Commodities of the Abstract Sort

a hopefully-less-pretentious-than-other-pretentious-music-blogs music blog

John Vanderslice Sunday September 30, 2007

Filed under: I live under a rock,misc. good non-local music — Kayla @ 7:27 pm

john vanderslice3


John Vanderslice?  How had I not heard of him until I accidentally caught the last 2 songs of his set at Block Party?  No matter how much time I spend searching for music there will always be that one really obvious person that I’m missing.  In addition to being a fabulous musician, John Vanderslice is also an endlessly fascinating human worthy of a lettered list:


a) He founded the Tiny Telephone recording studio in San Francisco which is still 100% analog, meaning that they are old-timey and use tape instead of computers to record music.  Death Cab and Spoon have recorded there.  Obviously Vanderslice records his albums there without any aid from digital recording techniques and listening to his albums makes this fact absolutely amazing.  It’s impossible to tell that everything you hear is done completely analog, even on headphones.


b) He agrees to do things like cashier at Sonic Boom for a day and play on the Fremont Bridge accompanied by the drawbridge bells.  He also once ordered a pizza from the stage during a show and then collected money from the audience to tip the delivery guy.


c) He is a seriously good photographer and has hundreds of pictures taken on tours up on his website.  I’m not going to lie: I’ve spent like 4 hours the past two days looking at all of these and I’m  amazed at how he gets such good shots using a film camera.  I love that he puts up shots that other people would have thrown away (like an end-of-roll shot where half the frame is black). 


d) he was quoted as saying “Music: it’s just like drugs, you know? Just because you lower the price of crack to $3.50 a hit doesn’t mean you’ll make less crack. You might just make more crackheads.” in reference to the commercialism of music in a PopMatters interview.  In the same interview he also said, “I go to someone’s site, and I see they have a 100 MP3s and I love them forever. But then I go to bands’ sites, and they have one song up and it’s in Real Audio and I’m thinking, what’s your home address because I’m going to stab you in the lungs. Just come out for your mail because I’m going to shank you.”  I want that engraved on my headstone.


This post has been sitting in my drafts folder for about 3 months now and I’m not really sure why.  Anyway, my anger at being unable to go to his show with Bishop Allen in Seattle on October 17th because I’m not 21 made me think it was maybe time to dig it back up again.  If you are 21 and living in the Seattle area and you don’t go to this concert you need to rethink your validity as a hipster/music snob/human because I guarantee you it will be one of the best shows of the year.  Bishop Allen are amazing live and are themselves one of the best shows I’ve seen this year and John Vanderslice is obviously awesome, so you better be there.  If you are woefully underage like me you can experience a little bit of the glory over at NPR where they are streaming a recording of the JV/BA show in Washington D.C. Or you can go to La Blogotheque and watch a video of John Vanderslice wandering around Capitol hill during Block Party while singing songs and confusing the general public.


Official Site | Myspace | Buy Emerald City


Hello onslaught of people searching for Peter Bjorn and John! Wednesday September 12, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kayla @ 10:56 pm

So, over the past week my visitor count has increased DRAMATICALLY (my “most visits in a day ever” doubled on Monday) and it appears that the vast majority of people are finding me by searching for Peter Bjorn and John. That’s cool, but someone please enlighten me: what search engine are you using?  Because I’m pretty sure you’re not going through the more than 30 pages of Google results to get here (I gave up looking at 32 and it’s my own blog).  I’m just curious.


In other news, Leaves in the River by Sea Wolf is really fucking good, so go buy it when it officially comes out on Sept. 25th. 


Also, since I’m now working at the radio station as Assistant Alt. Director I’m pretty much living there at the moment, and for the next 3 weeks while we get the new DJs hired/trained and catch up on the close to 100 CDs that need to be listened to (that’s as of yesterday, I’m sure the mail fairy has brought us 20 or so more by now).  You all know what that means: I’m dead to you, along with my friends, family, homework, and very very dirty apartment. 


Bumbershoot 2007 Tuesday September 4, 2007

Filed under: Local,show review — Kayla @ 11:26 pm

Bumbershoot title card

Here are a lot of my pictures from Bumbershoot. It was my first time using a digital camera (I know, I know, what can I say? I love my circa 1986 manual SLR), so they aren’t fabulous, I also don’t know how to compress them without making them all blurry. Maybe I’ll get better? Maybe someone would like to educate me in the ways of digital photography? Maybe I should just go hide in my dark room and continue to shun the digital revolution? I don’t know, but I took all these pictures so I’m damn well going to use them.


The Shins

They were good, but they would have been better if the crowd hadn’t decided that they were appropriate crowd-surfing music. Come on…The Shins, really? My friend Jessica who was with me on Saturday is convinced that James Mercer looks like Kevin Spacey. I think she’s mistaken because Kevin Spacey is creepy and James Mercer is adorable.







Menomena were my favorite act of Saturday, but it kind of seemed like they were holding back. I’ve never seen them live before, but from reading other reviews of their live shows that seems to be the case. They had a choir for some reason, it was weird. You couldn’t really hear it at all, but they were kind of entertaining. I think they would have added a lot more if the sound guys had known what to do with them, I look forward to seeing Menomena in a non-festival setting at some point. Jessica was really excited about them even though she had only heard one song before. This kind of surprised me because I didn’t really think she would like them, but apparently it is actually physically impossible to not like Menomena








Other people I saw but the pictures didn’t turn out:


Tiny Vipers: They were TERRIBLE. They didn’t talk at all, they played like 5 songs in an hour set all of which were 3+ minutes of the same line repeated over and over, and the lead singer seemed angry and hostile toward the crowd. As Jessica said when we were walking out, “I think I may have just meditated for an hour.”


Devotchka: They were AWESOME. Their violin/accordion player was insanely amazing, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone play accordion so fast. Their drummer was also really good, and their bass player doubled on sousaphone (essentially the same thing as a tuba). Throughout the show the lead singer was waving his arms around in front of this thing that looked like an old-timey radio and it took me a while to realize that it was a theremin. I can’t possibly think of a weirder combination of instruments, but when put together they make for a really engaging and unique sound.



The Apples in Stereo

They were kind of disappointing, but I can’t really explain why. I wanted to like them and care about their set, but I really didn’t. For some reason on Sunday the Broad Street stage, where they performed was overwhelmingly loud, so that may have contributed to it. I was also a bit confused as to why random keyboard guy #1 was the only one dressed up like a member of Of Montreal. On the plus side, I found myself in a picture of this set on Pitchfork, so that was exciting.





Ian Ball


You may recognize him from Gomez. I caught the end of his set because I was trying to get a good spot for Andrew Bird. He was alright, your basic generic indie blah-ness. I felt kind of sorry for him because there wasn’t really anyone there for him, only people waiting for Andrew Bird. He was very good at banter though and he definitely wins best quote of Bumbershoot with, “so who wants to hear a song about premature ejaculation?”


Ian Ball2


Andrew Bird

Hands down the best set of Bumbershoot, but that was to be expected. I’ve seen him 3 times in less than a year and I would still shell out obscene amounts of money to see him again. Sometimes I wonder if I really want to spend the rest of my life working in the music industry as is my plan now, and Andrew Bird is the person who convinces me that yes, yes I do want to do this thing that everyone I know thinks is insane and unfeasible because people like him exist and the world needs to know about them. That would probably be really creepy to him, so, sorry Andrew Bird. Don’t worry, I’m not going to like, come to your house and steal your panties or anything I just think your pretty awesome. Aaanyway, his set was amazing as always, but not as good as when I saw him a few months ago in Portland. First off, there was a barrier so even though I was in the front row, I was still like 20 ft. away from the stage, and that’s just annoying. Also, he didn’t have his weird spinney phonograph things for some reason. These were extremely minor things though and this set was still better than 95% of concerts I’ve been to. Can we just talk about how brilliant the combination of Dr. Stringz and Fake Palindromes is? (dangling preposition alert!) Because seriously, it’s the second time I’ve heard him play it and both times it’s been the highlight of my life.


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(I’m kind of in love with Martin Dosh because he has an abnormally large head)


Andrew Bird 3


I was also randomly picked to be interviewed for the Seattle PI on this day mostly because I was by myself and eating really bad Phad Thai on the grass in front of the giant fountain. I got all flustered and just blathered on about Devotchka’s theremin and how awesome the Flatstock poster convention was, so they probably didn’t use it, but I haven’t been able to check because I don’t know where to get the PI.




I didn’t take any pictures Monday because I only really went to two things: Miranda July (no cameras allowed) and Ted Leo (too far away to take anything decent).


Miranda July was incredibly enchanting and all-around awesome. She talked about her Learning to Love You More project and then ran an auction of mundane objects collected from the audience before the show which included a coin purse and an exceedingly dull pair of scissors owned by this really awesome high-school-age girl who looked exactly like Myla Goldberg. With the money collected from the auction ($160) Miranda created a “grant” and asked us all to close our eyes and then told us that whomever felt that they would significantly benefit from receiving $160 to raise their hand. Then she walked into the audience and handed it to someone anonymously. If you have no idea who the hell I’m talking about you need to go rent You and Me and Everyone We Know RIGHT NOW and watch it.


I only caught about half an hour of Ted Leo because he overlapped with Miranda July, but the little bit I saw was amazing. He had so much energy on stage and he was really feeding off the energy of the crowd. He declared it “funnest show in a long while” and came out to do a solo encore after they had already turned on the “show’s over, nothing to see here, move along” music. I am definitely filing him away in my “people I want to see” list for future reference. He was the perfect ender because as my companion for that day said, “I didn’t have to pretend to like him.”


I also saw maybe a third of Siberian because we had nothing else to do and they were the only act we had heard of besides Viva Voce who we had both previously seen and were not especially impressed with. They were pretty boring, they were trying hard to “rock” but it seemed so forced and fake. The lighting in Sky Church was pretty awesome though, and it was inside which=air conditioning so it wasn’t all bad.


So, all in all, a good Bumbershoot experience. The lineup was better last year, but I can’t complain, because any weekend spent entirely on going to shows is a weekend well spent.