The Helio Sequence, Lost Lander, Eagle Teeth
Sept. 20 • The Shakedown
This show closed off a weekend of fantastic music with an excellent lineup of talented musicians. The stage was packed with the most gear I’d ever seen at The Shakedown so I was intrigued as to what the night would hold.
Before the show began everything looked bleak. There weren’t very many people at the venue until about two minutes before the show began and eventually The Shakedown was filled with a healthy number of attendees.
Dancey punk band Eagle Teeth – formerly of Bellingham, now living in Seattle – opened the show and was so fun to watch and listen to right off the bat. One highlight that was particularly fun to watch was that bassist Alan Crow was not afraid to jump around and leap into the crowd during their set.
The trio is extremely tight. While I’ve seen them before, this show in particular was very eye opening to me; as musicians they’ve grown since the last time I saw them and are wonderful to listen to. If you like to move and dance, this trio is for you.
Next up was Portland’s Lost Lander. These Portlandians brought what I consider to be that typical Portland indie electronic style music similar to that of bands like Wild Ones and in some ways Radiation City. The music was very pleasant to listen to and I always found myself more focused during times of their fantastic soaring vocal harmonies throughout their set.
While it wasn’t necessarily very exciting they’re a great band to watch while having a couple drinks.
Portland’s Helio Sequence ended the night off with a set that kept everyone engaged and listening. The duo has fantastic stage presence and energy. Drummer Benjamin Weikel was excitingly animated throughout the whole set which beautifully juxtaposed singer/guitarist Brandon Summers’ calm laid back demeanor. Their atmospheric indie music was a lovely way to close out the night. Having been a band for nearly 20 years, the duo has honed their sound and stage presence to near perfection.
The next time Helio plays in town, get to the show, you definitely won’t regret it.
Tacocat, So Pitted, Fallopia
Sept. 19 • The Shakedown
It’s typical of Bellingham to show up an hour after music has already started but at The Shakedown on this Saturday, the crowd comfortably filled the venue before the first band even went on stage. You could just tell it was going to be a great night; it definitely didn’t disappoint. Passing conversation buzzed with echos of Tacocat, Fallopia, and So Pitted. The excitement was palpable.
Fallopia took the stage first with their raging punk music. The band performed one of the best sets I’ve seen them play. The extra rehearsing due to a recent lineup change paid off for them in the best way possible.
Their feminist, riot grrrl songs were heard clear and crisply while still packing a fast and distorted punch to the gut. Not only did they sound good but you could visibly see the enjoyment the whole band was having. Don’t pass up the chance the next time you see them on a bill and you can thank me after we mosh in the pit.
So Pitted was up next and brought a wall of sound but not in the best way possible for most attendees. The crowd visibly shrunk during their set. I personally enjoyed their music. It was sludgy and hypnotic punk music. It was also a little incomprehensible due to loudness and their songwriting but it seemed intentional. Their set was mildly barbaric and very enjoyable to watch.
Tacocat went on and The Shakedown went nuts. People sang and moshed along to their pop punk music through the whole show. They were tight and played a wonderful set, ending with the crowd favorite “UTI.” The band’s energy was extremely positive while they performed and in between songs. It’s always great to see bands take time to acknowledge and interact with the people who go to see them perform.
While their show was incredibly enjoyable, it was incredibly short lived. The band only played for about 30 minutes. It’s nice to leave people wanting more but as a headliner it goes without saying that they should play at least longer than their opening acts.
DeVotchKa, Bar Tabac
Sept. 15 • The Wild Buffalo
There was a lot of anticipation for DeVotchKa as the night neared; it has been at least six years since they graced us with their presence in Bellingham. The show sold out easily and brought a diverse crowd to the Wild Buffalo House of Music – I was not the only one who brought a parent out for the evening.
The stage was gently lit as the audience wandered in early, with red lights keeping a warm feeling to the front of the floor. Bar Tabac quietly and unobtrusively settled themselves on the stage and took us on a musical adventure that kept the crowd in rapt attention. The drama they brought was understated and effective, the instrumental songs gently transitioned through the set without any kind of verbal interruption. At times it was almost hard to tell if music was being played, or sounds were simply emerging from the ether and playing together in the air; it was like Tom Waits on acid and we will count this as a good thing. Bar Tabac left the stage the same way they came, with an understated grace and without attracting too much attention to themselves, truly allowing the music to be the focus of their time.
DeVotchka took to the stage with fervor – everyone was drawn into the anticipated set. Many in the crowd were fans and showed it by proudly, confidently singing along. Having only limited exposure to the band myself, I did not anticipate the excitement and passion that would erupt as Jeanie Schroder retrieved her sousaphone lit with blue globes in its bell. The response was so bold I could hardly hear the first strains of the song.
Throughout the evening a variety of instruments were utilized to create the intricate and well-executed songs. If you have never experienced a Theremin make sure you do, it is best appreciated live and it was well handled by Nick Urata (who also offered the lead vocals, piano and guitar work), adding to the ethereal qualities of the overall sound. Shawn King is a talented percussionist who utilized a drum set as well as an array of percussion instruments in addition to the trumpet, which is not something we would necessarily expect from a drummer.
The band member that most made an impression on me was Tom Hagerman who plays the piano, violin and accordion. He is truly a bad ass who gracefully both held the spotlight and worked as a supporting musician at different times throughout the night.
DeVotchKa works so well as a unit and additionally contains members who are all talented in their own right bringing a full and well-developed repertoire, which appeals to the ears and the eyes. Watching a talented group create a musical performance and guide the flow both of each song and its position within the larger musical arc is always something I enjoy. DeVotchKa artfully created a cohesive tale and made it appear effortless. I can’t wait for them to return.
Staxx Brothers, My Dad Bruce, Mostafa Supergroup, Jonezy of King Porter Stomp, Deadly D
Sept. 10 • The Shakedown
Everything started early for this jam packed bill and word got around because The Shakedown was abnormally full early in the set. It doesn’t hurt that not only were a bunch of local favorites scheduled, but Jonezy of King Porter Stomp came to Bellingham for the first time ever.
Deadly Duo kicked off everything and, as usual, really got the crowd going. They always bring their best selves to work and one can’t help but be drawn into the music. Next to take the stage was Jonezy of King Porter Stomp and UK turntablist Jamie Simmonds. Plenty of those in attendance came specifically to hear Jonezy rap and I can see why. He was articulate and graceful on stage, drawing in and captivating those in attendance with smooth confident rhymes and an air of command on stage. Clearly both of these guys have spent plenty of time on stage; all of the songs were cohesive and well done. One of my favorites was “Pocketfulofrocketfuel” which came across with an energy that could not be ignored. The thing that really blew me away in this set was the insane skills of Jamie Simmonds. If you don’t appreciate a great turntablist it is because you have never seen one. Jonezy stepped off center stage and enjoyed Simmond’s work with the rest of us; the light shone bright on the tables as his hands deftly worked them and he maintained an air of calm that denied the complexity of the sounds he evoked. I loved seeing both of these musicians and I am excited for them to return, and I am sure they will.
Mostafa and the Super Group, My Dad Bruce and The Staxx Brothers all came to party and took the stage like the local(ish) favorites they are. But, just because it was someone’s set didn’t mean that they were alone on stage. The best thing about this show was the cypher sensibilities. The bill grew and grew in the days leading up to the night of the show and once the day came the bill was packed and everyone on it brought their A-Game. The stage was warm and welcoming to artists, whomever’s set it was, which maximized the enjoyment for everyone.
The collaborative nature of hip hop is one thing that really sets it apart as a genre, and this night was the kind of night where all the pieces fall into place and the music is better than you thought it could be. I look forward to many more amazing nights with all of these local bands, and I hope to see you all there when Jonezy and Jamie Simmonds grace us with their presence next year. Who knows, maybe all of King Porter Stomp will come around with them.