May 25, 2013 at 8:05 PM
Sasquatch! is great for music but don’t forget: there is comedy, too!
And this year everyone in the comedy tent on Saturday agreed, we all love the TV show “Parks and Recreation.” Cult hero status was bestowed upon deadpan libertarian hedonist comedian Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson on the show), who had about 3,000 people laughing to his 10 rules to being a prosperous person. He told jokes and then did music, and while he mainly played countryish comedy songs, he also rapped the Cypress Hill song “Hits From the Bong." For the finale or "dessert" of the set as he called it, he was joined by his wife, actress/singer Megan Mullally, who plays his ex-wife on the show.
"Parks and Recreation" is one of those shows that’s too good to be on TV, so it has relatively low ratings. It always seems like it's on the brink of being cancelled. And that’s sad. But do you know the song “Bye Bye Li'l Sebastian”?
It’s a funeral song from the show, for a mini horse called Li'l Sebastian who is a mascot for the town of Pawnee, Indiana. Offerman played it, with Mullally’s band “Nancy and Beth,” and everyone in the tent swayed to a big arena rock beat and sang along. That moment of communion was the opposite of sad, even though the song is about death, and the show is proof that in life, to borrow a phrase, some things are too beautiful to live.
Offerman was preceded on stage by the comedian Kyle Kinane (very funny in a sleepy eyed way) and Joe Mande, also funny (made fun of his own "b****h face"), who is a "Parks and Recreation" writer.
May 25, 2013 at 7:39 PM
Is Kaj Litch the next Mark O'Connor?
He sure could be. Wow, these two brothers from Orcas Island, who were busking Saturday afternoon in front of SIFF Cinema, were amazing, Kaj is 9; Tashi is 11. Look for them tomorrow if you come by Folklife.
Busking and crowd participation were a big part of the fun today. Out on the Exhibition Hall lawn, while the Nyamuziwa Marimba Band kicked up a lovely ruckus, two young women hula hooped in time to the infectious rhythms of the music. Over at the Northwest Court, an impromptu sea chantey sing-along erupted in the beer garden.
And holy hokum! Out by Center House, Hot Damn Scandal was kickin' it for an avid circle of admirers.
On a more serious note, and in keeping with this year's theme, "Washington Works," the festival presented a fascinating panel about the prints of Richard Correll, which included a segment by his daughter, Leslie Correll, who came up from Oakland, Calif.. Listeners discovered that Correll, whose dramatic black and white linoleum cuts and wood block prints are exhibited in the Lopez Room, grew up on a berry farm in the Williamette Valley, where he began doing illustrations for the Communist newspaper Voice of Action. He then moved to Seattle, where he was employed by the WPA, then to New York, where he worked, albeit uncomfortably, as an ad man, to support his family.
Correll's prints depict an emotional pageant of various causes, from racial justice and the California grape strike to dock strikes and a mythical series about Paul Bunyan.
Also on the panel was UW history prof James N. Gregory, whose Labor and Civil Rights Project has links to Correll's work for the Voice of Action.
May 25, 2013 at 4:02 PM
The sun banished the clouds Saturday afternoon at Folklife 2013 as the quintet Song Sparrow Research spread its slow, mellow vocals -- cello, bass, guitar, tinker bell keyboards and drums -- over the comfy crowd on the Fountain Lawn.
Walking across the grounds was like spinning the radio dial, as a marimba duo plinked and plonked out Duke Ellington's "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)," jazz saxophones sliced through air, drum circles percolated from under the trees and children screamed as they ran in and out of the Seattle Center fountain spray.
Inside Sky Church, at EMP, a mischievous Baby Gramps declaimed Bob Dylan's "Hey, Crawl Out Your Window" with his signature vaudeville shake, then launched into a scary version of "House of the Rising Sun."
On Fisher Green, Juan Barco (guitar) and Paul Anastasio (violin) took the crowd south of the border with the classic lover's refrain of "Volver, volver, volver (come back, come back, come back!)."
And so it went. Another Northwest Folklife Festival has gotten into full swing.
May 25, 2013 at 11:39 AM
After an afternoon of fervid performances by young Seattle hip-hop talent, the early evening hours listed more toward a rock n' roll journeymen vibe with a main stage set by Northwest mainstay Built To Spill.
There was a sunshower just as the set began, and thunderclouds wafted down over the wind farm on the ridge behind the stage. In that peculiar light, the band played a solid and heartfelt set. To say it was low-key wouldn't be exactly it, but it was together and right.
Looking like (and being) an indie elder-statesman, lead singer Doug Martsch, ably played the band through many of their standards, like "Carry the Zero." While the frenetic roving and beer gathering proceeded elsewhere, the crowd on the lawn seemed satisfied to relax with Built to Spill, an indie institution for nearly 20 years.
As if to signal the beginning of the evening session, the Arctic Monkeys were considerably more aggressive. In the Shefflied, U.K. foursome have evolved from flippant schoolboys into if not menacing then at least dark-edged rock n' rollers. Sporting a pomaded pompadour, crisp white shirt and a sharply tailored blazer, front man Alex Turner projected a kind of dressed up Joe Strummer vibe.
The set list tended toward their more recent work, like "Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair" and "Brick by Brick," from the band's most recent album, "Suck It and See." They also played the excellent b-side "Evil Twin" with the lustful disdain that the lyrics of that song would suggest. Almost entirely gone from the band's sound, and stage presence, is the tin-y belligerence of their smash-hit first record, "Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not" — but they are a more complex, enthralling group for it.
After the bare-boned, scouring guitars of Arctic Monkeys, it was curious to see a wonderland of odd props begin to be wheeled out onto the stage. A Potemkin forest of mismatched fauna—evergreens, cacti—it could only mean one thing. Ma-a-a-ackle-e-e-e-emore. He was up next.
May 25, 2013 at 11:33 AM
May 25, 2013 at 11:29 AM
It's Macklemore's world right now. You know that, right? The Capitol Hill rapper is super famous at the moment, with his songs “Thrift Shop” and “Can’t Hold Us” having blown up nationally, crossing over from kids to their parents, making him a household name. Every other person at Sasquatch! is a 22-year-old wearing a Macklemore “My City is Filthy” t-shirt. He’s Kurt Cobain famous.
And yet he was still grounded and adjusted enough on the Sasquatch! main stage to say stuff like:
“You have no idea how good it feels to be back home in the Pacific Northwest! I have been working my entire life to step on this stage right here at the Gorge.”
It’s true: he’s been working. What other local rapper had the work ethic to do a weekly night at the Kirkland Pub in the 2000s?
Star that he is, the crowning moment of his show belonged to Mary Lambert, singer of the chorus on gay marriage anthem “Same Love.” Lambert, who sings the chorus from the point of view of a person being warmly held by their girlfriend, sang with much emotion. And she lent extra oomf to Macklemore’s lyrics, which criticize homophobic religious organizations, repeating the phrase "not crying on Sundays.”
The jumbo screens on either side of the main stage shows showed pained and sincere expressions on performers’ faces. The massive crowd quieted down a bit, seemingly taking stock.
Macklemore began his set on a podium that rose out of the main stage floor, wearing a ridiculous gold bathrobe and hoisting a black and gold flag (I told you he has a thing about flags). He promptly got into “10,000 Hours,” a song that details his years of dealing with the music business and struggling to maintain artistic integrity. For those in the crowd who knew him when he was a merely a big part of our local scene, and not a Pop Star (Pac NW fans went through this with Cobain, and later Isaac Brock and Ben Gibbard), a moment was felt.
Because really, it’s been an insane year for the guy.
Here’s a bold statement we can argue about on twitter if you want: Vampire Weekend is the only indie rock band that’s actually good right now, you can throw away the rest of the genre, it’s lame, it’s dead, it’s over.
All other indie rock bands now sound like middle class people doing old timey music, i.e. Lumineers and Mumford, which is SO boring, or they sound like retreads of ‘90s indie rock, which is when it was a new and vital artistic force.
Anyway the New York City band sounded perfect on the Bigfoot stage, plucking out their peppy pop rock that, yes, sounds a lot like Paul Simon, but that’s OK. One highlight was “Unbelievers,” from their brand new album “Modern Vampires of the City,” which coasted on classical guitar strumming and a driving bass drum.
The song is about what happens when we die (the whole album is). But the crowd was full of party people who will live forever, so they just responded to the airtight pop songwriting. And that was good enough. You can get into Vampire Weekend on several levels.
May 25, 2013 at 10:12 AM
Each day we will round up five photos of Sasquatch!-goers that best convey the feeling of the true festival experience. Kicking it off are our nominees from day one.
May 24, 2013 at 7:57 PM
A mini Seattle rap fest happened Friday evening on Cthulthu stage at Sasquatch: three acts in a row, young emcees Shelton Harris and BFA (Brothers from Another), then one of the town's heavy hitters, Nacho Picasso. All are mentioned this recent XXL Magazine Seattle rap roundup.
Shelton Harris. Where did he come from? I don't know. But it seems like he's everywhere in Seattle right now. And I don't mean this exact guy, though he is active. But this type of rapper: teen/20s, post Macklemore, generally positive-leaning (I would cite Sol and BFA and others in this wave, I am forgetting more). Harris raps well and I feel like his energy is contributing to the scene. It was cool to see a flock of 22 year olds swarm him after his party hardy set. New fans!
#squatchwatch: Deejay Nick Beeba from Seattle's BFA wore a loud and earth-toned outfit. My critical judgement of it was A+. He also did more to hype the crowd in his pre-concert set than most deejays ever do, and probably will do at Sasquatch, dancing all over the stage like he truly did not care (I know he did though). He played to the college aged students by selecting "old school" Paul Wall and newish dubsteppy stuff. During the actual BFA set, emcees Tiglo and Cole displayed why they are kings of the same fresh faced wave Shelton Harris is riding: their songs had a relaxed maturity to them. Except "king" is not exactly right; the movement is more princely. They rapped about wholesome stuff like eating ice cream and drinking Martinelli's, and bantered about the Seattle neighborhood of Leschi. They are living the college life. The crowd related.
And then there was Nacho Picasso, who caught overflow crowd from ScHoolboy Q and Ab-Soul apparently cancelling their main stage set. Nacho is a few years older than Harris and BFA, and totally the master of his own very gangster, druggy, accessible and popular rap music -- he seemed like a star. His fans rapped all his words. He's a misogynist in his lyrics, but he's just got this thing about him. It's kind of like with Macklemore: fans grasp his character. It's like you know him. The college looking kids loved him especially when he rapped "congratulations a******/ f*** your graduation tassle." He also rapped about "kickin out the windows / high on cocaine." That was a big hit. But if you can imagine it, the negative rap imparted a positive energy. I love that reaction in the front row. Rock star status.