posted by Grady on Wed Jan 8, 03:12 PM
It's only fitting that my last "From The Pit" for 2013 documents another killer LOCAL show! Looking back on the past year, it all started with seeing a local rapper, Sadistik, at the Crocodile Café and now I'm closing out 2013 with a review of the deafening Sandrider show from Neumos (and a quick snippet from their follow-up FREE in-store at Easy Street Records a few nights later)!
Openers Dust Moth did a good job of warming up the show as they introduced themselves to the early entry patrons with heavy distortion, crunchy bass lines and somber vocals. Featuring familiar names from XVIII Individual Eyes, These Arms Are Snakes, Minus The Bear, Aeges, Shift and Undertow, this concoction of local heavy-hitters should pique your interest in 2014! Following their set, more local rock was on the menu, as Constant Lovers (with Ben Verellen from Helms Alee on drums) trotted out to shred the night away! Having very little knowledge of this local gem, I was immediately impressed with their ferocity and musicianship. Led by guitarist/vocalist Joel Cuplin and bassist/vocalist Gavin Tull-Esterbrook, these guys came out crushing, and wasted no time in getting everyone's juices flowing, as the first signs of a pit erupted during their first or second song. Unfortunately for everyone there, Constant Lovers had to cut their set short, as Ben announced a few songs in, "I got one more, then I'm puking," so, to avoid the clean-up and to honor their brother's request, the Lovers kicked out a blistering final song of the night before unplugging. Before the announcement though, no one would have thought Ben was sick, as he was just punishing the kit he was sitting behind. Someone (roadie, friend, band member) had to pick up and reposition his floor tom after each song …it would not stay upright!
Even with the shortened set, all in the packed house were prepared for the main course, as Sandrider took the stage! Since this was their record release show, the band played their new record, Godhead, in its entirety, only taking a few breaks between songs for stage banter … "We've got some people from ESPN here to see how loud a rock show in Seattle can be, so when we launch into 'Tides,' everyone lose their shit … oh, and go HAWKS!" which was met with raucous applause and ear-splitting cheers. The band conjured up a frenetic pit that kept things interesting for those of us up front, as we braced ourselves for the inevitable sensation of waves crashing against our backs as our guts were pressed into the lip of the stage! The beauty of Godhead is that it's equal parts thundering rock and heavy post-rock with hints of grunge peppered in, allowing listeners to rock-the-fuck-out or just throw their neck out as they bob, back-and-forth to the heavy instrumental parts. This show was everything it should have been, heavy, rockin' and most of all LOUD! For some, this experience was repeated to a smaller extent the following week, as Sandrider paid a visit to Easy Street and did their best to tear it down with a similar set! As with the Neumos show, it was a showcase of Godhead, and it was well received as the café was packed to the gills and overflowing onto California Ave, while others packed the upstairs vinyl section and the tight area around the bar … wherever they could fit to see the three-piece juggernaut lay waste to their favorite record store! The night climaxed when Sandrider closed out the set with a cover for Jane's Addiction's "Mountain Song".
posted by Grady on Fri Dec 13, 01:42 PM
Austin soul-rocker Black Joe Lewis and his band returned to the Emerald City to help fans shed some of those unwanted, but oh-so delicious Thanksgiving pounds by throwing a kick-ass show at the Neptune Theatre on Black Friday! Black Joe Lewis is out supporting his newest album, Electric Slave, which is quite the rocker compared to their previous efforts … a more punk-infused James Brown type soul record!
Out on the road with BJL were newcomers Think No Think and Radkey. Think No Think put on a good opening set, welcoming in patrons as they were shedding layers from the bitter cold night and warming their insides with delicious adult beverages. Slowly but surely, the band, led by guitarist/singer, John Dowey, gravitated more and more people to the stage with their unique brand of psych-blues. These guys sounded a bit like Wolfmother, minus the Hammond/keyboard flair, and Dowey shredded their entire set!
Radkey was the middle act, and in the grand scheme of the night, a bit outside the box when it came to style and substance. While Think No Think and Black Joe Lewis are rooted in rhythm-and-blues, Radkey harkens back to the darker punk sounds of the late '70s and early '80s. To put it more plainly, think of the recently unearthed proto-punk band Death, but instead of playing MC5-style punk, insert The Misfits or The Damned! Radkey are very similar to Death – three African-American brothers, still teenagers, playing loud, aggressive punk. The band is led by the eldest brother, Dee (guitars/vox), and it's his voice - a deep baritone that immediately draws comparisons to Glenn Danzig - that sets Radkey apart from so many other mediocre "punk bands" these days. Along with Dee, Isaiah (bass/vox) is as active as the Energizer Bunny, jumping around, singing backup and laying out across the stage, while never missing a note. Younger brother and drummer Solomon provided a steady hand as he constantly drove the beats faster and faster throughout the set! These kids ripped through a 45-minute set that got everyone's attention focused on the stage, as they watched and listened in awe! Isaiah let everyone at the show know the band was for real, as he said before the band played a note, "We're Radkey, and we're here to make you give a fuck!" … and by the end of their set, so many did!
After the thrashing set from Radkey, everyone migrated to the front for the final set of the night, as Black Joe Lewis and his band – once called The Honeybears – took the stage and greeted the attendees with blistering guitar licks, distorted bass lines, and warm tones from the brass section. The crowd's interaction with the band was fantastic - whether they were playing some hip-shakin' cuts from Scandalous ("Booty City" or "Livin' In The Jungle") or taking us back to 2009 with "Sugarfoot" from their major-label debut album, Tell 'Em What Your Name Is!, everyone in the house was getting down with their bad selves! Most of his material though, was from their most recent album, Electric Slave, which was more akin to Radkey than previous Black Joe Lewis efforts. Lewis really showcases his blazing guitar work throughout the new album; it's a much funkier, punk-soul record than previous efforts, and hearing it live, in person, was even more invigorating! Highlights from this album were the fuzzed-out, shout-fest of "Skulldiggin," funky party anthem "Come To My Party," and the dirty, guitar-driven "Make Dat Money." This was definitely a fun way to mark the passage of Thanksgiving and I think I worked off at least one of the meals I had the day before!
posted by Grady on Fri Dec 6, 12:21 PM
Halloween parties need great music to really bring the affair to the highest peak of personal enjoyment, so the best one this year had to be with Ms. Janelle Monae at the Showbox SODO! Like any good party, things didn't start quite on time, but the delay did give Monae's entourage plenty of time to set up the stage – a completely white set-up, from the three-sided drapes to the white floor – a pristine appearance for the sold-out show.
Monae is a very theatrical performer, so it was no surprise that her show had some sort of conceptual theme behind it – on this particular night, it was set up to appear as a performance from a patient in a psych ward. As the "doctor" (someone in Monae's entourage dressed in a white lab coat with thick, black-rimmed glasses) gave us the backstory on this particular patient, his orderlies were wheeling out Monae (a.k.a. the patient) on a dolly, strapped into a straightjacket. Once they loosened the straps and let her arms free, the party commenced! Giving the audience their first live taste of her newest album, Monae rattled off three straight from The Electric Lady – "Givin Em What They Love,""Dance Apocalyptic" and "Q.U.E.E.N." (minus Erykah Badu) before she ventured back in her catalogue to play "Sincerely, Jane" from Metropolis: The Chase Suite. Monae also dazzled her fans with some amazing covers, the first coming during the first half of her set, as she rocked the house with the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back," which sounded as if little Michael was up on stage singing in her place. Following this stellar cover, she jumped into back-to-back cuts from ArchAndroid, "Cold War" and the crowd-pleaser, "Tightrope" that got just about every person in Showbox Sodo up and dancing with reckless abandon!
Monae's set was so electric that the fans chanted and clamored for an encore, a request that she was all too pleased to honor! After performing "Prime Time," Monae blew everyone away with her second cover of the night, as she nailed Prince & The Revolution's "Let's Go Crazy!" She then surprised everyone again, as she requested all in the house to sit or crouch down, shouting "…this is for the short people…" before she laid out across the first few rows of fans and proceeded to crowd-surf her way to the back of the house, then back to the stage to finish off the night with, appropriately, "What An Experience" from The Electric Lady!
Whether you were dressed to the nines, dressed as Cindi Mayweather, or dressed as an ArchAndroid, there is no doubt you experienced the show of the year! From the amazing covers to the impromptu crowd-surfing, Ms. Janelle Monae knows how to put on a killer show!
posted by Grady on Thu Nov 21, 12:53 PM
"COME TO MY PARTY!" is what Black Joe Lewis encourages listeners to do on his new album, Electric Slave, and we couldn't agree more. And next Friday at the Neptune you have your opportunity to experience BJL at his finest! Touring in support of his fourth full length album, Black Joe Lewis and his band (formerly called The Honeybears) will be back in Seattle for a Black Friday show that will kick more ass than the early birds at the department stores rushing in for the morning deals! Known more as a soul/R&B band, Black Joe Lewis changed it up on Electric Slave and channeled his inner punk rocker, mixing it up with his James Brown influences for an exciting record that is flying so under the radar right now. These guys have played Seattle many times, and unfortunately I've missed each show ... but that's all gonna change on 11/29, when I battle the inevitable traffic on I-5 to witness the newest incarnation of Black Joe Lewis! I'd also urge any/all who are making this show to get there early to see openers Radkey - a three-piece punk band hailing from the show-me state of Missouri. If you're unfamiliar with them (which is expected), familiarize yourself prior to the show, they are awesome. Think Misfits + The Damned, only way younger!
posted by Grady on Tue Nov 12, 04:17 PM
I recently had the rare opportunity to see Australian nine-piece soul/doo-wop band Clairy Browne & The Bangin’ Rackettes twice in the same day. Earlier in the day they performed at PlayNetwork, and even though it was a short and relatively tame set, it was more than enough to convince a handful of my coworkers to join me down at Barboza for a nightcap with our new friends from Australia!
Both performances started off in the same fashion; the guys in the band took the stage first, providing intro music for the three lovely backing singers/dancers known as the Bangin’ Rackettes. Soon after the ladies and band warmed up the room with a bit of rhythm-and-blues, lead singer Clairy Browne entered stage-left, eased up to the mic and began delivering a strong dose of heartfelt soul with a healthy side of doo-wop! Right on cue, they flowed into the title track off their US debut, Baby Caught The Bus, and stole everyone’s attention for the remainder of the night. As they weaved through their set, Clairy and company peppered in a few tracks that were not on the album, possibly giving us a hint at what’s to come or what we might’ve missed in the four years between the group’s formation and their U.S. debut. Highlights of the night were “She Plays Up To You,” “Yellow Bird,” “Aeroplane,” and the lead single, “Love Letter.” The band also had their time to shine, as Clairy took a break halfway through their set to allow the band to “stretch their legs” and jam on for a bit, while the Bangin’ Rackettes entertained us with go-go dancing. After the dance-off, Clairy came back and they launched into an extended version of the Salt ‘N Pepa/En Vogue song, “Whatta Man” that got the people movin’!
The nightcap performance was definitely different from the AM version, as everything from the ladies’ gyrations to the lyrical content was a bit naughtier at Barboza. The late version was definitely worth the wait! This was CBBR’s first visit to Seattle, and it was a rousing success, as everyone in the house congregated to the front to soak in the amazing tunes. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait so long for their return!
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