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A blog for Seattle music lovers of all stripes, from hip-hop and indie rock to jazz and world music.

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August 30, 2014 at 6:44 PM

The Wu-Tang close out a soggy start at Bumbershoot | Festival review

bumbershoot 3

(For a photo gallery, click here.)

The Wu rocks it

The legendary Staten Island, N.Y. rap crew Wu-Tang Clan closed down the mainstage Saturday night with eight members — less the late, great Ol’ Dirty Bastard, and with no Method Man to be found either, but longtime “10th member” Cappadonna filling his absence.

A majority of the crowd present looked like they hadn’t even been born when the group’s debut “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)” came out in 1993, and the audience participation (especially during classic shout-alongs like “Clan In Da Front”) sure didn’t match the amount of Wu-shirts present. But as de facto frontman/main producer RZA noted, the group fed off of any enthusiasm the crowd had to give. Though the set list stuck to the basics, it was still crazy fulfilling to see almost all of “36 Chambers,” plus solo hits like “Liquid Swords,” “Ice Cream,” “4th Chamber” and second-album smashes “Reunited” and “Triumph” performed live.

— Mike Ramos, Special to The Seattle Times

Whig-ing out

The crowd at Afghan Whigs was a little smaller then usual for the Fisher Green stage, with a much higher percentage of thirty- and forty-something’s. The band was competing with Wu-Tang Clan and Mavis Staples, which I’m sure frustrated more than a few people. Still, raw-boned hard rock (three guitarists!) delivered by 20-year veterans of the genre is hard to ignore. To counterbalance the triple guitar assault, the group made liberal use of violin, with a cello also making a brief appearance. These strings smoothed over rough sonic edges at crucial moments. Greg Dulli’s singing fell perfectly in between aggressive and melodic.

— Joseph Sutton-Holcomb, Special to The Seattle Times

Elvis is in the building

The first thing that stood out about Elvis Costello’s performance (besides the singer’s exquisite purple blazer and blue hat ensemble) was the organ player, who punctuated the spaces between Costello’s verses, giving the songs a playful, hopeful air. Somewhat surprisingly, he had only three supporting musicians (keys, bass, and drums with his guitar), but they made a lot of noise. At one point Costello put a megaphone in siren mode and pointed it at his guitar so the amp picked up the screeching sounds. He continued to conduct cheeky experiments with noise and distortion over the course of his show.

— J.S.H.

Danny Brown the pro

Detroit rapper Danny Brown had the Fisher Green stage (and its adjoining beer garden) packed despite a rather early 4:30 start time. His EDM-trap-hybrid party jams escalated things quickly from there. Rocking a Frank Zappa “Hot Rats” T-shirt to compliment his side-shaved, green-tipped, high-top fade haircut, Brown tore through selections from his acclaimed “Old” and “XXX” albums with skill and professionalism, unaffected by seemingly unfamiliar crowd’s failures to complete or repeat his hooks and punchlines. And though the large audience might’ve not known all of his songs, they couldn’t help but turn up — and turn up hard, in broad daylight — to his raunchy, electro-rap bangers like new Rustie-produced single “Attak,” “Kush Coma,” Purity Ring-featuring “25 Bucks,” and the Kanye West-quoting molly anthem “Dip.”

— M.R.

 Big Freedia’s bounce

A renowned  figure of the New Orleans bounce rap scene, Big Freedia approaches hip hop with ultra-glamorous-yet-intensely-provocative mentality often seen in drag shows. Her dancers, the lynchpin of her live performance, elevate “twerking” to an art form in a way that never seemed possible. It feels good to support progressive gender expression while shaking one’s booty.

—J.S.H.

Early in the day, the rain ruled

It started out as a soggy day in Bumbershoot Town.

One young woman standing in line next to me, under a tattered umbrella, even wondered aloud, “Is this worth it?”

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Comments | Topics: Bumbershoot, Fly Moon Royalty, Otieno Terry

July 31, 2014 at 12:22 PM

The social media rewind on Bey and Jay at Safeco

Beyoncé and Jay Z’s #OnTheRun Tour stopped in Seattle Wednesday night. With their ironclad image management, Mr. and Mrs. Carter were not allowing press photography or video, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t thousands of people their with smartphones. We scoured social media to bring some images of the night. View the story “The…

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Comments | More in Dance, R & B/Hip-hop, Rock/Pop | Topics: Beyoncé, Jay Z, safeco

July 31, 2014 at 12:05 AM

Jay Z and Beyoncé bring the On the Run Tour to Seattle

It’s in the books. The second show ever at Safeco Field and it was a big one. Mr. and Mrs. Carter, aka Bey and Jay, aka the closest thing pop music has to a royal couple, performed for more than two and half hours Wednesday night. See SoundPosts tomorrow morning for a full review.

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Comments | More in General news, R & B/Hip-hop, Rock/Pop | Topics: Beyoncé, Jay Z, On the Run Tour

July 10, 2014 at 11:07 AM

Antlers not ‘sad’ but definitely intense | Concert review

By Joseph Sutton-Holcomb / Special to The Seattle Times

The Antlers are often mislabeled as a sad band. Wednesday night’s show at Neumos proved once and for all that the reality is far more complex.

(Marc Lemoine)

(Marc Lemoine)

Sure, there were moments of desperate-feeling musical upheaval where lead singer Peter Silberman’s voice cut like a razor, but most of the songs inhabited a space between trumpet-laden other-worldliness and slow, towering walls of guitar noise. The vibe was not depressing — just intense, and eclectic as well. It’s refreshing to see a rock band deliver those utterly necessary boilerplate guitar explosions in songs dominated by keyboards and horns.

Silberman, renowned for his mastery of the higher vocal registers, navigated his lyrics with confidence. Few falsettos sound quite as crisp in a live setting as they do on recordings, but the sound was mixed well. The venue crew must have known his singing was too central to The Antlers’ sound to get lost behind the instruments.

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Comments | More in Rock/Pop | Topics: 'Burst Apart', Antlers, Concert Review

July 4, 2014 at 5:30 AM

Antlers, fully mature now, to play Neumos | Concert preview

By Joseph Sutton-Holcomb / Special to The Seattle Times

Peter Silberman, lead vocalist and primary lyricist for The Antlers, is a man with big ideas.

(Marc Lemoine)

(Marc Lemoine)

They are often too expansive to resolve themselves on a single track, which Silberman proved to the world on 2009’s “Hospice,” a concept album so adept and high-minded that it became the gold standard against which many fans and critics have measured all the Antlers’ subsequent releases, including this year’s “Familiars.”

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Comments | More in Rock/Pop | Topics: Concert Preview, Familiars, Neumos

July 2, 2014 at 4:04 PM

Sub Pop launches internet radio station

By Katharine Schwab / Seattle Times staff writer

Sub Pop, the Seattle-based indie record label known for popularizing grunge music in the ’90s, is jumping on board the streaming radio trend with its own radio station on TuneIn, which hosts more than 100,000 radio stations and caters to more than 50 million monthly active users.

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Comments | More in General news, Rock/Pop | Topics: SoundCloud, Sub Pop, TuneIn

July 1, 2014 at 12:44 PM

Macklemore on the Duwamish: My river is filthy

Macklemore-slideBy Katharine Schwab/Special to The Seattle Times

Macklemore added another cause to his list with his participation in the River For All campaign, which calls on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and local government officials to provide an adequate cleanup plan for the toxically polluted Duwamish River.

“This is our city’s only river, and I want to do my part to make sure that it’s safe to reside here,” Macklemore said in a statement on the campaign’s website, which features personal testimonials from Seattleites from a diverse group of communities. “I stand in solidarity with community leaders and families who have organized for years to right this injustice.”

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Comments | More in R & B/Hip-hop | Topics: Duwamish River, Macklemore

June 1, 2014 at 8:07 PM

James Taylor performs at the Key — and how sweet it is

By Paul de Barros / Seattle Times music critic For nearly three hours Saturday night, James Taylor transformed the sprawling KeyArena into an intimate living room. Chatty and relaxed in sport coat and jeans, the 66-year-old, bald-pated singer-songwriter delivered an expertly paced show, mixing old and new, familiar and unfamiliar, vocals and instrumental jams. He even signed…

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Comments | More in Americana, Folk, Rock/Pop | Topics: Concert revieww, James Taylor

May 22, 2014 at 1:38 PM

Videos: Local music on the move, Sasquatch! 2014 edition

It’s Sasquatch! weekend once again (also known, to others, as Memorial Day weekend). We recruited three local acts that will be taking the stage this weekend at the Gorge, and had them do a song on the go for us. It’s not quite planes, trains and automobiles, but you’ll definitely notice a transportation theme.

For our full preview of the Sasquatch experience, head over here.

La Luz, “What Good Am I?”

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Comments | Topics: Gifted Gab, La Luz, Maggie Tweedy

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