LIVE SHOW REVIEWS: October 2015
Fuzzy Math, Meridian Guide
Oct. 10 • Alternative Library
During another chilly fall evening in Bellingham, the towns original music lovers shuffled along, as they are accustomed to do, seeking out a dose of local music while making their way through the small congested entrance of The Alternative Library.
The first set was headlining band, Fuzzy Math, of Olympia, WA. Dominic Jenkins, lead vocals and guitar, sequencing Cos Mo bass guitar and vocals, and David Gies on drums and electronic percussion. The band formed in 2012, but then took a more serious direction in 2014 according to Jenkins. Their sound ranges from Alternative Rock to Post Punk and Dance. It was a calm evening with potential and one could intuitively feel the unsure minds reeling from the people around them. The band began at full force and the anxious huddle of people one might have seen just a few minutes ago were shaking their butts and bumping into each other as if they had somewhere to go. The energy of Fuzzy Math built up in the crowd and remained within their hypnotic pulses. The high shrill of Jenkins voice would have had you struck in place, the groove held by Cos Mo inspired individuals to get a ridiculous body rhythm going and Gies’ beats had people bumping full-force into each other, banging their body’s into the air back and forth as if there was a glass wall they couldn’t get through. If getting people to move was their mission, they were doing it well. The energy was booming. The songs played came from their first album Proof, recorded at DNA studios in Olympia, WA. The album was mastered by Steve Corrao at Sage Audio. A highly recommended listen.
To next take the stage, Meridian Guide. A newly formed band in the Bellingham music scene, they have made their way successfully around to the popular house show events. Adam Gelatt on vocals and guitar, Nathan Malick-Wolfe on guitar, Noah Sharp on bass and Trevor Kamschulte on drums. Their genre of music is the kind of screamo that will have you in a confused rage. The sound guy was frantically trying to even out the guitar so it wouldn’t over power the bass, then onto evening out the drums to not overpower the singer, for this band is all around loud. Opening with “Waltz off the Walls,” a melodically sweet song from their new demo “Are You Happy?” recorded by Clark Laviguere at Third Floor Recording in Bellingham. Mastered by Erik Wallace at Shibusa Sound. Gelatt reengaged the audience with songs that incorporate earth shattering screams, his bandmates supported a musical back layer to his voice, with that it was finished.
The two sets had been performed, the night came to an end, leaving the crowd wanting more. Their ears will have to wait for the next upcoming show to catch another portion of the music the two bands provided.
Sir Mix A Lot, My Dad Bruce, Knucklehead, Boombox Kid
Oct. 1 • The Wild Buffalo
My posse’s on Holly.
There was a fair amount of buzz around town leading up to the Wild Buffalo’s Anniversary bash. Six years under the current ownership group, led by Craig Jewell, has shown a number of talented local, national and international acts from all types of musical genres grace their stage, and certain shows just bring the people out in droves. My Dad Bruce, Knucklehead and Boombox Kid opening for Sir Mix-a-Lot sold out faster than Vanilla Ice with auto tune, leaving a sizable swarm outside looking for that elusive spare ticket. Settling inside we found a stripped down
My Dad Bruce starting things off laying down lyrics over their pre-produced beats. Usually rapping with a live band, it was a little different than what I have come to expect and the sound wasn’t quite dialed in, but the crowd energy was high as the fans that they brought out packed against the front of the stage to soak in the sound and get the party started. Boombox Kid kept things rolling and the crowd pumping through set changes and breaks. Knucklehead took to the stage and kept the party popping with strong beats, clean lyrics and a guest appearance from Talia Camille that reminded us more women really need to get involved in hip hop.
Sir Mix-a-Lot took to the stage, the room filling up as the bodies piled in, pushing forward and jockeying for position to get a good view of the icon. Past shows I had noticed his “hype men” did the majority of the heavy lifting lyrically with Mix-a-Lot mixing in very little, but not this time. Right out of the gate “Mix” established himself as the man of the hour. Weaving backstories and classic songs together into the tale of his professional life, we started off cruising in his “Hooptie,” asked repeatedly “What’s That Noise” and even jumped into his “Testarossa.” The crowd did at times seem more interested in capturing the show on their cell phones than actually experiencing it, with “Mix” grabbing someone’s soul stealer out of their hand singing right into it for what I’m sure will be a treasured concert moment. Back on point, he started pulling women from the crowd to join him on stage for “Baby Got Back,” something Bellingham is not exactly known for having an abundance of. Keeping the “dancers” present, he ran through “Posse’s on Broadway,” “Swass” and “Put em on The Glass” before leaving the stage himself to move through the crowd and give everyone a little brush of his mojo, classic leather jacket, huge gold chain, fedora and all. Sir Mix-a-Lot is rap royalty, a true self made entertainer. He created the Seattle rap scene, and the scene is still racing to catch up to what he has been doing since the 80s.
–Victor B. Gotelaere
The Crawl, Hurry Up Shotgun, PORCH, Dryland
Oct. 24 • Shakedown
I don’t know about you, but I love a local sandwich. Especially a heavy one. So when I saw locals The Crawl would be opening for touring Hurry Up Shotgun and PORCH, with closing locals Dryland, my mouth watered a little bit.
The Crawl started our night off right. They’ve been tracking in the studio for some time and you can tell they’ve had their minds on their music because this was possibly one of the best performances I have seen from this trio composed of River Fleischner, Matt Cooper and Ian Christensen. A lot could go wrong with so much equipment: pedals and loopers and miniature keyboards aplenty. But everything went off without a hitch and musical chair professionals, The Crawl, killed it with mechanical riffs that got played into the ground until they broke bedrock, while never tiring. Watching The Crawl is like watching pop sell its soul to the devil at the crossroads and the devil is a sultry woman who seals her deals with a kiss. Sexy. Disquieting. Can’t-take-your-ears-off enthralling. I very much look forward to hearing what they’ve been working on in the studio.
Hurry Up Shotgun joked that they didn’t want to follow such an open, and no one could blame them. But the Oakland trio held their own as interdimensional travel agents. Fuzzy riffs and stand apart bass lines rang out hot and frantic, noisy and groovy. Hurry Up Shotgun has an excellent handle on song writing, and although their vocal melodies are boyband swoon worthy, their hooks and structure are reminiscent of something more timeless. The crowd approved.
PORCH, with Todd Huth of Primus, Christopher Frey of Today Is The Day and drummer Michael Jacobs, has major indie cred. But Shakedown crowds tend to really only care about stage cred, and PORCH brought it. High perched vocals sat atop galloping rhythms, as the audience was lulled into mid-tempo trances only to be shoved into fight or flight mode. Watching PORCH was like being in dream state only to awaken and realize you’re sleep walking in a dark alley and are definitely being followed. Huth’s Oxbow inspired spoken word atop bluesy rumbles had me spellbound, and even more so when he took a violin bow to his guitar. Strongly reminiscent of everything good about the 90s scene, PORCH holds it down two decades later, even earning an encore from the crowd. If you missed PORCH, do yourself a favor and get out to the next one.
Dryland, heavy band, now has more Ryan and Greer per square foot than any other, and brings in another level of meaning to “family band”. New addition on the guitar, Ryan Greer, joins guitar player Ryan Clapper, singer Bradley Lockhart, bassist Hollie Huthman, and drummer, Luke Greer, to take Dryland to another level of thick, unsettling greatness. Amps smoked while witches and warlocks gathered to the summoning of The Mosslord, to “dance on the pelts of your enemies, drunk on the blood of a jaguar.” Bradley beckons his prey closer with attractive couplets and insane presence, Hollie dominates the low end, while Clapper lays down unforgettable riffs that I still cannot get out of my head; Luke is the reason for my sore neck and his brother Ryan brings all the rhythm together to make up what has become one of my favorite local bands. Watching Dryland is like fearing for your safety in a swampy forest where you think witches dwell. If you haven’t seen them live yet, you’re not just missing a show. You’re depriving yourself of an experience.
This heavy local sandwich was immensely satiating, and yet I can’t wait for the next one.
El Ten Eleven, Sego, Dream Journal
Oct. 9 • The Wild Buffalo
The house of music was brewing in anticipation to welcome back the supremely awesome post-rock duo from Los Angeles, El Ten Eleven. The return of guitar/bass double neck virtuoso Kristian Dunn and drummer Tim Fogarty marks the fifth time El Ten Eleven has come to rock the Wild Buffalo, thus the news that an epic must-see show was about to happen spread quick and manifested into a highly stoked crowd eager to have their minds blown by this amazing band. So there were quite a few first-timers there, not knowing exactly what to expect, and some veterans who had been there before and knew what was about to happen. No matter who you were that night you knew you ended up in the right spot.
The atmosphere was sublime, early in the evening Dream Journal opened up for a nice DJ set while the drinks flowed. Dream Journal is a local electronic act with original work that has a sweet and lucid sound. Feelings were swell and everyone seemed to be having a good time while Sego took the stage. These guys came on tour with El Ten Eleven and got the party started. Their brand of party-rock was sending out the vibes and keeping the flow in the venue, which was steadily growing more populated. The crowd got pumped up when Sego rocked an excellent Rod Stewart cover. Rock on Sego, they had a great set.
Then the time of the night that everyone had been waiting for descended.
Kristian Dunn came out, picturesque and stoic, fretless bass in hand, dark room with blue light shining upon him. He starts playing and the room shrinks as everyone binds to the stage. There is a sudden magnetism of the music that starts closing all the space in between the room and the connection between performer and audience is instantly intimate. The beauty of the work of El Ten Eleven is they can make this connection with absolutely no words. There are no vocals, at all, not even a microphone. The man can penetrate to the core of the audience without speaking, but by playing his instrument, and he does so flawlessly.
On the stage there is about four huge LED light panels that operate throughout the entire show to enshrine the music with color. The trance is real and there are people losing their minds and loving their lives about three songs into the set. This trend continues and more and more of us are drifting away from reality, closing our eyes and living in the momentary soundscape provided by El Ten Eleven. Pure bliss at times, amazement at others. Dunn may have switched out instruments over twenty times, but it was hard to tell with the music and lights absorbing all of the attention. The feeling is pretty incredible when you see him on stage with his 1977/1978 Carvin double neck guitar/bass and just listen to the all the sound one guy can produce. Using his looper and effects El Ten Eleven creates new worlds, and living in that world for just one show was an experience I’ll never forget. Don’t miss out on the next El Ten Eleven show, there is some magic about the entire gig, which you have absolutely got to feel for yourself.
– Mark Broyles
STFU Robot, Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters
Oct. 21 • The Shakedown
While it was a slow Wednesday night at The Shakedown, the ticket featured three energy-packed sets which left the sparse but spirited crowd dancing throughout the show. First up was local band STFU Robot, arguably two of the most likable humans to wear bro tanks in Bellingham, leading off with lively rendition of Fall Out Boy’s “Dance Dance.” While the band members (drummer/keyboardist/vocalist Brendan Silk and bassist/vocalist Charlie Walentiny) pride themselves on making satirical music that leaves the audience laughing, their knowledge of instrumentation is no joke: the two are damn good musicians. Closing with their most chuckle-worthy song “Drunk Pix” which not only highlights Walentiny’s vocals and bass riffs, but also his stage theatrics as the end of the song leaves him with his pants down and strumming the strings on his bass with a flip phone.
STFU Robot set the mood in all the right ways for local pop punk outfit Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. Guitarist and vocalist Tyson Ballew, bassist Aaron Kayser and drummer Aaron Apple started the set with a fast and loud original “Anger MGMT” keeping energies high and rousing the crowd into a gentle and inviting dance pit. Ballew’s vocals, reminiscent of Get Up Kids vocalist Jim Suptic, hit all the right notes with lyrics that are relatable for any person who has ever dealt with disappointment in relationships or life in general. Apple’s powerful, sporadic yet polished drum beats enhanced by Kayser’s subdued but complex bass lines made for a full-bodied synergy felt by everyone in the audience. After three upbeat songs back to back, cheers were heard in the front of the bar as Ballew began strumming a softer intro to their song “Dear Dad”: a letter to Ballew’s biological dad. The song ebbs and flows from slow, melancholy riffs to harder hitting chord progressions as Ballew shouts the lyrics “I don’t feel bad for you, ‘cuz you’re the one who missed out!” Keep your eyes peeled for the band’s first CD, which they plan to record in the months to come.
Seeing a live show of Ed Schrader’s Music Beat can best be described as the work of a cool and collected man on the verge of a meltdown: slow and steady escalating to unmetered chaos. The band, who has performed with incredible acts like Future Islands, brought their noisy rock duo all the way from Baltimore, keeping the crowd alert, intrigued and buzzing. Schrader’s wild eyes flickered maniacally as he tapped a foot pedal clicking the light bulbs illuminating his single drum and the bassist Devlin Rice’s guitar on and off as the bass notes hit deeply. Schrader’s arms swung wildly about as he banged the drum muffled by an old white t-shirt, his brow furrowed and rippled as he shouted the lyrics to “Pantomime Jack.” Halfway through the set Schrader shed his sweat-ridden t-shirt to expose his slender, bony frame which seemed to add another frenzied element to his theatrical drumming. Between songs, Schrader brought it down a notch serenading the bar as he crooned like Frank Sinatra and cracked witty one-liners before launching into another loud, echoed original “Radio Eyes.”
Despite the emptiness of the bar, Schrader and Rice ended the evening with an enthusiastic audience eager to chat with them after the bang of the final drum beat. Ed Schrader’s Music Beat continues its tour back east throughout November: a show that warrants a big turnout.
– Kristen Stanovich
Gaudi, Tyler Kostelak, Prongs
Oct. 18 • Wild Buffalo
One may never know what to expect when it comes to a Gaudi show. Up there with other unworldly artists such as The Orb and Shpongle, Gaudi brings it when it comes to live electronic performances. Sweeping the world from festival to festival, spreading the word of love alongside microphone master, Danny Lawda. A Gaudi show can only be predicted as unpredictable. One thing is for sure though, maybe even warned; prepare to be warped.
Tyler Kostelak chased the chill out of the venue, filling it with dreamy, warm, and drum filled tracks. Artist like Branko, and The Range played as the room slowly filled with fuzzy-animal-eared hats. The first few drink orders were in, and heads were starting to nod. Tyler meticulously overlaid his tracks, giving ears only the meat of each track, transitioning from nu-groove house music to experimental ditties to booty-poppin bass. The room went from chilly to chilled-out.
It came time to heat things up and Prongs did exactly that. He lured inquisitive passer-byers from outside in with volume and smooth mixes, bringing drink orders to the bar, and beer-sipping to the dance floor. Hand-picked tracks were played, choosing remixed versions of artists well known, to highly addictive dance grooves. Kudos to Prongs, as his set was great, and left musical pallets well prepped for the main course.
Gaudi’s been in the music game since before half of those on the dance floor were born. Even with so much musical background, it was still astonishing to see his talents come to him so easily. Danny’s vocal samples and hip-hop solos complimented Gaudi’s techniques perfectly. It was like warm, bass heavy pancakes, topped with sweet reggae syrup. Gaudi’s well-known musical reputation as a mellow artist was quickly overthrown in this live performance. While most were expecting a more relaxing set, Gaudi took the show by storm. Equipped with CDJs, drum machines, vocoders, analog synthesizers, a theremin (an instrument which can only be described by a quick YouTube search), and foghorns, Gaudi and Danny guided dancing fans through wickedly remixed songs about peace well past last-call.
Gaudi is a musical-bucket-list must, and while Sunday, Oct. 18 at The Wild Buffalo was far from full capacity, the band still played as if it the house was maxed.
Acorn Project, World’s Finest, Jimminy Glitch
Oct. 17 • Wild Buffalo
Everyone who is into local music has that one band that first grabbed them and wouldn’t let go. For me, Acorn Project is that Bellingham band as well as countless other locals, and after over a year away, they finally returned to The Wild Buffalo to remind us all why we fell in love in the first place.
After a slick opening DJ set laid down by local favorite Jimminy Glitch, the show took off with World’s Finest out of Portland. The second stop on their current Fall/Winter 2015 tour, these fellas took to the stage and took us on a journey. From cool island grooves, to bouncy Celtic gems, classic sounding folk and straight up rock-n-roll, they were stamping passports on a world music joyride with the passengers all wondering how they had not heard of them before.
Another killer mini-set from Glitch and on came Acorn Project.
Featuring an interactive stage lighting and projection experience by local digital art innovator Sensebellum, the fellas began their set with “Cuban V” and showed the crowd that they had lost no polish during their time off. They then further proved that time off didn’t mean not working, debuting their new track “Goldfish Gnome” and dusting off “Leonitis” for the first time in four years. Sliding back into some more familiar tracks, the dance floor kept moving, filled with smiling familiar faces from shows past and fresh first timers alike, with the return of Tristan Currin on lead guitar lending a “family-reunion” feel to the show.
Acorn is known to cover a track or two per show and often outplay the original performers by adding their signature electro-funk groove. They struck gold once again bringing Stephanie Walbon (Babycakes) up on stage to join Andy Pritiken on vocals for The Rolling Stones “Gimme Shelter” in their first set and then again on Major Lazer’s “Lean On” in set two. The second set also introduced us to another new track debut with “Confidence Man” and was otherwise filled out with a handful of Acorn Project classics that they keep finding new ways to sound fresh.
Closing out the evening with an encore of “The Difference,” the crowd ultimately streamed outside dripping sweat and joy from another memorable performance, hoping we don’t have to wait another year before the next show.
–Victor B. Gotelaere