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Earlier | Later

As I'm in the midst of a run of seven shows in two weeks, I'm just going to do a quick summary post of three of the recent ones. I didn't take a lot of notes at any of these anyhow, so it makes sense to group them together.

April began and ended for me with Hotels shows: the first on Saturday April 2 at the High Dive, which I wrote about already; and the last on Friday April 29 at the Sunset Tavern, with Blue Skies for Black Hearts opening and Yuni in Taxco headlining. As I noted when I saw Blue Skies for Black Hearts in January, they're a decent band and their song "Majoring in the Arts" is pretty catchy, but otherwise they just don't do anything for me. And although I really liked Yuni in Taxco when I saw them at that same January show and wanted to hear them again, this time they also just weren't holding my interest—maybe they were just playing a different set of songs, maybe it was an off night, maybe I just was distracted. Hotels, however, never fail to satisfy me, and they played a particularly sharp set that showed them ready to take on all comers at the Billboard Battle of the Bands in Las Vegas later this month. For some reason at this show I took particular note of Brendan Malec's guitar playing—it's really good! Fast-paced and intricate yet precise and clear. Drummer Aaron Voros has also settled in nicely from being "the new guy" not even a year ago, holding his own with the rest of the band. And now I'll be remiss if I don't mention the other two members, so another thing I noted at this show was how well keyboardist Kyle Frankiewich's backing vocals complement bassist and lead vocalist Blake Madden's own singing. (They're not too shabby at playing their instruments, either.) So now it's off to Vegas for Hotels—knock 'em dead, boys.

Next, a brief note about Junip, whom I saw on Monday May 2 at the Triple Door, performing a 40-minute set as part of the KEXP VIP Club concert series. Although I've never picked up any of his albums, I've enjoyed hearing José Gonzalez's music on KEXP, so I was looking forward to hearing him in the context of the band he began with, Junip, before the detour of his solo career. And I was not disappointed: they played a set of beautiful chamber/art rock, with an interesting way of working electronic instruments and devices into their organic sound. I did not go to see their longer show later that night at Neumos, but I would definitely like to see them again.

Finally, on Wednesday May 4, I went to see Zola Jesus at the Crocodile, with Crypts and Naked on the Vague opening. Crypts struck me as howling dark metal noise with a techno beat and bleeps. Apparently, at least according to The Stranger, they're part of the new witch house genre; I think I would've preferred more house, less witch. Tech trouble led to them stopping early, but I can't say I minded. Naked on the Vague played a set of early Cure-style goth rock, led by a rather deep-voiced female singer. Although I liked their music, I didn't care much for her almost monotonous singing style, and in the end I felt their set was a bit bland on the whole. Zola Jesus of course was a whole different story. She came out shrouded in a white sheet and crouched down on the stage with her wireless mic to start singing her first song, gradually rising and removing the sheet to reveal herself wearing a white hooded robe beneath, very priestess-like. Zola Jesus was also deep-voiced, but what an amazingly powerful and expressive voice she had. She was very energetic too, almost always moving about the stage, just occasionally crouching down dramatically and rarely standing at the mic stand. With barely a pause between each piece, her music ranged through grand dramatic songs, dirges, marches, and dances; her encore was a surprisingly dancey synthpop track, a funny contrast to her more serious-sounding songs that still fit in with the rest. Still a young artist just starting out, Zola Jesus will clearly grow into a major figure in modern music.

I didn't take any photos at the Hotels show, partly because the lighting at the Sunset is never any good for my iPhone and partly because I was too busy hanging out with friends and dancing. I have just three photos of Junip at the Triple Door, but as I was right up front they came out rather well. I also have a small set of photos of Naked on the Vague and Zola Jesus; it was hard to get good photos of Zola Jesus because the stage was mostly dark but she had a bright white light shining on her bright white clothing. 


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