June 18th, 2008

June 2008 concert 1: Annuals at Neumos

A week ago on Tuesday the 10th, John and I went to Neumos for the return of one of my favorite new bands, Annuals. Headlining the bill was Times New Viking, with Psychedelic Horseshit and Fabulous Diamonds opening. We arrived at Neumos just before 9 to find the club empty and no sign of a band on stage yet, so we stepped into Moebar to have a drink. We ended up missing most of Fabulous Diamonds' set, catching only the last two songs, and regretted that we did not get to hear more - once again demonstrating that it's always worthwhile to catch the opening act.

Fabulous Diamonds are a duo on keyboard/synths and drums, with both musicians sharing vocals. What we did catch of their set was experimental goth/trance music that was beautiful and interesting enough to make us pick up their CD, 7 Songs, to find out more about what we'd missed.

Psychedelic Horseshit are a guitar, bass, and drums trio, with a keyboard played mostly by the guitarist but occasionally by the others, and lead vocals handled by the guitarist. Notably, the drummer used a large cardboard box as his kickdrum. They played a sort of experimental punk rock that tended towards noisy and loud, the sort of band who begin their set with a chaotic mix of sounds that makes it unclear whether they're still checking their instruments or playing a tune. During the last song, the drummer came up front and knelt on the floor with one tom to hit with one hand while playing the keyboard with the other, and the guitarist jumped down in front of the stage to noodle out the ending. I found them interesting overall, but not particularly appealing.

Annuals are probably my favorite discovery from last year, and I've been looking forward to their return since they last visited in November. The only disappointment from this appearance was the reduced amount of multi-player drumming - guitarist Kenny Florence did not have a tom this time, and bandleader/multi-instrumentalist Adam Baker only played his tom a bit in one song. However, this undoubtedly reflected the more mellow, contemplative sound of the new songs on their latest EP, Wet Zoo, and perhaps if they'd been doing a longer, headlining set, they would've brought out the full-force drumming. Still, there was plenty of intensity and enthusiasm even in the new songs, which included at least one from their next full-length album due out in September. Baker had some microphone trouble during the first verse of set opener "Complete or Completing" but fixed it in time for the chorus, and the band showed their professionalism by playing unperturbed throughout. Chills ran down my back anticipating the explosion of sound as they began "Brother", and I was delighted that they closed again with the joyous, anthemic "Do You Like It", which hopefully will also be on the next album. I can see that "eagerly anticipating" will be words I use a lot in connection with Annuals, as that's how I feel about their next album and their return to Seattle in the autumn.

Times New Viking are a trio on synth and vocals, drums and vocals, and guitar. They played a non-stop train of short, loud punk-pop songs. They had something of the bright pop sound of Mates of State, but rather more rough and punk than pop - though in the very brief pauses between songs, they introduced several of them as "pop song number (x)", showing perhaps a sense of irony. Their singing was not very tuneful, a bit shouty though at least not the really obnoxious screaming or growling of hardcore punk and metal bands. They were also overly loud, seeming to think they should be loud for its own sake. They played with more enthusiasm than skill, and although many bands would have trouble following Annuals, Times New Viking really sounded amateur and bad to John and me. We stayed for twenty minutes or so, and then decided to cut out early. Still, it'd take a lot worse to spoil a show that included Annuals, so we were happy overall.

Photos of the show start here.

This Saturday Mono In VCF are back in town and playing at Neumos, and I am not likely to miss it. Next month, DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist are back in Seattle, still on "The Hard Sell" tour, playing at The Showbox SoDo on Saturday July 26. It's on the expensive side for me at $35 plus fees, but I think it's one I probably shouldn't miss. I don't see anything else yet in July that I'm likely to catch - Steely Dan's at the Chateau Ste. Michelle on the 30th, but I'm not paying over $65 to sit on the lawn by myself - but I'll keep looking for anything else interesting to turn up. Further ahead, Freezepop will be here in late August for PAX again, and hopefully will do a separate club show as they did last year; and Balkan Beat Box will make another attempt to play in Seattle after their March show was cancelled, they're scheduled to be at Neumos on Saturday September 13, so hopefully I can catch them this time.