore actually wasn't wearing a denim jacket at all. Also, Brett Netson sang the Beefheart cover."

Dirty Projectors bring their gorgeous harmonies to the Showbox

at Showbox at the Market

{Dirty Projectors / by Beth Crook}

Monday nights can be a little hit and miss as far as shows go: crowds can often be worn out from the preceding weekend -- in this case, that weekend involved three days of Block Party goodness -- and occasionally reluctant to venture out again for yet another show on Monday. That was certainly not the case with Wye Oak and Dirty Projector’s show at the Showbox this past Monday night.

Wye Oak opened up the evening to an already fairly crowded Showbox. The duo of drummer (and occasional bassist) Andy Stack and guitarist Jenn Wasner made enough noise that you have thought you were listening to a much larger band. Maybe it was the sound capacities of the Showbox on this particular night, but even if not, Wye Oak is much, MUCH louder and heavier live than their recorded version is. Wasner’s guitar playing often created a punishing wall of sound, with her vocals just barely lifting over the top. Their moody and contemplative sound harkened back to some of the shoegaze bands of the early 90s. This was my first time seeing Wye Oak, and I was certainly impressed.

{Wye Oak / by Beth Crook}

{Wye Oak / by Beth Crook}

Dirty Projectors took the stage to an anxiously excited crowd, with lead singer David Longstreth high-fiving audience members in the front row upon entrance. The first twenty-five minutes of their set consisted of songs from their new album, Swing Lo Magellan. That fantastic new material punctuated their setlist, as they played the majority of the twelve songs on the album, with highlights from their 2009 album Bitte Orca interspersed throughout.

One noticeable difference between the current incarnation of Dirty Projectors and previous ones is the adjusted lineup. While most members remain the same, former drummer Brian McOmber left the band on amicable terms and was replaced by Mike Johnson. More noticeable however, is the absence of Angel Deradoorian. The trio of Deredoorian, Haley Dekle, and Amber Coffman made some of the most unique and gorgeous melodies in indie music -- however, Deredoorian left the group earlier this year to pursue other projects and was temporarily replaced by Wye Oak’s Jess Wasner, who has since been replaced by former Chairlift member Olga Bell. Considering some of the harmonies and offbeat timing involved in playing their songs live, Bell did a fantastic job and certainly held her own with the rest of the band. When the three of them harmonized together on songs like “Useful Chamber”, they didn’t just settle for singing their beautiful melodies in perfect harmony, they did so at full volume. Not only were they all perfectly on-key, they absolutely belted those notes as loud as they could, and the audience loved every second of it. I noticed several people around me turn to their friends with that "wow, that sounds fucking amazing!" look on their face.

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River Giant at The Tractor Tavern

at The Tractor Tavern

{River Giant / by Jon Kaplan}
 
Music has always seemed to work in cycles: sounds and styles that were once being blasted through wood-paneled JBL L100's while teens gazed deeply into their black light posters fizzled out and died -- just to slowly creep their way back into music decades later. It's that nostalgic sound that so many bands have sought for years. Many bands struggle with finding that sound, a way to communicate their music and their art as a blend of that which influenced them as kids and something new that they would like to introduce to the world. Most all musicians have tales of crackling 45's and cassettes left playing in the background while their parents carried about their chores -- and these are some of their deepest influences. It seems to me that, all too often, these influences are not translated effectively and lose something along the way. But for Seattle-based trio River Giant, the usage and balance of their influences comes so naturally that it feels and sounds like a haunting (and effing bad ass) trip through some of the more notable sounds of the last 40 years, all while maintaining their own unique touch. Forming in 2009 and fresh off the release of their debut self-titled release, Kyle Jacobson (vocals/guitar), Trent Schreiner (bass/vocals) and Liam O'Connor (drums/vocals) have found their sound and have been steadily gigging the last few months, sharing it with Seattle.
 
This past Saturday, River Giant took the stage at the Tractor Tavern, opening up for Portland-based band The Builders and the Butchers. With no banter or introduction, River Giant hopped up in front of a crowd of roughly 150 slightly boozed-up people and ripped right into "Western", a heavy 1970's psychedelic trip that should find it's way onto every future setlist.  Wasting no time, the band then launched into "Out Here, Outside", a tune filled with good vibes and rich harmonies. The remainder of the set included (in this order): "Taylor Mountain", "Ra Ra", "Randy Is His" (unreleased), "Missing You", "Fast Heart" and "Feel Like". The final song of the near 40-minute set was "Pink Flamingos", the second track off of their new album and arguably their most sugary, catchy, hook-ridden jam yet. As one of the more tasteful rhythm sections around Seattle, Trent Schreiner and Liam O'Connor provide well crafted, soaring harmonies behind lead singer Kyle Jacobson's striking guitar work. Overall, the band was well-rehearsed and tight, everyone I spoke with after the show glowing in their remarks for the up-and-coming band. The only issue I had was that the 35ish minute set left me hungry and ready for more.

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Latest comment by: Michael Winter: "This second I stumbled across their bandcamp page a week before their record release my jaw dropped... This band blew my mind and the world needs to hear them. Great things will happen to this band! Great job boys! Lemme play some steel on a track ...

Photoessay: Eef Barzelay {Clem Snide} and Chris Otepka {Heligoats}

at Tashiro-Kaplan Artist Lofts

{Eef Barzelay / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

By some stroke of fortunate timing, we found ourselves at the Tashiro-Kaplan Artist Lofts in Pioneer Square this past Friday night, for a few beautiful sets of music from Eef Barzelay, Chris Otepka, and Shannon Stephens. It was one of those heard-it-through-the-grapevine "house" shows, with a few dozen folks scattered about on floor cushions, a table full of shared food and booze, and a donation jar for the musicians at the front door. For a few hours, we sat shoeless and took in the pretty vibes of Shannon Stephens + friends {most notably with our pal Andrew Rudd on the brush-and-file-folder percussion}, a quick but engaging set from Heligoats frontman Chris Otepka, and finally, a handful of mostly-new tracks from Eef himself.

Here's a few shots from the night to prove it all happened:

{Chris Otepka / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Chris Otepka and Eef Barzelay / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Eef Barzelay / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

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Preservation Hall Jazz Band at the Neptune

at Neptune Theater

For decades, the required experiences when visiting New Orleans have included: a trip to Café du Monde for beignets, bar hopping on Bourbon Street, and catching a show at Preservation Hall. While I did miss the beignets, we Seattle folk only had to travel as far as the U District for the treat of listening to the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and their traditional New Orleans sound.

Jumping right in with a string of quick-tempo instrumental numbers including “Bourbon Street Parade,” the group blew us all away with the power of their unamplified sound. Making the rounds on solos, the individual members had the opportunity to shine and they egged each other on by both the shouting of encouragement and by raucous clapping. Band leader and trumpet player Mark Braud almost melted my face off with his blistering Satchmo-style solo.

This band has been around and touring for over forty years -- but the songs never sound dated or stale, in part due to the energy and craftsmanship that rotating members invest in the music. They’ve perfected the vintage New Orleans jazz sound but also add hints of soul and R&B rhythms. Clarinet player Charlie Gabriel, a fourth generation musician whose family has been playing music in New Orleans since the 1850s, impressed with both his bluesy solos and exuberance. Providing vocals on several songs, his voice was like a well balanced mix of Billy Eckstine and Ray Charles.

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