Discerning the influence of Barsuk Records is, for me, a very personal affair.
Looking at the Seattle label’s discography, or the just-released lineup for its 15th Anniversary concert series (below), brings back many bright-burning memories. There were good times (enhanced by the Long Winters, Menomena, David Bazan), and there were some bad times (softened by Rocky Votolato, Death Cab for Cutie, Nada Surf), and then there were some really confusing times (usually accompanied by Kind of Like Spitting). What I’m trying to say is that I might be kind of a wreck come the second week of November, but it’ll be a good kind of wreck.
It’s not all about me, of course. Barsuk has had a great influence on the larger world of music; over its 15-year, 138-release history the label has helped push the American indie rock movement in a more tender, introspective direction. That charge into popular culture was led by Death Cab for Cutie, whose Something About Airplanes was the label’s second full-length release, following Like Icicles, the debut from the Busy Monsters, a band lead by label founders Christopher Possanza and Josh Rosenfeld.
Death Cab isn’t on any of the lineups for the November shows, but the band will be taking part, helping to kick off the celebration at Bumbershoot on Sunday, September 1 with a performance of landmark album Transatlanticism. Released by Barsuk ten years ago, that album landed the band on Billboard charts, as well as television screens across the country thanks to teen soap opera The OC and its emotionally crippled fanboy Seth Cohen, who, in retrospect, was a lot more like me than I was willing to admit at the time. So, yeah, maybe this is all about me.
Anyway ... Let’s look at that lineup!
Thursday, Nov. 7 Nada Surf (playing Let Go), Special Guest, Mates of State, and more Showbox at the Market
Friday, Nov. 8 The Long Winters (playing When I Pretend To Fall), David Bazan, Chris Walla, Minor Alps, and more Neptune Theatre
Saturday, Nov. 9 Menomena, Maps and Atlases, Yellow Ostrich, Cymbals Eat Guitars, and a very special end of the night guest Neumos
Sunday, Nov. 10 Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter (special anniversary performance with original lineup playing Reckless Burning), Special Guest, Rocky Votolato, Laura Gibson (solo), and more Tractor Tavern
Photo of Nada Surf by José del Río Mons