Live Reviews: May 2017
PHOTO: Anacortes High School student Pearl Tottenham performed her originals at Kennelly Keys. Her backup band consisted of Brian Tottenham, her father, on bass and guitar, with Bradyn Krueger, formerly of the Lonely Forest, on drums. PHOTO BY JOEL ASKEY
Pearl Tottenham, Cumulus
May 20 • Kennelly Keys, Anacortes
In support of her recently produced album Weather Patterns, Kennelly Keys in Anacortes featured Pearl Tottenham, along with guest Cumulus, a.k.a. Alexandra Niedzialkowski on Saturday, May 20 at 7:30 p.m.
I’ve seen Cumulus on a few occasions, and Alex’s voice was in great form. She played a solo opening set, on electric guitar. An Oak Harbor native, Alex is a familiar sight in Anacortes, and her clear alto voice and spare accompaniment highlighted such crowd favorites as “Invincible.”
Pearl Tottenham followed with her backing band, and she was an absolute revelation. Pearl is a senior at Anacortes High School and is in the jazz choir. Her backup band consisted of Brian Tottenham, her father, on bass and guitar, with Bradyn Krueger, formerly of the Lonely Forest, on drums.
Half of Pearl’s material came from her newly released CD, Weather Patterns, and half of the material was new unreleased compositions. Pearl has a very strong sense of melody and her music benefits from the jazz vocal influence. She writes material that is emotionally grounded to her experience and age group, but behind the sensitive topics, such as anxiety and relationships, lies the heart of a power pop songwriter. I imagine if Jewel and Elvis Costello had a musical love child, it would be Pearl.
Pearl’s album was recorded by Karl Blau at the Anacortes Music Channel, and featured Brian, Bradyn, Karl, and Blake Clawson as backing musicians. I look forward to hearing more from this talented young woman.
Vieux Farka Toure, Clinton Fearon
May 5 • The Wild Buffalo
The first Friday in May and the bodies were packed in tight to the Wild Buffalo stage. By the time I arrived, Clinton Fearon was already seated and strumming his acoustic guitar – his unmistakable voice ringing through the room.
A reggae legend on par with Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, it was the first time I had ever heard him play alone. Stripped of the usual steel drums and other traditional island sounds, the melody was allowed to speak for itself, the lyrics digging deeper and somehow finding more personal connection to the crowd. A lone Gladiator, Fearon controlled this mini “coliseum” masterfully using a set list packed with new takes on classics and some tracks I was just hearing for the first time. As he closed the set, it seemed he was likely to have just stolen the show.
Then Vieux Farka Toure took the stage. A legend in his own right, this Malian born guitar master is the son of Grammy winner Ali Farka Toure. From the first note the sound soared. His playing style was simply mesmerizing to watch. African fingerstyle guitar foregoes the traditional single flat pick technique employed in most modern Western music, instead the fingers are all individually picked, allowing for a speed and fluidity of sound that is pure ear candy.
The opening number “bonheur” which means happiness, was very string heavy and employed a wooden bowl-like drum that was struck with both hands and sticks. The percussionist moved to the drum kit and it became reggae time – the crowd swaying together in approval. The sound flowed like a ripple from its source as he began vocally harmonizing with the bass guitar.
All the songs performed were sang in his native tongue, once again proving that music is the Universal language, one world united in song. It was almost impossible to look away from his amazing finger work, his right hand picking and strumming with mad ferocity and he gently massages the guitar’s neck. The 10 track set list rising and crashing like so many waves on the shores of the dance floor.
An amazingly well balanced show, opener and headliner were a fantastic complement to one another.
Krane, Tails, Oddlin
May 11 • Wild Buffalo
It was loud night at The Wild Buffalo as another high caliber EDM producer visited the Pacific Northwest.The house was packed all night for DJ and producer KRANE, who laid down a set of epic bass music and melodic trap.
Even the opening acts put on a great show; both Tails and Oddlin got the crowd moving with their trap-heavy sets. The Wild Buffalo was full for each set because tickets were limited at the door. Everyone wanted to get into the show before it sold out which provided a solid attendance for every artist.
As the openers finished up their sets, the crowd was quite hyped for KRANE to start. The venue was packed with fans. Some people stood on benches and chairs just so they could have room to see and dance. Everyone there felt comfortable to be themselves and dance how they wanted, which made the experience more wholesome.
KRANE got straight to business when he first came on. Within seconds of his set he had already laid down a track heavy with bass that shook the venue and everyone inside. As the night progressed, classic hip hop and pop songs from the late 1990s and early 2000s were mashed together with newer trap beats that created an oddly satisfying and nostalgic feeling. KRANE kept the audience engaged with his complex mixing techniques.
Music played late into the night, but people poured out of the venue still full of energy. KRANE’s set was full of music that can give a person that extra kick they needed to finish it through the evening. People were laughing and cheering all night, and it was easy to tell that everyone in attendance had a superb time.
The Wild Buffalo along with local music collective Milk and Honey have been putting together a lot of quality shows filled with up and coming producers from all across the United States. As the spring and summer seasons come into swing, there will be a lot of talent coming through the doors of the Wild Buffalo.
May 4 • The Wild Buffalo
The Wild Buffalo was shaken to its core one Thursday night as Promnite took the stage. The evening was filled with a combination of dark club and hip hop inspired beats.
Promnite started with an eerie synths and drawn out bass. You could feel the deep bass vibrate through your body as different sounds and tones were added to make a rhythm.
As the build up to the first drop came to an end, the energy in the room was unbelievable. The hard beats that followed were mind-bending and loud. People who didn’t wear ear protection that night woke up with ringing in their ears the next morning.
The crowd was full of energy throughout the show – some cheered and hollered when a familiar hip-hop track was played, while others danced in a group with their friends. With such a high caliber act, one would think the Wild Buffalo would have been packed for this event, yet the crowd seemed limited at times. The small crowd made for a more intimate event, and that made the show more enjoyable for everyone.
Promnite played several freshly released tracks for the crowd off his recent EP, Snake Charmer (which came out just before the show). It’s always a spectacle when an artist plays new music; the attendees feel as if the show is unique because it’s often the first time anyone has heard the track about to be played. The crowd responded accordingly.
Not only will Promnite be touring throughout the U.S this summer, he is also on several lineups for major music festivals. Promnite will make a return to the Pacific Northwest soon, and when he does it will be a show you will not want to miss.
Moon Hooch, Decent at Best
May 6 • The Wild Buffalo
The first Saturday of the month saw a huge dance party explode on the floor of the Wild Buffalo.
Decent at Best got things started laying down synth heavy tracks featuring live guitar and vocals. This ever changing collective of music lovers has one mission, to create irresistible party music. Each track moved to the next seamlessly, from “Ride the Wave” to “Decent at Disco,” “Perfect Rain” to “Oh Dear,” the transitions were flawless. Their Jamiroquai-esque jams had the crowd grooving till the final note, gasping for breath and begging for more.
Moon Hooch came and went like a storm during a battle. The music began with a dissonant melody, a siren’s song on baritone and tenor sax, calling everyone in, enveloping the audience with a building tsunami. Their breath was lightning infusing the instruments, roaring thunder erupted and the wind howled a tempest onto the all too eager sonic sailors on the dance floor. Then these Brooklyn natives turned the stage into a battleground. Ebbing and flowing back and forth, it was at times like hearing a gang fight, their horns facing one another and blasting like cannons. A crazy “Spy Vs. Spy” dub-step version of push and pull, trading notes like punches then suddenly falling into unison and unleashing the full sound out the front of the stage. All with a playful devilishness. The electronically reverbed reality kept pulling the rug out from under dancing feet, slaying people with deep funky grooves and non-stop power.
I spent the entire show dancing right in front of the speakers, gloriously blowing my ear drums for the first time in years. The sound ringing in delightfully in my ears for days to come.
ROCK AND ROLL MOMENTS
Lucas Hicks (right) played some originals at The Redlight on May 28 in “celebration of still being alive,” which we’re all incredibly thankful for! He performed with Thomas Deakin (left), Jonathan Sampson, and Dizzy Incirlioglu. PHOTO BY DAVID JOHNSON
Manatee Commune performing at Sasquatch in front of an estimated 4,500 people. Check out his Facebook page to keep up with his music and travels! PHOTO BY JASON WOO