Show Preview: Glassjaw @ the Showbox, Sun. 7/15

Preview: Glassjaw @ the Showbox, Sun. 7/15
~Dagmar


Glassjaw

On Sunday evening, post-hardcore band Glassjaw co-headlines with Quicksand at the Showbox. A week into the tour, the group should still be celebrating the release of their first full-length album in fifteen years, Material Control. That album came out in December of 2017, so Glassjaw fans have had a bit of time to get into the new songs. Never heard Glassjaw before? You can head back to their other albums, but Material Control would be a great place to start as well. Tearing in at track one of Material Control is “New White Extremity,” with its nihilistic end: Nothing’s bigger than nothing. “Shira,” is also a great song, as is the Indian-inspired “Bastille Day.” If you want to know more about the stories behind the songs, NPR had a cool interview with singer Daryl Palumbo, who talked about each track. I’m particularly partial to “My Conscience Weighs a Ton.”

Important note: another New York band, Spotlights, opens. If you’re heading to this show to catch Glassjaw, they will be on second. Follow this link for tickets & more details.

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Photos: Everclear w/ Marcy Playground @ Showbox SoDo

Everclear w/Marcy Playground @ Showbox SoDo, 6/22/18

Photos by John Rudolph

Led by Art Alexakis, Everclear always sound great and their performance style makes you want to pull out all your CDs and remember the ’90s’ great music. Marcy Playgorund reminded us how much we all love “Sex and Candy.” What a fun night hearing these two terrific bands live and remembering why we love bands who gained popularity in the ’90s.


Everclear


Marcy Playground

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Show Review & Photos: Jay-Z @ KeyArena

Jay-Z @ KeyArena – 12/13/17
Show Review & Photos by Josh Daniels
Memory Lane Series, part 38


Jay-Z

Let’s just get this out of the way now: Jay-Z is the god-damned man. He managed to spend two full hours strutting around the stage like it was the “Big Pimpin'” era, never missing a beat or lyric. In many ways he outshone the next generation of rappers, not bringing a hype man on stage or letting the background track do most of his singing/rapping for him. The only performers in KeyArena that brought a matching level of energy and skill was his insanely talented house band. Partially buried beneath the ever-moving stage in what can only be described as a fairly conventional orchestra pit, the musicians manning drums, percussion, guitars and more, not only kept the energy level at 100% through the entire set but elevated HOV to an even higher standard of performance. In one case, the guitarist (who had no part in the song), jumped up and down swinging a hype towel for the entirety of “Big Pimpin'”. This is worth mentioning not because it was some outstanding moment of the set, but because it was the standard for every second of it. Whether sauntering around the stage or standing at a mic stand in the center of it, Jay-Z kept the energy level high and delivered every beat of his classics perfectly, mixed in with selections from his new album, 4:44.

Speaking of 4:44, the album itself is good. It boasts a ton of acoustic instrumentation and has a very organic feel to it. But good lord, this album was meant to be performed live. Every single track from 4:44 was more compelling in its softer and more honest moments, or energizing in its more upbeat ones, than any recording that Jay-Z and company put to tape and released. If I’ve ever before yearned for a live bootleg of an album, 4:44 takes the cake.

In stark contrast to the energy of the night was the glaring issue of the most effective way to present a solo artist, keeping them interesting and compelling while they, well, walked around stage rapping. Unlike Justin Timberlake or other pop acts, there were no dancers or onstage antics, and unlike Snoop and crew-based rappers, there wasn’t an entourage of hype men jumping around in the background. It was just Jay-Z and the crowd.

So to elevate his effortlessly exciting performance, his tour crew put together one of the craziest visual presentations I’ve seen in an arena. Eight massive projection screens, bundled in pairs, flanked each of the cardinal directions of the stage itself, and throughout the set they would move silently around the arena, landing just feet over the audiences head at times, while at others completely obscuring the stage from view. On them were projections of the show itself from camera feeds ranging from HD to 10 fps webcams. Sometimes they were layered on top of each other and sometimes they were framed by the kind of overlays you would remember from peering into a VHS camcorder. In between acts, featurettes would play showing looping clips from Jay-Z and Beyonce’s wedding, or close ups of their children, or other more ambiguous scenes. These clips served as a beat to give the crowd a break from the intensity of the show while echoing the context and message of 4:44, as well as a second for Jay to change his hoodie or jacket combo.

All that to say, the effort and energy of Jay-Z, his band and tour crew were exemplary, and an immense amount of fun to watch.


Jay-Z

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A Conversation with President Bill Clinton @ McCaw Hall

A Conversation with President Bill Clinton @ McCaw Hall – 6/30/18
By Lisa Hagen Glynn


Kris Engskov w/ President Bill Clinton

Former President Bill Clinton visited Seattle on June 30th to promote his best-selling novel The President is Missing, a White House thriller co-authored with popular writer James Patterson. In the fictional story, President Jonathan Lincoln Duncan eludes the Secret Service to thwart a cyber-terror attack.

Clinton was interviewed by his former aide Kris Engskov, now an Executive Vice President at Starbucks, in a living-room style discussion. Clinton was as much a storyteller as an interviewee. He said he prefers storytelling to persuasion by “beating people over the head with facts and assertions,” and attributed his own penchant for it to his rural upbringing, which afforded little formal entertainment except for a small-town movie theater and an occasional square dance.

Engskov pitched mostly softballs—it was, after all, a book tour and not a debate – but Clinton did take several opportunities to speak from the heart about Hillary, Chelsea, and his two grandchildren. Clinton peppered in previews of the novel as he reminisced about his time in office, his endearing friendship with George Bush Sr., and the distinctions between a $15 and $30 bottle of vodka.

The former president called for national unity instead of polarization. Although not strictly apolitical, Clinton was largely diplomatic about criticizing the current administration directly. The exception was a punch line of “Back then, you couldn’t just tell an outright lie and get away with it,” which was met with wild applause.

Clinton closed with a message of optimism for the country: “This is not a time of despair. This is a time for citizen activism. . . We’re gonna be all right if you just show up and stand up.” Inside, the audience offered Clinton standing ovations both before and after the show.

Ticketholders and passersby lined the exit to catch cellphone videos and shout admirations of the 42nd president. Clinton greeted the public with a just-folks genuineness, much like he used to do during his famous morning jogs on the National Mall, as he was ushered into one of several SUVs.


A Conversation with President Bill Clinton

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Photos: The Shins, Foxygen & Day Wave @ Marymoor Park

The Shins, Foxygen & Day Wave – 9/23/17
Photos by Peter Dervin
Memory Lane Series, part 37


The Shins‘ James Mercer

Another cool set of photos by Peter Dervin, these ones taken at the Shins’ Marymoor Park headlining performance in ’17. Last year and this year, the Shins did a very intriguing thing: after releasing Heartworms in ’17, they redid that album in ’18. Called The Worm’s Heart, the album was “flipped”, which means the band made new versions of every track. Remakes are always exciting. Also on the bill for the Marymoor Park date were California’s Foxygen and Day Wave.


The Shins


Foxygen


Day Wave

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