Sly at Bumbershoot? Hold Steady at HUB, Suicide's Latest Addition

Reviews, rants, and news from Reverb, our music blog.

An Open Letter to One Reel

Dearest One Reel,

The past couple of years, you've done an exceptional job of bringing acts I never thought I'd see to my backyard. First, it was Public Enemy, then the Stooges, then A Tribe Called Quest, then Roky Erickson...all for a very low price. I know people in Seattle bitch at the rising ticket costs, but when there are legends like this on the bill, there is no room for complaint.

So, my plea to you for Bumbershoot 2008 (you are thinking about it already, aren't you?) is to keep this ball rolling and please, please book Sly and the Family Stone! Please! They've just announced their first U.S. shows in quite some time, so I'm guessing they're in the market. Picture it: the Seattle Center marquee boasting "TONIGHT: SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE."

Fingers crossed,

— Brian J. Barr

Suicide Squeeze Signs Chicago's Russian Circles

Seattle's Suicide Squeeze Records has added Chicago-based experimental/prog band Russian Circles to its roster. The hard-rocking instrumentalists join the ranks of Minus the Bear and, despite living in the windy city, have a few Seattle connections—they're working with former MTB member, producer Matt Bayles, on their new record (slated for spring/summer '08 release) and have enlisted the help of These Arms Are Snakes (former Botch) bassist Brian Cook for the recording.

Next local gig: Nov. 29 at Neumo's with (surprise!) These Arms Are Snakes

— Aja Pecknold

Sneak Peak at the Hold Steady/Art Brut

Live Review: The Hold Steady/Art Brut

October 23, 2007

Fillmore at the TLA, Philadelphia

Better Than: The new Springsteen album.

Note: This tour hits the UW's HUB Ballroom on Sunday, Nov. 4

The Hold Steady are friggin' huge. Not stadium-huge, but indie-rock-huge, which I didn't fully realize until last night's show at Philadelphia's very, very packed Fillmore at the TLA (or just the TLA, or Theatre of Living Arts, to old-school Fluffians* like myself). I came to this realization after spending more than half of the Brooklyn quintet's set crushed against the barrier to the edge of my life by more than a thousand completely apeshit fans, who sang along to nearly every lyric; who chanted "Positive! Positive! Positive!" for several minutes before THS came out and kicked things off with "Positive Jam" (the lead track on their 2004 debut album, Almost Killed Me); and who roared deafeningly when bassist Galen Polivka came out 20 minutes before the band played to check on his rig (the confused, bemused look on his face was priceless).

Once "Positive Jam" got the crowd frothed up, the fivesome blasted through nearly 20 more songs drawn from all three of their full-lengths. To loosely paraphrase David Lee Roth's quote about Elvis Costello, slightly doughy, bespectacled Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn looks like most of the male rock critics in America, which may be why they love him so. It's also gotta be the great tunes—literate and raggedly anthemic as they are, THS can still rock out like Van Halen (OK, maybe more like Thin Lizzy). Acknowledging that their last album—Boys and Girls in America—came out more than a year ago, Finn unveiled some new songs to rabid cheers. Didn't get the titles, but one was slow and boozy-sad—colored nicely by Franz Nicolay's accordion—and another was crunchy and explosive.

More impressive was the fact that the Hold Steady were able to hold their own after a ridiculously great opening set by Art Brut, who are kinda like Pulp on crank: very British (i.e., cheeky and wry) and unbelievably high-voltage. Frontman Eddie Argos wears funny socks (and no shoes), jumps into the crowd, and makes funny faces. Guitarist/vocalist Jasper Future makes even funnier faces, and the fact that he looks like a young Sting makes it that much funnier. The quintet's 45 minutes onstage was a complete blast; I'm amazed they don't electrocute themselves with their own vibe.

Reporter's Notebook

Personal Bias: The Hold Steady's Separation Sunday (2005) is one of my favorite albums of the past several years.

Random Detail: Although they won't be playing in Seattle when the Hold Steady and Art Brut come to the HUB Ballroom on Sunday, Nov. 4, last night's show opener—the New York City two-girl, one-guy trio Demander — is definitely a band to keep eyes and ears out for. They're kinda like Sleater-Kinney dropped into a spaghetti Western.

* "Fluffians" is Philadelphia-speak for "Philadelphians"— Michael Alan Goldberg 

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