Hey, Friday night it was harder to find a place to park. Which was a good sign. I was bummed that there was no one to greet me in the parking lot this time and I had a long walk to the Aronoff, where I checked out Seattle’s The Purrs. No tricks here. Just a bass, two guitars and drums. The shit was dark. Jima, the bassist/vocalist started it off by singing, “I know you’re suffering. I don’t really give a damn.” And it sounded like he didn’t give a damn. Everything was dark, even the band’s clothes. Moody and airy at times, Jima had a good voice, definitely worth a listen, but the music itself wasn’t as negative sounding as the lyrics, which made it oddly curious in places. Anti-climactic. Hmm. Still, they managed to propel me back into the days when I lived in Seattle and said “Right on” in every sentence and slept in a hostel bunk bed for six months. Ah, reminiscing. Then I snapped back quickly. I mean, hand me a five-star hotel these days, and that beats a stinky hostel every time. Moving on then.
I took a ride in a Scion streetcar. Blond-headed Cody was my driver, and he was a talkative, energetic fellow. Cody actually took me to the wrong spot, and it ended up taking longer to drive than it would have if I’d walked it, but it was all right, because it gave me some more time in the cozy car, and Cody had the new Kings of Leon playing, which was cool.
Finally I made it to The Blue Wisp, jaywalking all the way. Florida band The Dark Romantics was playing. They were a treat, to put it mildly. Wearing a fedora and glasses, the singer had a kickass voice. I know, everyone compares brooding vocals to Radiohead, but this really was very Radioheadish, full of heartbreaking rising and falling. And yes, romantic, but not in a cheesy way. Instead, chesthurters. Right on, rich, full of complexity. The singer had a gorgeous range. The band was composed of three women (bass, drums, keys) and two men (guitars, vocals). They were all talented, and the whole band gelled well together. And I swear, they must’ve found the women on “America’s Next Top Model” — they were all beautiful lookers. No wonder the guys were feeling romantic.
Outside of The Blue Wisp, I talked with Ed Felson, part-owner of the bar. We chatted about the problem of having no foot traffic downtown when MidPoint or other festivals were not around. Felson said, “We can’t get people to walk from the Fifth Street hotels. We’ve been trying all kinds of ideas, but we have to bring in more people to this venue.” He was right. Downtown needs, craves this energy. We would’ve brooded more about the subject, but at this moment, the band Look Mexico rolled in from Florida, staring out the bus windows, smiling open-mouthed, unpacking their space age tour bus, a bus beyond buses.
(For more MPMF photos and fun, go here now.)
There was the scent of weed in the air outside. At Arnold’s, I caught some of Lucky Spaulding and the Zionites, who were smooth, smooth. That word — smooth — is perfect to describe The Zionites. Smooth. Arnold’s was happening. People were packing in and grooving to the smoothness. Spaulding (singer, drummer) was a natural on stage. A great showman, and his voice resonated effortlessly. And he did it all with a glow stick wrapped around his neck.
The scene at Arnold’s was a good opportunity to bring on some more namedropping. Outside, I hung out with Peter Underhill, Brian Kitzmiller, Sammy Wulfeck and Ric Hickey of The Emeralds. Then Shawn Bracken from Cash Flagg popped in, informing me that the night before, the band Oh My God had stayed at his house. So Bracken was really hurtin’ from the night before, to say the least. But he grinned anyhow. A trooper.
Out back on Arnold’s patio, someone started to look over my shoulder while I was writing. I can always feel it when someone does that. I don’t even have to turn around. So, I covered my yellow pad with one hand, but the guy kept looking, and it was bugging me. Then I turned around, realizing it was CityBeat big dog John Fox. Next to him was CityBeat big dog music writer, Brian Baker. Both of them laughed when I stared wide-eyed, realizing it was them. Nice. Anyway, so we all hung out and watched The Emeralds, whose set was uplifting, good old Rock. The patio was cozy. No seats available. I left soon after, though. I didn’t want Fox or Baker stealing my notes. Before I left, mischievous Baker pointed at his temple and said, “It’s all up here.”
At The Inner Peace Center, I had another run-in with my new best friend Chris Lee from Ill Poetic’s Queen City Soul Rock. We are now MySpace friends, and we’ve planned to meet tomorrow night, just so we can say we did. He was running sound at the Peace Center, where they had various shots and/or massages available. There I saw Lonely China Day, a band that came all the way from Beijing. Their setup involved two or three or four computers (I lost track) and two guitars. With strange effects and long, slow, ambient sounds that bled into tumultuous climaxes, they were enough to put one into another state of mind entirely. Not to mention, they had strobing visuals that coincided with the tunes as they swept through different levels of sound intensity. There was a lovely seeping power behind the sound. I left feeling spaced out. I said, “Whoa,” trekking on, humming some Sigur Ros.
At that very moment, my music writer friend Mackenzie called me from
Seattle. He was on his way to some big show out there, but he said, and
I quote, “I wish I was there.” Ha. “Right on,” I said back. So I had to
brag a little. I mean, music buddies are for life, but there’s always
the competition factor.
Then I busted over to The Lodge to see local band, Pearlene. They always get me jump-dancing, and this night was no exception. Andrew Jody and Reuben Glaser have unbelievable chemistry. I would write more about Pearlene, but I was too busy feelin’ it. So no wordiness here. I’ll just say this: it worked. It just worked.
By the time Pearlene was done, the bar was so packed, it was nearly impossible to move, and they were still letting people in. Yeah, sardines. When the Buffalo Killers came on, people were spilling drinks, breaking bottles, dancing like their favorite cartoon and pushing each other around. A lot of elbows to the ribs, stuff like that. It was soon mass chaos inside. Loud and raucous and steamy. Buffalo Killers sounded superb, with their blend of psychedelic Rock. The vocals and the music mixed so well together, and yet there was a touch of roughness that made the sound gravelly, unique, and definitely their own robust, crowd-spinning style.
Overall, I was thrilled with the caliber of music. And even more thrilled with the diverse crowds and musical styles. As I made the long walk back to my car, thinking about the packed venues, I felt full. Well actually, I was starving, but full in the sense that the music had really touched me. But I thought about Ed Felson, and our conversation about creating more spark in the downtown streets. I wondered, after MidPoint, how we could keep the spirit and the crowds alive. I constantly see musicians supporting other musicians, but what about the other folks? How can we keep this feeling shaking our city?
Let’s do it. Right on.
— C.A. MacConnell
(Photo: Cameron Knight)