So this is really old news but if you somehow end up at this site and want some more current info on the local music scene then cruise over to http://www.heraldnet.com/whatradio and check out all the new stuff going on over there!
After more than five years away The Shins are breaking the silence. Their new album Port of Morrow is set to be released on March 20th and the few tracks I have heard so far sound fantastic.
This week The Shins released the video for their new track “Simple Song”. The song is great and the video gave me goosebumps right from the start. I’m not sure if that is because of the eerie feeling I get from seeing James Mercer’s corpse singing at the beginning of the video or because of the striking resemblance of this dysfunctional family to members of my own.
Goosebumps or not, the video reminds you instantly just how good The Shins are (even if Mercer is the only original member left).
If you make it out to the Gorge for the Sasquatch! Music Festival this year, The Shins are a must see that you won’t regret.
Jay Z and Kanye West brought their Watch The Throne tour to the Tacoma Dome on Friday night and though I was there for the music I was quickly overcome by the mind blowing visual spectacle the ensued. Fireworks, lasers, giant screens behind the main stage and flames shooting out of the stage. The feeling in the Tacoma Dome changed when people realized that two of the biggest stars in hip hop were standing right in front of them.
The show started with JAY Z and Kanye each on their own 20 foot high cube that seemed to rise up out of nowhere, one out of the main stage and the other came out of the center of the floor seating area. The cube stages doubled as screens that displayed images of sharks, barking dogs, and scenes of jungle animal attacks.
The two stars shared the stage performing songs from their Watch The Throne album and took turns doing mini sets of their solo hits. During Kanye’s first few songs someone from the front row pitched his business card on stage and Kanye stopped during his song “All Falls Down” to address the issue and have the fan removed. “These cubes goin 20 feet in the air… we riskin our lives out here. You can’t be throwin s**t that we gonna slip on” said West while he called for the fan to be ejected. The performance went on shortly after and the crowd seemed to get over it pretty quick.
The show ended in epic fashion as the pair performed their popular song “Ni**as in Paris” five times in a row. I have never seen an artist perform a song twice in one show and these guys played the same song five consecutive times and each time the crowd went crazier than the last. As if the black leather kilt Kanye was wearing wasn’t evidence enough that these two can pretty much do whatever they want, this encore certainly confirmed it.
To be in attendance felt like one of those once in a lifetime opportunities and almost didn’t seem real. I can’t really come up with the words to do this show the justice it deserves so I posted a couple of videos below that should paint a pretty clear picture.
Last Wednesday was better than I could’ve hoped and it almost didn’t happen. What I mean is, I didn’t even hear about the Local Natives/ The National coming to Seattle to play two nights at The Neptune till the show was sold out. However “sold out” just means a challenge, so I began plotting my strategy to get a ticket for the first night. I emailed all the Craigslist postings, which there weren’t that many. Then I emailed Local Natives publicist, who promptly informed me that they had no tickets and I’d have to talk to The National people. Still no Craigslist replies the day before the show, but The National people did confirm me for a photo pass. Late Tuesday afternoon I got call from a gal offering to sell one ticket which I promptly agreed to.
I arrived to The Neptune just after doors to pick up my ticket and secure a good spot up front. But remember the whole “two nights sold out for over a month” thing, yaaa, that means Seattle really loves The National/Local Natives/Wye Oak and the front was already packed three rows deep, at least an hour before Wye Oak took stage. The way I saw it, I was in good company with people who love good music. Wye Oak played a quick 4 song set that was equally sweet as short. Local Natives took the stage and quickly fired up the crowd with some hits from their debut album, Gorilla Manor. Additionally Local Natives treated us to a coupe new songs that have me really looking forward to their next release.
Before The National took stage the last of Local Natives and Wye Oak’s gear was removed revealing a surprisingly open stage for the 5 piece band. The first three songs flew by and I retreated from front to the back to enjoy a cold beverage and watch the rest of the set. Though The National took the stage with a quiet demeanor, with front man Matt Berninger dressed to impress by the last song the his tie was loosened and his blazer discarded. The last song was unplugged and acoustic and topped off what I dare say was the longest headliner performance I’ve seen in some time.
All in all it was an amazing show and as I filed out of The Neptune I couldn’t help but wonder if there were any more tickets on Craigslist for the next nights show.
“Any stage is a beautiful opportunity.” -Allen Stone
I got the chance to talk with Allen Stone recently and he was kind enough to take some time to do an interview. We talk about his performance on Conan, who he dreams about playing with and his love for the Seattle Super Sonics. Read it below or if you want to listen to it check out the audio at the very bottom.
Steve: Are you tired of talking about Conan yet?
Allen: Tired of it? No. It was an incredible opportunity. It’s actually getting easier. I keep giving people the same rundown, but no, I’m not sick of it.
Steve: When you do something like that is there any special pre-grame warm up or is it just like any other show?
Allen: I wouldn’t say there is any routine involved but it’s definitely way more nerve racking for sure. I don’t typically get nervous for shows and I was shaking before I went on to tape it. I warm up my vocals before each show but no like, chest bumping or naked ice blocking or anything weird like that.
Steve: You did three shows in three nights at Seattle’s City Arts Fest and every night everybody seemed more than happy that you were still playing. What was that like?
Allen: It was awesome! I rarely get to play in Seattle. I get to play in Seattle like once every three or four months because of radius clauses. I love Seattle. I live in Seattle now so it’s my home, it’s where my community is at. So playing several times in a row was a huge blessing. The third gig was not known until the morning of so we didn’t go on till like 11 o’clock so I had time to catch my breath and gather myself before we went on. Playing live is my passion, playing live is what thrills me so any chance I get to play that many times especially the same city that I love it’s awesome.
Steve: I am getting pretty excited to see you play with the Seattle Rock Orchestra. Is it exciting or different to do something like that as opposed to the normal kinds of shows that you play?
Allen: Yeah. Something like that, there is a hell of a lot of rehearsal that goes into it. Just making sure that all the T’s are crossed and I’s are dotted is a little bit tedious at times. I met with Scott Teske a couple days ago and we’re putting the final touches on what songs we want to do and what songs will work best with an orchestra and then the hard work comes in which is more on Scott’s back. Arranging the orchestra parts and notating the music and dealing with someone like me. I’m pretty anal about my live set so I’m sure he’ll get sick of me by the time we go ahead and play. It’s not anything different, it’s just the same kind of thing but you work 72 hours for a 45 minute set.
Steve: Is there anybody that you would really like to perform with?
Allen: Jamie Lidell. I would love to be on stage with Jamie Lidell and work with him. I think he’s incredible. I would like to say Sharon Jones but she would just kill me. She is just such an incredible performer that if I was even close to the same stage as her that she would just belittle me without even trying because her energy and the band’s tightness is really something incredible and special. But, of course if I got the opportunity I would not turn it down.
I really love James Taylor too. I think he’s an incredible song writer and singer and if I was fantasizing about anybody in music history that I could work with him and obviously Stevie Wonder and artists of that generation and caliber I would definitely be more excited. I’d probably be more nervous than I was on Conan which would probably be a train wreck but it would still be fun. It would still be flattering for sure.
Steve: Is there a venue you’ve always dreamed of performing at or is there a favorite place that you love to play?
Allen: I really love the Crocodile. The Crocodile has always been super cool to me, incredibly accommodating and the sound checks are always top notch. Colin, the manager at the Crocodile, actually grew up in Colville which is just north of Chewelah where I grew up. So we’re both kind of country lovin kids who both made the trip to the big city and he’s super cool and everybody there is super accommodating and nice and really professional.
I love playing the Crocodile in Seattle but for me though it’s not necessarily the location because I didn’t grow up in Seattle so I don’t have memories of seeing bands at any venues that are really sentimental to me. Any stage, honestly, simply because how much I love playing music, is a blessing. Obviously the bigger the better for me, the more exciting, the more anticipation. Any stage is a beautiful opportunity. Not very many people get to do what they love and I count it a blessing any time I get to sing in front of people.
Steve: I want to switch gears a little bit. Let’s talk about the Seattle SuperSonics because I see you wearing the Sonics shirt all the time. Were you as heartbroken as I was when the team left?
Allen: I was. I was bummed out. I was a basketball player my whole life. I played basketball and baseball but I was really really into basketball growing up and finally moving to the city where I have my own team and then that team being uprooted and leaving was totally a bummer. But I won’t lie and say that I was the biggest patron of the SuperSonics, I was only in town for like a year before they got uprooted. I think I might have seen them play twice, but even growing up in Chewelah and watching them play in the finals against the Bulls and trying to catch as many games a possible. So yeah, it was definitely a bummer when they got picked up and moved. Especially when it was the whole team. It wasn’t like we couldn’t afford it anymore. They just got taken out and placed somewhere else and then the team started winning. That was the biggest bummer.
Steve: Do you have a favorite Sonic?
Allen: I’m a Detlef guy, Detlef Schrempf. I think partially because of the long ball and partially because of his flat top, it was just killer all the time.
I’ve seen Shawn Kemp around town. He came to this little gig of mine one time.
Steve: How did that feel?
Allen: He’s huge dude! He’s like 20 feet tall I swear, and his head is just gigantic. But he was a super endearing, nice guy and he said some nice things to me.
Steve: Is there anything coming up that want people to know about?
Allen: Definitely January 14th at the Neptune with the Seattle Rock Orchestra. That’s going to be so much fun. Tickets are already half sold out. They are going pretty quick so if people don’t have their tickets yet they should go get them.
Has KEXP been a helping hand in your career?
KEXP has been an awesome resource for us. When we finished our first record, we knew a couple of late night DJs who would give it a spin every once in a while, and as awareness of Hey Marseilles grew through shows, we started receiving more and more play during the day. Their importance to the Seattle music scene can’t be overstated and they’ve been great to us. I can say with confidence that any fans we have in Australia or Scandinavian countries is only because of them.
How has residing in Seattle been an influence or help for your music?
The music community here is really diverse and supportive. The venues, bands, blogs and radio stations don’t just support independent music, they cultivate it. Also, rain and coffee is a great reason to stay inside and get creative.
What is it that has kept you together for all these years?
We’ve been playing together for about five years and I think it’s lasted that long just because we all really respect what each other can bring to the table musically. The music we make has so many layers and wouldn’t be the same if all of us weren’t contributing in our own way. And as long as we collectively like what we’re putting out, we’ll keep putting it out.
Has your music/sound/income been effecting by the economy changes?
Being a musician is fantastic preparation for learning to live minimally. So… I can’t say the band has been affected too much by outside economic circumstances, but as individuals we certainly have been, and that has probably worked its way into who we are. After selling my own home underwater and deciding to keep things relatively simple, a number of my lyrics have delved into concepts of home and community. And that’s been relevant to who we are as a band, I guess: the house in which we practice and recorded our new record, and in which three members live, was a foreclosed property before we stumbled on it. So in some ways, the current economic circumstances have provided us some opportunities, but that’s probably because we’re coming from an industry that’s already a disaster and our expectations for making a career are relatively low.
Spirit Animal anyone?? Think long and hard!
Meerkat. Because they travel in large groups and keep their heads up.
What is your perfect burrito?
A potato burrito. With ample spiciness. And chicken. And sour cream.
Top spots to grub in the Seattle Area?
Rancho Bravo for the late night snack. Via Tribunali for pizza dinner. Joule for the really nice place you want to take your lady.
Favorite venues to perform in Seattle?
Neumos. Tractor Tavern. Benaroya Hall. The Comet Tavern.
Warmest welcome in any city?
Washington, DC. They laugh at most everything we say on stage. And they keep showing up to our shows.
Anything you would want your fans to know about you as a whole?
We are really excited to have folks hear our new songs. Also, Sam is still single.
This year’s City Arts Fest was stacked with great artists and all the festivalgoers I spoke to had nothing but great things to say about the shows they saw. But after he dominated three different Seattle venues in three consecutive nights, I am wondering if The Allen Stone Fest might have been a more appropriate name.
Seattle’s Allen Stone performed Wednesday night at the City Arts Fest opening party and Thursday night at The Triple Door as scheduled. Then on Friday something happened. An announcement began to flood Twitter and Facebook that Fences (also of Seattle) who was slated to headline Neumos, would no longer be playing and in a surprise move Allen Stone would be the replacement headliner. Nobody seemed to mind as fans packed the house to see Allen Stone perform, some for the second or even third night in a row and the place went crazy.
This Wednesday Allen will be making a television appearance when he performs live on Conan and after seeing the way the crowds responded to him last week at City Arts Fest it is clear that he is about to set the country on fire with Funk. If you aren’t able to catch his late night TV performance don’t worry, I will post the video as soon as it is available.
The video below is from his Friday night show at Neumos. Big thanks to @davidklayton for the great photo.
It’s cold out. No worries, we’ll just have the festival inside. This Thursday through Saturday City Arts Fest is taking place at venues all over Seattle and the lineup is looking good. Though there are some artists at the top of the bill who are not local, the Pacific Northwest is certainly well represented by artists like Grand Hallway, Allen Stone, Shabazz Palaces, Daydream Vacation and some more we will discuss in a bit.
Below is a preview of the festival with a few of the shows I plan to see. I have linked to each band’s festival page so you can read more about them and pick up tickets if you like for that individual show but keep in mind that a wrist band that gets you into any show all three nights is only $69.00! Who do you want to see?
Robyn at The Paramount (9:30pm – 11:00pm)
Dancing is mandatory when Sweden’s Robyn comes to town. When Robyn gets on stage she is fierce from start to finish. This is going a great way to start the festival.
Crystal Castles at The Showbox Sodo (11:30pm – 1:00am)
After Robyn I’ll be cruising across town to keep the dance party going with Crystal Castles. I tried to see them at Sasquatch a couple years back but by the time I got to the dance tent the floor was so packed I couldn’t get in. Getting there late is a mistake I’m excited to correct that mistake this week.
This is where things get tricky. Friday night is packed with shows I want to see. I believe this is the way things will line up for me.
Built to Spill at The Moore (9:30pm – 11:00pm)
Built to Spill is one of my favorite bands that I somehow have never seen live. These guys have been playing together for about 20 years and I can’t wait to see what their live show is like after all that practice.
I have no idea what to expect out of this live laser show business but Helio Sequence is one of my favorite bands to see live. Being from Oregon they play in the area often and I always try to catch them because their music is great but also because Benjamin Weikel might be the best drummer I have ever seen. I’m not just saying that. Watching Benjamin play is a mind blowing spectacle that everybody should see at least once. I’ll try to shoot some video at the show to post next week.
Grand Archives at The Neptune (Doors at 9:00pm)
Seattle’s Grand Archives is the only reason I’m going to the festival on Saturday. I love this band. Singer/songwriter Mat Brooke, formerly of Carissa’s Weird and Band of Horses, writes beautiful songs. “Sleep Driving” is the first song Grand Archives wrote and played together. I posted it below.
Like I said, Friday is tricky. There are several bands I want to see and they all seem to be playing at the same time. Though I won’t likely get to see Pickwick perform Friday night, I must recommend them. Pickwick is from Seattleand they are on the rise. I had the pleasure of seeing them twice at Bumbershoot this year and I was blown away by how good they are live. There may not be many more opportunities to see a band this good play in a small venue like The Crocodile.
I shot this video of them at Bumbershoot this year when they performed on the KEXP stage.
On October 28th Reykjavik and Seattle will celebrate their 25th anniversary as sister cities with a free 21+ concert at Neumos. This is the second straight year that Reykjavik Calling is coming to Seattle and this year the artists from Iceland are teaming up with artists from Seattle for the Sister City Showcase.
Until recently I was not familiar with the artists from the North. However, I am very familiar with all of the Seattle artists who will be join them on stage and I think this is going to be a pretty special show. The doors open at 8:00 p.m. but free shows fill up fast in Seattle so you might want to get there a little early.
Below is a list of the artists representing each region and if you want to know more you can click here or listen to 90.3 KEXP as they broadcast live from Iceland this week.
If you are living in Snohomish County you might have heard of 20 Riverside. These Everett natives have been playing a ton of shows from Seattle to Bellingham in the last few years and things are really starting to come together for them. This summer 20 Riverside played on the main stage at Hemp Fest in Seattle and next month all six members will receive the Mayor’s Arts award for young artist from Everett’s Mayor Stephanson.
I will be at the ceremony and I am hoping to chat with guys to get their reaction to receiving the award. If you want to attend the award ceremony, it will be at Schack Art Center on Hoyt Avenue in Everett on November 16th at 5pm and the awards should be coming out around 6pm. If you are interested in seeing 20 Riverside perform they will be playing at Flight’s Pub in Everett on November 11th. I try not to miss these guys when they play in the area because it is always a ton of fun.