Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Fashion? Maybe? Possibly? Yes?

So the craziness of school/applying to college/having a job has made this blog a very sad place. One of my New Year's goals (which I've always hated because I never keep them) is to keep up this blog and expand to other things besides music. Since August I've worked at a used clothing store called Buffalo Exchange. It's totally changed my mindset about fashion and I've learned so much about the industry.... I've also spent a lot of money on clothes. Oh well, c'est la vie.

I feel there's this really fine line between commercialism and art in the fashion industry and specifically in fashion blogging. Showing off clothes and outfits can so quickly go from art to "look what I got". I am a little hesitant to add more fashion and style to this blog because I don't want to loose it's integrity (do blogs have integrity?) I hope to show, and maybe even inspire, by posting outfits. For years I've been inspired by blogs like The Style Rookie  and Fashion Pirate. When I read these blogs (which is pretty much daily) I'm always taken aback by the incredible style these bloggers have. They take their clothes and create works of art (I know that sounds super cheesy, but is there a better way to say it?). I love fashion and clothes, but spend my days with people who buy all their clothes at Forever 21. So maybe the internet is the place for me? Anywho, here's my first outfit post:

I like this outfit because it feels professional with the vintage lavender skirt and detachable collar (which I made from just cutting the collar off of an old shirt), but I'm also wearing a Beavis and Butt-Head t-shirt, fish-nets, and spiked Jeffrey Campbell's. I've really liked the look of combining fun graphic tees with more fitted and "serious" pieces.

Shirt- Buffalo Exchange

Collar- DIY from old thrifted shirt

Skirt- Buffalo Exchange

Tights and Socks- Sock Dreams (a really sweet socks/tights store in Portland)

Shoes- Jeffrey Campbell Stinger Spike from Sole Struck

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

"Love This Giant" Disappoints, But I Can Still Say I Saw David Byrne with St. Vincent Live

Weird collaborations happen all the time in music. Some of them are incredible, like Queen and David Bowie with “Under Pressure” or just wrong, like Rihanna and Chris Brown post break-up with “Birthday Cake.” (Really Rih-Rih, I expected so much more from you.) While not all collaborations work, they still can produce interesting music that expands the genres of the musicians.

I was ecstatic when I found out that two of my favorite artists, seminal New Waver David Byrne and newcomer guitarist Annie Clark, (aka St. Vincent) were joining forces. I knew this combination had the possibility to be the next “Under Pressure” or to be chaos. Byrne and Clark are two very distinct and very different artists. Byrne rose to fame during the 1970s with his group The Talking Heads. The band experimented with a variety of genres ranging from New Wave, punk Americana,funk, and world music. They gained some commercial success and are considered an influential group in the history of rock and roll. 

Clark, on the other hand, has only become famous over the past few years. She creates indie/art pop rock under the pseudo name St. Vincent. She is most known for her unique guitar playing that combines robotic progressive rock riffs with almost robotic melodies. She released her first album, “Marry Me,” in 2007 and has released two more since then. 
While she has gained some commercial success, she is not nearly as well known as Byrne. 

This was why I was excited, but surprised about the Byrne and Clark collaboration. I imagined that Byrne would play the role of the “old rock mentor” to the much younger Clark. When reading interviews with Byrne and Clark prior to their album’s release, it appeared that this was truly a collaborative process between Byrne and Clark. Byrne described their relationship as similar to that of the beauty and the beast with Byrne being the beauty and Clark being the beast. 

Their collaboration, an album entitled “Love This Giant,” finally came out in September. While there were a couple strong songs, the album as a whole was a disappointment. Both artists are known for their theatricality in both their music and stage performances. This usually creates music that is exciting and tells a story,though this magic is not there in “Love This Giant.” The songs feel almost flat and lackluster. The music is a mush of Bryne’s and Clark’s musical genres and nothing stands out. 

Almost every song on the album also features an eight-piece brass band, which creates a lot of tension in the music. While this is definitely an interesting sound, it seems repetitive when it is featured on every song. 

Despite my feelings towards the album, I was excited to see Byrne and Clark perform, just to be able to say that I saw David Byrne and Annie Clark in concert, together. The show took place at the perfect venue− the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in downtown Portland. I knew that the beautiful old building would be a great place to hear them play. 

Even though I wasn't crazy about “Love This Giant,” I really enjoyed Byrne’s and Clark’s performance. The eight-piece brass band that performed on the album toured with them. While they were performing, the brass band members would travel around the stage in synchronized dances - sometimes in circles around Byrne and Clark and other times approaching them slowly, like carnivorous animals, from both sides of the stage. When performed live, the brass sounded fuller and gave life to the music instead of taking away from it. 

One of the best parts of the show was getting to see Byrne and Clark perform each other’s songs. They did Talking Head classics such as “Burning Down the House”and “This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody)” and the St. Vincent songs “Cheerleader” and “Surgeon.” 

At about halfway through the show, Clark admitted she never imagined she would ever play with Byrne. She told the story of how she first heard his music when she was only a young child and he was already a successful musician. It just goes to show you that any musical collaboration can happen, some just shouldn’t.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

T-Shirt of the Day: Meiko

Band: Meiko

Have I Ever Seen Her Live: Sadly no, she only ever has played 21+ shows.

Favorite Part of the T-Shirt: Meiko's t-shirts are always super cute- be it a rocket blasting off from the moon or a dinosaur saying her name.

Favorite Song: "Reasons to Love You"

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Summer Releases

With the school year back in full spring I bring to you three summer releases by local bands. The music ranges from punk to indie-rock to more electro influenced, but the best part about all the releases- each can either be listened to or downloaded online for free.
Our First Brains- Bummer Jams 2012
            Somewhat of a super group, Our First Brains consists of a bunch of friends who have played music together for years. For their first release, which came out this last summer, they decided to put together something that provided the “much needed bummer jams to satisfy all of your catchy punk pop desires.” WithBummer Jams 2012 they have done just that. The band combines their punk-pop soundwith various sound-bits such as couples bickering and what sounds like old radio broadcasts. The lyrics of the songs range from love to heartbreak and most songs have a punk sound that would be perfect coming from someone’s garage on a hot July night. The last song of the EP, “Attention Spans, They Die,” is the only acoustic song on Bummer Jams 2012and gives off that feeling of reminisce we all get at the end of the summer.
Where can I listen to it: while the band has sold out all their limited edition tapes of Bummer Jams 2012, you can still get it on their band camp page, where you can download it for free!
BiploarBear- Green, Blue, Red
            BiploarBear’s new EP has the band experimenting with a new, more rocking sound. Drums and distorted guitar lines are featured prominently, such as in the song “Carolina.” Singer Teal Bluestone’s voice also takes on rock, almost punk, tone, making her more Karen O than Romy Madley-Croft (of the indie rock band the xx). For the band this was one of the most time-consuming songs because of its difficult harmonies and bridge. Besides changing up their sound a little,this was also the first album the band recorded in a professional studio, which gives Green, Blue, Red a more polished feel to it. Their classic indie-rock tone is not lost in the album,though. In the sweet “SongSongSong,” which features drummer Henry Brentlinger and Bluestone sharing vocals, simple drum beats and minimal guitar are much more reminiscent of their past work than other songs on the album. Bluestone believes this is their most diverse album so far, with each song different than the one before.
            “There really isn’t a specific theme in the music of the songs,” said Teal, although when asked about the theme of the album as a whole she said she believes that it emulates the idea of summertime, something that will be greatly missed as the rain comes.
Where can I listen to it: on their Facebook page, which you can view here.
Electric Sheep- Tuesday in the Clouds
After four years of being together Electric Sheep finally put out their first album, “Tuesday in the Clouds,” right as the band was disbanding. Various members of the group had to leave because of college, so Tuesday in the Clouds was their last hurrah as a group. It’s sad the band only recorded one album becauseTuesday in the Cloudsis truly great. Inspired by indie rock bands like Grizzly Bear, Electric Sheep’s songs change from complicated electro-focused masterpieces to low-fi bridges.  Usually the songs feature just drums, guitar,and vocals. While this dramatic change could be awkward if not done right, Electric Sheep makes these transitions smoothly and makes each song a story in itself. Their music would be work perfectly for a stressful school night when you need something smoothing to get you through your calculus homework.
Where can I listen to it: on their soundcloud-

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

T-Shirt of the Day: OK Go

Band: OK Go

Have I Ever Seen Them Live: Yes- technically three times. They did a little acoustic show that a friend of mine organized at School of Rock in Portland a couple years ago, then they played that night at the Hawthorne Theater, and then I saw them a couple months (years?) later at Oregon State University.

Show Highlight: Getting to meet them was really sweet, but seeing my good friend freak over meeting her all time favorite band? Even better.

Favorite Song: Some of my friends and I played "You're So Damn Hot" for a friend for his birthday- it was pretty amazing. "Invincible" is also a really great song.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

T-Shirt of the Day: Kimya Dawson

Band (Artist): Kimya Dawson

Have I Ever Seen Her Live: Yes! One time at the Old Town School in Chicago circa 2008 and then around 2010 in Portland at Backspace.

Favorite Part About the Show: At the Portland show we all sat on the ground and it was just her and an acoustic guitar. It was really intimate and lovely.

What I Love About the T-Shirt: It's hard to see because the wall behind it is orange, but the t-shirt is bright red. The picture of Kimya and the sheep is adorable too. Kimya was also the one who sold it to me- which was pretty awesome.

Favorite Song: "Loose Lips" is one of the most brilliant songs ever written.

Funny Story: A couple months ago I found out about Tallahassee Turns Ten and thought it was super cool and I submitted a cover of "Game Shows Touch Our Lives" by the Mountain Goats. I found out my cover didn't get in and I was really sad, but then I found out Kimya's cover did instead and I was TOTALLY ok with that.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

T-Shirt of the Day: The Mountain Goats

Band: The Mountain Goats

Have I Ever Seen Them Live: Yes, in May 2011 at the Aladdin Theater in Portland.

Best Part of the Show: Right before playing "The Best Ever Death Metal Band" John Darnielle gave a fabulous speech about not letting the "man" get you down.

Why I Got the Shirt: I still have yet to figure out the correlation between the Mountain Goats and octopi, but one day I will....

Favorite Song: There are so many, but "Best Ever Death Metal Band" is incredible. Hail Satan.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

T-Shirt of the Day: St. Vincent

Band: St. Vincent

Have I ever seen them live?: Yes! Three times- I saw here back in 2010 at the Doug Fir in Portland; then in 2011 at the Crystal Ballroom; and then in 2012 at Sasquatch. I will also be seeing her next month with David Byrne. It's interesting- each show she's played has been at a different and larger venue. Along with this she has evolved to become even more of a star. While I'm excited to see her at a huge venue next month, I still remember seeing her for the first time in the basement of a restaurant with just a hundred or so people, which is also the show where I got this shirt.

Favorite Part of the Show: I really love her new song "Krokodile" and at the end of her show at Sasquatch (like in the video from Coachella) she stage dives while performing the song.

Favorite Song: While she has a ton of great songs, I really love "Cheerleader".

Saturday, September 15, 2012

T-Shirt of the Day: Apples in Stereo

Band: Apples in Stereo

Have I Ever Seen Them Live: Sadly no, the only shows they ever played were 21+.

Story Behind the Shirt: Growing up whenever I was unable to go to a show because it was 21+, my dad would always buy me a t-shirt from the show.

Favorite Song: "She's Telling Lies (Bryce's Mix)" is one of my favorite less than two minute songs.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

T-Shirt of the Day: Death Cab for Cutie

 Band: Death Cab for Cutie

Story Behind the Shirt: Even though I've seen them live, I didn't get a t-shirt at the show just because it would have been a super long line. I actually got this shirt at Buffalo Exchange years ago and now work at that same store.

Have I Ever Seen them Live: Yes, like most emerging hipsters circa 2008 I loved Death Cab. I saw them at the Aladin in Chicago. It was December, but it felt like 100 degrees in the venue, but I didn't care. I cried throughout the show especially when they ended it with "Transatlanticism". I don't really wear this shirt much anymore mostly because it is kind of tight and very yellow, but I think I'll keep it for a long time to come just for the memories.

Favorite Song: "Grapevine Fires" was always a favorite of mine and a good song to cry to.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

T-Shirt of the Day: Brite Futures

Band: Brite Futures or Natalie Portman Shaved Head

Reason Behind the T-Shirt: I had driven to the band's last show in Seattle  from Portland, which is a VERY long drive. I made this road trip with a good group of friends because Brite Futures have always been a band we have listened to together. The show was fantastic and we hung out with the band afterwards. All of their merch was ridiculously on sale because it was their last show and I got this shirt plus an awesome pair of Brite Futures sunglasses.

Have I ever seen them live: Twice, the first last year at Willamette University and then this summer in Seattle.

Favorite Part of the Show: When at their last show they gave my friends and I bunch of the various clothes they performed in (which included a ridiculous sailor jacket) so to this day we can still relive the show.

Favorite Song: "Sophisticated Side Ponytail"the best and possibly only song about side ponytails.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

T-Shirt of the Day: Iron and Wine

Band: Iron and Wine

Story Behind the Shirt: One of those classic tales of seeing one of your favorite bands and they play a great show and yada yada and the t-shirts are only ok, but you feel like you have to buy one.

Have I ever seen the band: Twice, one time at Metro in Chicago in around 2007 and then again in 2011 at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland.

Show Highlight: This might sound terribly cheesy, but when Sam Beam came on at the end of the show and played "Flightless Bird, American Mouth"and I was dancing with the guy I was infatuated with at the time- pretty damn perfect. The rest of the show was great too though.

Favorite Song: It was hard to pick just one, but I really love "Muddy Hymnal".

Monday, September 10, 2012

T-Shirt of the Day: The Smiths

Band: The Smiths

Story Behind the Shirt: I was having a clothing swap with some friends and all of the clothes were really great so I was moving like crazy to snatch up all of the killer finds. I was going through one pile when I saw Morrissey's face out of the corner of my eye and low and behold I pulled out a Smiths T. It's really oversized, but I wear it on an almost weekly basis.

Have I ever seen the band: Sadly no (I still have faith in a reunion), but I'm seeing Morrissey in about a month for the first time.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

T-shirt of the Day

I'm going to start a new daily post where I'm going to go through all of my various band t-shirts and give a little history behind them.

Band: The Decemberists

Where I Got the Shirt: At a Decemberists show at Edgefield in 2011.

Other Bands Playing: Okkervil River (or as my friend called it "Overkill River")

Best Part of the Show: During the "Mariner's Revenge Song" everyone in the audience was encouraged to make whale sounds- it was epic.

Must Hear Track: "Mariner's Revenge Song", while not as epic as during the show it's still a great song.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Fang Island

I saw Fang Island a few days ago at the Hawthorne Theater. I was worried that the hot weather that day would make the venue next to unbearable, but luckily (or unluckily for the band) only about 40 people showed up for the show.

The first opening band was the Hugs, an indie rock band from Portland. While not terrible, lead singer and guitarist Danny Delegato's "rocker" persona left a lot to be desired. It was obvious that he was in his own world and it was the rest of the band who kept the songs together.

The next band, the five piece Zechs Marquise, got the audience into the opening band (which is a really hard thing to do) with their funk inspired prog music. The band handled complicated key and time signature changes with ease, which is a big accomplishment when you have two guitarists, a bassist, drummer, and keys player. Their songs could have fallen apart at any point, but the great part was that they never did.

Finally Fang Island came on and the party really got started. Sadly it was a last minute decision to go to this show so I didn't have time to prepare and bring my camera with me which, because of Fang Island's great dance moves and stage performance, was sad. The band played a variety of songs, many of which were off of their new album, Major. While definitely not as innovative or unique as their first album, Fang IslandMajor isn't a total disappoint. The songs on it are fun and danceable with a capital D.

The energy on their album definetly carried into their live show- there really wasn't one down moment. I was glad, at that point, that it was such a small show because if it was any bigger all of the people dancing would have made the venue unbearably hot.

One of the best parts of the show was hanging out with some of the members of Fang Island after their set. They were all really friendly (there is nothing better than nice musicians) and when they found out it was the birthday of a friend who came to the show with me they gave her a free copy of their new album on vinyl- nicest band ever? Nicest band ever.

Check out Fang Island's "Life Coach".

Friday, August 3, 2012

PDX Pop Now

Here's how I like my music- local, free, all ages, and (usually) good. Meeting all of these goals is literally next to impossible, but there is one exception- the PDX Pop Music festival. Since the first festival in 2004, PDX Pop has put on a free all ages music festival that features local Portland area bands. The festival has expanded to have yearlong outreach programs in Portland to bring music to K-12 schools.
I've gone to the festival a few times over the years, but have usually been out of town for it. This year I could only attend a couple of the many shows because of other things going on, but I had a really great time there.
Arohan lead singer Taylor Gehrts 

The first band I saw was Arohan. The electro music left a lot to be desired and lead singer Taylor Gehrts spent most of the time messing around on his computer (I think he was checking his email) and asking the sound guy to turn up the reverb (the indie-rock version of turning the volume up to 11). The only entertaining part of the set was when Gehrts would make funny faces at the audience, of course only for a second before going back and messing around on his computer.

Litanic Mask 
After the disappointing set by Arohan I had no clue what the next band would be like- and that's one of my favorite things about PDX Pop Now. Most of the bands are very small and there are only a few larger bands that headline the festival. While a lot of these unknown bands are not so great there is usually a jewel in the rough that makes sitting through the rest of the bands manageable. This year, that band for me was Litanic Mask. Their sound could best be described as a goth take on electro inspired pop music. The lead singer (whose name I couldn't find ANYWHERE) had a smoky deep voice, a cool leather jacket, and dance moves that got even the amateur photographers in the crowd snapping pictures on their iPhones.

Even though I hadn't heard their music before, I'll definitely be keeping my ears open for Litanic Mask in the future.

The next day I got to the festival bright and early to catch a trio of bands in the early afternoon. The first band was Houndstooth, a cute indie band with a slight country twang. While still a little shaky (all the members looked at each other nervously before transitions in songs), Houndstooth's sound is solid and a little bit of a relief after electro after electro band.

Following Houndstooth was XDS- with not one but two drummers, a singer/guitarist, and of course of a synth (I'm starting to believe that to be a band in Portland in the 21st century you HAVE to have a synth). The band had a garage rock/DIYed feel- with duck taped equipment, hubcaps as symbols, and their logo painted on their amps. XDS is a great band to dance to in a hot summer afternoon- with gritty riffs and of course heavy beats (one of the benefits of having two drummers).

Chrome Wings
The last band I saw of the festival (because I was out of town for the last day) was noise band Chrome Wings. Noise music isn't really my thing and I've never gotten all that into it, but I decided to give Chrome Wings a chance. I was pretty disappointed. It wasn't that the music was bad- it was just boring. And John Jurow, one half of Chrome Wings, spent all the time switching from guitar, to keys, to vocals, leaving no time to focus on how he was sounding nor interact at all with the audience. With performances like that, I don't understand why I would ever want to see them live, when I could have the exact same experience listening to their recordings. After snapping a few pictures I ended up having a friend teach me how to hula hoop (something that I am TERRIBLE at), instead of standing up front and watching the show.

While some of the bands were pretty disappointing, I still enjoyed PDX Pop Now. There is really no other festival that brings together local musicians like PDX Pop. And it is pretty cool that through the years PDX Pop has stayed to it's original goal of bringing local music for free to people of all ages.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Love Rock Revolution: K Records and the Rise of Independent Music

A couple days ago I went to go hear Mark Baumgarten talk about his new book, Love Rock Revolution: K Records and the Rise of Independent Music. The book tells the story of Olympia's K Records, a record label that during the 1990s released records by some of the most influential bands of that time, such as Beck, Modest Mouse, Beat Happening, Built to Spill, and the Gossip. Besides putting out a slew of great records, K Records was a big part of the Pacific Northwest music scene that produced some of the most influential music of that time.

The book focuses mainly on the founder of K Records, Calvin Johnson, though it also touches on the other players in the story of K Records. At the reading, Baumgarten read from a section of the book about Johnson's childhood. Johnson's love and interest in music, specifically punk, started when he was just in high school when he went on a school trip to Europe so he could buy the European punk music he couldn't find at home. Back in the U.S. he became involved in the growing Pacific Northwest music scene while still in high school by working for radio stations. He soon started K Records with the motto of "exploding the teenage underground into passionate revolt against the corporate ogre since 1982".

What makes Baumgarten's book unique amongst the sea of rock music journalism is how he tells the story. Much rock journalism can only really be appreciated and understood by rock geeks because of the depth of knowledge required to understand and enjoy the text. Baumgarten wrote the book with the idea that it should be a story that even his father, who was not interested in nor knew much about music, would be able to comprehend and be interested in. 

I have yet to finish the text, but have enjoyed it very much so far and would definitely recommend checking it out, specifically if you are interested in the Pacific Northwest music scene.  

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Rookie Road Trip

Tavi Gevinson and I.
Had an amazing day hanging out with the crew from Rookie Magazine, which is by far the coolest thing on the internet. The online magazine, which is technically for teen girls, but can be appreciated by peoples of any age or gender, posts various stories, fictional and real, photo shoots, mixtapes, interviews (check out this great video with John Hamm in which he helps readers with their various problems), DIYs, and various other stories written by editors and submitted by readers. While not a physical publication, Rookie provides what other teen magazines have never before. They mix the light-hearted with the heart-wrenching, the funny with the serious. Often while reading an article on Rookie I have felt a stronger connection with the writer and their experiences than with pieces in other teen magazines.

Rookie was founded by the queen of fashion bloggers, Tavi Gevinson  of the site Style Rookie. I have loved her blog for years and I was beyond ecstatic when I found the Rookie Road Trip, a national road trip in which the editors of Rookie visit cities across America to hang out with Rookie fans, would be stopping in Portland. When I arrived at the meet up I felt nervous approaching the group of Rookie fans and editors. I didn't let my nerves get the better of me and ended up having a great time sitting in the grass, talking to fellow Rookie fans, and getting to chat with Tavi (!!!!!!!) She was incredibly sweet, taking interest in all of our "small town" stories, when her most recent adventure was having dinner with Winona Ryder. Right as I was about to go, Rookie editor Petra asked to take a picture of me, seeing she was taken by both my outfit and my armpit hair (whenever someone comments on it negatively in the future I'll just tell them a professional photographer, who has taken pictures for various publications such as Vogue Italia, took a picture of me because of it). 

I had a great time hanging with the Rookie crew as well as meeting fellow Portland Rookie lovers. It is a great publication and I strongly recommend checking it out.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Brite Futures Final Show

It's a sad but true statement that everything good eventually comes to an end. Last weekend I took the long drive (and by long I mean LONG) drive from Portland to Seattle to see Brite Futures (previously known as Natalie Portman's Shaved Head) play their last show, ever. The Seattle band, who consisted of high school friends, decided to call it quits after 7 years of being together.

I was originally introduced to Brite Futures by a good friend and was immediately drawn into their fun, hip, nonsensical electro music. It was a pretty bittersweet moment going to their last show- Brite Futures have been a huge part of my high school career. I had numerous dance parties in friends basements jamming out to their songs (usually "Beard Lust"). My old band also did a killer cover of "Sophisticated Side Ponytail", which sadly there is no recorded evidence of. I even found some Brite Futures lyrics on the counter in my school's photography room (pictured above)- I have yet to discover who wrote it, but when I do we will be BFFs.

Claire England of Brite Futures
I saw Brite Futures for the first time last year at Willamette University and while the drunk college guys weren't fun, their music and stage performance was (it was  the day before Easter and they had a crowd surfing Easter Bunny).

Shaun Libman of Brite Futures
After a couple agonizing years in-between albums, Brite Futures released "Dark Past" in 2011. While I was happy to finally have a new Brite Futures album to listen to, for the most part I was unimpressed. The band's earlier music was funny, stupid, and slightly embarrassing to admit you like (just see "Me + Yr Daughter"), though Dark Past, for the most part, felt like it was trying to be a little more serious (and by a little I mean a little, the album includes a song called "Kissed Her Sister", about kissing your girlfriend's sister by mistake). Still, the album does have a couple   highlights, including "Too Young To Kill", which was accompanied by a great music video where the band recreated popular movie gifs.
Luke Smith of Brite Futures

A group of friends and I, who could be described as the Portland Brite Futures super-fan base, drove up to Seattle to see their final show at the Vera Project, an awesome all-ages venue in Seattle that also gives classes and houses an art gallery. We got to the venue about an hour early and met some of the other super-fans, who were all impressed by the long journey we had taken to come to the show.

The setlist from the show- signed by a few band members.
After getting into the venue we were informed that the opening band, who I think were called Topless Gay Techno Dance Party (who, judging by the name, I bet are awesome) sadly got stuck at the U.S. border and couldn't get through. Instead guitarist and sometimes vocalist of Brite Futures, Luke Smith, came onstage and did an impromptu Dj set (which featured Smith trying to work a turntable and looking nervously at the crowd), but he kept the crowd dancing by playing Top 40 favorites like the annoyingly catchy "Call Me Maybe" and "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F)".

Brite Futures eventually came on to immense applause from the crowd. It was obviously the band was putting all their efforts into this show, seeing it was their last ever and they definitely didn't disappoint. Even though it was hotter than the burning pits of hell in the venue I and everyone else was dancing like it was the last time we would ever to Brite Futures, which it was. The best part was when the band "went back in time" and pretended they were still Natalie Portman's Shaved Hands and played songs from their earlier albums.

At the end of the show the band and audience moved outside and we hung out with them in the cool breeze of an early Seattle morning. They were all good sports signing countless items, ranging from wife beaters to sunglasses to jackets. We attempted to not be totally fangirls and boys, and we, for the most part, kept our cool when asking to have our Brite Futures sunglasses signed and a picture taken with the band members.

My friends and I with Luke Smith (center) of Brite Futures.
After the show we piled back in the car and drove back to Portland. When I arrived home at 4:30 in the morning the birds were already singing and I found it impossible to fall asleep. I couldn't stop thinking that this would be the last time I saw Brite Futures, ever. This was a band who I had listened to constantly, whose lyrics I could belt out in my sleep, and now they no longer were together. It was one of the first bands who had broken up during my life time (I still believe that I will one day see the Smiths, but for now I just bought tickets for Morrissey inNovember). It's definitely a weird feeling, when I was talking to the band after the show they all shared the same sentiments- like they still hadn't grasped that it was their last show. To get through all of this though I have just kept repeating to myself that they will all continue to make music and they parted as friends, not enemies. Oh and watching videos from the show in an attempt to relive it helps too.

All Brite Futures show pictures taken by Aidan, who weaseled her way up to the front of the stage. Check out her awesome blog here.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Color Me Obsessed

I recently saw the new Replacements documentary, "Color Me Obsessed" at the classic Hollywood Theater in Portland. I took part in a short Replacements cover set before the show (not much is cuter than seeing an 8 year old bust out "I'm Satisfied"). The film, by Gorman Bechard, gives, according to the title, "the potentially true story of the last best band". Probably the most unique thing about "Color My Obsessed" is that it features no interviews nor performance footage of any member of the Replacements. Instead over 140 different people, ranging from musicians (Colin Meloy and Babes in Toyland), to journalists (Jack Rabid and Jim DeRogatis) to actors (George Wendt) to just regular fans.  The documentary moved chronologically through the Replacements evolution as a band.
While it is definitely a unique way to present the story of the Replacements, I feel like for a band so well known for their live performances it really isn't enough just to hear people talk about their shows. Even just one or two videos of concert footage would have added a lot to the documentary. That being said I did really enjoy  "Color Me Obsessed" and was really happy I got to experience with my parents, who are two huge Replacements fans. At the end of the film when some producer was talking about the Replacement's last show in Chicago my dad whispered to me "we where there". Yup my parents are so much cooler than yours.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sasquatch Day 3

I started my third day of the festival exhausted, but ready to go to 12 hours worth of shows and interviews. I started out by going to go see Greylag, a local Portland folk/indie band who I got an interview with. The show, which started at 12 p.m., only had a couple dozen people there, but by the end of their set it grew to a few hundred. They played songs mostly off their new EP, “The Only Way to Kill You.”
“”The Only Way to Kill You” comes at a time when the band is really just starting. 
"I feel that it really captures a band in their beginning stages when everything is fresh,” said lead singer Andrew Stonestreet in an interview. The band is still in the process of solidifying itself, something evident in the EP. 
The EP, according to Stonestreet, is highly influenced by his move to the West Coast, specifically to Portland. He was having a hard time on the West Coast and was able to revamp his creativity after moving. Playing music and putting on this EP was a therapeutic experience for him.
“I was anxious and stressed when I wrote it, something just needed to happen,” said Stonewall, adding, "songs like 'Black Crow' and 'Tiger' were there, they just needed to be written."
The band recently finished a national tour and plans to go on tour again. When questioned about the difficulties of being in a band bassist Liam Neighbors laughed and said, "We all hate each other." Stonestreet clarified that the band strives to find the perfect combination of friendship, creativity, and business. Look out for Greylag around Portland eating at their favorite restaurants, Potato Champion and the Broder, or playing shows at venues such as Mississippi Studio.
With no other show I really wanted to see, I went to go see country band Trampled By Turtles at the main stage so I could get a good spot for Blind Pilot, who were playing next. While Trampled By Turtles music really isn't my thing, I do have to give credit to the band as all being very talented musicians. The band was able to get the whole audience in to a genre of music they probably don't listen to all that much. Almost everyone was dancing and an impromptu square dance was started.
After Trampled By Turtles I saw local Portland band Blind Pilot. The indie rock band released their new album, “We are the Tide”, last year. I have seen Blind Pilot many times around Portland, usually playing with the Portland Cello Project. I was surprised that their fame expanded outside of Portland. seeing that they played the main stage at Sasquatch. The band as a whole seemed pretty taken aback as well by the huge audience gathered at their show, but their sound was solid and they were obviously enjoying themselves. My one complaint would be the indie rock band gets occasionally a little preachy, though this is only an occasional problem.

The next band I saw was the War on Drugs. After taking some epic pictures of lead singer Adam Granduciel’s hair blowing in the wind. The band’s music flows like many other similar bands in the indie rock genre, though Granduciel’s vocals and lyrics take inspiration from more classic rock giants, like Bruce Springsteen.  The band combines electronica with the grit of classic rock to create a unique sound that transfers great to live concerts.
Following War on Drugs, I saw one of my favorite bands, Deer Tick. On last year’s “Divine Providence” Deer Tick strayed from their earlier more country folk sound to a more rock sound, inspired heavily by the Replacements. Lead singer John McCauley came on stage, smoking a cigarette and drinking a beer, and declared “let’s get this done so I can come party with you all.” The band played mostly songs off of “Divine Providence” but played a few older songs, including crowd favorites “Ashamed” and “Baltimore Blues No. 1.” Despite McCauley’s character of being slightly drunk and disheveled, the band was incredibly tight. They were all dressed in mostly colorful suits, fulfilling their role as East Coast boys (they’re from Providence) who had turned bad. The highlight of the show was when they played tribute to the late Beastie Boys’ member Adam Yauch by doing a truly epic cover of “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)”.
After Deer Tick was the Portland band Wild Flag, who feature Sleater-Kinney singer and guitarist as well as Portlandia cast member Carrie Brownstein. The so-called super group, because it features ex-members of Sleater-Kinney, Helium, and the Minders, emulates the idea of hard versus soft, with songs featuring heavy rock drums and guitars, but more pop inspired vocals. Each member of the band, while famous in her own right, do not try to take the spotlight away from the other members. The band works incredibly well together as a whole and allows each member to stand out at different times. The band was not affected by the weather conditions, which Brownstein described as “a wind tunnel going straight through the stage” and instead played a great set. One of the best points was when, for a finale, they did a cover of Patti Smith’s “Ask the Angels". 
One of the most surprising acts for me of the festival was Beirut. The band, fronted by virtuoso Zach Condon, takes influences from jazz as well as some world music genres. I have always liked Beirut, but I have never been all that crazy about them. Seeing them live, though, gave me much more appreciation for the band. In the hot afternoon sun the band was just as much into the music as the audience. I have also never seen a more hard-working lead singer. When he wasn’t singing, Condon was playing trumpet or ukulele.
Following Beirut, I ran over to one of the smaller stages just in time to catch Swedish electronic band Little Dragon. Having been together for over 10 years, Little Dragon has been able to create their own sound that shines out in the electronic music world. Most of the songs they played were off last year’s “Ritual Union.” Lead singer Yukimi Nagano pranced around the stage, though kept her communication with the audience to a minimum. At a festival like Sasquatch where bands are given sets usually no longer than an hour to perform, Little Dragon used that time very effectively to play a dynamic set.
For my final show at Sasquatch I hoped I would be going out with a bang by seeing Bon Iver. I, with the rest of the people at Sasquatch, was beyond ecstatic to see Bon Iver, the indie king who gained national attention after recording a heart-wrenching breakout album in a cabin. The stage was beautiful, with vintage lights placed in rows all around the musicians and worn clothes flowing from the rafters. Bon Iver played songs mostly off last year’s self-titled album. While the band was tight and the music easy to lose yourself in, something was missing. It was the same problem that I had with the Shins -- it’s hard to fully appreciate such vulnerable bands in huge stadiums with thousands of people.

Overall I enjoyed my time at Sasquatch Music Festival and would definitely go again if given the opportunity. There is no setting more beautiful than the Gorge for such a festival to occur. My one complaint would be the stress that comes with going to music festivals – constant  multiple shows going on -- making it very difficult to decide which shows to go to and which to skip. The short sets also make it difficult to really get into the music.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Sasquatch: Day 2

I woke up bright and early to the sound of a drum circle going on a couple cars down (lovely). I planned to go see Reptar at 12, but computer problems (that almost led to tears) prevented me from getting to the show on time, though I was still able to check out Electric Guest.

I first heard Electric Guest a couple weeks ago while I was putting a mix together. I was ecstatic when I found out they were going to be at Sasquatch. They started out by sharing their gratitude to be back in the United States after playing shows in Germany. Lead singer Asa Taccone was grooving to the music just as much as the audience was. It was easy to be into their music, which took influences from bands like the Doors and soul music. Definetely a fun show, though I grew tired of Taccone’s falsetto after about the third song. The band will be much improved when Taccone can no longer sing that high.

I took a break from going to music shows and caught Portlandia next. I didn’t really have any idea what the show would be like, but with nothing much better to do I went. Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen, the pair who make up most of Portlandia’s characters, talked about themselves and then taught the audience about Portland via digrams and audience parctipitation. I was worried that the show would be just an attempt to recreate the television show and would be pretty scripted, and while to an extent this was true, Brownstein and Armisen seemed to be enjoying themselves and even improvised at points. The best part was when they had members of the audience participate in “Have you read it?”, a game that was featured in a skit from the TV show where friends try to out do each other based off what they have read recently. Armisen and Brownstein had to change the game for their live shows so people would do it with what they’ve seen, tv shows or movies, because “the only thing people read anymore is Twitter”.

Next, I ran over to go see one of my favorite bands, the Dum Dum Girls. The girls, who dressed in all black, seemed unfazed by the rambunctious audience. After a messy start (they obviously didn't have a soundcheck) the band got their "sound in check" and played a strong set in the hot midday sun. The band shows the "bad side" of girl-groups. With bangs, black dresses, and patterned black tights they are the cool older sisters you always wish you had. Before playing the popular "Jail La La" from their 2010 debut album, I Will Be, singer Dee Dee said cooly "this is a song about where you go if you're bad". There is an obvious shift between I Will Be and last year's Only in Dreams. The maturity in Only in Dreams isn't found in the lighthearted I Will Be. As a band, the Dum Dum Girls, among other things, have become experienced, something that is evident in their live tight live performances.

After the Dum Dum Girls, I went over to see Metric at the main stage. Metric played a variety of songs, most off of their new album Synthetica, which will come out in June. Synthetica is an accurate description of the many new songs they played. Many feature synths much more prominently than in their past work. For a band that's been around for more than ten years, this new change might be an example of the recent popularity of electronic music. This slight change doesn't take away from the band's original sound. Lead singer Emily Haines' still sings often in a high almost doll-like voice. She dances around the stage and with her blonde hair shaking, something that is reminiscent of Blonde's Debbie Harry.

I stayed at the main stage to get a good place for the Shins. After making friends with the people around me I enlisted the help of a fellow concert goer to take pictures for me (thanks tall guy!). The second they got on stage, the mellow unabashed persona of the band was apparent. They started with "Kissing the Lipless" and played a mix of older songs as well as songs off their new album, "Port of Marrow". Throughout the concert the audience sang along to almost every song, something Mercer found surprising. After performing "Bait and Switch", he appointed the audience official members of the Shins due to our singing. While the band was playing to their fullest, it's hard to believe that you can describe a band that only has one of it's original members as the same band. A huge stadium also isn't the ideal place for the Shins to play. Their delicate sound fits in much better at smaller venues, when you can share an intimate performance with the group.

I left the Shins early to go see St. Vincent. This was the third time I've seen the group and each time has been better. The first show I saw of them, lead singer and guitarist Annie Clark was nervous and the music felt understated. Now, after releasing her third album and gaining much success, she has turned into a bona fide rock star. Her passion, skills, and creativity are next to none. She moves across the stage like a mad woman who is in her own world. She puts all of her energy into her music and it shows. She sang "Cheerleader" with more raw power than I had ever seen her do. She ended the set with her new song, "Krokodil", and sang almost the whole song while crowd surfing and squirming around, like she was fighting the sea of people who worship her.

The final show of the night was Jack White. With a new solo album out he has truly become a musician  not defined by any group act. He played new songs as well as old favorites that covered the wide range of acts he has been a part of, such as the White Stripes' "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground" and the Raconteurs, "Steady As She Goes". Jack White is an icon and can certainly put on a stylized show. He wore a striped suit that matched the similarly dressed other members of the group. One fellow reporter commented that they could have been in "Edward Scissorhands".

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Sasquatch: Day One

Yesterday after a very long (but beautiful) drive I arrived at Sasquatch music festival. Surrounded by the beautiful Washington gorge I set up my chateaux sized tent and headed off to the concert stages. Surrounded by furries, hipsters, countless teenagers disrespected Native American culture by wearing headdresses, and parents grudgingly taking their kids to the festival (by the way, thanks dad!) I caught a few shows, including Poliça, Girl Talk, Starfucker, and Beats Antique. 

For Poliça, I sadly arrived too late to go into the press area (by literally one song) and even after begging the security guard, I still couldn't get in. Besides that setback, the show was great. The setting sun provided a beautiful backdrop to Poliça’s music. Lead singer Channy Leaneagh's voice is soft and sultry- a strong contrast to the electronic sound of the two drums and a bass. While electronic music isn’t really my thing, a lot of the time I find it to be cold and emotionless, when combined with Leaneagh’s voice, the sounds meshed together perfectly.

I needed a quick break to reload some film in my camera and I thought why not a better place than at the Girl Talk show. The main stage at Sasquatch provides a brilliant view of the gorge. By the time I got to the show, the party had already started. Fans danced onstage while Girl Talk rapped to samples of songs ranging from “Blitzkrieg Pop” to “Tiny Dancer” to “A-Punk”. Sure, they're an obvious crowd pleaser, but it's still a must see show.    

I was prepared after Poliça and got to the next show, Starfucker, quickly. Starfucker are one of the few Portland bands playing at Sasquatch, so I was excited to see some P-Town pride. Per usual, they came out dressed in costumes almost as extreme as that of their audience (think multi-colored capes). While there set was definitely fun ( I mean how could a set by Starfucker NOT be fun?), I never felt that crucial connection between them and the audience. I would have enjoyed myself just as much if I was listening to their recorded cd as I was seeing them live. The only time I really started getting into the music was when they started switching from their more electronic songs to their more rock songs. Of course their famous cover of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” was a hit with the audience, and I myself couldn’t help but sing along.

For the last show of the evening I saw Beats Antique, an electronic group that features instruments ranging from a violin to a saxophone to a banjo (as to my knowledge they are the only electronic band to have a banjo). Zoe Jakes’s theatrics, which included a belly dancing routine during the opening song as well as playing a drum while wearing a cat suit, kept the show interesting.The audience, which was made up of the people NOT at Girl Talk, got down to all of the bands song, many which featured various world music influences. The highlight of the show was when they broke into a song with a Klezmer part. I had no clue that the music of my (Jewish) people could be so cool.
I ended the day, writing this while sitting outside as the temperature dropped, with drunk concert goers all around me, and the sound of a dj in the distance, all in all not a bad way to end the day.