The Happiest Monday, Ever

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Sarah Jaffe
The Triple Door, Seattle, Wa
07.21.14

Patrons of The Triple Door were deliciously serenaded Monday evening, as Sarah Jaffe and tour rolled through Seattle with everything in tow but regret. Even Jaffe was unable to pull off a twinge of sadness amid this mild summer night, with smiles as big as Texas greeting her from every booth and bar stool.

Glasses and bellies alike had begun to fill as the clock ticked down to Jaffe’s set. Unassuming, she sidestepped through the darkness on stage and danced around errant cords. She set a careful eye and followed the coils, making sure to wrap them around her pedals in just the right fashion. Picking up her guitar, she began to tweak the strings and diddle with knobs before lovingly setting it back down.

Wait – did I just see a performer set their own stage? I see plenty of things, but this is fairly rare, and, to say the least, refreshingly unpretentious. She walked back into the darkness to wait out the next few moments.

Playing both electric and bass guitar, Sarah Jaffe was accompanied on stage by her guitarist Robert Gomez, drummer Rob Sanchez, and keyboardist Scott Danbom. All of them seemed to favor pocketed shirts. Grateful to be on tour with such rad folk, and humble amidst the hollering, Jaffe was almost apologetic in her appreciation of the crowd. Comfortable in her music, however, her set was smooth, captivating, and honest. There were no masks. She played ten songs, of which she plucked several from her new album, Don’t Disconnect, due out in August. Some of her new material included Ride It Out, Some People Will Tell You, and Don’t Disconnect. Jaffe also hit on some old favorites, with songs such as The Way Sound Leaves a Room and Defense. She laughingly poked, “By the end of this set, you guys are gonna be out of your seats and so over this!”

Stop tearing yourself down, Jaffe, you’re doing great. Keep on keepin’ on.

The Polyphonic Spree headlined the evening, trimmed down to a mere 14 members on a cozy stage. Wearing their trademark throwback, flowing attire, the band bore down their infectious sound to an audience that was ready to dance. Tim DeLaughter looked born into this role, as he was all smiles from the get-go, skipping from one end to the other while doling out his mic to the front row. With the crowd still lukewarm after two songs, DeLaughter prodded, “You did a fabulous job – I know your bellies are full, I’m a fair man, but engaging is where it’s at!” With that, the night was set off into a blur of disco lights and Prozac-coated fog (ok, maybe not, but it still smells funny). A taste of their set included Hanging Around the Day, 2000 Places At Once, Younger Yesterday, and Hold Yourself Up. Stop by the choir house, grab a robe, and go see them for yourself. This group is certainly theatrical, if not always super musical.

Opening the evening were Seattle’s very own Friends and Family, a young, magical septet that boasted not only a great disposition on stage, but an equally full and ferocious sound. Sporting like colors, they whirred through eight songs of crazy indie sounds, echoing lyrics, and clean marching style beats that left me sad when it was over. With legitimate tap shoes on, the violinist took every opportunity to dance along. Their performance was endearing, solid, and ready for a bigger library. Keep an eye on this group. I sure will be.      

Review by T. Monte
Photos by Sunita Martini

Sarah Jaffe

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Polyphonic Spree

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Friends and Family

 

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The Max Bemis Song Shop, Brick and Mortar Style

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Say Anything
The Showbox, Seattle, Wa
07.19.14

The backdrop came down with the pull of a cord, and even though nobody could read it, they could see the writing on the wall. Behind the instruments and peering lights, I can only discern through my non-Jewish background that the Hebrew letters on testament-style slab read something like, “Seattle, you’re the best (and you always know it), let’s have some fun tonight.” It could, theoretically, say anything, right?

Say Anything took the stage at 10:30 to a roaring crowd. Certainly, through some rough times, there were diehard fans that didn’t know if they’d see this band again. And yet here they were, fired up and ready to play an 18 song set, to one of the most invested audiences they’d seen thus far (we’ll have to simply take their word on that one). Their tour with the Front Bottoms, the So So Glos, and You Blew It! has trekked through 29 cities since mid-June, and with only six dates of the tour remaining, they gladly pulled out all of the stops for their Showbox set.

With all hands in place, singer Max Bemis only took to an instrument for the encore, beginning with an acoustic performance of Walk Through Hell, chosen by the audience. Bemis hinted that the next song would be a cover of a band they’ll soon be touring with. Tanner Jones, singer of You Blew It!, waltzed from the dark to assist on vocals for a cover of…. (drumroll, please)… Saves the Day’s Third Engine. With such a storied past, I can’t say I’m surprised, and the audience loved it! The encore rounded out with two more songs as the band members piled back on stage and some real moshing began.

Any chance to catch this band on tour is a good bet to take. Their live performance is energetic and fun, in addition to great complimentary touring bands. The Front Bottoms can speak for themselves, and be sure to check out the So So Glos from Brooklyn, who put on a great show with a catchy sound. You Blew It!, a five-some from Orlando, also played an ambitious set. Look for these guys to be coming up in the ranks.

Set List:
Six Six Six
Spidersong
Burn a Miracle
Baby Girl, I’m a Blur
Judas Decapitation
The Writhing South
Do Better
Surgically Removing the Tracking Device
A Boston Peace
Cemetery
Hebrews
This Is Fucking Ecstasy
Sheep
She Won’t Follow You
Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too

(Encore):
Walk Through Hell
Third Engine
Boyd
Belt

Review by T. Monte
Photos by Sunita Martini

Say Anything

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The Front Bottoms

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A Great Buy

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The Crystal Method
Foundation Nightclub, Seattle, Wa
07.18.14

Fresh off a new album, The Crystal Method set up shop at the Foundation Nightclub in Seattle on a bustling summer Friday night. Soon they will be putting to rest a string of tours that has reinvigorated their fan base, and put a serious exclamation point on a chapter that was in jeopardy after Scott Kirkland’s surgery. Their new work encompasses their old sounds while continuing to push their creative envelope, inviting a new audience while comforting the old.

This was a DJ set, and Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland peddled their wares in menacing rotation. Each spot was 10 to 15 minutes, remixing samples, pulling from their catalogue, and layering in their iconic, pulsing, analog synth sound. In his station, Jordan remained low key and focused on the turn tables. Kirkland, on the other hand, was very expressive, and at times looked like a roaring lion. Occasionally, he would pull his headphones forward and cover his eyes. One had to wonder what he was really seeing.

The club was mysteriously (and spectacularly) lit, and while huge fans blew balloons around the floor, go-go dancers clung to the hanging skywalks overhead. There wasn’t a still body in the house.

Foundation did a great job putting this one together. It was, in all respects, a great show.

Review by T. Monte
Photos by Sunita Martini

The Crystal Method

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Dry Land

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Filter
El Corazon, Seattle, Wa
07.17.14

A packed house at El Corazon on Thursday night became witness to a man that had lost himself, found himself, tied down anchor, and was gut-wrenchingly honest about it. Filter came to Seattle with not just their trademarked brand of alternative sound, but with a clean slate and an eye for the future.

Singer Richard Patrick, humbled at 46 years old, still looks and sounds just as good as, say, twelve years ago. But he is a different man, with a different outlook, who has figured out a positive way to shift the weight on his shoulders. His performance tonight belies the tidal waves he’s been navigating over recent years. As the tides roll in and out, it appears he has docked himself, for now, in the harbor, safe and sound.

Filter took the stage twenty minutes late due to technical difficulties. Apologizing profusely, Patrick made it up to the crowd with a longer set. Opinionated and adamant, he lamented on what ‘alternative rock’ means today, where singing and playing a banjo has somehow made its way into the genre. They disregard the notion of playing for money, cars, and women, but rather for their fans, and to keep the flame of alternative rock alive.

Patrick spoke highly of his wife, whom he says kept him grounded without holding him back creatively. He said Surprise was written in praise of women, and that everybody needs to learn some form of love for each other. Skinny, in the same hand, was written for the kids that don’t fit into society’s notion of ‘normal.’ Standing through plenty of shows, I always appreciate the bands that give their fans a little backstory to their work, and Filter didn’t disappoint on conversation. Before playing Soldiers of Misfortune, Patrick reminisced on a friend from Portland, who had died in Iraq, at 21 years of age.

The entire floor moshed as El Corazon shook to life. The air inside was the only thing stifled, and the crowd stayed respectful throughout the set. A sweaty, happy, honest mess.

Set List:
No Love
Captain Bligh
American Cliché
Jurassitol
(Can’t You) Trip Like I Do
We Hate It When You Get What You Want
What Do You Say
Take a Picture
Surprise
Self Inflicted
Skinny
Soldiers of Misfortune
It’s My Time
The Best Things
Hey Man, Nice Shot
Dose
Welcome to the Fold

Review by T. Monte
Photos by Sunita Martini

Filter

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Believing In The Sound

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Tori Amos
Paramount Theatre, Seattle, Wa
07.17.14

The bar inside is familiar and comfortable, if you’re able to get a seat. We sit by the window, and as the sun goes down I catch my reflection in the glass. I’m older now, and my wife is by my side, never minding the years gone by. She laughs like a school girl, as beautiful as ever, and her excitement makes me smile.

It will be difficult to break down an evening that has taken so many years to collect, architect, build, polish, and perfect. And, lest I leave any uncertainty here, this evening was, indeed, perfect.

Sweet, haunting echoes fill the foyer of the Paramount, and our teenage years beckon us to our seats. Like driving down lonely roads at midnight, I close my eyes and imagine all those times I looked for myself and found nothing.

We’re here, Tori.

The darkness is broken by two pianos, their keys facing each other and lovingly decorated with one-word notes. Between the rows of keys sits a delicate, tiny lady with fiery hair and a beautiful smile. She seems vulnerable and fragile. Nothing, really, has changed.

The audience is excited, yet patient and polite. One person is yelling ‘I love you, Tori!’ Everyone sits captivated. Tori begins a set that will burn the next two hours, seamlessly rolling through one gem after another. There is a woman three aisles up from me, twiddling her hands in the air along to the lyrics, and it reminds me of a church service.

There is a quality here that brings us back to a clean slate; stripped down, basic and natural. A woman, a piano, and a powerful voice. And an intangible that we can all believe in. We are all, perhaps, submissive to something.

She occasionally hits her piano for a time signature, jarring me back to the moment. She ended her set on her bench, back arched and arms outstretched. Graceful, like a bird that navigates the wind and the sun. She played beautifully, effortlessly switching pianos and piloting through the night.

Drive down that midnight road, Tori.

Set list:

(Part One):
Parasol
Pancake
Crucify
Ophelia
Winter
Frog On My Toe
Oysters
Ribbons Undone
Secret Spell

(Lizard Lounge):
Ain’t No Sunshine/Same Love
She’s Leaving Home

(Part Two):
Bliss
Leather
Another Girls Paradise
In The Springtime Of His Voodoo
Cornflake Girl

(Encore):
Precious Things
Sixteen Shades Of Blue
Hey Jupiter

Review by T. Monte
Photos by Sunita Martini

Tori Amos

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