And on with our San Francisco Popfest coverage coming to a close, here's our post about the Saturday evening show at the Rickshaw Stop featuring the Smittens, The Magic Bullets, My Teenage Stride, Northern Portrait, and our very own Seattle darlings, Tullycraft.
Keenan Dowers: Tonight was the night. The crowning glory of indie pop. I'd been calling this night the best show of the year long before it even happened.
igLiz: Me too! It was *the* night of the Popfest that was not to be missed. Northern Portrait, a and from Denmark who's two EP's I adore the heck out of AND Tullycraft on the same bill? Yes, please!
KD: It opened with the Smittens from Burlington, VT, who were already one of my favorite indie pop bands. Their straight forward songwriting with lyrics that crush my heart and beautiful melodies have long won me over, especially on their latest release, The Coolest Thing About Love. This was the first time I'd seen them without their keyboard player Max, whose deep, Stephin Merritt-esque voice has always anchored their sound. I was curious what it was going to be like, as honestly, Max's voice has always been one of my favorite parts about seeing the Smittens live.
They opened with "Sapphire", one of my favorite songs, that Max had always sung, but Colin, one of the group's guitar players and chief songwriters had written. Dana, another of the group's songwriters and singers traded off vocals with Colin and played the standard casio part on a wurlitzer electric piano. I was nearly in tears. Their set continued with gorgeous and fun songs, including "Gin and Platonic", a classic of theirs, featuring backup vocals by a few members of Tullycraft.
Steve Louie: The Smittens were great. It was their first show on the west coast. Lots of fun action seen on their set as the bass guitarist received a garland of flowers from a fan and Members of Tullycraft even came up on stage and joined for a song.
Here's a video of their song "11:11".
KD: Up next were Magic Bullets from San Francisco, who, I have to admit I missed (the hazards of popfests).
igLiz: I watched their whole set and by the end of it was smitten (no pun intended) with the lead singer's infectious giddiness (even though he was grounded by a pair of crutches and a hefty leg cast thing). He grinned with pure glee as he belted out vocals that I can only describe as part Lily Allen, part Bravery, with the post-big-win disposition of Michael Phelps. The songs floated in the usually murky terrain of poppy-punk with a ska-infused rhythm aesthetic and came out smelling like cute, dance-y confetti cupcakes. I'll admit it; It took me two songs before I felt this way (see text message to Keenan: "this first song feels like it's ten mins long") – but once I figured out what was going on, I was looking for the Magic Bullets' merch table and I highly recommend seeing them when they take a stage near you.
KD: After Magic Bullets were another one of my favorite bands, Brooklyn's My Teenage Stride. I feel like every other time I see them, my jaw winds up on the floor, and this was certainly one of those occasions. They blazed through a bunch of my favorites off of their 2007 release Ears Like Golden Bats, and a bunch of new songs from their E-music single series. There was magic in the air, and they were perfectly spot on, mixing their 80's jangle and 60's pop sounds perfectly. They even included an older song "Happy Mondays" by request from a friend, which includes the chorus "You only want to dance to the Happy Mondays/You never do a thing when I put on the Sundays", which I've long thought of as the perfect indie pop grump song. I hope they come out to Seattle soon. Here's a video of a song called "Theme From Teenage Suicide" (note – I normally don't start recording a video a second or two in, or without having a good spot to record yet, but this song is just too perfect and I couldn't let it go undocumented).
KD: Following My Teenage Stride were Denmark's Northern Portrait, who I've been calling the best Smiths ripoff band ever. They have every ingredient down. They didn't disappoint. While this performance was only their 5th show ever, every jangle and Morrissey-esque wail was perfectly in place. I nearly lost it when they started playing "I'll Give You Two Seconds To Entertain Me" off of last year's Napolean Sweetheart EP. Here's a video of a new song of theirs, "What Happens Next", which will hopefully be on their new album, coming out hopefully soon on Matinee Records.
igLiz: I am so grateful to have seen Northern Portrait. Their lush melodies filled the Rickshaw Stop exactly how I dreamed they would sound live (have we talked about how perfect the sound was in that venue? Give Waldo the Soundguy a hand everyone). They played all the songs we knew (which is to be expected when you have two US-released EPs) and added in a bunch of equally sweet, unabashedly Smiths-y, songs. I'm not sure if the album is going to be released next month (one rumor I heard) or in the Fall (another rumor swirling around), but regardless, I can only hope that they tour the US to help get the word out. Folks need to know about Northern Portrait.
Want to know some neat random trivia to spout out at your next BBQ? The lead singer of NP is a wedding singer as his dayjob. Brilliant right? Do those hitching couples know how lucky they are?
KD: Closing out tonight were our very own local favorites, Tullycraft, playing their "last show" or whatever. Over the years Tullycraft have truly become one of my favorite bands, and it's sad to know that it may be quite a while before I get to jump around and sing along to them again. So, we decided to send them out with a bang. My friend decided that we should spell out the letters "T-U-L-L-Y-C-R-A-F-T" with tape over our shirts. Since we didn't want to kick the kids out who'd been waiting all night to stand up front, we met at the side of the stage and picked the best song to run up and "vandalize" their set. We missed the first one (note – it was supposed to be "If You Take Away the Makeup…"), because, well, organizing ten people, half of whom were quite drunk, is quite difficult, so we picked "The Punks Are Writing Love Songs". Here's a video that Steve took of the shenanigans.
SL: Tullycraft – oh my. That cheerleading crowd that came on during "Punks" was awesome. That was probably the highlight of their amazing set.
igLiz: It was ultra sweet to see such love (and organized cheering) on this monumental show.
KD: Their set was perfect, including most songs I wanted to hear ("Bailey Park" was incredible!), and the best part was that I got to see it surrounded by some of the biggest Tullycraft nerds I've ever met. I also loved watching all the Tullycraft virgins who'd never seen them before, including a girl I'd met outside who came all the way from Norwich to see Tullycraft. I was sore the next day from how hard we all danced, and I had no voice left for days. This was a perfect indie pop dance party.
Check out the rest of Steve's photos here.