Photos: Block Party Day Two

A friend had gifted me tickets to the Capitol Hill Block Party; which seemed an opportunity too good to pass up!  Having not attended an American music festival before, this seemed a good stepping stone to larger events in Seattle such as Bumbershoot.

Upon first glance, Capitol Hill had all the hallmarks of a lively and interesting music festival – eccentric characters, rabid fans, funky stalls filled with culinary and crafty delights, and the unavoidable queues for the bathrooms.  The inclusion of three stages ensured that there was enough variety to suit most people, while maintaining an event intimate enough to be held in the middle of the city – making it accessible for everyone.  Genius!

One of my must-see acts of the day was the highly recommended Truckasauras – while I had not had the pleasure of seeing them live before, I’d seen some great footage on YouTube and have quite the fondness for bleepy noises.

The boys brought it in spades – the nerdy yet innovative use of a Gameboy Advance as well as the more conventional turntable showed that Truckasauras make serious music, with a lighthearted twist.  An installation-art factor revealed itself in the form of a serious of movie clips projected from a trio of VCR machines – my favourite was ‘Bloodsport’, although the inclusion of ‘Rambo’ and ‘Ghostbusters 2’ earned some happy nostalgia from fans.

The crowd loved it.  Both floors of Neumos were tightly packed with a throng of enthusiastic and energetic fans, who paid no heed to the heat nor the humidity and wasted no time in getting their collective groove on.

Then ‘They Live!’ sauntered onstage, and the crowd totally lost it.

While the Truckasauras crew may have been somewhat lacking in stage presence, They Live! brought massive amounts of ego, hype and playing off the crowd – the perfect complement to the backdrop that is the larger-than-life Truckasauras sound.  Their appearance was definitely a massive set highlight, and one not easily followed up – but Truckasauras came through with a cover of Sleepy Eyes of Death that kept the house pumping.

Neumos quickly filled to capacity again for Future of the Left, so I went to go check out The Noisettes.  Unfortunately, there was some sort of lag as they were running well behind schedule – unsure what happened there!

Sonic Youth were the main event, and a drawcard I had greatly looked forward to.  The photo above illustrates that I was right in the thick of the crowd – and while mingling with a lot of happy, hot music-lovers can make for a pretty good time, it also meant that the primary noise level was that of people talking, shouting and laughing, rather than Sonic Youth getting their intricate riffs on.

Fortunately, the Block Party atmosphere prevailed, and kept people partying long into the night.  And sharing ‘Hey Joni’ with a streetful of people was pretty awesome.

By Nicky Andrews


Show Preview: The Rumble Seattle @ the Croc

New York’s had it, San Francisco’s had it. Other cities have had it and now The Rumble comes to Seattle on Monday, August 3rd at the Crocodile. The Blakes,U.S.E, and Battle Hymns are set to play the party.

For more info on The Rumble check out Future Sounds. Local presenters include The Stranger, Easy Street and The Wig.


CD Review: Alone by the Morning After Girls

The Morning After Girls – Alone
Last year Australia’s The Morning After Girls, led by Sacha Lucashenko and Martin B. Sleeman relocated to New York – this year they released their debut LP, Alone. Its title track glistens, as does the album as a whole. The vocals and guitars are alluringly gentle throughout each song and when they need to move into somewhat harder and faster modes, such as in To Be Your Loss, it’s always an easy switch. The stretchy guitar in Tomorrow’s/Time is especially beautiful. There’s emphasis in these songs that elaborates moments in a way rarely heard – You Need to Die’s You need to die/ so the rest of me can peacefully survive – could be kind of spooky until you realize it’s a release of pain, along with fast tambourines and guitars


Interview: Magic Wands

Magic Wands are indeed magic. The band is a duo of the couple, Dexy Valentine & Chris Valentine, and I adore both of them. Listen to their song Black Magic and tell me you aren’t hooked. Listen to Kiss Me Dead and again tell me it’s not sultry fun. I just love how they blend their vocals and guitars – it’s so perfect. And these lyrics, I like these lyrics off Teenage Love: Meet me down by the soda machine/ show me now what our love means/ take my hand and sex me up/ give me all your teenage love.

They spent some time with me before their set at Neumos. Read away.

Dagmar: You two initially met online?

Dexy Valentine: Not exactly. We met in person once and then we reconnected online – it was a year later.

D: How did you come up with the name for the band?

DV: When we first started talking on the phone we’d send each other little packages. One of the things he sent me was a magic wand.

Chris Valentine: The snow globe kind.

DV: Six months later we were just sitting in his apartment in Nashville and I was playing with it and [asking] what are we gonna call this band? I was twirling it around and then boom, I got the idea.

Magic Wands – Backstage @ Neumos, 2009
photo by Dagmar

D: Did you grow up in Nashville, Chris?

CV: We moved around a lot but mostly in Nashville.

D: And Dexy’s from California?

DV: He was born in Phillie and I’m from the East Coast. We’re both from the East Coast but I was living in California and he was in Nashville [when they met]. I left California to go to Nashville but now we’re back in California. We didn’t actually move there [California] – we went there to mix our EP, and we somehow got stuck there. Now we’re in LA. Trapped.

D: If you could do one thing with a magic wand or have a wish granted by it what would it be?

CV: It would have helped the night we tried to make a giant unicorn out of fiberglass. It ended up looking like a weird space creature. I don’t know. What would we do?

DV: I would stop all violence.

CV: Stop all the war.

Magic Wands – Onstage @ Neumo’s, 2009
photo by Dagmar

D: I was reading you like unicorns – I do too. What do you like about them?

DV: We just like things that are mystical and magical. They have an essence of pureness to them. We try to gravitate towards the lighter things in life. I’ve had enough of the dark things.

D: Do you still have this stuffed lion that you’ve toured with?

CV: He’s outside in the car. We need to get him dry-cleaned.

DV: He’s missing part of his tail now. He’s named Sylvester.

D: You’ve also got those two tiger heads onstage.

CV: We picked those up at a gas station about three shows into the tour.

DV: We wanted to wear them as masks but there’s no way to see through them.

D: Do you like a lot of things from the 80s?

DV: I think some of that stuff is pretty cool. I like a lot of 80s movies. You can’t really top ET and Goonies.

D: Before this band you were in punk groups?

DV: I wouldn’t say punk – just harder, darker, angry music – channeling a lot of negative feelings. We both believe that what you say and do will manifest itself in your life. We were both singing a lot of negative lyrics in our old bands. We wanted to do something a little more positive. Our whole thing is based on magic, love and dreams. Those are the things we’re really into. I used to be more, “fuck you, what did you say?” He was never like that – he’s like a saint. I feel like he picked me out of the murky waters of LA and brought me into the green hills and sunshine. Which is nice, but every once and a while I want to get crazy and drink some whiskey. Break a glass over his head. I try hard not to. Keep it positive. There’s so much anger out there – and violence and negativity. It gets old.

Magic Love & Dreams is out now.

D: Besides a human, if you could be any type of animal, what would it be?

DV: I would definitely be a tiger.

CV: Yeah, a lion or a tiger.

DV: A white tiger. I love white tigers. I just went to the zoo recently and my friend was like, “come on let’s go.” This white tiger is pacing back and forth . . .

D: How did you get into music?

DV: I started playing piano when I was five. I’m self-taught. I never had a lesson.

CV: My dad was into it so I was always around music. Seemed like the thing to do.

DV: His family is so musical. When you go over there, they’re like having sing-alongs. His mom’s music is new age – when you hear it you goose bumps.

D: Does she have those bells?

DV: Yeah, she’s got the bells and the chimer that makes the high pitch frequency. We have that stuff too. We’re like a new age rock band, aren’t we?

D: Do you like to go to magic shops?

CV: There’s the magic shops that are more new age stuff. We kind of like those better than the ones that are more witchy.

DV: We like to go the party store a lot. Get crowns and sequins . . . we have dress up all the time.

D: What do you like to dress up as?

DV: We make our own videos and I’ll wear a sequin thing with feathers – he’ll hold the blow dryer so my hair is blowing.

D: I like that.

DV: We have rabbit ears, tiger ears . . .

CV: We’ve got so many videos that we’ve made that we’ll put up for ten minutes. Then we’re like, no, nobody can ever see this.

D: How do you shop for your clothes?

CV: Thrift store shopping.

DV: We’re thrift store junkies. We go to flea markets, thrift stores, vintage stores. We don’t follow fashion at all, that’s probably not a good thing but . . .

Gallery of Magic Wands @ Neumos

Magic Wands start a national tour at the end of September to continue through the end October. The tour includes a 10/10/09 appearance with School of Seven Bells @ Neumos. I can’t wait to see them again!


Interview: Jack Brown of White Lies

Seeing White Lies earlier this year at Neumos was absolutely one of my best concert experiences. When I heard them for the first time last year I instantly connected with their words and sounds. I had the pleasure of talking with Jack Brown, drummer of the band, before their Seattle show. His drumming is sumptuous and I urge you to check the band out – live and recorded they’re gripping.

Dagmar: I was reading that you’ve got your own music label, Chess Club?

Jack Brown: I do.

D: And you do club promotions with it?

JB: It’s more shows than clubs.

D: Is there a particular kind of music that you like to book more than others?

JB: Not necessarily. It’s mostly just stuff that I like. It’s been interesting because in the last few years I’ve got some really great shows from some great bands from America. I booked the first ever MGMT show, the first Bon Iver show [in Britain]. . . lots of good new stuff.

Jack Brown @ Neumos 2009 – photo by Dagmar

D: When did you start playing the drums?

JB: Basically I started playing music with Harry [McVeigh, vocals/guitar] and Charles [Cave, vocals/bass] when I was about 15 or so. It was kind of like a weekend thing for me for a good kind of 4 years. When I started White Lies was when I started to focus all my attention on it. I’d say I’ve been seriously playing drums, as more than a hobby for, about 3 years.

D: I really like your drumming style. Were there drummers you particularly liked listening to when you were growing up?

JB: Thank you. It’s hard for me to remember because drums, for me, is a fairly new thing. The main one for me when I was starting out, really getting into playing the drums, was at the time that the first Secret Machines album came out. That album is one of my favorite albums of all time. The drumming on that is amazing. It sounds incredible. There were a lot of sounds on that album which we wanted to capture a bit of when we did our record.

D: Your appeared on David Letterman – was that your first American live appearance? I loved how you had those rose petals came down from the sky.

JB: It was a lot of fun. We wanted to try to do something a little bit different. You only get your TV debut [in America] once so we wanted to make it a big deal. We were really happy with how it looked. It was an amazing experience, very tense and quite scary. We enjoyed it though.

D: You recorded the album in Brussels and you found some Nazi microphones in the studio?

JB: The studio itself has this incredible warehouse attached to it where they have every guitar ever made and every drum kit and thousands of different microphones. We asked the guys who run the studio [if we could get] microphones which can handle really loud noises because we wanted to use them in the room. Not close mikes but room mikes, which are further away from the drum kit. Something to take the power of drums being hit hard and they came back with these microphones which were built for the purpose of being used at airfields like at Nazi rallies. We did use them and to be fair they did sound the best. We didn’t want to compromise the record and we don’t have any affiliation with that [Nazism] in any way. It was incredible to see. They’ve been really well-maintained and they still have the details with eagles and emblems on them. It was quite creepy.

D: What else did they have there?

JB: They had a part of a drum kit from the turn of the century, which we didn’t actually use. They did have these massive marching drums for parades, which we used. It was a pretty amazing studio.

D: Was the February 2009 NME cover your first for the magazine?

JB: Yeah.

D: Did they do a special photo shoot for the cover?

JB: The photos were done specifically for the cover. It was a massive, exciting time for us because it marks a big step forward for any band.

D: What bands would you love to play shows with?

JB: My Bloody Valentine. We got to play a show with the Cure recently which was really fun.

D: How have the fans been behaving?

JB: Since the album’s come out everybody’s got really excited about it. They’ve started to know the tracks and it’s been a really big progression for us.

D: The three of you all write the music?

JB: It’s a combination of all three of us, definitely.

D: What are some highlights of being in this successful band?

JB: Some of the headlining shows we’ve done, especially in the UK. The album went to number one and it felt like there was a demand there which we’d never felt before. And the festivals we’ve been offered. We can’t wait to get on with them.

D: Was your family into music?

JB: We all come from families with a really strong love of music. My parents play instruments and I think Charles’ and Harry’s did as well. They’ve been really supportive of what we’ve done and I think they’ve enjoyed seeing us flourish with it. It was a big decision for us to take. They let us potentially make a mistake on our own but thankfully it all worked out.

D: What’s your favorite song to do live?

JB: Nothing to Give.

White Lies return to the States in September and October and will play a string of dates as openers for Kings of Leon.

Gallery of White Lies @ Neumos