Archive for October, 2012

[Review / photos / video] Macklemore & Ryan Lewis at Midtown Ballroom

Friday, October 26th, 2012

(All photos by The Bulletin’s Joe Kline. More of his excellent shots ran in today’s edition of GO! Magazine in The Bulletin. See them here.)

Note to self: Don’t wait almost a full week before writing a review of one of the biggest indoor shows in Bend this year.

Reason 1: Readers don’t want to wait that long. It’s 2012, bro. Internet.

Reason 2: I can’t really remember the more nuanced thoughts I had in the moment about Friday night’s Macklemore & Ryan Lewis show at Midtown Ballroom in Bend.

Here’s what I do remember: Passion. Effort. Sweat. The skyrocketing popularity of the Seattle-based rapper Macklemore — aka Ben Haggerty — has been, as I wrote in my story on him, “fueled by passion: the passion that permeates his songs, and the passion of the people who adore his music.”

Add to that Haggerty’s passionate live performance and you have a pretty clear idea of what’s pushing this guy beyond his grass roots into major mainstream success. He seems to put everything he has into his shows, which is a striking thing in the frequently ho-hum world of live hip-hop. I’ve seen lots of rap shows over the past several years, and too often, they end with a phoned-in 45-minute set by a headliner acting like they can’t wait to get back on the bus.

Friday’s show couldn’t have been any further from that. For 90 minutes, Haggerty bounded around the stage, throwing his whole body into his verses and working the sold-out crowd — 1,200 people, the vast majority under the legal drinking age — into a lather. With Lewis stuck mostly behind the decks and offering the occasional shout, Macklemore was, in essence, his own hype man.

That’s not to say he was alone under the lights. Besides Lewis, there was a female cello player and male violin and trumpet players on stage all night, plus four guest vocalists who joined the party throughout the set. It was a pretty interesting thing to see: The presence of the instrumentalists was an immediate indication that this was not your typical hip-hop show, while the parade of singers (not to mention the sweet Macklemore-branded tour bus parked on Hill Street) made me wonder just who’s paying all these folks to cruise around the country. (Dude is famously doing this without record-label money.)

Macklemore's trumpet player, Owuor Arunga.

Anyway, on to the music: After a dramatic entrance and the loudest crowd-scream I can remember in the Midtown, the set started off a little slow, I thought. The soundman seemed to still be dialing things in during “Ten Thousand Hours,” while “Crew Cuts” and “Life is Cinema” were both a bit muddy and lacking in oomph. (Haggerty did compliment our town’s collective facial hair at this point, however. As a bearded Bendite, this scored points with me.)

Then, the whole tenor of the night changed when Haggerty borrowed what looked like a vintage fur coat (may not have been vintage, may not have been fur) from a fan and the beat and bass for “Thrift Shop” buzzed through the Midtown, laying the foundation for one of the night’s highlights. People went nuts. Just nuts. Here, through the magic of video, you can watch for yourself. Sorry about the sound quality, but … yeah, the bass was loud:

From there, Haggerty and his crew ran through a bunch of faves: “My Oh My,” a sentimental tribute to the late Seattle Mariners broadcaster Dave Niehaus; “Otherside,” a cautionary tale about drug use; “Same Love,” the touching pro-marriage equality anthem that elicited a huge, approving roar and sing-along from the audience. The manic house-music beat of “Can’t Hold Us” was another high point; the song’s bass hit me in the chest like a medicine ball, traveled down through my toes to the floor, and, I assume, on to the center of the earth. It was devastatingly thunderous.

Along the way, two video screens flanked the stage and showed footage of bears, martial arts, Mariners highlights and lyrics. About halfway through his main set, Haggerty soaked his own Macklemore-branded tank top with sweat, before switching into a Seattle Supersonics jersey for “The Town,” an ode to Seattle and its hip-hop scene. He ended the main set with “Wings,” a commentary on consumerism built around adolescent obsession with fancy sneakers, and “Gold,” a poppy, celebratory tune about being on top of the world.

After a very short break, the group returned for a three-song encore — “Castle,” “And We Danced” and “Irish Celebration” — that didn’t live up to the energy of the main set, in my opinion. But the show came to a serendipitously appropriate ending when the light show shorted out during the encore’s second song and Haggerty performed most of “Irish Celebration” with the house lights on, hazily illuminating both the crowd and the stage.

That was not planned. I know, because I watched the guy controlling the lights completely lose his mind when he realized he’d lost his show during the night’s climax. But in a way, it was perfect: Right now, the music career of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis is reaching new heights every day, thanks in large part to the devotion and support they receive from their fiercely loyal fans. The makeshift light situation during “Irish Celebration” gave the final song of the night a sort of communal feeling, as if these fans had been purposely drawn into the show as a way of acknowledging their role in this story, and/or to reflect the humble, man-of-the-people persona of their pale leader.

“I f–king love you guys,” Haggerty said, before raising his hands to the sky and slinking off stage, on to the next sold-out show in the next town.

[Poster] The Rum and The Sea at Silver Moon

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

Local band The Rum and The Sea plays at Silver Moon tonight. I wrote a little blurb about them in Friday’s paper (look to the right, under “Highlights”), but when I saw the cool poster for their gig, I had to add it to our archive. The art is by Dale Jamison, who, according to the band, does lots of drawings for local roller derby teams.

This week in GO! Magazine’s music section

Friday, October 19th, 2012

When we were discussing what to put on the cover of today’s GO! Magazine, I mentioned tonight’s Macklemore & Ryan Lewis show at Midtown Ballroom and told my coworkers this: We get a lot of has-beens and not-yets and never-will-bes in this town, but it’s not that often we have an artist come through at the very same moment that they’re the hottest story in music. Tonight is one of those times. Macklemore – aka Ben Haggerty from Seattle – is in his moment.

Tonight, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis will rock a sold-out Midtown Ballroom. I wrote about their current wave of success and their new album “The Heist,” but focused on the best, most important song on that album, “Same Love.” Here’s an excerpt.

In it, Haggerty tackles the topic head on, ignoring a long-held taboo in hip-hop. He lays out his own stereotypes about homosexuality, decries the casual use of “gay” as a synonym for “bad” in our culture, calls out his own genre for looking the other way and, along the way, weaves in commentary on politics and religion. Seattle vocalist Mary Lambert ably sings the beautiful hook: “I can’t change/ Even if I wanted to,” which is lifted from one of Lambert’s own songs.

Haggerty closes his third verse this way:

“I might not be the same
But that’s not important
No freedom till we’re equal
Damn right I support it.”

Whether or not you or I agree with Macklemore is not the point here, by the way. The point is to acknowledge the guy’s forever-place in a watershed summer for the heretofore odd couple of hip-hop and homosexuality.

I enjoyed writing this, and I hope you’ll read the whole thing.

Also tonight, the third Jazz at the Oxford series kicks off in Bend with a night of Portland blues. My colleague David Jasper spoke to iconic Oregon bluesman Curtis Salgado about his battles against cancer and how they’ve changed him as an artist.

“It’s scary because the older I get, the older I want to get. It’s scary because you don’t want to know how you’re going to die,” said Salgado, who saw his mother die of cancer. “Cancer is the ultimate predator. Cancer’s like a great white shark. It’s dangerous and fascinating at the same time.”

But, with no chemotherapy required, Salgado has been able to do what he’s done for decades: get back out on the road, this time in promotion of “Soul Shot,” his first all-soul album, which dropped April 10 on Alligator Records.

If there’s any plus to cancer, Salgado said, “It just fine tunes you into life, and what’s around you, and every moment. I used to want to fill a coliseum with people and win lots of Grammys and have a nice house on the McKenzie River, you know what I’m saying?”

Now, “I don’t care anymore,” he said. “I’m just very blessed to be here. I’m blessed to play my music with my friends, and play to people who are so nice to me. It’s like, look, man, I owe the universe.”

Read the whole thing and peruse the series’ 2012-13 schedule here.

Elsewhere in this week’s music section: Adventure Galley, The Autonomics, Black Pussy, Aldrine Guerrero, Matt Woods, Michael Dean Damron, The Rum and The Sea and more.

[Poster] Heavy vibes tonight at The Horned Hand

Friday, October 19th, 2012

Fans of the loud and the heavy should probably get down to The Horned Hand tonight for two Portland bands with local connections: The Autonomics and Black Pussy. The former plays blues-punk with spittle-flying urgency, and the latter is a sludgy, swaggering stoner-rock band. Both are excellent. Read more about them here, and find details for the show on the poster below.

(While you’re at it, scroll through Frequency’s archive of cool posters and flyers for local shows.)

[Poster] Fruition and Dead Winter Carpenters at Liquid Lounge

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Tonight at Liquid Lounge, the Northwest Best concert series bathes itself in string-band jams with Fruition and Dead Winter Carpenters. The show gets started around 8:30 p.m. (or a bit after), and ticket details are on the sweet, seasonally appropriate poster below.

And hey, we’ve interviewed and written about both these bands over the past few months. Here’s our Fruition story, and here’s Dead Winter Carpenters.

This week in GO! Magazine’s music section

Friday, October 12th, 2012

We’ve got:

- An interview with Dead Winter Carpenters, who’ll play Liquid Lounge next week along with Fruition
- Short stories on Saturday night’s blues explosion with Hillstomp at Old Stone Church and Sassparilla at The Horned Hand
- A brief on locals Deb Yager and Bo Reynolds, who are playing one last show Saturday night before leaving on a year-long road trip.
- Stories on tonight’s Keaton Collective show at Liquid Lounge, Wednesday’s crazy-eclectic bill (Zion I, Diego’s Umbrella and more) at the Domino Room, and a very busy weekend – with Andy Hackbarth, Manimal House and Taarka over three nights – at Silver Moon

Or, as always, you can find all our music coverage at http://www.bendbulletin.com/music.

stream the new Pinback album

Friday, October 12th, 2012

When the wonderful San Diego indie-pop band Pinback played the Domino Room a few years ago, I thought it was kind of a weird booking. I expressed said feeling to a knowledgeable friend, who then told me the band sells really well at Ranch Records.

I think that’s weird, too.

Not because Pinback shouldn’t sell well or anything. I love the band and think their dreamily effervescent futuresounds should play over loudspeakers across the United States, filling all ears at all times. We’d be a better, stronger, happier country, that’s for certain.

I just think … Bend? Pinback? They just don’t seem like a match made in heaven. Bend turns out in droves for Tech N9ne and Yonder Mountain and Beats Antique and Everclear. Bands that travel in the same circles as Pinback generally come here and struggle to make Silver Moon feel crowded. And yet the one time I saw Pinback in Bend, they packed a much bigger Domino Room.

Whatever, I’m not complaining. I am, however, rambling. How ’bout I give you what you’re here for? Here’s a stream of Pinback’s new album “Information Retrieved,” out next Tuesday on one of the world’s great record labels, Temporary Residence Limited.

A one-page BendFilm schedule that’s easy to print and carry with you as you bounce around the festival

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

A little off topic, but: The ninth annual BendFilm Festival begins tomorrow night and runs through Sunday at various venues around town that are good for watching movies.

Our coverage of the festival has already begun, and we’ll have all the nuts and bolts of the event — when, where, what to see and more — in Friday’s GO! Magazine, plus an easy-to-use, one-page schedule of all the films showing at the festival on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

In fact, we think the schedule is so great, we added the Thursday-night screenings, got it all to fit on one regular-sized sheet of paper, and created a PDF!

You can view and print that schedule by clicking here.

Circle your “must see” flicks, fold it up, and head out knowing that you’ve got everything you need to know at a size that’ll fit in your pocket.

And seeing as how this is a music blog, here’s the trailer for the film I’m going to try to catch, “An Affair of the Heart,” a documentary about the enduring celebrity of pop/TV star Rick Springfield and his, um, passionate and dedicated fans. This looks pretty great, I think. It’s showing at 8 p.m. Friday at Regal Old Mill cinema and at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at McMenamins Old St. Francis School.

This week in GO! Magazine’s music section

Friday, October 5th, 2012

Lots and lots of stuff in this week’s GO! Magazine in The Bulletin.

So let’s get right to it, shall we?

We shall!

The inimitable Fred Eaglesmith will bring his Traveling Steam Show to Sisters’ HarmonyHouse Saturday night. My colleague David Jasper spoke with him about his famously sharp sense of humor.

“When I was younger, in the ’70s and ’80s, I wrote these really horrific songs about farm loss, which was happening all around me, you know, about my neighbors losing the farm,” he said.

“The songs were so sad, people loved them but they wouldn’t come back. It was too hard. I was young and didn’t really know what I was doing. Then I started telling these jokes about people on the farm. They weren’t that great of jokes, but I was always a pretty funny guy.

“And as I’ve gotten older, I’ve really learned my comedy well,” Eaglesmith said. “I’ve learned to just be a comedian. I could be a stand-up comedian if I wanted to.”

Fred’s so great. Read the whole thing here.

(Yeah, I’ve posted that before, but it’s worth watching again!)

On Saturday night, local experimental cello-looper Billy Mickelson — aka Third Seven — will celebrate the release of his new album “Cascadia” with a show at The Horned Hand. I called him up and talked to him about the theme of the record.

“It’s an album about what home is to me … and following your heart to share home with the world,” he said from his parents’ place in Lincoln City. “Oregon is my home, and as anybody who lives here knows, that feeling you get from the mountains and the trees here, you can’t replace that with city life or anywhere else that you’d want to move.

“It’s really special to me,” he continued, “and I wanted to capture that in this album in a sentimental way.”

Mickelson’s an interesting and introspective guy. Click here to read more of the story.

I also used a page to highlight the busy and diverse schedule at The Horned Hand, where Jeff Crosby & The Refugees play tonight, The Horde & The Harem and Tom VandenAvond join Third Seven on Saturday, Swansea and Patrick Dethlefs perform Tuesday and The Generators play Wednesday. Whew!

Elsewhere in this week’s music section: Sean Hayes returns to Mandala Yoga, the Henhouse Prowlers bring traditional bluegrass to Silver Moon, the Hank Shreve Band gets bluesy at Liquid Lounge, Jerry Joseph and Walter Salas-Humara go acoustic at Astro Lounge, Night Under the Covers heads to the Northwest, Jones Road and Five Pint Mary play a benefit show for BAKESTARR, and more!

handmade CD-packaging goodness

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

As a guy tasked with covering Central Oregon’s music scene for the newspaper, I love all releases by local musicians like they are my own children.

But as a serious packaging geek, I really love what Silvero just dropped off.