Tonight in Seattle:  

Recommended shows

They Live! and the bright future of Seattle hip hop

Photo by Ellie Lonardo

The last time I saw They Live! perform was at the Showbox and they were opening for Ghostface Killah, the seemingly popular Wu-Tang Clan emcee on a Friday night. The ticket sales were way below expectations and the large Showbox seemed spacious and vacant. The first two groups to take the stage did little to engage the crowd and the audience probably wouldn’t have cared anyway as neither of those groups featured members of the Wu-Tang Clan. When They Live!, the local hip hop crew of Gatsby and Bruce Illest, took the stage, they came out with all guns firing and quickly turned the show around and suddenly everyone in the crowd was enjoying the time, not killing it and waiting for the headliner. Although he wasn’t there at that particular show, I believe I understood what local music journalist (and my friend) Travis Hay meant when he wrote, “there is nothing happening in Seattle right now that can match They Live!'s energy, stage presence and rapping skills.”

They Live! take their name from a 1988 John Carpenter sci-fi film that starred Keith David and pro wrestler "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and has become a cult classic. Gatsby is Larry Mizell, Jr., known for being in the popular group Cancer Rising, as well as a writer at The Stranger (whose weekly column “My Philosophy” is a must-read if you want to follow the flourishing local hip hop scene in as-close-to-real-time as you'll ever get) and now DJ on KEXP, hosting the weekly hip hop show “Street Sounds” (on Sundays from 6-9pm). His partner is djblesOne, who is a member of the b-boy crew Massive Monkeys and goes by Bruce Illest. They’ve become one of the standout groups in 2009 in a scene that has blown up and has limitless potential.


Latest comment by: John in Ballard: "I might be one of those people that Chris' Estey is talking about with hip-hop not necessarily being one of my "first couple of beloved genre's", but after hearing them do a KEXP in-studio and then seeing them perform at the Fremont Oktoberfest not long after ...

Tonight's recommended show: Blind Pilot at Neumo's

They're playing our song / Can you see the lights? / Can you hear the hum? / Of our song / I hope they get it right...

Talk about shooting a big bag of sad bastard.

For a mere twelve dollars, you can shimmy your way in to Neumo's tonight for a PDX double-header -- and have your insides slayed by Blind Pilot, a band I've been in love with since I first heard Cheryl Waters spin them on KEXP's Midday show. I keep a running list radio-side to make sure I remember bands that catch my attention, to reference later through playlists and MySpaces and the good (or indifferent) word of friends and music enthusiasts alike. And in the course of that first week I heard Blind Pilot over the airwaves, I wrote them down three different times. Three. That hasn't happened since... maybe Luke Temple, or the first time I heard Devin Davis. Anyway -- one's enough to notice, and two times is a trump card... but three hits? That's a non-negotiable. That means immediate procurment of tickets, albums, and anything I can get my hands on.

The title track off of Three Rounds and a Sound is my hands-down my favorite, but here's another goodie that made the list that week:

And not to that the lovely Laura Veirs will be holding second slot at the show, which makes the whole thing worth it at twice the price.

Hope to see you there!

Best news of the day: Ben Gibbard and Jay Farrar to play in Seattle at the Showbox at the Market

ben gibbard by hot avocados photography

Just as we thought this Monday would never end, a piece of news so exciting popped into our inbox to help count down the minutes til quittin' time: Ben Gibbard and Jay Farrar will play at the Showbox at the Market on January 24th! Our own imaginary victoria flew down to San Francisco a few weeks ago and spilled the deets on how awesome the show was (and based on her review, we can only hope they'll add Mr. John Roderick as the opener!), and for those of you (myself included) seething with jealously and wishing you were there, now we'll all get our chance. Tickets go on sale December 5th at 10am, and the show is all ages/bar w/ ID.

Thanks, Jason Tang, for the hot tip!


Simian Mobile Disco return to Neumos tonight - and release a new video

It's only a few hours away, but I'm getting excited for Simian Mobile Disco's show at Neumos tonight. This'll be the third time I've seen the duo of James Ford and Jas Shaw and they've always put on an exciting, multimedia live show that showcases their intricate dance beats (usually working within the 4/4 beat but never making it feel like a constraint). The show will be a sweaty mess and crowded with people searching for every available inch on the floor to dance but I couldn't think of a better way to spend a Monday night.


Cut FOOTLAOS! for Laos this Tuesday, December 1st in Capitol Hill


In November, 2008, our dear Visqueen-er, Rachel Flotard joined her friend Justin on a trip to southern Laos to visit his family. While there, among other adventures, she visited local schools, taking all craft supplies, toothbrushes and the like she could stuff in her luggage. The visit had a huge impact on her and she chronicled the stunning details on her blog.

While at the local elementary school, she asked repeatedly what they would like more than anything for their school (besides a soccer ball), they hesitated, and said, “a floor”. During the rainy season, 340 pairs of these tiny, eager feet get wet while *inside* their classrooms.

To quote Rachel, "This outrages our inner Kevin Bacon."



Imaginary Interview: Japandroids


If you are looking for a band that embodies the essence of every completely generic moment in high school that felt momentous because of a song (and i know you are), but you're too old to believe in the importance of inconsequential instants (which i hope you're not), then the Vancouver based duo Japandroids are for you. Dave Prowse and Brian King blend together noisy yet melodic guitar and pulsing drums to match the boiling blood of teenagers in grown-up lives. Their shared screaming duties deliver angst to even their most thoughtful lyrics, layering meaning in that way in which everything meant too much when you were younger. Go ahead, read this interview and give your Tuesday a heavy injection of the way things used to feel when Japandroids play Chop Suey on the 1st of December.


Tonight's recommended show: Raphael Saadiq at the Showbox

Photo by Jason Tang

In the days and weeks after Bumbershoot, the question of "who was the best act you saw [during the three day festival over Labor Day weekend]?" came up often and my answer was always Raphael Saadiq. The soul singer's two sets I saw (one being in the KEXP music lounge) were incredible to watch. He was backed by a tight (and sharply dressed) band playing some of the most irresistable funk and soul you're likely to here. He sounded sincere both when singing in lust like during "Let's Take a Walk" and paying tribute to victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.


Erin McKeown at the Tractor tonight

Photo by Michael Weintrob

Erin McKeown, the folk singer-songwriter who plays tonight at the Tractor with fellow traveller Jill Sobule, has a song on her newest album called "(Put the Fun Back in) Funeral", which isn't quite as fun as it might sound, but that is one of many reasons why I like Erin McKeown and recommend her show tonight. My favorite song, actually from her album, Hundreds of Lions (released on Ani DiFranco's Righteous Babe label) is the one that precedes "Funeral", the upbeat "The Foxes", which is a catchy little song complimented by McKeown's voice, which here is neither soft and delicate nor rough and abrasive, somewhere just in the middle.

Hundreds of Lions can boast of being a number one album, if you look at the charts in a certain way. It was the number one album on Amazon's mp3 charts briefly a few days after its release (although Amazon's digital sales make up a small fraction of the digital sales that are computed into Billboard's charts - the bulk still comes from iTunes). Still, how many people can boast of playing songs from their "number one album" truthfully? McKeown will be doing just that tonight at the Tractor. Well, I don't know if she'll boast about it (it is sort of a technicality), but she could.


Five reasons for ladies to go see Fuck Buttons

Every noise/drone/math rock show I've gone to has been a sausage fest. Nothing wrong with that -- dudes are fine -- it would just be nice to go to a loud, noisy show that didn't remind me of my 1980's computer science classes.  Because I know there will already be lots of guys at the Fuck Buttons show on Sunday at Chop Suey, this preview is written especially for the girls.


Latest comment by: Andrew, Andrew Hung: ""Sausage fest"? "

Anjulie: a songwriter ready for her close-up

Photo by Sarah Fletcher

{Anjulie plays at Showbox Sodo on Monday, November 16 with Raphael Saadiq and Melanie Fiona.}

Fans of pop music know this: the first time you hear a great and catchy song, one that has a big hook, it will grab you immediately and stick and you’ll want to hear it again and again. When you hear a song like that, you’ll be thanking whoever invented the repeat buttons on CD players or iPods. Such was the case the first time I heard a song called “Boom”.