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Archive concerts summary: July 2010

I started off July 2010 with an impromptu show: I heard Fol Chen play live at KEXP on Friday July 9, and liked what I heard enough to go check them out later that evening at the Sunset Tavern. They were playing with Mostly Dimes and the Pica Beats, both of whom I liked well enough but found fairly unremarkable. In my notes I described Mostly Dimes as "the kind of band that uses a mandolin a lot", while the Pica Beats were an "oh, these guys!" band—it must have been the song "Shrinking Violets" that I recognized. Fol Chen I thought were rather Devo-esque at least in appearance, an impression brought on in part by their matching orange uniforms. Musically though they reminded me of (fairly obscure) Boston bands Think Tree and Count Zero, with their quirky experimental post-punk, though perhaps they were more like Deerhoof. I enjoyed their set enough to buy not one but two of their CDs, Part 1: John Shade, Your Fortune's Made and Part 2: The New December. 

A few days later on July 13, I joined a few friends at Chop Suey to see Quintron & Miss Pussycat. I missed the first opening band, but enjoyed the spooky dark lounge / surf rock of Puberty, though after several songs I found they were sounding a bit limited. Quintron & Miss Pussycat was unexpected for me; I'd thought that I'd heard them before, but I didn't recognize any of their songs and none sounded like anything that would've caught my ear. Bringing new meaning to camp, Quintron's keyboard stand was disguised as the front of an antique automobile, trailing an old camper that turned out to be a puppet stage. (The opening puppet show was indescribably odd, which is why I have no notes describing it. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.) Musically they played down-and-dirty surf punk and psychobilly, reminiscent of the Cramps mixed with the B-52s. I found the vocals a little too shrilly shouted for my taste, and between the aggressive sound and the crowd surfing and moshing, I started feeling rather anxious; one song, I decided, sounded like the point when bad things start happening in a horror movie. However, toward the end of their set the music became more dance-like, and I was amused when they covered Glen Campbell's hit "Rhinestone Cowboy", first warning the audience "if you're reviewing the show you should leave now, it's gonna get real fucking bad." Well, "Rhinestone Cowboy" wasn't the worst of the lot, and although Quintron & Miss Pussycat turned out to be not really to my taste, I certainly understood why they had an enthusiastic audience.

My third July show was one I'd been looking forward to for a little while: The Secret History played Nectar Lounge on July 21, with Bandolier opening and Hotels closing. Bandolier were a pop-rock quartet with that young-band charm, freshness, and roughness. They played a good set though without standout tunes, and I felt they still needed development; in fairness, it turned out they had substitutes for a couple of their usual members due to some schedule conflict. The Secret History are basically a re-formed version of NYC band My Favorite, adding two new vocalists (Lisa Ronson and Erin Dermody) in place of that band's former lead singer Andrea Vaughn. I adore My Favorite's last album The Happiest Days of Our Lives: The Complete Joan of Arc Tapes, and was crushed when I learned I'd just missed seeing the band's last Seattle performance before they broke up. So I was very excited to see the new lineup, and they did not let me down. As both bands are the project of songwriter and musician Michael Grace Jr., it's unsurprising that they have very similar styles, a strong dreampop feel with some Britpop influence. Also unsurprisingly, although a new band in name, they had a very polished sound, and the vocals sounded great. The songs featured repeated references to "Johnny" in a way that suggested their debut album The World That Never Was might be a concept album about youth in the '90s. I really enjoyed their set, and though I still regret missing that My Favorite show, I felt satisfied with the new version of the band. Finally, Hotels of course always make me happy, and with at-the-time new songs like "On the Casino Floor" and "The Bat Watusi", I was so eager for their new album (which just came out a couple weeks ago). Interestingly, although The Secret History was arguably the older band, I felt their music was very much about the angst of early twenty-somethings. In contrast, Hotels had a feeling of older world-weary ennui, anger, and regret, but also nuggets of hope and even joy, and even their ennui was dancy and dreamy. In all, it was an evening of great music.

Finally, I ended July by attending the Capitol Hill Block Party, doing volunteer shifts for KEXP all three days. Unlike most of the 2010 shows, I actually posted a writeup at the time, which you can read earlier in my journal as linked here. One thing I do want to call out, again, is how much ass the Redwood Plan kicks: they totally rock, and I do not understand how they're not one of the biggest things in the Seattle music scene. They've been preparing a new release though, so maybe this year will be their breakthrough; I'm looking forward to it. 


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The List: June 2011

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