Show Review & Photos: The Riverboat Gamblers @ El Corazon

Alex Crick braved the Seattle heat wave last night and ventured into El Corazon to shoot pix of the Riverboat Gamblers and to report on the show. All photos by Alex Crick:

On a day of record high temperatures in Seattle, the Riverboat Gamblers, a five-piece band from Denton, TX brought their infectious punk rock performance to El Corazon. Opening bands The Hollowpoints and the Girls could not match the sheer raw energy that front man Teko (a.k.a. Mike Wiebe) brought to the tiny makeshift stage in what’s usually the 21+ section of the club. Right from the start Teko belted out raging punk rock spirit with the Gamblers’ song Dissdissdisskisskisskiss.

This rowdy performance took Teko all over the time venue (and out the door at one point) as he mingled with the loving crowd who were singing along joyfully to every line as though each song the band played was their personal favorite. At several points during the show Teko created makeshift stages from which to perform, such as a very wobbly table, a seat in a booth, culminating with Teko scaling the walls of the venue. At one point Teko took down a paper mache skull hanging from the venue’s wall and sang to it in a Hamlet-inspired moment.

The hot weather didn’t seem to phase the raucous band as literally dripped sweat while they tore through their thirteen song set list. It was damn hot in there but the Riverboat Gamblers poured every last ounce of energy they could muster in order to bring an incredible high energy performance to all who were there.

The Girls


Head Like a Kite interview and show photos

Head Like a Kite frontman Dave Einmo was kind enough to answer my questions via email prior to last Saturday’s terrific set at Chop Suey. Although I’ve seen them seven or eight times, I’m somehow still a little surprised when just Dave and Trent (Moorman, on drums) take the stage and manage to create all that wonderful sound. I’m pretty sure I had a goofy grin on my face their entire set – their shows are just so much fun! More photos after the interview.

Q: Your shows are like house parties with lots of friends and really great music. For anyone who’s not had the pleasure, you usually have musical guests and/or dancing creatures onstage and glitter confetti and happy fans in the audience. It all seems so effortless, but must take a lot of work – how do you prepare for your live shows?
Dave: I try and make the live shows feel like half party and half theater. Our shows are super festive. I love mixing the dancing, furry animals, confetti, film projections and all the costumed mayhem in with the music. It makes it different every night. It can be complete chaos up there sometimes with people running around slipping on cords and tripping over fog machines. But I feed off that craziness. It’s truly a party.
Q: Head Like a Kite is on my list – what are some of your favorite live bands?
Dave: Wolf Eyes! They are absolutely insane live. I mean, get-out-the-straightjackets crazy. Love it. The Juan Maclean were amazing when they came to town in 2008. Flaming Lips. Cornelius when they do their projections. LCD Soundsystem. Lymbyc Systym. Radiohead. Those guys are kings live.
Q: What are your non-musical influences?
Dave: When I mixed the first two albums, I spent significant time browsing the paintings inside the Art Institute of Chicago, which is one of my favorite museums. The way painters use light and color to create dynamics is similar to the way a music producer uses sound to create dynamics. It’s an interesting relationship that I love to explore. I’m also really influenced by field recordings and found sounds. Have you ever been walking down the street listening to your iPod headphones, and then a plane flies over or you hear a bus drive by, and the sounds they create oddly mix perfectly with the song? On one of our US tours I carried a recorder with me and captured sounds from each city we visited. I used those sounds as a backdrop all over the album “There Is Loud Laughter Everywhere.”
Movies influence me as well. I love the pacing and cinematography of Alfred Hitchcock, which introduced me to the composer Bernard Herrmann, who composed the music for classics like Vertigo and Psycho. He also worked on Orson Welles’ Citizen Cane. The music had a huge impact on the mood of these films. It inspired me to create music that feels like a soundtrack. In the case of the first Head Like a Kite album, “Random Portraits of the Home Movie,” it actually was a soundtrack of sorts since it included samples from home movies my dad shot on an old Super 8 film camera from when I was a kid. We still project those films during our live shows. Although they are often obscured by flying confetti, fog machines, and dancing pandas.
Q: The extremely talented Trent Moorman is your live drummer… he sings and plays keyboards as well – is he involved in the recording and/or writing process?
Dave: Trent is an amazing drummer and is one of the few players I know who can play drums, synth and sing all at the same time. It’s a circus to watch. After I finished recording and mixing the first album, I starting experimenting with how to play these songs live for the first tour. I met Trent, who was playing drums with Graig Markel at the time, and I asked if he’d join me on the tour. It went really well, and he’s been playing on every tour since. He’s primarily the live drummer. But he does appear on some of the more stellar tracks on “There Is Loud Laughter Everywhere,” and also on some new songs I recently mixed for an upcoming album.
Q: Head Like a Kite has toured in some far-flung places – any tales of the road you’d like to share?
Dave: You mean like running around naked at a truck stop in Idaho? Or staying out way too late after a show and ordering scotch at 7:30 AM at a dive bar in Las Vegas? Falling into an orchestra pit in Pittsburgh? Playing in CMJ dressed up as airplane pilots and then having to get on the plane in New York still dressed as pilots and making the passengers a little worried that a couple of hung over indie rockers were guiding the plane back to Seattle? Sleepwalking in San Francisco? Eating raw horse in Tokyo?
Q: What would your fans be surprised to learn about you?
Dave: Trent has run about 15 marathons, and I use to be a pro-am bicycle racer and frequently rode 350 miles a week on my bike. I think that’s why our shows are so energetic. We are still addicted to moving fast.
Q: Any HLAK summer shows we should mark on our calendars?
Dave: For Seattle, August 14 at the Crocodile and Sept 7 at Bumbershoot. Fun times ahead!!!!! Lots more stuff coming up that people can see on our website at
Q: You seem equally at ease with your keyboards and your guitar – which came first? 

Dave: Thanks. Guitar was first. My mom signed me up for a guitar class at my middle school. I was petrified because I was the only boy in a class of 15 girls. I was in 7th grade so it was a little weird. But I persevered.
Q: You’re the only band I know of that’s caused a riot at a middle school. What’s the story there and do you think you’ll ever be asked back?
Dave: They asked us to play an assembly and we were in the middle of a tour, so we thought it would be fun. We’d play there in the afternoon and then hit Neumos in Seattle later that night. We had 4 fog machines, a gigantic amount of confetti, dancers, and all kinds of crazy circus like stuff going on. We played about two songs and the kids went nuts and started rushing the stage and throwing confetti and the teachers were concerned that someone would get hurt. The kids were screaming so loud, it was hard to even hear the music. It was completely insane. Fog everywhere. Confetti everywhere. Kids screaming. Pandas dancing. Trent and I wear wearing Elvis Jumpsuits with feathered boas and rockin it hard. And then BOOM. We got shut down. No, we won’t be invited back.
Q: What’s next for Head Like a Kite?

Dave: I just finished mixing a new album at Electrokitty in Seattle. It sounds stellar. Her Space Holiday and Boom Bip guest on it, as well as members of The Long Winters, Smoosh, The Saturday Knights, Swervedriver, Animals at Night, and more. It’s a party record. It sounds a bit like a DJ remixing an indie band live. Big beats prevail. It will be out in either Fall 2009 or Spring 2010, depending on label stuff. It takes forever for albums to come out. I’m done. I want it out now!


show preview: feral children @ neumos this friday

I haven’t seen Feral Children since November, which for someone who saw them 15 times last year alone is completely unacceptable. I know, they’ve been working on a new album, but seven months is a very long time. The wait is nearly over – Feral Children open Friday’s Handsome Furs show at Neumos and will be showcasing their new music. I’ve missed them (lots) and am excited to hear what they’ve come up with to follow last year’s excellent Second to the Last Frontier. See you there?


Interview: Project Jenny, Project Jan’s Jeremy Haines and Sammy Rubin

I interviewed Jeremy Haines and Sammy Rubin of Project Jenny, Project Jan before their Seattle show in March. I am ashamed to admit that I actually misplaced the interview but the coincidence of losing the interview and the fact that one of my favorite songs of theirs, Negative, concerns lost negatives is not lost on me. The loss of the interview really upset me and discovering it on my computer a couple weeks ago was such a relief. Anyway, enough about me. PJPJ comes from Brooklyn, New York and their songs combine all sorts of sounds – they are fearless in incorporating whatever they want in their music. I love that. Their new EP, the Colors, is out now and you should get it. Really.

Q: I love the video for Negative – where did you find the footage of the girl dancing & the negatives?

Sammy Rubin: The girl dancing was just easy – I just found some footage. The negatives are the interesting part because that was how the whole song started. We had to write a whole bunch of songs in a really short time because somebody asked us to play a party and we didn’t even have any songs. We were writing, working and drinking. I’m working on the music for it and Jeremy can’t figure out what this song is going to be about. He goes, I’m gonna take a walk and get some beer. On the way back [he has] plastic negatives in a sleeve. I was working on my computer and he just stuck it on the screen. He was just like, that’s what I’m writing a song about. We ended up scanning them and putting them into the video. Those are the actual negatives we found. Somebody lost those negatives.

[The original of the video is no longer on the site but you can see it in the background of the live version above.]

Q: Do you like directing and producing videos?

S.R.: I don’t really consider myself doing video at all. I want to stop. I want somebody else to do the videos for us. I want to just work on the music.

Q: The video for Zoobar is cool too.

S.R.: Which one?

Q: The one with the toys.

S.R.: I didn’t make that one, that’s Chris Herbeck.

Q: You have a different video for it?

S.R.: We use the one live that we made originally for it, which is actually worse. Do you remember Meet the Feebles? It was Peter Jackson’s first thing – they looked like Muppets but they were really warped. I used that. It’s also distasteful and quirky in its own way.

Sammy Rubin – photo by Dagmar

Q: Do you have any musical guilty pleasures?

S.R.: I don’t feel guilty [about music]. I like Billy Joel. There was one the other day I was thinking of and I wouldn’t tell anyone about it. I’m trying to think of it so I can tell you right now. It was something really, really bad.

Q: Aqua?

S.R.: No.

Q: I like Aqua. The whole album (Aquarium) is great.

S.R.: Oh yeah. We came into today and there was a station just playing techno. Did Aqua play Barbie Girl?

Q: Yeah.

S.R.: We drove into today and they were playing [this techno music] and Jeremy was like, are we in Russia? It was fun to listen to, I mean, we didn’t change the station.

Q: Is this your first band, or have you always played music?

S.R.: I’ve always played music. When I was in music school I had a band there. Jeremy was in a band in college. He was the lead singer. We became friends and didn’t form a band – it didn’t even occur to us for a while. All the sudden we were like, let’s start making music.

Q: What instruments did you learn as a child?

S.R.: I started with piano and learned saxophone and then moved to bass guitar. I was a bass player for a long time before I did this. I’m into bass a lot. It’s both rhythmic and melodic. I think that ends up coming out in our music. Most of our stuff is bass driven.

Q: You studied music theory?

S.R.: Theory, composition . . . it was at University of Rochester.

Q: Do you like classical music?

S.R.: I got into Chopin for a while and Beethoven.

[Jeremy Haines joins us]

S.R.: We were talking about classical music.

Jeremy Haines: You know, the girl before asked me that too. She was like, it sounds like you guys have classical references in your music. I said that Sammy used to play jazz, and that’s why.

Q: I haven’t seen the movie yet, but you two did a cameo in Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist?

J.H.: I play this character named Randy, who has a band called Are You Randy? – which is us. We’re integral to the plot development. They’re trying to go see their favorite band, Where’s Fluffy? They think that’s it going to happen at this one place, and everyone goes, and then we show up. Everyone gets sad and leaves.

S.R.: Yeah, they all walk out. I liked that.

J.H.: It’s fun to be the villains. My character comes and goes throughout the course of the movie. He’s the guy that keeps coming back. It made our fan base a lot younger – a ton of teenagers saw it. A small percentage of them were interested enough in our characters and music to look us up. Now we’ve got a lot of fifteen-year-old friends on Myspace.

Jeremy Haines – photo by Dagmar

Q: What were your initial impressions of each other?

S.R.: I thought he was an idiot.

J.H.: I thought he was a jerk. The first time I remember meeting him he’d just crashed his car after a long drive from Long Island. I thought he was crazy. He was like, I just crashed my car, I need a drink.

S.R.: I had to get it towed. I was so frazzled by it I needed whiskey.

J.H.: He was friends with my best friends from high school so they put in a good word for him.

S.R.: Otherwise he would have thought I was a big jerk.

Q: Jeremy, you studied art, do you do all the posters and artwork for the band?

J.H.: I do all the drawings. In the videos Sammy puts them altogether – he’s the editor/director. That’s what I went to college for. I moved to New York to pursue it.

One of Jeremy Haines’ posters – brilliant.

Q: Do you ever read reviews of your live shows?

J.H.: Sometimes.

Q: Does it make you self-conscious?

J.H.: You think you’re above it all, you’re like, whatever . . . but then you read something sometimes and you’re like, that hurts.

S.R.: Even if it’s filled with misspellings and a readership of two, it still stings.

J.H.: It’s like a critique when you’re in school, sometimes you get bombed.

Q: I’d want to comment back.

J.H.: That’s the other thing. With critiquing you can defend yourself.

Q: I read some interview, I think in Orlando, where you wanted some Disney characters to show up. Who’d you like to turn up?

S.R.: Depends where. The Disney characters kind of suck.

J.H.: No they don’t, what about all those princesses? Tinker Bell is kind of lame, but if she was really here, sprinkling fairy dust on everyone so that everyone could fly – this night would be crazy. Everyone boozing and flying around.

S.R.: That would be awesome.

J.H.: I like the effect Tinker Bell that would have on everyone.

Tinker Bell by Disney

Q: Do you remember your first show as Project Jenny, Project Jan?

J.H.: Totally. We have it on video.

S.R.: We never put it up.

J.H.: Because it sucks.

S.R.: It’s not horrible.

J.H.: But it’s not that good.

S.R.: If I remember right, it looks like a high school talent show.

J.H.: I’ve got long hair.

S.R.: And I’m sitting down. I think we only had three songs. It was a variety show.

J.H.: It was a fun show – we had a great time. Our friends were all there and we got a show directly from it.

Q: What kind of clothing style or fashion would you like to see come back?

J.H.: Hats.

S.R.: Maybe hats. How about the earring that connects to your nose?

J.H.: That was sweet.

You can see more photos I took of their show here.


Photos & Show Review: The Prodigy @ WaMu Theater

The Prodigy have remained one of my favorite bands for quite some time now. When I first saw their video for Firestarter and then their video for Breathe I couldn’t believe my eyes or ears. I even like what they consider their downtime, songs such as Baby’s Got a Temper for example are simply stunning. The band has returned with the brilliant Invaders Must Die – don’t trust me? Then trust the Brits who put this CD to number 1 on its release. The Prodigy played WaMu Theater here in Seattle on Saturday night (Sunday morning actually – they hit the stage during what was all-night rave at 1:30 Sunday morning). The band is fit and happening, Run With the Wolves blended instantly with Firestarter, Poison and Smack My Bitch Up sounded fierce, and Out of Space closed out. I got loads of lovely photos of Keith Flint and Maxim – unfortunately I could only grab one picture of Liam Howell, who was behind a bank of keys & synths. You can see all pix here: Gallery of the Prodigy @ WaMu Theater