Notes on Recent Sets by the Pipettes, Gang Gang Dance, Jonatha Brooke, and More

Click the photo to view a slideshow of the concert. All photos by Michael Alan Goldberg. Jonatha Brooke, Steve Poltz

June 16, 2007

Triple Door

Better Than: Most "singer-songwriter" performances I've ever seen.

By Michael Alan Goldberg

If this music thing doesn't work out for Steve Poltz, there's always stand-up comedy.  Not that the fortysomething, ever-touring San Diego singer-songwriter hasn't garnered a loyal following (including such professed admirers as Neil Young and Peter Buck) via his tunes over the past two decades—as frontman for indie-rock outfit the Rugburns, as songwriting partner with best pal Jewel, and as a solo artist with a handful of major-label and self-released discs under his belt. But for his 45 minutes onstage at the very sold-out Triple Door on Saturday night, Poltz had the crowd roaring at his hilarious banter and witty lyrics as he warmed them up for headliner Jonatha Brooke.

Poltz is easily one of the most natural entertainers I've seen, with a voice and style that reminds me of both Jeff Tweedy and Camper Van Beethoven/Low singer David Lowery.  Alone onstage with his acoustic guitar, he crooned about his childhood, Catholicism, baseball, and love—perhaps my favorite line of the night, during one number about his family moving from his native Canada to California during his youth, was "We met Elvis Presley in the middle of the summer/He hugged my sister for far too long/I felt kinda weird but I would've pimped her out just to hear him sing a song." He told hilarious stories about getting kicked out of a church recital for taking a Sex Pistols approach to some traditional hymns, and about two of his uncles, one of whom was gay and the other who came back from Vietnam with VD; he recalled asking his mom why his uncle didn't have a girlfriend, and what VD was, and having her reply, "Look, just don't use any of the towels, OK?" Click here to read the entire review of Jonatha Brooke and Steve Poltz at the Triple Door.

All photos by Laura Musselman. Click the photo to view a slideshow of Gang Gang Dance's set. Click here for a slideshow of openers Ariel Pink and Mick Barr.

Gang Gang Dance

June 14, 2007

Crocodile Cafe

Better Than: Dr. Gene Scott and his Monkey Band

By Travis Ritter Gang Gang Dance have never been so easy to classify. Over time, from album to album, the band has manifested into something else, and it's always become something that we've never really heard before. Between 2005's God's Money—easily the most accessible of the lot—and the spliced audio collage on their recently released CD/DVD Retina Riddim, Gang Gang dance have had time to hone musical techniques, and become acutely aware of how to reformat or reconfigure their past work into something entirely new. And it ain't your typical bread-n-butter remix, mind you. For 45 minutes, the New York–based quartet stunned the captive audience with a mostly seamless set, one song segueing into another, like a DJ who used keyboards, drums (lots of 'em), and guitar instead of mixers and slabs of wax. Most times it was flawless. But there were a few times when that cohesive mix just fell off, when the mostly banterless, ghostly lead singer, Lizzie Bougatsos, would chime in, "We're still working out." It didn't matter. A little break from the onslaught of the band's tribal trance groove, delayed phantom vocals, and spacey synth noise couldn't hurt—unless your intention was to dance nonstop, which only a handful actually did. Most of the crowd just swayed to the beats and noise hitting them full-force on the chest.Click here to read the entire review of Gang Gang Dance's show at the Croc.

Click the photo to view a slideshow from the concert. Click here for a slideshow of opening act Smoosh. All photos by Michael Alan Goldberg. The Pipettes

June 14, 2007

Chop Suey

Better Than: Spice World, the Phil Spector trial on Court TV, or most anything else one could have been doing on a Thursday night in Seattle.

By Michael Alan Goldberg

"You are so talented! You are so beautiful! I LOVE YOU!!!!"  So shouted the Pipettes' self-proclaimed "biggest gay fan in the world," from the middle of the capacity all-ages crowd at Chop Suey, just a few songs into the British pop septet's hour-long set. Based on the huge amount of smiles, sweat, and shimmying going on for the duration, he spoke for pretty much everyone—gay, straight, tween, senior—there to see the Pipettes wrap up their inaugural U.S. tour with their first-ever visit to Seattle.

If you happened to read my Pipettes feature, or you're just on top of the latest U.K. musical exports, you know that the group—polka-dot-clad singers Gwenno, Rosay, and RiotBecki, plus their all-male backing band (guitarist and Pipettes co-founder "Monster Bobby," plus a drummer, bassist, and keyboardist) known as the Cassettes—essentially put a modern twist on the Phil Spector/Joe Meek–helmed girl-group sound of the late '50s and early '60s (think the Ronettes, the Shangri-Las, etc., crossed with Bananarama and the Spice Girls).  Although their full-length debut, We Are the Pipettes, is a blast to listen to, I was curious if the whole thing would really work in a live setting, or crumble under the weight of the concept.Click here to read the entire review of the Pipettes' show at Chop Suey. 

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