The Stranger's music critics' picks for Jan 23-29, 2017, shows in Seattle.
by Stranger Things To Do Staff
Now that the inauguration is finally over, we can get back to the business of our everyday lives, which for us means live music. This week, we've got everything from a boozy country queen crooner, to the renowned hiphop producer giving Seattle a more distinct sound, to a mid-winterlude in the faux Bavarian highlands surrounded by your favorite local and touring musicians. Check out all these shows and more on our music calendar.
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This freak-folk, Loki-like playboy is coming through town to sing songs off his 2016 album, Ape in Pink Marble. Devendra Banhart has been unfairly maligned by everyone from my old college roommate to a current friend as “bad,” and “throwback hippie shit,” and “genre-fucking nonsense.” But even at his most misty-crystal of phases, I still appreciate Banhart’s surprising songwriting and the humor he brings to a genre that’s so often humorless. On the new album, he gives us 13 ultra-chill but comfy songs that all sound the same, but he laces enough wiliness and thoughtfulness into the lyrics and the melodies to keep them interesting. Banhart could sing every one of them to you and a date during an intimate dinner in your apartment and you’d hardly notice him over the hum of the fridge. And yet, it’s all pretty good. He studiously avoids clichés even as he states eternal truths. “Love’s the only lesson everyone knows how to teach,” he sings on the drowsy “Theme for a Taiwanese Woman in Lime Green.” And “Please don’t love me because you’re through hating you,” he croons on a slightly less drowsy “Saturday Night.” Solid lines. Easy listening. What else do you want on a Monday evening at the Showbox? RICH SMITH
Herb Alpert and Lani Hall
Wild trumpeter Herb Alpert will play his legendary brass for three nights of hits from his classic album Whipped Cream & Other Delights and later projects for an evening of Latin-inspired instrumental jazz and pop, with retro tracks and '60s soundtrack notes, and support from his wife, Grammy-winning vocalist Lani Hall.
Code Orange, Youth Code, Lifeless
Pittsburgh remains one of the few industrialized US cities to pull itself out of the economic rut left in the wake of manufacturing moving overseas. The city’s survival took guts, perseverance, and grit—all qualities present in the city’s premier hardcore outfit, Code Orange. Formerly known as Code Orange Kids, the act’s particular brand of “perseverance” comes from the Hatebreed school of hard knocks: big, meaty breakdowns butting up against searing mosh riffs. Which isn’t to say that Code Orange don’t bring anything new to the table, either. Noise samples and a few industrial undertones lend color and subtlety to what is too often a one-dimensional style of music. Industrial rockers Youth Code will provide direct support. JOSEPH SCHAFER
Shy Girls, The Last Artful, Dodgr
I have a lot of feelings (they’re negative, natch) about cis men using terms for womxn in their dumb band names, but we’ll save that discussion for another time. Shy Girls is actually a Performative Guy, namely Dan Vidmar, who makes electro R&B that some publicists refer to as “avant soul,” as they apparently don’t know what either of those words mean. The music is pleasant and spacey and sensitive-white-guy-James-Blakey, like a soft alien nightclub make-out with some lyrical plot points harking back to very high-school moments, if you happened to be a really hot girl in high school about whom random dudes wrote electro-R&B songs (I wasn’t, so you’ll have to tell me about it sometime). It’s not weird enough to truly take you places, but it is just sensually bleep-bloopy enough to at least make you switch it out for your Top 40 the Weeknd or DJ Snake x Justin Bieber tracks. KIM SELLING
Talib Kweli, Styles P, K'Valentine
Get ready for a heavy dose of 1990s underground hiphop, as two princes of the mic promise to serve up a solid night of lyrical dexterity and crushing boom-bap beats. Many still know Talib Kweli from his tenure in Black Star alongside Yasiin Bey (fka Mos Def). Since their split, Kweli has maintained a solid solo career in this century while focusing on a number of social progress groups, including the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. Styles P also achieved a good deal of mainstream success as a member of 1990s rap group the LOX with Jadakiss and the lesser-known Sheek Louch, in addition to being a founding member of the Ruff Ryders crew. Similar to Kweli, Styles has been keeping up a solo career that retains the attention of rap diehards due to his serious vocal maneuvering, so if you love the spirit of 1990s lyricism updated for 2017, this show is a must-see. NICK ZURKO
AFI, The Chain Gang of 1974, Souvenirs
One-time East Bay punks AFI have undergone quite a transformation in the past 10 years. Davey Havok's crew went from writing soaring melodic punk anthems on 2000's The Art of Drowning to catchy, easily digestible major-label goth/glam rock on 2009's Crash Love. Still, the Despair Faction—AFI's loyal-to-the-grave fan club—stays true. KEVIN DIERS
Forms: Doctor Jeep & Jubilee
The Forms series strives “to explore not only the existing gamut of genres, but also the spaces in between, as well as the threads that connect influence and creation.” Noble goals. Jubilee (Brooklyn via Miami DJ/producer Jess Gentile) emerged out of that Florida city’s rave and drum ’n’ bass scenes and has shown a proclivity for creating effervescent strains of low-end-centric club music geared to slap and tickle your inner hedonist. She’s a master of tension-and-release productions that really test the subwoofers. New York’s Doctor Jeep (aka Andre Lira) is another maximizer of bass frequencies, with productions that stress a kind of menacing funkiness; check 2016’s brutal Dissociate EP for proof. Jeep’s remix of Benga & Coki’s eerie dubstep classic “Night” further demonstrates his deft and bruising rhythmic skills. As a DJ, Jeep favors eclecticism, blending house, techno, drum ’n’ bass, UK garage, baile funk, and more. DAVE SEGAL
“You wait in the car / On the side of the road,” Lucinda Williams sang, and we all agreed that she had a voice like rusty velvet. “Let me go and stand a while / I want to know you’re there / But I wanna be alone.” And another friend said how apropos, how important, that she wanted her own space. She promised to return. But “don’t go and try to find me.” Then another friend quit returning phone calls. He quit returning e-mails. When his child was born, he took the mother home but refused to hold his baby. I know he’s alive, but we had to quit trying to find him. On the new album, Williams sounds drunk. But I can’t tell if she drinks to find someone, or to refuse. ANDREW HAMLIN
Childbirth with DoNormaal
Childbirth and DoNormaal. Two local musical entities that, apart, are leaders in the fields of crass-for-a-reason punk (Childbirth) and eerie, existence-questioning hiphop (DoNormaal)—but together may be capable of reaching even higher heights. Will DoNormaal (local SoCal transplant Christianne Karefa-Johnson) work the crowd even more nimbly in a hospital gown (potentially)? Will Childbirth (super trio Julia Shapiro, Bree McKenna, and Stacy Peck) share salad recipes, publicly or privately, with DoNormaal? There’s no telling. But we do know that as a conglomerate, they have the superpower to reach across genre lines and throw a killer party you won’t want to miss with fun friends like Lisa Prank and Goat Reward. They won’t let you down. TODD HAMM
Crystal Beth & The Boom Boom Band, Freudian Slurp, 45th Street Brass
Crystal Beth & the Boom Boom Band are what happens when accomplished jazz musicians decide to take a reckless holiday in the rock realm. The Seattle group—led by the feral vocalizing and bass clarinet of Crystal Beth and featuring the flagrantly virtuosic guitar of Tristan Gianola—assay a kind of artful, deranged rock that recalls the Dirty Three and the Geraldine Fibbers at their most agitated and, alternately, at their most lugubrious. Check out the waltz-time rager of “Flesh” off Yugen 3 for evidence of the former. Local quintet Freudian Slurp overcome their dubious name with some suave, melodious jazz funk that should appeal to fans of Chick Corea, Grant Green, Donald Byrd, and Ben Sidran. DAVE SEGAL
Explorations in Acoustic and Electronic Avant-Garde
Steve Schmitt plays left-handed guitar in Seattle’s premier gamelan-inflected surf-kraut-rock group, Diminished Men, but, unknown to many, he also released an excellent solo album in 2014, The Ruminator. On it, Schmitt—with help from Diminished Men drummer Dave Abramson—flexes the sort of unconventional guitar-hero chops that make his main band sound like a spy-thriller soundtrack from Indonesia by way of Köln. These intriguing instrumentals give you adrenaline rushes where you thought no adrenaline could squirt. I couldn’t find any music online by inBoil (Carl Farrow), but he reportedly “uses advanced sampling and synthesis techniques to transform familiar sounds into abstract music.” W Three Sax Trio feature veteran fire-music improviser Wally Shoup, Neil Welch of explosive jazz duo Bad Luck, and Wilson Shook, all of whom will get spontaneous and combustible right in front of your shell-shocked ears. DAVE SEGAL
If you’re not into Sango yet, that’s tragic as hell because it means you missed one of the best releases of 2016. Seattle-based, Brazilian-influenced, and Soulection-cut producer Sango teamed up with local heavy hitter Dave B. for Tomorrow, an album notable not only for Dave B.’s hazy harmonies and elastic bars, but for Sango’s capacity to lay down a Seattle-specific, and thus instantly classic, sound, as well as pull emotional tangibility out of seemingly minimalist design. For baffling reasons, Seattle is rarely heralded as a quality source for ground-up hiphop (as we’re remarked on usually only for our pop-culture crossovers like Macklemore or Sir Mix-A-Lot), but Sango’s work alone should prove to change that with releases like Tomorrow, Hours Spent Loving You, his collaborative album with Xavier Omär that also dropped last year, and his upcoming solo album, In the Comfort Of. KIM SELLING
Studio 4/4: Kerri Chandler
Get ready to hear the sound of Jersey when legendary house music pioneer Kerri Chandler brings his singular style to town. Though cities like Chicago, Detroit, and New York all have a distinctive sonic imprint on house music, the swinging garage developed by Jersey citizens such as Chandler and Todd Edwards is instantly recognizable through its chopped-up vocals, soulful strings, and bouncy drum programming—which later shaped the sound of UK garage of the late 1990s to the present. Chandler is an extremely influential producer, and as a DJ he excels at bridging the sounds of the past in the form of timeless house cuts with many of today’s trends and sounds. This appearance will draw out both the old heads and the young ravers for a night of quality dancing. NICK ZURKO
Katie Kate, Murder Vibes, SGF
Former Genius candidate Katie Kate is an exciting performer, combining rap, electronica, and R&B-lite into origami creations of encyclopedic pop music. KYLE FLECK
New York-based journeyman Martin Sexton infuses jazz and soul into his homey Americana-tinged storytelling musical style.
People have been slow to forgive natives Queensrÿche. their influential Operation: Mindcrime album is a classic, but the band's nasty split with ex-singer Geoff Tate left many cold. Their ambitious latest LP, Condition Human, could smooth all that over, thanks to more ambitious arrangements and singer Todd LaTorre, formerly of Crimson Glory. JOSEPH SCHAFER
Enjoy the endless current of melody that is the Fifth Symphony of Schubert during a special edition of "Untuxed," a low-key, no-intermission way to enjoy the Seattle Symphony without worrying about what the bourgeoisie will think of your hat and tails.
A Story of Rats, Fake Trade, Hair & Space Museum
Between the renewed interest in John Carpenter’s music, the Goblin reunion tours, and the unexpected success of the Stranger Things soundtrack, it feels like everyone’s on board with spooky arpeggios played on vintage analog synths. Not hatin’, all that stuff is great. But if you want haunting instrumental synth voyages that don’t feel like they’re beholden to the public’s nostalgic predilections, you would be wise to investigate a Story of Rats. Synth maestro Garek J. Druss and his Rat compatriots can conjure the same tension and looming horror of your favorite Death Waltz reissue or touch upon the sublime triumphs of Vangelis over the course of a single track, all while sound like they’re looking into the future rather than basking in the past. BRIAN COOK
Timbrrr! Winter Music Festival
This event in Leavenworth—the infamous German-themed town/tourist attraction nestled in the Cascades—looks like the coziest mid-winter music festival, filled with beardo-magnet amenities like skiing and snowboarding, a hot-toddy garden, wine tastings, and festival-branded flannel shirts. The weekend’s musical offerings are varied, with 15 local and national acts ranging from original flannel-wearers/indie-rock darlings the Thermals to local up-and-coming hiphop goddess DoNormaal. Also among the headliners is Richmond, Virginia, singer-songwriter Lucy Dacus, who rose to national prominence last year with her straightforward, NPR- and dad-approved indie-rock debut, No Burden (RIYL: Courtney Barnett). Local heroes Wimps will also warm up the fest with their snarky, skateboarding, hot-dog-loving scrap-punk. BRITTNIE FULLER
Tower Of Song: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen
Honor the late, great Leonard Cohen with a night of songs performed by local notables like Grace Love, Star Anna, and Jason Dodson, as well as a screening of the rarely seen documentary Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Leonard Cohen, all as a benefit for Rain City Rock Camp for Girls.
At the latest installment of the incredibly popular (and wonderful) late-night, lie-on-the-floor-if-you-want-to concert experience from Seattle Symphony's most risk-taking players, you'll hear a few of the options chosen by composers working within the Soviet system of rule, which had its own ideas about what kind of music was allowed, was best, was loyal. (Maybe we will be receiving messages like this from our own government soon, so listen up.) The program features three takes from during and after the Cold War: Alexandre Rabinovitch-Barakovsky's Récit de Voyage, described as mystical minimalism; Galina Ustvolskaya's Octet for 4 violins, 2 oboes, timpani and piano, titled "The Lady With the Hammer" ("alternately fascinating and alarming"); and Pavel Karmanov's The City I Love and Hate, a piano sextet he wrote in 2012. JEN GRAVES
The Dee Dees, Pinned Red, Stuntmen
I bet this band would kick you right in the shins if you called them a "girl band." Sure, the four members of Seattle's Dee Dees have "female" checked on their respective driver's licenses, but simply "girl band" they are not. The Dee Dees are this city's premier Ramones tribute band, playing the punk classics from the '70s and beyond. KELLY O
Jonathan Sielaff, Million Mists, Norm Chambers
Jonathan Sielaff is perhaps best known for his bass clarinet arabesques for the ambitious cosmic-music duo Golden Retriever. (Get all of their chaotically beautiful Thrill Jockey LPs and that one on Root Strata, too.) As a solo performer, Sielaff leans toward a kind of sacred, soothing approach to his instrument, recalling Terry Riley’s hypnotic, horn-centric works and Miles Davis’s “He Loved Him Madly.” As a member of the fantastic Brother Raven, Jamie Potter helped to foster transcendent space music with bandmate and Gift Tapes/DRAFT Records boss Jason E. Anderson. His Million Mists solo project furthers Potter’s in-depth exploration of far-out synth possibilities while also delving into beat programming. Norm Chambers (formerly Panabrite) keeps improving as a synthesizer player of tonal, melodic, and rhythmic ingenuity, as proved by his recent set opening for Jonas Reinhardt. Chambers is the closest thing Seattle has to Haruomi Hosono right now. DAVE SEGAL
Lizzo with Dizzy Fae
Rapper and singer Lizzo is an outspoken body positivity and social justice activist and all-around super babe who will, without a doubt, get your ass on the dance floor. She'll be joined by Dizzy Fae.
Secondnature: Mike Gervais, Fugal, Kristen Dalen
Secondnature isn’t fucking around tonight (not that it ever is, but still…). Minneapolis producer Mike Gervais makes the sort of ominous techno that suffuses the club in a pulse-pounding paranoia. You’d think that would be a party-wrecking tactic, but you’d be wrong. For heads of a certain demeanor, Gervais’s brand of sanity-threatening dance music is just what the doctor (Strangelove, that is) ordered. Fans of the Downward and Avian labels will break out in cold sweats to Gervais’s concussive, claustrophobic tracks. Fugal (Seattle-Berlin DJ/producer Ted Shin) and Kristen Dalen should be ideal openers for Gervais, as they rank among the city’s most reliable selectors of peak-time, minimal-techno oddities that help you transcend earthly concerns. DAVE SEGAL
Susan Pascal Quintet with Bill Anschell, Dave Peterson, Chris Symer, Gary Hobbs
Here is a confession I must make: I'm not big into jazz guitar. Indeed, I have never bought a record by a band led by a jazz guitarist, even by one of the big names in jazz history, like Charlie Christian and Django Reinhardt. Why? Because I can't help feeling that the real home for this instrument is the blues. But what breaks this dumb feeling in me every time is when a jazz guitarist performs with a jazz vibraphonist. Those wondrous, vaporous, Venusian sounds of the vibraphone seem to magically transform the licks and picks of the guitar into something that's utterly necessary and meaningful to the jazz home. For example, when Susan Pascal, Seattle's great vibraphonist, plays with Milo Petersen, a local jazz guitarist and educator, I honestly fall in love with an instrument that does almost nothing for me on all other occasions. Pascal, an artist who really knows her instrument and handles her sticks in the way that all masterful vibraphonists do (like wands casting warm spells), also frequently performs with Bill Anschell, an established and very productive pianist. CHARLES MUDEDE
The Beatnuts, Rapper Big Pooh, Termanology
Even if they never became household names, Queens demons JuJu and Psycho Les of Beatnuts are New York giants. Originally—if only peripherally—associated with the Native Tongues posse, via their work on Chi-Ali’s debut album, their proudly Latino, unflaggingly juvenile, pistol-packing steez was, however, all theirs. Picture an extreme NYC beat-digger take on Tha Alkaholiks and Cypress Hill—hence their memorable declaration from their “Psycho Dwarf” that they “wanna fuck, drink beer, and smoke some shit.” Their celebrated run of EPs and LPs in the 1990s contained not only some of the genre’s most hedonistic thug fantasies (with an infamously wicked sense of humor) but some of the finest production of the era. Stone Crazy (1997), the one with Big Pun’s legendary, scene-eating verse on “Off the Books,” is the ’Nuts at their crudest, weirdest, and rawest. Like the song said: Beatnuts, forever. LARRY MIZELL JR.
Side-by-Side Concert with Roosevelt High School Symphony Orchestra
Side-by-Side concerts pair the Seattle Symphony with another musical group for a session of classical jams and witnessing masterworks together. This session features the Roosevelt High School Symphony Orchestra performing a Gershwin favorite, An American In Paris, with Seattle Symphony Young Artist Andrew Angelos in a performance of Dukas’ Villanelle for Horn and Orchestra.
Timberfoot, Crash Landing, Johnny Hoffman & The Residents
I know there are a ton of local bands around, like these three groups, yet even with the now-obligatory, easy-to-access internet presence, and with some solid gigs, they still end up always being peripheral. Well, if you get the chance, make tracks to Frelard hot spot Substation and dig their action. Timberfoot and Crash Landing both produce some slightly dreamy, sometimes noisy, but very songwriterly indie-rock clatter, while duo Johnny Hoffman & the Residents, at least live, play some cheeky, snotty punk. Oh, and they’re from goddamn Everett! And yes, I know this is a Sunday night. Take Monday off. Y’all all deserve a three-day weekend! MIKE NIPPER
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