Sunday, May 30, 2010

Northwest Folklife - May 29th 2010

Started this afternoon at the K Records Showcase, called "This is Our Show" It featured bands from K Recs, The Hive Dwellers, Karl Blau, LAKE, and The Curious Mystery.
The Hive Dwellers are a band you either love or hate. Calvin Johnson is either a musician you love or can't stand, I think don't people "sort of" like him or "sort of" dislike him, so it makes sense that people wouldn't "sort of" like or dislike the band. The lyrics were more than slightly ridiculous, and the music wasn't particularly complex, however, the fact that it was Calvin Johnson - the man behind Beat Happening, as well as other bands that influenced the late 80s/early 90s music scene, and also the man who created K Recs, made it worth seeing. It would be like if the musicians from the 1960s your parents listened to were still alive, and they had the chance to see them. Seriously.

Karl Blau has a reputation of having played every festival in the Pacific Northwest at least once. I'm not sure if this is true - I've never seen him live before, and I dont remember him ever playing any Vancouver shows. He played newer songs, from the Zebra album. I found this a little disappointing, because I'm only familiar with the Nature's got a way album, and so I wasn't familiar with anything he played. It was still a good show though, and I'm glad I went.

LAKE was good, it helped that I'd wanted to see them for as long as I'd known of their existence - so, for like two years - and I'd given up on them ever playing a Vancouver or Victoria show. Unfortunately, most of what they played was off of their newest album, which I hadn't had a chance to listen to, but it didn't matter, because the concert was still good.

The next band I wanted to see was Acorn Project, a Funk/Rock/Ska band from Bellingham. I was a bit skeptical at first, because I hadn't heard of them before, but they were really good. They sound very similar to another one of my favorite Bellingham bands, Yogoman Burning Band - who, coincidentally enough, were also playing this festival, and I'll get to that in a minute. Back to Acorn Project. They had more or less everybody who had stayed to watch them dancing, the little kids in the front, the highschool students, the stoners, and the little old ladies - as well as everybody else.
They only played a half hour set, but the whole performance was energetic.

Yogoman Burning Band was next, they're another Bellingham based, rock/ska/punk/reggae band, and sound very similar to Acorn Project. I've reviewed them in this blog before, and I've seen them live before, again, their show was amazing.
I didn't know they were playing Folklife until last night, when I sat down an looked at the festival schedule. They played almost entirely new songs, that are not on either one of their two CDs, except at the end of the set - they finished with "Streetlights" and "Pass the O", two songs from their first CD, that came out in 2007. Again, they were able to get people dancing an singing along, and the show was just really energetic and fun.

The last band I saw was Panda Conspiracy, a multi - person band from Seattle, (seriously, I don't even know how many people were on stage)The show was entertaining from the very beginning - some of the band were wearing panda costumes, others were in bunny suits, beachballs were flying through the audience, and the music was upbeat and easy to dance to.The only downside to this band was that their songs were long, which meant that they couldnt play very much in a half hour set. However, what they played was really good.

One Last Thing About Folklife - one last thing, thats it, I swear. Its apparently the largest music festival of its kind in North America - a by donation, community/volunteer run folk festival. think about that for a minute. Its really important to support things like this, because they make it possible for almost anybody to enjoy music.

Northwest Folklife - Friday, May 28th 2010

Thankfully, the ferry ride from Victoria to Seattle was completely uneventful, and my anxiety about crossing the border - something I always get, although I don't know why, since I'm just your average, middle class, white female college student, were completely unfounded. Didn't get into Seattle until 3, an after I'd dropped off my stuff and gotten a snack, off to the festival it was!.

The first band I saw was shotty, they're a three piece pop punk band from Seattle, and I saw them for the first time at Folklife last year. There are two things that make this band worth seeing live, the first is that even though a majority of their songs seem to tell a familiar story about a girl, or a relationship, they are incredibly catchy, and are very easy to dance to (and even if you don't like dancing in public, you'll be tapping your feet and bobbing your head like everybody else). The stage prescence they have, and upbeat energy of the live performances is what makes this band entertaining, and a band worth seeing.

The second was another Seattle based band, NoRey, a reggae folk band. They sounded like a cross between reggae, ska, soul, and folk music, and at one point I'm fairly certain I counted six or seven people onstage.

The Third band I saw was Blood Red Dancers, another local band. The music was rough, raw, and unpolished, although it was clear that the edgey and unpolished sound of the music was not an accident, or due to a lack of practice, it was supposed to sound that way.

Lastly, other than the many bands performing at Folklife, there was also a wide assortment of buskers and and people playing instruments who were not on one of the stages, but who, in many cases, were just as accomplished as those who were.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Its Festival Season! (well, almost...)

Since summer is almost here, and school is nearly done for the summer, if it isn't already, I've put together a list of festivals around the Pacific Northwest that I think are worth checking out, just in case you were looking for something to do. So in no particular order....

1. Northwest Folklife - May 28th - 31st, 2010, Seattle WA.

- A 4 day festival over Memorial Day long weekend, with 25 stages and over 900 bands, there's bound to be something to entertain everyone, whether you like jazz, blues, country, folk, world music, dance, or storytelling. An added bonus? Its not one of those festivals where you have to pay hundreds of dollars for a weekend ticket. Entrance is by donation.

2. Sasquatch - May 29th - 31st 2010, at the Gorge.

- Another Memorial Day weekend music festival, with multiple stages and big name bands, such as Massive Attack, Pavement, Tegan Sara, and Nada Surf, as well as lesser known indie bands, like The Lonely Forest, Shabazz Palaces, and Japandroids. Unfortunately, this year is sold out, so if you managed to get tickets, I am very, very jealous.

3. Vancouver Island Music Festival - July 9-11th, 2010, Comox Valley, BC.
- A folk music festival featuring a variety of performers on Vancouver Island, in British Columbia, Canada. Although its not cheap - $129 if you buy before July 1st, $149 after, its worth the money. Last year it was ranked as one of the best summer music festivals in North America.

4. Victoria Ska Festival - July 7th - 10th, 2010, Victoria BC.
- A ska music festival in Victoria BC, featuring a variety of Ska bands from all over the Northwest, as well as Canada, and the world. Not only is it a chance to hear some amazing little - known ska bands, Fishbone will be playing a show. Its not an expensive festival either, $99 for the entire weekend.

5. Vancouver Folk Festival - July 16th - 18th 2010, Vancouver BC.
- Although the full lineup isn't out yet, the lineup for this years Vancouver Folk Festival looks amazing. there's a wide variety of performers and genres, including world music, folk, jazz, and blues. This years festival includes The Avett Brothers, Calexico, Sarah Harmer, and Valdy, just to name the better known performers, there are also bands from Colombia, Haiti, and Mali, as well as a wide selection of performers from across Canada. Adult Weekend Tickets are $133 before June 11th, $160 before July 15th, and $185 at the Gate.

6. Bumbershoot - September 4th- 6th 2010, Seattle,WA
- I know that calling this a summer festival is a bit of a stretch, since its at the end of August, but its still technically during the summer holidays, so I'm calling it a summer festival. Its the 40th Anniversary of this festival, and although the artist lineup hasn't been released yet, personally, I haven't had a problem finding something to listen to. Its interesting to see that tickets are a bit different this year, rather than charging one price, and having people line up to see mainstage bands, they've got two different types of tickets - one which allows you to get into the mainstage, presumably without lining up, and one that doesnt include entrance to mainstage shows. strangely, they seem to have done away with the idea of a weekend pass entirely, unless you pay $250 for a "VIP pass" Tickets - $22/day, without mainstage access, $40/day with mainstage access