Sunday night I took a break from my usual routine of looking for amusing videos on YouTube and reading blogs to check out some younger bands at the Folklife Festival at Seattle Center.
I've spent the previous 27 years of my life ignoring the Festival, but this year I'm pleased to report back that I fell in love with two bands that played this time: the Sutures and Natalie Portman's Shaved Head. I've wanted to check out both for quite a while, but never got around to it for whatever reason, so I'm sure neither is completely brand new or unknown. I know both have played some big and/or important shows that I was foolish to miss. But, hey, better late than never, right?
The Sutures were first, and I remember enjoying an earlier version of this band, then called the Neons, at the EMP's Sound Off! competition a few years back. Then, it was just a two-piece band of sisters, Marika on vocals and guitar and Miro on drums. Since then, they've added a guitarist and bassist and now have a much fuller, complete sound. By writing catchy songs with soft harmonies and power chords, it seemlessly blended elements of my two favorite genres: powerpop and bubblegum. I heard elements of the Strokes, the Go-Gos, Visqueen and even Pink Floyd. Toby, the lead guitarist, looks like Albert Hammond, Jr. minus ten years and plays like him minus zero. Despite a few sound/equipment issues, the band was focused and compelling.
For every bit that the Sutures were tight, Natalie Portman's Shaved Head were messy and disorganized. That was used, though, to great effect. NPSH quickly turned the Vera Project into an all-out dance party. I even saw quite a few parents dancing. Using a drum machine and synthesizers primarily (although some guitar and cowbell, as well), they evoked all of your favorite electro-dance punk bands (USE, Scissor Sisters, Daft Punk, Junior Senior, et al). NPSH is the type of band that will break every piece of equipment on stage if it will get everyone on their feet. It also has the pleasure of opening an upcoming show at Neumo's with CSS, Matt and Kim and Bonde do Role (what an effin' lineup!).
Neither band has released an album yet, but I'm sure it won't be too long before they both have CDs in record stores (and in heavy rotation on my iPod).