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Soundposts

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

Category: R & B/Hip-hop
September 26, 2014 at 12:04 PM

Relatable, golden-voiced Sam Smith at the Paramount

Dressed in a dark gray suit, British singing sensation Sam Smith moved woodenly and nailed the song “Latch” Thursday at the lofty Paramount Theatre, his famous collaboration with the London electronic duo Disclosure. Singing in his most raw and exciting falsetto in the chorus, he whipped around in there like he was fencing, and it was exciting to witness the vocalist reach aggressively for those notes.

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September 22, 2014 at 7:40 PM

Even at 57, Monterey Jazz Festival still finding new levels of groove

MONTEREY, Calif. — When Tim Jackson took over the programming of the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1992, he assured its somewhat conservative patrons that he would introduce artistic changes gradually at the parklike Monterey Fairgrounds.

Jackson has kept his word, but the festival’s 57th edition this past weekend felt like a watershed. Saturday night’s arena headliner was a jazz-influenced hip-hop act, The Roots, which topped a thematic through-line of contemporary African-American music that placed the festival firmly in the present. It was a meaty, satisfying lineup.

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Comments | More in Festivals, General news, Jazz, R & B/Hip-hop | Topics: Herbie Hancock, Monterey Jazz Festival, The Roots

September 15, 2014 at 10:36 AM

Drake vs. Lil Wayne all about the star power | Concert review

Lil Wayne and Drake performed at White River Amphitheatre Sunday (Associated Press)

Lil Wayne and Drake performed at White River Amphitheatre Sunday (Associated Press)

Drake and Lil Wayne are rappers who also happen to be two of the most recognizable faces in popular music. So it stands to reason that the duo’s performance at White River Amphitheatre in Auburn on Sunday night was less about performing songs than it was about performing celebrity.

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September 14, 2014 at 12:03 PM

Bass, sweat and cheers for Katy Perry at Tacoma Dome

Artifice is inherent to pop music, but you still need actual talent to pull it off. Katy Perry might not have said anything of much importance Saturday night at the Tacoma Dome, but her real trick was making you not care one bit.

Before a predictable sold-out mix of screaming preteen girls (and their surprisingly enthusiastic parents), Perry opened the “Prismatic” tour with her hit single “Roar,” rising from the depths of the stage enclosed in a cocoon of LED panels. The crowd dutifully provided their own roars as Perry led them in a triumphant sing-along, opening with a moment most artists would kill to close their sets with.

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Comments | Topics: Katy Perry, Prismatic Tour, Tacoma Dome

September 10, 2014 at 1:09 PM

Stevie Wonder bringing “Songs in the Key of Life” to KeyArena

Stevie Wonder will perform on Dec. 3 at KeyArena. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

Stevie Wonder will perform on Dec. 3 at KeyArena. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

Stevie Wonder will bring his “Songs in the Key of Life Performance” to KeyArena on Wednesday, Dec. 3. Tickets, which cost $145.50, will go on sale at 10 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 22 at the KeyArena Box Office, Ticketmaster.com, or by phone at 800-745-3000.

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September 4, 2014 at 4:12 PM

Pharrell Williams and Soundgarden play to boisterous Seahawks crowd

Pharrell Williams holds his hands up with his dancers after finishing his set with "Happy" at the end of a free pre-game concert at CenturyLink Field on Thursday. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson / The Seattle Times)

Pharrell Williams holds his hands up with his dancers after finishing his set with “Happy” at the end of a free pre-game concert at CenturyLink Field on Thursday. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson / The Seattle Times)

Under postcard-perfect sunny skies, Seahawks fans reveled in more than an hour of noisy, pre-game music with hip-hop and R&B singer Pharrell Williams and Seattle rock band Soundgarden.

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Comments | Topics: CenturyLink, Pharrell Williams, Seahawks

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

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