Highlights From REVERBfest 2008

Plus, good news about upcoming shows and bad news about another local breakup.

I've probably been to more music festivals in 2008 than in any other year of my adult life. Most were entirely worth enduring porta-potty purgatory (Pitchfork in Chicago), and some were historical and deeply moving events (All Tomorrow's Parties in New York), but none of them had the civic pride-swelling impact that REVERBfest had last Saturday.Pulling together a festival comprising no one but local artists is an admirable effort in the egalitarian spirit of giving exposure to smaller-name acts, but a dicey prospect in terms of quality control and fiscal viability. However, judging by the fact that attendance was up a whopping 20 percent this year, it appears that there's no shortage of Seattle music fans who not only appreciate their hometown heroes but are eager to discover new ones. The most surprisingly prevalent observation I heard from attendees was how thrilled they were that they could sample the work of artists they hadn't heard yet. That's a wonderfully deviant attitude for a festivalgoer, in my estimate.The lineup of more than 60 bands in nine different venues definitely dictated that I couldn't even come close to catching everything—especially since I was trapped behind a mike for much of the evening, broadcasting my radio show from the Sunset—but my colleagues were out in force throughout Ballard all day and night. Web editor Chris Kornelis and his staff did an exceptional job of coordinating video footage of many performances, including sets by Truckasaurus, Michael Vermillion, and Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, while a slew of photographers captured images of artists and audiences. It's all corralled nicely online at blogs.seattleweekly.com/reverb/reverbfest_2008.Several venues hit capacity as the day progressed, most notably the Sunset, which built up sizable lines of people waiting to get into sets by Brothers of the Sonic Cloth and Moondoggies, and the Tractor, which had rapt crowds packed to the rafters for See Me River and Shim. I was particularly impressed by Grayskul's set at the Sunset. I had seen them a couple of times before, but they were in rare form on Saturday, with co-MCs JFK and Onry Ozzborn absolutely killing it, doing a bizarrely mesmerizing job of somehow sounding both ominous and effervescent. It's no secret I'm not the biggest hip-hop fan in these parts, but performances like the one Grayskul delivered are compelling no matter where your personal tastes might veer. I highly recommend catching them this Sunday at El Corazon; it doesn't look as though they have a lot of Seattle shows scheduled for the remainder of '08.Festival season may finally be behind us, but the pace of great smaller bills isn't slowing down in the least. Though he's signed to Sub Pop, Montreal-based lo-fi architect Chad VanGaalen doesn't come through town very often, so his show at the Triple Door this coming Sunday will be a real treat. VanGaalen's Seattle stop is one of a handful of U.S. dates celebrating the release of his third full-length, Soft Airplane. The statuesque, solitary performer has built a devoted cult following on his rather freakish ability to instrumentally multitask like a maniac and create the sort of dark, fairytale-like ambience that begs for prime positioning on the next Miranda July film soundtrack. Singing in a voice that's equal parts Neil Young and Jeff Mangum while gingerly weaving together homespun electronic beats, organic field sounds, and starkly ethereal folk melodies has been his hallmark, but on Airplane he brings these elements together with a fresh sense of concentration and intensity. VanGaalen is still working primarily with rudimentary tools (what he describes as simply "an old tape machine and a JVC ghetto blaster"), but he sounds a little bigger and broader—for example, in the brisk pace and aggressive guitar found on "Bare Feet on Wet Grip Tape"—and even more adventurous in his sample choices, as with the rush and clamor of train wheels clipping along the tracks at the end of "Rabid Bits of Time." The Triple Door's intimacy presents an ideal forum to watch him work, and I plan to be front and center.It's a drag that this is the second column in a row in which I've had to note the breakup of another promising local band (last week the Pleasureboaters called it quits), but the lovely ladies of the Trucks are pulling the plug on their electro-centric, pop-punk outfit, and will be headlining a farewell show this Saturday, October 11 at Chop Suey to support the record release of their friends A Gun That Shoots Knives.rocketqueen@seattleweekly.com

comments powered by Disqus

Friends to Follow