The New Pornographers are back in Seattle for two nights of stealthily edgy indie-pop. The Vancouver B.C. super-group—currently A.C. Newman, Neko Case, Blaine Thurier, John Collins, Todd Fancey, Kathryn Calder, Joe Seiders, and Simi Stone—has been going strong for nearly a quarter-century. The tour supports their critically acclaimed 2019 album, In the Morse Code of Brake Lights. Indiana glam-soul artist Diane Coffee (Shaun Fleming) will open. The Neptune Theatre show on Thursday sold out back in December, but a few tickets are still available for the more recently added Wednesday show at Neumos.
Excelling in electropop and something called nu metal (you kind of know it when you hear it), singer-songwriter Poppy hits Seattle this Saturday night at the Neptune. Poppy gained international attention a few years ago via YouTube, and already she’s achieved success not only in music but as a fascinating performance artist. This month, she released her third album, I Disagree. I love the contrast between her sweet voice with some of those harder songs especially! Saturday’s show will be a feast of sound and vision along with Australian opener’s VOWWS, who put themselves in the Action/Adventure genre. Cool! The Sydney duo are a must-see as well.
For tickets and more information, head here. This show is all ages.
Review: The Rivals @ Seattle Shakespeare Company – 1/18/20
“Am I not a lover; ay, and a romantic one too?” entreats Captain Jack Absolute, one of the protagonists in The Rivals. Quick answer: Yes.
Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s first play premiered in 1775’s London. While it’s had numerous productions and adaptations, including an episode of TV show Maverick (weird!), this year it gets an updated yet faithful treatment from Seattle Shakespeare Company.
Themes go a bit like this: There’s mistaken identity. There are threats from an angry dad. There’s young love wanting to elope. There’s Mrs. Malaprop, who cannot get her words straight. And there’s a ludicrous duel. Put it all together, not necessarily in that order, and it is damn good fun.
The Rivals stands out as a play with excellent younger and older parts. While Julie Briskman’s Mrs. Malaprop and an entirely unrecognizable Bradford Farwell’s Sir Anthony Absolute aren’t really old, for the time period I suppose the parts were considered past it. But those parts are a couple of the most wonderful ones you can find. Briskman is lovable, and, although Farwell is hissingly reptilian, he’s not really a villain. They’re both totally appealing.
Additional handsome cast members, including the lovers of The Rivals are equally humorous and moving: Avery Clark as Captain Jack Absolute (I caught him as John Seward last year in ACT‘s Dracula-cool stuff); Jocelyn Maher as Julie Melville (she was also great in last year’s Seattle Shakespeare Company’s production of She Stoops to Conquer) particularly stood out. Big praise for Calder Jameson Shilling’s Faulkand. He had an almost cartoony twitchiness. Sophia Franzella’s Lucy was clever and adorable.
The production avails itself of all the seventeenth century foppery one could ask for. And I ask for a lot. Perhaps I am never more disappointed in a play of this time frame when an attempt is made to dress it up completely in contemporary attire. There’s no danger of that in these costumes. Fabulous attire abounds in the beautiful dresses and dandy jackets, pants and even male hosiery. The wigs are sublime. The female characters of Lydia Languish and Julia Melville wear pink and blue, respectively, with huge cotton candy wigs, while the perfectly over the top Sir Anthony Absolute has a pink nose and even a bandage on his right foot. Probably for the gout, a much-lamented condition in the time period’s literature.
The many scene changes utilized placards to mark locations. In the play’s text, the jumping back and forth can be a bit exhausting. Here it’s funny. For outdoor scenes the designer created cute jigsaw like bushes. I also liked the hearts built around the stage, giving a gingerbread house framework. The 1980s get a lot of love in Seattle Shakespeare’s The Rivals. Look out for early Madonna and Michael Jackson references and a nod to Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus.” As the audience filed out after the show the house played Peter Gabriel’s “Solsbury Hill,” a fitting choice for a play focusing on love and placement: I was feeling part of the scenery/I walked right out of the machinery/My heart going boom, boom, boom. . .
Spoiler alert: wait for Mrs. Malaprop to get the last word. Whether you agree with her or not, in her assessment, I think, she selects the word she really means.
The Rivals runs through February 2nd, 2020.
It’s easy to understand why Kacey Musgraves won four Grammys. In a sold-out show at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre, Musgraves stepped onto the stage and belted out “Born in a hurry/always late/haven’t been early since ‘88” to abundant applause.
As a country artist, Nashville-based Musgraves is unconventional. Her lyrics skirt the usual tropes and add themes of female sexuality, drug use, and LGBTQ inclusivity. She appeals to both the traditional country market and liberal cities like Seattle. This universality was evident as she introduced “Merry-Go-Round”: “Even though it was inspired by where I’m from, it’s probably about where you’re from, too.” The audience sang the final chorus while she played acoustic guitar.
Musgraves’ instrumentation and style are predominantly country, but the banjo and pedal steel are infused with pop sections and disco beats. Musgraves joked between tunes, and replaced the chorus of “Golden Hour” with “golden shower” to raucous laughter. There was even a wedding proposal in the front row between fans Taylor and Dylan—which Musgraves noted could have been awkward if the now-fiancée had declined.
The show was visually striking as well. Three colorful lighted fan props stood tall in the background. Musgraves wore a sparkling white shirt with flowing pants, gold platforms, large gold hoops, and long brown hair, and her six-piece band stood behind her in matching grey country suits.
Musgraves played a 20-song set, with highlights that included recent hits “Follow Your Arrow,” “Butterflies,” “Velvet Elvis,” “Space Cowboy,” and “Rainbow,” and the *NSYNC cover “Tearin’ Up My Heart” with the opening artist returning to provide accompaniment and a coordinated dance routine. Musgraves’ “Oh, What a World” tour supports Golden Hour, which won Album of the Year. As an intro to “Velvet Elvis,” Musgraves led a “When I say ‘yee,’ you say ‘haw’” call-and-response that later went hilariously wrong at Coachella in April 2019.
Soccer Mommy, also of Nashville, opened with a 40-minute set that was well-received even if somewhat unfamiliar: “There are 10 of you [fans], but you’re loud,” said singer–guitarist Sophie Allison. The 21-year-old lofi pop-rock artist was joined by guitarist Julian Powell, bassist Graeme Goetz, drummer Ryan Elwell, and keyboardist–guitarist Rodrigo Avendano. Their debut album Clean has already been critically acclaimed, and this tour spot is likely to be career-launching. Allison proclaimed that Musgraves’ latest album was, “amazing…it’s album of the year, literally!”