Death Cab for Cutie Decends Upon Gonzaga

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The musically deprived appreciate great music more than big city folk. Big name artists so rarely come through the stretch I-90 between Chicago and Seattle, that whenever it does occur it’s an event. So when Death Cab for Cutie came to Gonzaga University’s McCarthy Athletic Center in Spokane, WA on Friday night, people came out in droves.

These concertgoers weren’t just locals either. People came out from all over Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, and Canada. People from the area crave big tours, and come out in droves when one actually makes its way through.

The show started with Ra Ra Riot, who proved to be solid. The band is an interesting choice for an arena opener. Their sound is just so tranquil and reserved. For better or for worse, lead singer John Pike seemed to be channeling Phil Collins, both in vocal sound and calm demeanor. The group seemed to slowly ease the crowd into a musical mood rather than excite them for what will come.

The second band up, Cold War Kids, were markedly more energetic, but still left a bit to be desired. While the band was tonally on, the band feel victim to their own set list. “We Used to Vacation” was the only barnburner amongst a slew of tunes off their newest album Loyalty to Loyalty, which is subpar at best. Inexplicably, the band didn’t play “Hang Me Out to Dry,” which is far and away their best live song.

As the lights went down and the first electronic moanings of “Marching Bands Of Manhattan” echoed through the arena, the place erupted in cheers. Ben Gibbard and company came out and played the song with the ideal lightness that Death Cab’s catalog requires. The group followed up the opening song with a series of other favorites back to back (“The New Year,” “We Laugh Indoors,” and “Crooked Teeth”). The band did a fantastic job picking the set list, hitting just about every song a die-hard or casual fan could ask for.

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The Value of Art

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How do you value art?

It is undeniable that all our lives are impacted and enriched by songs, movies, paintings and a slew of other artistic works. We’ve all had bad days that have been cheered up by popping in a DVD, fascinated by a photograph, or been moved by the lyrics in a song.

So with that said, why has it become acceptable to not compensate the artists who give us these great works?

Very few people would walk into Best Buy and shoplift a DVD or CD, yet no one bats an eyelash at someone torrenting a new movie or downloading the most recent album leak anymore. Why? If it is merely the tangible, physical properties of an object that make theft wrong, people wouldn’t have to copyright ideas and concepts. It seems accepted to take the actual work without pay, but ripping off the thoughts is not justifiable. Does this make sense? Much of this is based on the “Metallica Effect.” Metallica (namely drummer Lars Ulrich) came out vehemently against Napster when the peer-to-peer file sharing site was in its heyday. When this happened, many people defended not paying for music because artists like the members of Metallica are millionaires and don’t need record sale money.

While it’s true that Ulrich doesn’t need more cash, for every one Metallica, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of artists who more or less scrape by from gig to gig. They should be compensated for their work.

I’m not trying to preach from a pulpit here. The aforementioned financial issues are not the crux of what I’m trying to get at, it’s merely a way of illustrating the point.

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Quick Excerpt From ‘Under the Radar’

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Welcome to the quick hits edition of Under the Radar (my weekly column in the Gonzaga Bulletin). Let’s get right to it:

—Chuck Klosterman is such a fantastic writer. He covers pop culture with a new journalism flair (aka not like a dry news story). His profiles on celebrities ranging from Britney Spears to U2 to Val Kilmer, cut through a bunch of the facade of celebrity and focus on what their appeal says about society. His books including “Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto” and “Chuck Klosterman IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas” would make for some truly fantastic summer reading.

—I’m strongly anti-Twitter, so I was dismayed to find The Streets realeasing a few new songs via tweets (twitter.com/skinnermike). But they’re very good and free. So why complain?

—Denver rock outfit The Photo Atlas have recently released a new EP entitled To Silently Provoke the Ghost. This band knows how to kick out the jams. Their tunes are akin to what At The Drive-In would’ve sounded like if they were a dance rock band. Check them out ASAP.

*Published in last Friday’s issue of The Gonzaga Bulletin*

Training Your iPod for Bloomsday

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While runners might be busy training their bodies for Bloomsday, many are surely neglecting to train their iPods for the run. See­ing as you’re likely not a Kenyan Olympian, your long distance running routine is likely to include Steve Jobs’ wonderful contraption (or some other mp3 player; hopefully not a Zune) pumping tunes into your earbuds to fend off the boredom. Luckily, there are tracks that fit seamlessly with the Bloomsday course. Here’s a guide to help make sure your run is more blissful and less on the blister-educing.

Pre-race — “Rebellion (Lies)” Arcade Fire

“Sleeping in is giving in, no matter what the time is.” Of course you know that, seeing as you’re up, have a hearty breakfast in you, and are itching to start this thing. As the epic sound of Arcade Fire slowly builds to a glorious crescendo, your adrenaline will slowly build until you’re throwing your arms in the air. Let’s get this thing going.


Start — “Forward” The Thermals

As the opening lyric cries, “One, two, three, forward (!),” you’re off like a flash. This quick little punk ditty will make sure that your legs are churning full bore to get you out in front of your fellow participants. Fight the urge to body slam them mosh pit style; apparently that’s frowned upon in the running community.

Mile 1 — “Good Vibrations” Marky Mark & The Funky Bunch

When consulting friends for songs to run to, my first source said this needed to be songs 1-5 and then 6 as well. Who am I to argue? Mark Wahlburg (err… Marky Mark) says he wants “to see sweat dripping out your pores.” If the beats don’t get you moving, just imagine your running to get out of a theatre playing “Max Payne.” This reminds me, “say hi to your mother for me.”

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United States of Electronica & Velella Velella Make The Sweat Drip At Whitworth

United States of Electronica

United States of Electronica

“MORE BEATS!”

Velella Velella’s Andrew Means was constantly repeating this phrase at the sound engineer due to technical difficulties, but it became the rallying cry for those who attended the free show at Whitworth University’s HUB last night. The lineup consisted of two Seattle dance rock bands with distinctly different sounds; United States of Electronica and the aforementioned Velella Velella.

The show kicked off with United States of Electronica giving the crowd exactly what they came for; dance bliss. As the band enthusiastically ran though tracks like “Emerald City,” “It’s On,” and “Open Your Eyes,” the crowd returned the energy in full.

U.S.E. does a lot of things right. While their sound is blatantly disco-centric, it doesn’t seem dated. The band has a balance that few acts in the genre can claim to posses. There is no drenching of synth, bass, or drums. Nothing seems overbearing in the least. U.S.E. operates with a soft and light touch, which is exactly what’s desired when you’re in the mood to boogie.

The onlookers included the typical spandex and sequin adorned dance queens to bearded guys with punk rock t-shirt. Each one seemed equally inclined to hop and throw their arms in the air. The band played for over an hour, and while that’s beyond the point where all their songs started to sound the same, the crowd was still bouncing, grinding, and even crowd surfing along with the music.

Many of the patrons inexplicably filed out of the HUB after U.S.E.’s set. While it was getting late, due to Velella Velella blowing out a tire on the drive over to Spokane, it didn’t make a lot of sense why dance kids would blow off the headlining act. Maybe there’s a secret hierarchy of these bands, or even cliques that I’m unaware of, but regardless, it seemed odd they’d skip out on more free music.

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Bumbershoot/Cap Hill ’09 & Why Modest Mouse Isn’t Worth The Drive

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The Emerald City has always been a musical hot spot, and with festivals such as Bumbershoot and The Capitol Hill Block Party, it’s easy to see why. These yearly extravaganzas, held respectively over Labor Day weekend and in late July, bring out a slew of talented bands and artists from across the country to Seattle for days of simple musical bliss. Initial lineup announcements have been made for both events, so why not delve into them a bit?

Bumbershoot announced over 40 bands at the start of April. The big names announced so far are Modest Mouse, Sheryl Crow, and Katy Perry, but there are also a lot of lesser-known acts filling out the bill. It all adds up to a bit of everything.

Fans of indie pop can head over to see Matt & Kim. Dancers can get in their grove to the tunes of MSTRKRFT or Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head (even though their band name is better than their songs). The intellectual hip-hop fans can see the always acclaimed De La Soul. Those looking to rock out hard can check out the power punk duo No Age. For the party girls who easily eat up any “Girls Gone Wild”-esque fare (or guys who enjoy watching such antics), there is of course the poppy Katy Perry. Some might just want to “Soak Up the Sun” (or quite possibly, rain) with Sheryl Crow.

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Skimming Spokane’s Scene

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I really don’t like this article, but I’ve been too damn busy to write blog only material of late. Aghhhh.

While Seattle has always been the hot spot for music in Washington, it’s not the lone dog making noise in The Evergreen State. Spokane is home to a diverse and growing local music scene. Fairly well defined lines exist among different venues and concert promotion companies allowing people to either stay safe in their select niche or to branch out and explore all the varied music Spokane has to offer.

Boasting a front stage for smaller acts and a very cool back space for larger ones, the Empyrean Coffee House is a great place to see a wide variety of artists. The goal of music at the Empyrean is to try and be all encompassing, according to owner Chrisy Riddle. “Everyone needs a place to go,” says Riddle. The regulars at the joint have even started up their own publication on the music scene, “Crunk Roost.” Copies can be picked up for free by any visitor searching for some tunes or a latte.

While everything is welcome, indie music and singer-songwriters seem to be the staples of the Empyrean. There are many local acts that Riddle loves and feels have an attachment to the Empyrean. Singer-songwriters Kaylee Cole, Karli Fairbanks and Henry Nordstrom all help define the “signature” sound of the Empyrean. The hard experimental rock of Cyrus Fell Down and much calmer indie rockers The Globes are among the groups always welcome at the venue. The funky blues of The Booze Fighters is also an Empyrean favorite.

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