Tonight in Seattle:  

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.


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}


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.


Scissor Sisters and Rye Rye at the Paramount

at Paramount Theater

When I saw that Rye Rye and Scissor Sisters would be touring together, my head almost exploded. Would I be able to handle that much neon, strobe lighting, lasers, and club beats in one evening? Heck yes! It was like completing a sweaty Baltimore bass half-marathon fueled completely on adrenaline and then being swallowed up in a congratulatory shiny glitter hug. [Ed. note: Damn girl!]

The diminutive Rye Rye took the stage with her duo of back up dancers, entertaining the crowd with their hardcore club moves. Slinging songs off her latest record Go! Pop! Bang! Rye Rye rapid-fired lyrics over a continuous undercurrent of pumping, dirty beats. She gave us the singles like “Sunshine," a product of her collaboration with M.I.A., and “Boom Boom” -- but then ended with the track that helped put her on Billboard’s 21 under 21 list, the dance hit “Shake It To The Ground.” As Rye Rye swaggered and ferociously spat out her rhymes, her dancers pulled audience members on stage, inviting them to shake their booties to the floor.  And you better believe they did! She danced with them, a whirling dervish in riotous turquoise, before wishing us all a good night in her sweet-soft speaking voice.

My sweaty t-shirt has just started to dry and unstick from my back when Scissor Sisters opened up with “Any Which Way.” Three minutes of that and I was back to being a hot mess. The crowd went crazy for Ana Matronic’s mid-song interlude describing the hunt for a bottle-tanned man.  The band played with their usual confidence and cheeky antics, but they seem to have also come into a relaxed familiarity, grown out of ten years of touring in mostly smaller venues. Spending an evening with Scissor Sisters, you get the feeling that we are old friends -- it’s like a class reunion for the filthy gorgeous.


Latest comment by: Ian: "Great review. Show as a little bit more tame than the last tour, but they still brought it large."

Japandroids turn Neumos into an awesomely loud sweatbox

at Neumos

{Japandroids / by John Gleason}

I went into Japandroids show Monday night fully expecting it to be a loud, liquor-fueled, sweaty mess -- and even with my expectations set so high, their show somehow managed to be even louder, sweatier, and more liquor fueled than I had expected.

Cadence Weapon got the crowd all warmed up with his electro/techno backed brand of hip-hop. The project of Edmonton native Rollie Pemberton, Cadence Weapon's delivery is sharp and witty, full of pop culture references and clever word play. His rhymes land somewhere along the lines of Das Racist, but with a bit more energy and bite. His beats are heavily influenced by electronic and techno music, with Pemberton himself citing Basement Jaxx, Aphex Twin, and Daft Punk as heavy influences. He even cleverly sampled fellow Canadian indie-electro artist Grimes' track "Eight" for his song "88."


Latest comment by: John (In Ballard) : "Anyone who missed out on this show in June get's a shot at redemption- Japandroids are coming back to Neumos on November 15th. And yes, I already have a ticket. "

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