Reverb Fest in Ballard | 4 October 2008
Reverb is a one day festival curated by the Seattle Weekly that consists exclusively of bands in and around Seattle. Saturday there were 64 bands playing at nine different venues, way more than a single person could ever hope to take in. Some of the venues were ones that host music on a nightly basis like the Tractor, Sunset Tavern and Conor Bryne. There were also many others that you don’t normally see live music at like the shoe store Market Street Athlete and the Salmon Bay Eagles. The festival is very low key compared to bigger ones like Bumbershoot and the Capital Hill Block Party, but that’s partly what makes it so charming. There was no fighting crowds trying to get to the next band, and since most of the shows were at pubs, getting a beer and watching a band at the same time was too easy. At one point, I found myself sitting down in the Lock and Keel with a beer in hand, just taking in the scene on a blustery afternoon in Ballard, I just couldn’t think of what possibly could beat it.
The afternoon started out with my son, who oftentimes will ask if he can come with me to see a band. The answer is always, ‘it’s too late and you’re not old enough.’ Since Reverb kicked off at three in the afternoon and there were a bunch of all ages venues, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to take him along. He’s only six, but like most six year olds, quite curious. So with earplugs in hand, we hopped on the #44 bus and headed down to Ballard. We arrived at he Salmon Bay Eagles club which had one of the strongest lineups of the day that included Aqueduct, Boat, Black Whales and Mono in VCF.
The Monday Mornings were just hitting the stage as we came up the stairs and into the hall. My Grandfather is a Moose, so I remember spending more than a few hours in one of these places. The Eagles of Salmon Bay has the air of a place that has not changed in about 25 years. It’s one of those places that time forgot, oozing cigar smoke and stale beer. We grabbed a seat up close on the benches that lined the walls. The Monday Mornings set was a good warm up to the afternoon with their easy pop harmonies making the big dark Eagles hall a little bit brighter. They get labeled as folky, but there songs have too much high energy pop sensibilities for that label, maybe it’s their violin player? We hung out for their entire set, with my son declaring at the end of it that the drums were the best and he like how the drummer shook his hair.
mp3: Monday Mornings – Warm Divinity
MySpace: Monday Mornings
We headed up to Verite for a cup cake after the Monday Mornings and then straight back to the Eagles for Panda and Angle. On a sugar high, we enjoyed their sparse, dreamy set. On record they seem to use a lot of electronics, but live it was mostly guitars filling the hall. They were good, no song really stood out and grabbed me, but all of them had similar airy guitar soaked vibe.
mp3: Panda and Angel – Dangerous
MySpace: Panda and Angel
Next we headed back up to Market and to Marke Street Athlete, a shoe store on most days, but today it was the hip hop venue. We got their well in advance of Canary Sing so we spent the time checking out the sneakers and sliding around on the floor. Six year olds like to roll around on the floor. Canary Sing are two girls still in college but their music has a cool laid back vibe that defies their age. They remind me a bit of Digable Planets and the whole paisley rap scene of the late 80’s with their jazz samples and superhero references. They apologized for being late, explaining that it was the first time they’d been to the ‘North End’. It was a small group there to see them, but lively. They only have an self released ep out, but there are planes for an album. Canary sing were totally fun and unassuming, my pleasant surprise of the day!
MySpace: Canary Sing
Here is where my wife comes to the rescue, not to mine but my son’s. He had decided that he’d had enough of watching bands and was ready to go. So here’s where he gets rescued and I’m left to my own devices, but not before my wife reminds me that I owe her big time for letting me hang around to catch a few more shows.
I made my way down Ballard Avenue to the Lock and Keel for the Little Penguins. The Little Penguins are Will Hallauer’s band who seems to be in about nearly half of all the bands that I like in Seattle. He may be best known as the drummer in the Turn-Ons. Hallauer fronts the Little Penguins playing guitar, leaving the drumming to Garrett Croxon formerly of the Fleet Foxes. Tonight he was joined by Turn-On’s band mate Eric Blood on guitar. The Little Penguins have a lot of the same UK 80’s indie guitar band references as the Turn-Ons, but the songs seem a bit more low key and comfortable. I should also point out that they did a superb cover of Joy Division’s Isolation that was full of tight energy. They totally nailed the song, reminding me of the rawer BBC version that Joy Division did.
Final stop of the night for me was one more trip to the Eagles club to catch Boat before they go into hibernation. I arrived in time to catch the last song of the Black Whales’ set, making me whish I’d seen their entire show. This was to Boat’s final show before they begin to write and record album number three. Making sure that they’d get audience participation, the boys from Boat passed out homemade shakers and confettie to the audience before taking the stage. So with shaker in one hand and confetti in the other I watched Boat rock the all ages crowd with their unique, twisted, geek rock. They threw in a few new songs like the very promising Prince of Tacoma and Lately…I’ve Been on My Back. I shook my shaker and threw my confetti and had a genuine good time knowing how lucky I am to be living in a city with such a vibrant music scene and with a festival that celebrates it all.