Tonight in Seattle:  

Happy birthday, Seattle Living Room Shows!

at Lively Lounge

How do you throw yourself a surprise party? If you’re Kristen and Carrie Watt, you book a festival’s worth of the Pacific Northwest’s favorite indie musicians and a glamorous private venue in SoDo and then sell tickets announcing only the date and time. And if you’re the Watt sisters, fans and friends of Seattle Living Room Shows will trust you and flock to see your mystery acts. And they will love it.

The venue was the Lively Lounge, a recording studio cum concert hall atmospherically decorated with chandeliers and candles, with two bars serving drinks and room for 300 people. The crowd was uncharacteristically chatty for a Living Room Show; Kristen had to put her bossy pants on and remind the audience that SLRS is a listening room experience. Maybe it was the size of the venue that made people forget themselves, but common courtesy would have led the conversationally inclined to one of the couch-filled side rooms where they wouldn’t have disturbed those who’d rather hear the music than their neighbors.

Iska Dhaaf opened the celebration. The drums and guitar/keyboard duo sounds heavier live than recorded. Reverb-drenched vocals and Doorsy keyboards give them a bit of a ‘60s sound, but the songs have more of an angular Alt-J feel than a retro one. Every aspect of their performance had clear intentionality that you rarely see in a live show. Even the guitar feedback was controlled. In fact they talked to the sound guy more than the audience, but all this attention to detail did nothing to diminish the intensity of the performance. People on either side of me were asking, “Who is this again?” as they danced. Yes, that’s right folks. Seattleites danced to unfamiliar music.

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Latest comment by: Violette B: "The Marc Broussard show on 5/23 has sold out. Luckily another has been added 5/22 and tickets are still available (as of the time I am posting this comment. http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/676604 "

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Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

at Neumos

Three key words from Jason Isbell’s nigh-on triumphant set at Neumos last Tuesday night: benzodiazapine, codeine, and Pedialyte. Oh, and the liquor cart from the set opener, “Flying Over Water,” a new, gorgeous song that helped define the tarnished glow of Isbell’s new album, Southeastern. The chemicals swirled in Isbell's songs, as they have in his life. He's moved on, though, making classic tunes about bailing on wastedness. A lot of print has come Isbell’s way in 2013, from a New York Times Magazine profile to umpteen glowing reviews for Southeastern, among the most heartfelt albums you’ll hear all year.

“You all smell like onions,” he told the Neumo’s crowd and then he and the 400 Unit, augmented by show-opener (and wife) Amanda Shires on violin, ripped into their set, dotted by tunes he wrote as the 3rd guitarist in Drive-By Truckers and bolstered movingly by tunes from Southeastern. Isbell’s known for his loud, brawny guitar slinging and a set of vocal pipes that at times can outblast his guitar, which happened frequently during the set. Most impactful at Neumos were the new album’s acoustic, warm and sad and confessional songs, from “Elephant,” a wrenching minor-key cancer song to the partially acapella “Live Oak,” all haunted by a prior, drunker, more dangerous, and lesser-controlled Isbell. 

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Latest comment by: Samuel Hickman: "I think I heard Southeastern. The music is good, melodious and sweet. I loved the album I remember. I am a music worm I can say that. Numerous australian gamers are obtaining tired of pubs and land primarily based betting site and they are making the ...

The 2013 Sasquatch diaries, pt. II

at The Gorge

{This year, John in Ballard brings us all the bands that caught his attention at The Gorge during Sasquatch! 2013. Read part one of his weekend-in-review here!}

Seattle’s Deep Sea Diver kicked off Sunday with a fun, captivating early afternoon set. They premiered some new music that was well received, and even did a really great cover of Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy”, complete with front woman Jessica Dobson shredding some guitar solos during the choruses. The rest of Sunday’s Sasquatch lineup was loaded from top to bottom with great hip-hop, most notably one of the bigger names, Detroit rapper Danny Brown, who had a pretty energetic crowd gathered at the main stage for his set. Brown can be a polarizing figure: his voice is an acquired taste, and his drunk and drugged out persona isn’t for everyone -- but man, is he fun to watch! The Sasquatch crowd ate it up and was happy to dance and rap along with him. Brown ran all over the stage and often down among the fans, where he did a lot of call and response with his energetic audience. Another standout, O.C. Notes, closed out the Seattle hip-hop stage on Sunday with a nice set of genre-blending sounds. With the Golden Gods (Trent Moorman on drums, Erik Blood on Bass, Thomas Hunter on guitar) backing him up, Otis Calvin & Co. banged out tunes that at times sounded like hip-hop mixed with some jam band and funk -- Calvin’s vocals were often put through an echo delay, and on occasion sung through a bullhorn. 

Swedish band Shout Out Louds played a really poppy set that was easy to enjoy, even for passerby who don’t know their music all that well. They had great energy and their sound is almost tailor-made for the festival set. They ended with their 2007 song “Tonight I Have to Leave It”, which I hadn’t realized until this point sounds like it could have easily fit into the Cure’s late 80’s early 90’s catalog right between “In Between Days” and “Friday I’m In Love”.

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The 2013 Sasquatch diaries, pt. I

at The Gorge

{Sasquatch 2013 / by John Gleason}

Sasquatch 2013 got off to a good start with young Seattle rapper Shelton Harris. Harris was a late addition to the lineup, and he took full advantage of his opportunity. Rhyming over indie music samples from the likes of Matt & Kim and Youth Lagoon, Harris’ rhymes recalled the upbeat ‘believe in yourself, you can do anything’ type of rap that Macklemore can be known for -- fitting since Harris is actually an actor featured in Macklemore’s “Same Love” video. His young crowd multiplied as the set went on, surely bringing him plenty of new fans this weekend.

After Harris' set, Seattle guitar slayer Reignwolf kept things captivating down on the main stage with some interesting mid-day theatrics. Towards the end of his set, he walked down into the crowd, still playing his guitar. While down among the crowd, the Easy Street Records van pulled into the crowd next to him. He then climbed on the roof of the van, which had a mic and a kick drum waiting for him, and proceeded to rock in the middle of the crowd, as his new mobile stage drove him off at the end of his set. Killer! Then, Father John Misty (Josh Tillman) entertained as much with his humorous stage banter as he did with his musical endeavors. A fan yelling to Tillman “I love your beard!” led to several minutes of dialogue about how you don’t want to fall in love with his beard; long story short: it will cheat on you. His persona on stage brings to mind a Jim Morrison impersonator at a karaoke bar as he’s about to get cut off. His performance was absolutely a highlight of the day.

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Built to Spill and Macklemore kick off Sasquatch! announcement party

at Neptune Theater

Spring is just around the corner, and with spring and summer comes the music festival circuit. Coachella recently announced some big names with Blur, the Stone Roses, and New Order set to play the California festival, so anticipation has been high for what Sasquatch would roll out. Monday night’s Sasquatch! Launch Party ended all the speculation with the announcement of a stellar lineup, but not before kicking the whole thing off with a killer show at the Neptune Theater.

Cody ChesnuTT started off the night with his own brand of high energy soul/funk/R&B. Wearing what appeared to be an army helmet, ChesnuTT had the crowd singing along as he bounced from one side of the stage to the other, his backing band sounding incredible. After a short video from Ron Swanson estowing the virtues of the festival “Thunder Closet," it was time for the 'special guest.'

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Latest comment by: Dead C: "Macklemore actually wasn't wearing a denim jacket at all. Also, Brett Netson sang the Beefheart cover."