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May 23, 2014 at 10:00 AM

From Robert Fripp and friends, a different kind of orchestra | Concert preview


Bill Rieflin, center, speaks with The Times, surrounded by The Orchestra of Crafty Guitarists. Photo by Glenn Hughes.

“I’m often asked, ‘what can we expect to hear if we show up at an Orchestra of Crafty Guitarists performance?’” says Bill Rieflin, on a break from rehearsing with Robert Fripp’s ensemble of acoustic guitarists — 60 of them — appearing at Washington Hall Sunday.

“And my answer is always, ‘Well, I kind of have no idea.’”


Comments | Topics: experimental, progressive, Washington Hall

May 23, 2014 at 6:00 AM

In the presence of Nothing | Concert preview


Nothing, from left: Kyle Kimball, Nick Bassett, Brandon Setta, Domenic Palermo. Photo by Shawn Brackbill.

Nothing’s music video for “Bent Nail” — the second single off its debut, “Guilty of Everything” — dramatizes a familiar scenario for any struggling band.

In the three-minute clip, below, the Philadelphians, who play Barboza Friday, give a spirited performance to a half-empty room of denim-vested, tattooed onlookers, all folded arms and vacant stares.

By the time the song hits its slow, dreamy crescendo, the crowd’s apathy has turned to outright hate, and they begin pelting the foursome with rotten fruit and eggs as they play on.

The video “is to be taken literally,” singer-guitarist Domenic Palermo explains via telephone. “I wanted to try and convey the self-abuse that musicians deal with.”


Comments | More in Rock/Pop | Topics: alternative, Philadelphia, shoegaze

May 22, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Seaweed, the pride of Tacoma, resurfaces | Concert preview


Seaweed, from left: Clint Werner, Aaron Stauffer, Jesse Fox, Owen Atkins, Wade Neal. Photo by J.H. Wortley.

Tacoma’s lone entry in the next-Nirvana sweepstakes, Seaweed were never the center of attention — but were always nearby, like Waldo if he traded his stripes for flannel.

From 1989 to ‘99, the quintet, headlining Vera Thursday, recorded five LPs — three for Seattle’s Sub Pop, one for North Carolina’s Merge, and one for the Disney-owned Hollywood Records.

They appeared on the soundtrack to the slacker classic “Clerks,” in the grunge documentary “Hype!” and even had a video, “Kid Candy,” below, critiqued by Beavis and Butt-head.

Touring 23 times, they logged over a thousand shows — from small club gigs with peers Superchunk and Quicksand to big-ticket fests with Green Day and Candlebox.

Those golden days are gone — but in meeting bassist Owen Atkins and guitarist Wade Neal for after-work pints in T-Town’s no-frills Hilltop district, it’s clear Seaweed remain local heroes.


Comments | More in Rock/Pop | Topics: Sub Pop, Tacoma, The Vera Project

May 16, 2014 at 3:00 PM

At last, Failure a success | Concert preview


Failure, from left: Ken Andrews, Greg Edwards, Kellii Scott. Photo by Jeff Bender.

It takes a lack of superstition and a sense of sarcasm to call a band Failure in the first place — but around 1996, singer, guitarist and producer Ken Andrews had to be wondering if it was a self-fulfilling prophecy for his star-crossed Los Angeles trio.

For a group to make a career-defining work, only to have it go largely unheard, requires bad luck and bad timing — and Failure had both.

Their label, Warner Bros., had no idea what to do with “Fantastic Planet” — their 68-minute whale of a third album — and gave up promoting it after it failed to chart on Billboard’s Top 200.

“I’ll never fully understand why they got cold feet,” sighs the Seattle native in a phone interview. “I felt like people really just needed a minute to get to know us, to figure out what our sound was about… but they weren’t ready to make that commitment.”

But now, Andrews and his writing partner Greg Edwards — Failure’s bassist and co-founder — are getting their due. Last winter, they announced their first live performance since breaking up, at L.A.’s El Rey Theatre. It sold out instantly. They’ll play The Showbox Sunday.


Comments | More in Rock/Pop | Topics: Los Angeles, post-grunge, Showbox

May 16, 2014 at 11:00 AM

Unwinding with Survival Knife | Concert preview

Survival Knife

Survival Knife, from left: Meg and Kris Cunningham, Justin Trosper, Brandt Sandeno. Photo by Sarah Cass.

If you’re from Olympia — a place where you can throw a rock and hit a punk — it’s tough to have much of an ego about your band.

And over dinner and drinks at downtown Oly’s hippie-Mexican dive Quality Burrito, a few weeks before their Barboza show this Saturday, Survival Knife singer-guitarist Justin Trosper, guitarist Brandt Sandeno and bassist Meg Cunningham — whose drummer husband Kris completes the lineup — present themselves as ordinary friends making music together.

But that’s not entirely true. Not every group has an icon — albeit a reluctant one like Trosper, former frontman for Unwound — in its midst.


Comments | More in Rock/Pop | Topics: Barboza, Olympia, Sub Pop

May 16, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Doom pop pioneers Floor return | Concert preview


Floor, from left: Henry Wilson, Steve Brooks, Anthony Vialon. Photo by Edward Linsmier.

As anyone in a band can attest, signature sounds don’t develop overnight.

Floor, who play Chop Suey Saturday, existed for a decade before hitting on theirs.

Explains guitarist and co-founder Anthony Vialon, it was somewhere in his and singer-guitarist Steve Brooks’ hometown of Miami, sometime in the late 1990s, when it happened.

“We were at practice,” Vialon recalls. “Steve picked up a guitar with a broken E string, started hitting it and we were like ‘man, that’s the heaviest [expletive] ever… the bomb string.’


Comments | More in Rock/Pop | Topics: Chop Suey, Florida, stoner rock

May 1, 2014 at 11:00 AM

Lots to love about The Courtneys | Concert preview

The Courtneys

Vancouver’s The Courtneys, from left: Courtney Loove, Sydney Koke, Jen Twynn Payne. Photo by Andrew Volk.

The eponymous 2013 debut from The Courtneys, who headline Barboza Thursday, was an archetypal indie success story — made on a shoestring budget and released on a tiny label (Hockey Dad), reaching an audience through good old-fashioned word-of-mouth.

“It’s taken on a total life of its own,” says singer-drummer Jen Twynn Payne, speaking via Skype from her Vancouver apartment.

As with any great pop record, the best track on “The Courtneys” tends to be whichever one is playing at the moment — tight musicianship matched with tough-but-sweet hooks.

“We have this idea of perfection of a song,” Payne says. “We throw a lot away.”

“All the components have to fit together,” adds bassist Sydney Koke, “and if they don’t, we’ll ditch it.”


Comments | More in Rock/Pop | Topics: Barboza, Canada, indie

April 29, 2014 at 12:00 PM

The scattered sounds of Chad VanGaalen | New recordings

Chad VanGaalenChad VanGaalen, ‘Shrink Dust’ (Sub Pop)

Chad VanGaalen lives an artist’s dream.

Thanks to grants from the Canadian government — coupled with a Sub Pop distribution deal — the singer, songwriter, animator and producer has issued new records and video clips with minimal interference since 2005.

But with such freedom one shoulders the burden of oversight alone.

His latest offering, “Shrink Dust,” out Tuesday, is a self-described country album, leading one to wonder what exactly the Calgary native considers country — or how potent the psychedelics are north of the border.


Comments | More in Folk, Rock/Pop | Topics: Canada, New Recordings, Sub Pop

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