A Show Unlike Any Other Show

The Decemberists at Woodland Park Zoo

22 August 2006

Decemberists
A show unlike any others not because it was amazing, but because it was a family outing. With two kids and Georgette in tow we made our way up the hill to the zoo. Trying to actually pay attention to what was happening on stage was bit more difficult for me than your average concert goer.

At times it seemed that Colin Meloy was oblivious to the fact that he was playing to an all ages show (all ages meaning little kids, not just your grubby teenager), dropping the f-bomb and asking everyone to stand up, forgetting that when you’re under 4 feet tall it’s hard to see over a bunch of old people standing in front of you. That said, if I was kiddless, I would not have cared about any of the above.

I have always had fun seeing shows a the zoo. It’s a really laid back atmosphere, in a beautiful setting. Big trees surround the lawn and stage, and the scale of the place is such that you have a good seat no matter where you decide to spread your blanket.

Colin Meloy appeared on stage sans band and started with I Was Meant for the Stage, while the rest of the band filed on stage and joined in. From here it gets a bit fuzzy. A couple songs in, my son has to go pee, so we make our way to the port-o-pottys to the tune of 16 Military Wives, the song sounded good even inside the port-o. My next memory is hearing We Both Go Down Together and The Engine Driver back to back while sitting down on the blanket with Georgette. Ian is off with his buddy Simon running up and down the big hill to the side of the stage, and Elsa has fallen asleep in a Simon’s mom’s arms.Decemberists

I then grab the camera and head up front to try my hand at taking pictures, which as you can see I suck at. Anyway, I go up to the front of the stage to snap a few bad photo’s and hear a couple new songs from the immanently available The Crane Wife. They played a couple of the shorter songs from the new record, O Valencia! and The Perfect Crime #2. While up front I also checked out the merch table and noticed they were selling t-shirts for $20 a pop. The Decemberists are definitely not indie anymore. And on top of the hefty price they were on American Apparel shirts.

I got back to our base (the blanket) and then wondered over to the hill that Ian and Simon are running all over. I meet up with Mike (Simon’s dad) and we hang out with the boys and listen to two of my favourite Decemberists songs, Lesly Anne Levine and Song for Myla Goldberg. Both songs are great, I love the accordion in LAL. We also hear a few other songs while Ian and Simon are now rolling down the hill. I think they did July, July! and something else.

It’s now 8:15 and the band is leaving the stage, since all zoo shows are over by 8:30, I figure we’ll get an encore. We get the excellent encore version of the The Mariner’s Revenge Song with its Eastern European flavored sound it gets everyone moving and wanting more. Alas, the clock has chimed and the Decemberists leave the stage before they turn into pumpkins, or giraffes or something like that.

Openers, the Nethers were decent.  The songs you can hear at their site seemed a bit better than what I heard live.  I heard a few similarities to the Howling Bells which are one of my favourite new bands out of Australia at the moment.

Summer Beer Taste on Phinney Ridge

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This past Saturday was the Phinney Neighborhood Association beer tasting. I must say it was quite civilized compared to some beer tastings I’ve been to. I remember the first beer tasting I ever went to, I went expecting it to be something like a wine tasting. You know, you go around the room, talk to the vintner/brewer and try their stuff. It ended up being llike a some bad version of a college frat party, where you’re pushing and shoving to get a beer, only to finally get up to the tap and find out that they just kicked the keg. I’m happy to say, the Phinney event is nothing like that
It was one of the hotest days of the year and the upstairs of the Phinney Neighborhood center was a little toasty, but the many IPA’s, Summer Ales, Pilsners and Hefeweizens made it very bearable. The Barking Dog provided an excellent Lobster Bisque and there was a band that consisted of a couple fiddles, a big stand up base and squeeze box. The building is an old restored elementary school overlooking Greenlake, so I felt like I was stepping back in time to a high school dance, only there was tons of beer readily available!

There were 16 breweries represented with my favorites being the Diamond Knot Industrial IPA on cask. Even though it was hot, this one was very refreshing. I was also excited to try the Walking Man Homo-Erectus Imperial IPA. This brewery is way down along the Columbia River, so it’s not every day I get to drink their imperial IPA. I should also mention Lazy Boy’s Hefeweizen and IPA, both were very nice from this new brewery.

Those are the one’s that really stood out. I actually only tasted one that I really did not like, mostly because I’m not a big fan of fruit in my beer. Walking back from the event my neighbor Al and I stopped at Snow Goose for one last beer. After all of those micro brews, we ordered a Pabst Blue Ribbon….refreshing!

Opening: Silversun Pickups & Voxtrot

Neumo’s: 31 May 2006.
(photo swiped from Voxtrot’s website)

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I went to a show on a school night, saw two bands and was home by 10:45! For old people, this is the way to go. Silversun Pickups and Voxtrot were opening for Elefant on their west coast swing. I could care less about Elefant so I scrammed after Voxtrot’s set.

I guess Silversun Pickups are getting good airplay over at KEXP, so there were a bunch of people their by 9pm to catch the Pickups. They’ve got elements of shoegaze, Nirvana and little bit of Grandaddy thrown in as well. One thing that I thought was hilarious was that the drummer had one of his symbols so high he had to stand up to hit it. Honest it was taller than the drummer. I like their Pikul ep and they’ve got a full length coming out this summer which I’ll be looking out for. Their live set could have had a bit better sound and more prominent vocals, maybe the sound will be better when they headline.

My first impression of Voxtrot last night was that if there would have been a live band in the movie Rushmore, these guys would have been it. Maybe it was the singer’s resemblance to Jason Schwartzman or the bass player’s goofy moves, I don’t know. Voxtrot seem to be riding a wave of hype only after two eps. Both eps have their moments and I’m excited to see what this band will do as they mature. They’ve got all the right influences (at least from an anglophile’s perspective), heavy on the Smiths, Cure, and Wedding Present. Hell they even look like little skinny English blokes. Must be something in the water down in Austin, see: Spoon and American Analog Set. Voxtrot sounded really good, actually better than their records. Better vocals and more guitar made the songs more distinct in the live setting and they started to shed some of their blatant influences.

A few others saw the show and lived to blog about it:
theCultFigurine
CleverTitlesAreSoLastSummer

Editors @ Chop Suey: 27 April 2006

I bought Stellastar*s first record and promptly sold it after not being able to get past the singer’s voice. Thought I would give them another chance since they were opening up for the Editors. So I arrived in time to catch their opening set. It seems that Stellastar* are a band in search of an identity. They’re not bad, but they lack a distinguishing characteristic. Are these guys trying to be the Cure, OMD, the Bravery, the Go-Go’s, or what?

Chop Suey was sold out for this Thursday night show. Editors did not disappoint me. They are something of a one trick pony, but I like the trick so I don’t mind hearing it over and over. Derided as being an Interpol knock-offs doesn’t seem to deter them from going about their business. Editors have a lot more hyper-manic energy in their sound than Interpol’s plodding rhythms. Tom Smith acted as if he had taken a bunch of speed before stepping out onto stage. They started off with album opener Lights and then into Munich offering a quick one-two punch. Their set had a couple highlights, the fist being Camera. This is one of those songs that comes across so much better live than on the cd, allowing them to spread out and go into a Ride-esque jam near the end of the song. This high point was only slightly marred when Smith backed into an amp, shorting everything out and bringing the song to a brief halt. They promptly plugged back in finished it with out missing a erm…beat. They left me hanging till the very end for Fingers in the Factories. Saving their best for last, (why has this not been a single!?) the band left the stage having played their entire album and previewed two new songs that one of which I hope makes it to their next record.

It’s All Garvey

elbow.jpgElbow at the Showbox this past Tuesday, seemed like such a non-event. Their cd Leaders of the Free World was released last year with no promotion and then got its official release a month ago. So if they had toured last year around the time their record was first available here, maybe I would have felt a little more excitement. This felt kind of like when a band comes through town for the second or third time promoting their record.

Guy Garvey is a great front man. He has a kind of easygoing, gregarious presence that gets you to pay attention. It seems like Elbow has really developed since I last saw them on their first tour of the states with South. Back then they relied on a wall of guitar to get their point across. Now they’ve got a myriad of weapons. Better songs, harmony/chant vocals, killer bass and just a better fleshed out sound. In fact the guitar seemed to take a back seat to everything else. They started the show with Station Approach with its really cool chanting chorus that filled the room with a reverberation that was palpable. Some of the slower songs were a snooze but they did all the hits (except for Picky Bastard) and closed with the one everyone was waiting for, Forget Myself. This was a fun show that I shouldn’t take for granted…definitely not a non-event.


I haven’t been a big fan of the Showbox, it’s like being in a big cave. But this was a 21+ show, so you could actually have a drink and be close to the stage, instead of being relegated to the back of the house where the bar is. Maybe I’m just old but all ages shows are such a hassle. Thanks to the puritan west, everything has to be roped off to make sure someone who is 35 isn’t giving their 18 year old buddies beer.

Arctic Elephants

arcticmonkeys.jpgWhen I told my son Ian that I was going to see the Arctic Monkeys, he immediately started calling them the Arctic Elephants. He’s four, only 16 years younger than the guys in the band. Elephants, monkeys, what’s the difference really. The show’s been sold out for about a month and it seemed like all the hipsters were present. My friend Rachel had a couple extra tickets that she easily got rid of for $80 without even trying. There were a bunch of people with signs indicating they would pay dearly for a ticket.

I guess I can see why people where paying extra to get in. The Crocodile Cafe is a small venue and they likely will not ever play anywhere this small for some time to come. The next time they come back will be at the Sasquatch Festival. The Crocodile reminds me of the old 9:30 club with it’s many poles to obstruct your view. The elephants, erm I mean monkeys did a good show. Pretty much sounded like their record. Nothing out of this world but solid.

Photo snagged from potatowned over at flikr.

Art Brut vs Belle and Sebastian

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Maybe it was just a phase, or maybe they’ve just gotten a little too fey (if that’s possible), but Belle and Sebastian are just not my cup of tea anymore. They played the Paramount last Saturday and I made the mistake of attending. The band sounded good, but it was the delivery that made me cringe. Stuart Murdoch was prancing around in his pirate shirt and being a little too much of a showman. They used some of the same shticks as they did for their last tour, bringing a fan up on stage to sing a song. There were many songs in which no one was playing guitar, and using as many as 3 sets of keyboards instead. Not that I have anything against keyboards, but it just doesn’t make for an exciting show. Since it appeared I was in for a keyboard love fest, I left halfway through to head up the street to catch Art Brut at Neumos.

I needed some rock and roll to replace the bad taste in my mouth left by B&S.

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Art Brut did not disappoint. I got their in the middle of Serena Maneesh’s opening set. They are really an interesting bunch of prog / shoegazer Norwegians. Good band to see as an opener, but not sure I would make the trip just to see them. Art Brut rocked the house. Neumos was pretty full considering they don’t even have a record out in the U.S. yet. Most songs started with Eddie saying ‘ready Art Brut’, and they launched into all the best songs from their record and threw in a couple b-sides which I understand will appear on the US version of the record.
This round definitely went to Art Brut.

B&S photo borrowed from Courtoly at Flickr and Art Brut borrowed from gregoryperez at Flickr.