Author: angrytruffle

Zola Jesus delivers “Dangerous Days”

Well look who popped up on Vogue.com today…must be because the video looks so incredible and the new single…shimmering.  Plus there’s that spooky goat-wool cape worn previously by NYC performance artist Marina Abramovic.

In describing her to a friend via text I simply said, “She’s so fashiony.”

Enjoy!  And here’s a snippet from my interview with Nika last year

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Lady Gaga’s Artpop Ball @ Key Arena, Seattle (August 8, 2014)

Lady Gaga performs onstage during her "artRave: The Artpop Ball" at Consol Energy Center on May 8, 2014 in Pittsburgh City.  (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

Lady Gaga performs onstage during her “artRave: The Artpop Ball” at Consol Energy Center on May 8, 2014 in Pittsburgh City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

~ Written by Jessica Price. This review originally appeared in Seattle Gay News (August 15, 2014)

It’s been a tough year and a half for Lady Gaga. Her album Artpop was a disappointment to all but the most diehard fans when it was released in late 2013, followed by weird antics that somehow weren’t as charming as those we’d come to expect from the meat-dress wearing heroine of days gone by (neon vomit performance art at SXSW, anyone?). Then there was the cancellation of Gaga’s May 28 concert at Key Arena due to a severe case of bronchitis just hours before show time.

But fans of Lady Gaga weren’t disappointed by the spectacle that is “ArtRave: The Artpop Ball” when it descended on Key Arena Friday night. The diminutive but larger-than-life singer gave it all she’s got and has clearly bounced back from her first major career misstep, as well as the hip surgery that caused her to cancel all remaining dates of the acclaimed “Born This Way Ball” in early 2013. The “Artpop Ball” attempted to close that gap and reconnect where she left off, while trumpeting new material and Gaga’s current pop-as-performance-art philosophy.

The Key Arena show consisted mostly of material from Artpop’s better moments (“ARTPOP” and “G.U.Y.” kicked things off), with a heavy sprinkling of older Gaga classics. She looked strong and healthy – few can stomp in mile-high stilettos the way that Stefani Germanotta can – and her voice sounded as full as ever. Gaga knows how to make an entrance: the translucent stage and sprawling catwalks filled with smoke and a fleet of backup dancers while Gaga materialized in shimmering gold wings, a blue mirror ball attached to her bodice.

“Donatella” ended the first segment, with the star reappearing for “Venus” in her highest bouffant wig and seashell bikini. Giant inflatable flowers popped up through the catwalks as backup dancers dashed around in pastel sea-monkey-esque costumes and headpieces. Gaga unleashed full voice for “MANiCURE”, proving that though she’s famous for fashion-centric antics, she’s severely underrated as a vocalist. At several points throughout the evening Gaga called out critics that accuse her of lip-synching, joking even as she played piano that it really wasn’t her (“There’s a man playing this backstage for me right now,” she deadpanned).

(Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

(Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

The next mini-set included a Fame Monster suite of songs. “Just Dance”, “Poker Face”, and “Telephone” ushered in another costume change to wild cheering from the audience. Gaga the scruffy club kid singing about unrequited (slightly psychotic) love while dreaming of being famous feels more relatable than Gaga singing about actually being famous. Therefore, this portion of the set was the most fun. An interlude of “Partynauseous” followed; not one of her best, but amidst the thundering bass Gaga exited and reappeared in a bouncy, cartoonish octopus tentacle dress for “Paparazzi” and “Do What U Want”.

(Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

(Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

(Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

(Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

Taking a seat at her crystal-encased piano, Gaga took a moment to point out her father, Joe Germanotta, in the pit and asked the crowd to join her in singing happy birthday to him. She dedicated “Dope” to him and moved on to a heartfelt, slowed-down “Born This Way” from the small catwalk stage. She apologized multiple times for canceling the previous Seattle date, assuring fans that she didn’t want to deliver any less than her best and wanted to make it up to them. After the brief piano segment, she sang a portion of “The Edge of Glory” followed by “Judas”, featuring some of the original choreography from the video. Fans began to throw piles of gifts and letters onstage and Gaga (as she does at every show) took a moment to read a few aloud, inviting several teenagers to join her backstage after the show for sharing their deeply personal letters.

(Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

(Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

Lady Gaga  "artRave: The Artpop Ball" Tour - Pittsburgh

“Aura”, “Sexxx Dreams”, and “Alejandro” featured another costume change and a final blowout of “Bad Romance”, “Applause” and “Swine” (complete with sequined pig mask). Though the new material is lackluster, the show delivered; ending on a high with a piano-laced encore of “Gypsy”. If fans were disappointed with the new material, they didn’t show it – even the farthest arena sections were mostly on their feet. Gaga is at her best when her voice and talent cut through the bluster, and there was enough of that to satisfy. Given time to consider her next moves, the industrious 28 year old will undoubtedly overcome any recent career missteps and surprise us all with future albums that stand to be the best of her career.

(Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

(Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

Lady Gaga  "artRave: The Artpop Ball" Tour - Pittsburgh

Beyoncé and Jay Z: On the Run Tour @ Safeco Field, Seattle (July 30, 2014)

SEATTLE, WA - JULY 30: Beyonce and JAY Z perform on the On The Run Tour at Safeco Field on Wednesday, July 30, 2014, in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Mason Poole/Parkwood Entertainment/PictureGroup).

SEATTLE, WA – JULY 30: Beyonce and JAY Z perform on the On The Run Tour at Safeco Field on Wednesday, July 30, 2014, in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Mason Poole/Parkwood Entertainment/PictureGroup).

~ Written by Jessica Price. This review originally appeared in Seattle Gay News (August 1, 2014)

Beyoncé and Jay Z’s On the Run Tour touched down at Seattle’s Safeco Field Wednesday night, marking not only the stadium’s second show ever (Paul McCartney was the first) but quite possibly the most spectacular – and loudest – concert to be hosted there for years to come. A constant swirl of rumors and speculation surround pop music’s most famous power couple: but Mr. and Mrs. Carter are doing just fine, thank you. Individually they are two of the world’s most successful entertainers, boasting decades in the business between them. Sharing a stage on Wednesday night the Carters proved that when it comes to putting on a show, together they are untouchable.

The couple appeared just after 9pm, skipping the opener and cutting right to the chase. “The chase” was a recurring theme throughout the evening, kicking off with “03 Bonnie & Clyde” and a larger than life visual montage of heists, shoot-outs, and other cinematic postcards from the nomadic and preternaturally glamorous life of the country’s most wanted criminals. It was hard to miss the connection to real life (in fact the words “This Is Real Life” flashed on screen pre-show), as it’s common knowledge that the couple is mercilessly hounded by media and critics at every turn. But let’s face it: Bey and Jay wrapped in each others’ arms, with those beautiful doe eyes peering at you from a ski mask? Adorable. The theme works on all counts.

From floor level the excitement generated by both the couples’ entrance and the chest-thumping bass was deafening, as Jay Z strode around the stage in top form, dressed in his best black sunglasses, gold chains, black jacket, and a cool (and presumable expensive) black and white star-spangled tshirt. Beyoncé darted and danced around him in the tour’s emblematic mesh and leather bodysuit and mask. “Show Me What You Got”, “Upgrade U”, and “Crazy In Love” shook the stadium with sheer volume and intensity. The J + B sonic assault was off and running, a tightly constructed string of medley-like, almost whole songs that mixed seamlessly one into another. Those on the floor, for one thing, stayed on their feet for the entire performance.

SEATTLE, WA - JULY 30 (Photo by Mason Poole/Parkwood Entertainment/PictureGroup).

SEATTLE, WA – JULY 30 (Photo by Mason Poole/Parkwood Entertainment/PictureGroup).

“N***as in Paris” and “Tom Ford” allowed one of the evening’s dozen or so costume and makeup changes for Beyoncé, who heroically emerged every couple of Jay Z songs looking fresh and beautiful in a new ensemble along with her impressive gang of backing dancers. Many of Beyoncé’s hits were cleverly reworked for the tour, “Run the World”, “Ring the Alarm”, and “Diva” among them, all keeping the energy as high as Beyoncé’s dancing heels (of which there were many throughout the evening). The mega-talented duo continuously switched off on vocals with never a pause or dull moment. Jay Z also popped in and out for quick changes when B took the mic, reappearing in various combinations of leather vests, jackets, and tasteful t-shirts.

“Big Pimpin” featured cleverly manipulated footage of a jazz age club in which what appeared to be Josephine Baker and other dancehall figures gyrated, momentarily giving the illusion that the on stage Jay Z was simultaneously part of the action yet also a character in the background, smoking his trademark cigars in the black and white party scene. “Ghost/Haunted” and Jay Z’s Frank Ocean & Kanye West collaboration “No Church In the Wild” flashed more phenomenal visuals; clearly the Carters spared no expense in the realm of artistic vision or costume changes.

The halfway mark of the show was, unbelievably, about 22 songs in (the set list included 44 songs in all) with “Drunk In Love”, “Why Don’t You Love Me”, “Holy Grail”, “Beach Is Better” and of course, “99 Problems”. That song cleverly tied in to “If I Were a Boy”, Beyoncé driving the point home in a sexy, tomboyish soft leather romper. “Resentment” was the moment many were waiting for, Beyoncé delivering her infamous and confessional “12 years” lyric change from the catwalk. Perception is subjective, but it seemed in studying Beyoncé’s face (on the giant video screens at least), that she appeared slightly more guarded during the infidelity-themed song. There was a long, long pause…and then it was over. Jay Z rejoined his wife onstage, and she called out something about love and notably, forgiveness. Then the show moved on to “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” and still more high points with “Single Ladies”, “Hard Knock Life”, and an amazing “Pretty Hurts” (amusingly the backup dancers illustrated this song by balancing books on their black-bobbed heads).

The non-stop spectacle wrapped up with a cover of “Forever Young”. Jay Z took Beyoncé’s hand and stood beside her as she mixed in “Halo”. Home videos of an intimate Carter family life played during the emotional song: the couples’ daughter Blue Ivy playing with her parents, footage of their wedding ceremony, Beyoncé’s pregnancy, and briefly, the baby in the hospital. Images of their travels and adventures gave a brief but intimate look into the life of a couple deeply in love, regardless of what may or may not have happened since. “Lift Off” was the outro, and then they were gone, leaving a stadium of blown away audience members behind them.

All mega-star egos aside, On the Run delivered a world-class show with energy, polish and true grit that no one besides Madonna has been able to deliver in such massive scope.  Beyoncé and Jay Z have more than earned their place as pop royalty, not to mention very likely setting a record for the number two top grossing tour of all time (second only to U2’s 360 Tour). If you missed it, take heart: On the Run is set to broadcast in its entirety on September 20 on HBO.

SEATTLE, WA - JULY 30: JAY Z performs on the On The Run Tour at Safeco Field on Wednesday, July 30, 2014, in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Mason Poole/Parkwood Entertainment/PictureGroup).

SEATTLE, WA – JULY 30  (Photo by Mason Poole/Parkwood Entertainment/PictureGroup).

SEATTLE, WA - JULY 30: Beyonce performs on the On The Run Tour at Safeco Field on Wednesday, July 30, 2014, in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Mason Poole/Parkwood Entertainment/PictureGroup).

SEATTLE, WA – JULY 30 (Photo by Mason Poole/Parkwood Entertainment/PictureGroup)

SEATTLE, WA - JULY 30: Beyonce performs on the On The Run Tour at Safeco Field on Wednesday, July 30, 2014, in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Mason Poole/Parkwood Entertainment/PictureGroup).

SEATTLE, WA – JULY 30 (Photo by Mason Poole/Parkwood Entertainment/PictureGroup).

Battleme’s Matt Drenik on touring, Sons of Anarchy, and keeping an open mind.

Matt Drenik (Photo by Rebecca Steele)

Matt Drenik (Photo by Rebecca Steele)

If you didn’t catch Battleme’s electrifying set opening for The Toadies and Supersuckers in March at El Corazon (which many didn’t, due to long lines and an early start time), Thursday night you can make up for lost time. After a two week break from trekking across the country, Battleme kicks off a quick headlining West Coast run here in Seattle – refreshed, re-energized and ready to rock. Then they’re off again to the East Coast for a month of dates with Veruca Salt (yep, that Veruca Salt) throughout July. No sleep till Brooklyn, indeed.

The excellent Future Runs Magnetic, released March 11 on El Camino Records, has been steadily gaining attention, as have the songs Battleme’s Matt Drenik contributed to cable network FX’s biker drama series, Sons of Anarchy. (Esquire recently chose “Lights” for Best New Songs of the Week; Drenik was also featured in a recent issue of Magnet and penned an insightful point-of-view guest column there called “From the Desk of Battleme’s Matt Drenik”).

In a very brief moment of downtime back home in Portland, Drenik took a moment to chat about the highs and lows of incessant touring, how he got mixed up with a gang of outlaw bikers, and running into NBA stars on the road…but before we get to that, be warned: it won’t be long before catching Battleme in an intimate venue just isn’t in the cards anymore. With Future Runs Magnetic, they’re poised to make a great leap forward. Tickets for the June 5 Barboza show can be purchased HERE.

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Jessica P: Battleme’s done a couple legs on tour with The Toadies and Supersuckers recently, which kicked off around the time that Future Runs Magnetic was released, if I’m not mistaken. How’s it been crossing the country with all those guys this spring? Is this one of the most extensive tours you’ve been on with Battleme (or Lions, before that?)

Matt Drenik: It’s been so much fun and at the same time completely exhausting. I think this is the longest US stretch I’ve been on in quite some time. Lions toured pretty extensively throughout the US and there was a point where it felt nonstop, but that was years ago. So to get back in the van with 4 other people and zigzag across the country on a big rock tour took some getting used to. It’s tough chasing a bus, and really that’s what you’re doing when you’re the opening band. If there’s a 9 hour stretch between shows, the headliner in the bus leaves after the show and drives through the night, while we get a hotel room and wake up early and try to hustle just to make load in. But, let’s be honest. I’m out here playing music for a living. There is no better job in the world. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

JP: Going on the road requires a certain mindset and tenacity, especially after you’ve really roughed it a couple of times. Do you find it gets a little bit easier to get into “road dog” mode after you’ve done it a few times? Conditions improving and all that, as you move through your career? Hanging with Charles Barkley along the way?

Matt: Yeah, I think it gets easier the older you get because you learn what not to do on the road. You have to pace yourself. A lot of people attending these shows don’t really understand the reality of what we’re going through. I can’t tell you how many times someone came up to me asking about “our bus” and if we’re staying at the nicest hotel in town, etc. Then they go and buy you a shot. And I just want to tell them, “don’t buy me a shot. I’ve got plenty of booze backstage. But a record. I need that to survive.” Of course I’m in a much better position than I was 10 years ago. Back then I just wanted to get out and play and I didn’t care about getting paid or how many people were in the crowd. It was much more idealistic back then. Now it’s a job. And you learn what to do and not to do while doing that job. And one thing I can say is you always have to take advantage of the things around you when you’re on the road. For instance, Atlanta. We’re playing right down the street from the Clermont Lounge. Ever heard of it? If not, look it up. It’s legendary, a trashy strip club that feels nothing like a normal strip club. So of course we have to go there after the show. And of course I end up bellying up next to Charles Barkley who just happened to stroll in the bar. And of course I played the stripper’s jukebox that says “only dancers can touch this. NO ONE ELSE.” And of course I almost got thrown out. I love nights like that.

JP: Many people came to be acquainted with Battleme and Lions through Sons of Anarchy. How did that multi-song contribution and The Forest Rangers collaborations come about? It sounds like it not only provided some great exposure, but produced some musical connections you’ll probably have for years to come…and working with Katey Sagal must be a blast…

Matt: A guy named Ward Hake, who happened to be a musical supervisor at 20th Century Fox, came to a Lions show during SXSW. It was this sweaty, punk rock floor show we did every year at a small dive off South Congress called Trophy’s. He saw us and thought we’d be a good musical companion for a new show he had coming out on FX. “It’s about bikers and the culture around them.” So he sent us the pilot episode and we watched it and wrote some tunes for it. I had no idea the show would become such a hit. So as the seasons went on, they just kept calling me to do stuff. First it was with Lions and then solo attempts. Bob Thiele, SOA music supervisor, became a good friend of mine in the process and we started working on songs together that would eventually become Battleme w/ Forest Rangers songs. And now I’m in the process of working up new material with them for a record they have coming out. Honestly, I think I was just in the right place at the right time. Katey rules! I love working with her.

JP: The first Battleme EP and the debut album were written, played, recorded, and produced mostly by you. Not having a pre-conceived structure or parameters can be freeing artistically, especially when you’re potentially finding a whole new audience out there in the dark. At what point did you decide after holing up for a while on your own that you wanted to have a full band again? (You’ve assembled a top notch one…you guys are super-charged on stage together…)

Matt: Well, the first EP was thrown together with stuff I was doing in my apartment at the time. SOA called me up after “Burn This Town” was released and thought that this thing might have some legs and I might want to consider putting some other material up. Hence, the Big Score EP. Then I moved to Portland and holed up in a basement to write the first record. I still live in the same house, and the basement is much more fleshed out with a ton of gear, but there was something really pure about that first LP I did when I barely had anything. After the record came out, I was hesitant on touring because I got so burned out in Lions. Eventually though I had to go out and play some shows, so when I put together a live band, the songs started to take on more of an organic feel. I was into the idea of opening the structures up and extending the jams live. I don’t think there was actually a point when I decided to have a full band again. I think it just happened because my agent wanted me to tour. And I didn’t want to play live with a drum machine.

JP: Your music’s scope makes me think that you wear your heart on your sleeve, artistically speaking – meaning whether it’s twangy, psychedelic, or a funky keyboard groove, you can hear that you have a keen appreciation of all types of classics from different eras. There are multiple levels of influences churning around in there. In absorbing them, you’ve created something new & exciting all your own. Not an easy feat! What did you grow up listening to?

Matt: I was a little all over the place growing up. My dad was a big Temptations, Hank Ballard and the Midnighters fan. He still asks me to play Hank Ballard every time I see him. I guess I’m eventually going to fire out a version of “Work with Me Annie”. My older brothers (9 and 10 years older) were a bit on the opposite scope of each other. My one brother loved new wave, pop stuff that was happening in the 80’s (The The, New Order, Joe Jackson) and my other brother was more of a punk rock kid (Black Flag, White Zombie, Jesus Lizard). So a lot of these rumblings would creep into my 10 year old walls and soak up into my brain. My first CD was Nirvana’s Nevermind. My parents got it for me for Xmas. It was a big deal to me. They also got me a Bangles CD as well. But I loved Soundgarden, Janes, Nirvana, Dinosaur Jr., Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins. That was the stuff that was happening when I was a kid. And then I found Zeppelin, The Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd in junior high and high school. And then hip hop like Bone Thugs and Easy E. I was into it all. I really hated the idea of clichés and allegiances. I loved the idea of loving the Grateful Dead and Bone Thugs. I loved the idea of Bob Dylan vs. Jane’s Addiction. It was all there for the taking.

JP: So you’re from Cincinnati originally? Then Austin, and now Portland? Austin and Portland are a bit similar, don’t you think?

Matt: They have similar mindsets. I think Austin is a bit more set up for disaster than Portland. You have to understand, Austin is still in Texas. And there’s this mindset in Texas that business is good, taxes are bad, guns are good, everything should be big and new, business is everything. So they give lots of benefits to big corporations going down there and crushing out the old with everything new. There are so many people moving there for different reasons that it feels like a different city every time I go back. And there’s not really any public transportation so they just have lots of new people with cars and traffic. Portland, like Seattle, is a bit on its own island. It has the ability to weed people out because of the weather. People look at Austin and go, “yeah, it’s sunny like California. Let’s go!” But you really have to commit to the rain to survive in the Pacific Northwest. And there’s something about that that I love. But don’t get me wrong. These are the two best cities in the country. I love both of them. I’m just happy about being in Portland now. It’s way better than Cincinnati.

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Chelsea Wolfe: shedding some layers with EELS.

Chelsea Wolfe (Photo by Kristin Cofer)

Chelsea Wolfe (Photo by Kristin Cofer)

Last fall, I had the extreme pleasure of chatting with the enchanting Chelsea Wolfe while she was on the road in support of Pain is Beauty. Though her music  – not unpleasantly – sounds like the sonic equivalent to turning blind corners (running the spectrum from hushed and ethereal to full on black metal), there’s a fragile, dreamlike quality underlining each album.  It’s just enough to make you listen closer and wonder about the person beneath.

Finally, Chelsea is coming around on tour again. Since early May she’s been on a month-long acoustic tour, complete with strings, opening for EELS. This marks the first time Chelsea has done an acoustic tour since 2013’s Pain Is Beauty and should reveal a side of her we didn’t get to see when she was last in Seattle over at Barboza.

Most recently, Chelsea and director Mark Pellington have collaborated on a long-format film called Lone. The film, much like Pain Is Beauty, is awash in themes of “nature, sexuality, memory, mortality, forgiveness, love, innocence, fragility, violence and beauty,” according to Pellington (the “Feral Love” video is excerpted from the film). Lone is available for purchase on a quite handsome custom-designed USB key; it’s also available on iTunes and other streaming formats. Trailers for the film can be viewed here and here.

Catch Chelsea Wolfe opening for EELS Saturday, June 7 at The Moore. Go early…and get your tickets HERE. Until then, here’s an excerpt from my email chat with Chelsea last fall:

Jessica Price: I’ve been spending quite a bit of time with all your records over the last few weeks to get ready for your Seattle show…congrats on the new record- it’s lovely. I find Pain Is Beauty the most soothing of all your releases.  It’s kind of distilled a lot of elements from your previous albums in an interesting and very focused way.  Do you feel you have more freedom than some artists to follow your creative muse where it leads you, stylistically?

Chelsea Wolfe: It’s a choice that I made to not limit myself or box myself in. When I started writing electronic songs with my bandmate Ben Chisholm about 2-3 years ago, I originally felt that we should do a side project with the songs, but over time I realized that this project is a flexible organism and can be or should be whatever it needs to be at any given time.. I’ve always liked to experiment with different styles of music and different ways of using my voice. I’m glad you find the album soothing and enjoy it – thank you.

JP: As I’ve been listening to your albums in succession I’ve been thinking a lot about how artists evolve, both personally and professionally over time.  When you look back on the music you’ve made so far, how do you think you’ve evolved?

CW: One of the main things I can see is that I’ve learned to edit myself. In the past I would release a song as soon as I finished recording the first demo of it, but now I prefer to step back from new songs for a bit, then add or take something away from them. Often the songs reveal what they mean only after listening a few times, so basically nowadays I like to understand the songs before I release them!

JP: There’s a playlist you created on Spotify which contained great classic country as well as tracks from legendary Russian singer-songwriter Vladimir Vysotsky and current German artist Sibylle Baier (who sounds remarkably like a female Leonard Cohen to me- I almost wish I could hear them duet, or get into a lover’s quarrel, if that were possible).  In a sense, your music – although arranged much differently – shares characteristics with these classics. Many of these artists were social outlaws or left of center individuals that never quite fit with the status quo, nor did they want to.  When you strip your music down (which you did beautifully on the acoustic Unknown Rooms album), your songs contain that same essence: a little bit of darkness, a little bit of the outsider, with simplicity at the core.   What appeals to you most in artists that you admire?

CW: Honesty is what drew me to music and it remains the quality that stands out in artists that I admire. When I made that playlist I was just grouping together some of my favorite voices, but I think you’re right about what you said, that they’re all a bit left of center or a bit outlaw. I guess I forgot to put Nick Cave on this playlist; he’s one of the most inspiring artists in this regard.  I’ve always been a bit of an outcast myself, and maybe I’m attracted to other misfits, loners and troubled souls, or just those that don’t give a fuck about taking the standard path.

JP:  Being an artist- especially a female one- can be a strange balancing act it seems.  It’s an extrovert-centric career often approached by introverted people.  Do you feel at odds with being out there for public consumption at times?

CW: Very much, yes. I’ve loved writing and recording music since I was a little girl, but I never imagined that I would be a musician for my career because I never could see myself playing in front of people. As a slightly hermetic person it makes my skin crawl at times thinking about performing in front of an group of people. But it’s something I’ve had to accept and overcome over the years because I want to take my job seriously and to be able to share my music in that way. There are nights when everything feels right and I truly don’t mind being onstage and it’s a great thing to experience those songs and moods and emotions with the audience. A lot of it really has to the with the audience actually, and I feel really lucky to have some amazing people who come to my shows and I can really feel their energy and goodness and it helps me get through the set.

JP:  You’ve performed extensively both in the US and abroad.  What has been the biggest revelation to you about traveling and performing for such diverse audiences around the world?

CW: One of the simplest revelations is that we need to take more days off while on tour. When you expend that much mental and sometimes physical energy every night and then barely sleep and then drive for 7-12 hours in an uncomfortable van the following day you start to unravel pretty quickly. Having a day here and there to just rest or wander around a new city is a holy miracle when you’re on tour. It’s also important because if you don’t get enough rest you can’t be your best onstage, which is the whole reason you’re there in that new city!

JP:  You have a connection to a Seattle based artist-  King Dude (TJ Cowgill of Book of Black Earth), with whom you recorded an EP “Sings Songs Together”.  How did that come about?

CW: TJ Cowgill is a great man, and my true brother. I was fortunate to have met him when we played together for my album release of “The Grime and the Glow” a few years back. We became friends and recorded some songs together when he was in LA. It took a long time for those first two songs to get released but in the meantime we did a tour together. We recently recorded a couple more songs in Seattle actually. He’s one of the only people outside of my own band members that I feel comfortable writing with. Also he has excellent taste so if I ever need a tie-breaking opinion on artwork or something I ask him and he blesses me with his advice.

******

Chelsea Wolfe (Photo by Johanna Torell)

Chelsea Wolfe (Photo by Johanna Torell)

Bryan Ferry @ McCaw Hall, Seattle (April 7, 2014)

Bryan Ferry (Photo by Adam Whitehead, courtesy of Press Here)

Bryan Ferry (Photo by Adam Whitehead, courtesy of Press Here)

~ Written by Jessica Price

Of all the days for me not to be aimlessly wandering Pike Place Market buying some fruit for the office pantry…yes, that would be the day Bryan Ferry (of Roxy Music and duh, Bryan Ferry) plus members of his mighty eight-piece band were there,  posing with balloon-animal-schlepping clowns and laughing at the Showgirls sign. Why did I miss this? How could I miss this?

I think if I’d been on my usual break, shoveling locally made Greek yogurt in my mouth, and come across this…

From Bryan Ferry Official on Facebook...I kid you not.

From Bryan Ferry Official on Facebook…I kid you not.

…I would have most certainly choked to death.  Which might’ve got him to notice me at least.  What a dashing jacket, what a soft-looking scarf! Oh Bryan, you are the suavest of the suave, second only perhaps to Bowie even now.

Here's the sign...

Here’s the sign from Bryan Ferry Official’s Facebook page…

And here they are across the street laughing at it, presumably.  The fact that this occurred in front of one of my favorite shops- The Crumpet Shop- is of particular note.

And here they are across the street laughing at it, presumably. The fact that this occurred in front of one of my favorite shops- The Crumpet Shop- is of particular note.

Without further ado, here’s my review of the show (which printed in Seattle Gay News on Friday, April 11…)

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Bryan Ferry, icon of the seminal 70s glam rock band Roxy Music and later, the reinvented debonair solo artist that delivered hits “Slave to Love” and “Let’s Stick Together” appeared at a nearly sold out McCaw Hall Monday night. The Can’t Let Go tour was Bryan Ferry’s first North American tour in three years and kicked off just two nights prior in Vancouver. It wasn’t clear in the months leading up to the show whether the songs would be delivered in the style of the jazz age, as he’s done most recently with The Bryan Ferry Orchestra (“Love Is the Drug” was featured on The Great Gatsby Soundtrack), but as it turned out the tour featured true-blue renditions of an incredible selection of both Roxy Music and solo classics, rarities, and fan favorites (with a few regrettable omissions of course, but you can’t have it all).

The McCaw Hall was well suited to Ferry’s sophisticated musicianship and memorable croon, though he first appeared rather modestly at left-center stage behind his keyboard for “Re-Make/Re-Model” from Roxy Music’s 1972 debut. At 68, Ferry’s vocals are as smooth as ever, and what followed felt like an appropriately guided cruise through some of his best. Lanky and trim in an embellished floral smoking jacket, Bryan Ferry still exudes understated cool, where contemporaries like Sting and Rod Stewart seem to have long ago lost what edge they momentarily possessed.

“Kiss and Tell”, “Slave to Love”, and “Ladytron” completed the shimmering opening suite of songs, followed by the angular “Same Old Blues” and “If There Is Something”. Strangely, “More Than This” was beautifully stripped down but fleeting; started for barely a moment before Ferry went right into the equally classic “Avalon”. (Both songs deserved equal attention, especially since other gems like “Mother of Pearl” were sorely missed). The set went a bit downtempo for a stretch, veering into some solos and lengthy interludes that showed off the instrumentation well, but were a little hard for the audience to remain invested in. “Love Is the Drug”, “Virginia Plain”, and “Editions of You” brought things back into focus before the band stretched out once again with a one song encore of “Running Wild.”

Bryan Ferry and his talented eight piece band (including phenomenal drummer Charisse Osei, saxophonist Jorja Chalmers and spirited, shimmying backup singers Bobbie Gordon and Jodie Scantelbury) delivered some magical moments and fulfilled many lifelong dreams by stopping for an intimate evening at McCaw Hall. If the set was a bit indulgent and soft in places, it wasn’t exactly a surprise – Bryan Ferry has been nothing if not a smooth operator since the beginning, and will likely keep it up long after the rest have hung up their microphones and lost their hearing. With new material in the works inspired by last year’s acclaimed release The Jazz Age and remixes and covers of Roxy Music finding new audiences, it’s likely he’ll continue to be the king of suave for many years to come.

Courtesy of Press Here

Bryan Ferry and the fanciest of coats. (Photo courtesy of Press Here)

 

Kings of Leon @ Key Arena, Seattle (March 28, 2014)

Kings of Leon at Key Arena (Photos by Matthew Lamb, courtesy of Livenation)

Kings of Leon at Key Arena (Photos by Matthew Lamb, courtesy of Livenation)

~ Written by Jessica Price. This review originally appeared in Seattle Gay News (April 4, 2014)

Having never seen Kings of Leon live before, my first impression from crossing paths with them at Key Arena on the final leg of the “Mechanical Bull” tour was that their big, mean Southern rock sound had somehow miraculously made the jump from rock clubs and bar rooms to mainstream arena tours and that maybe, just maybe, they’d be happier back in the clubs.

It’s not easy for any band to connect with an audience in a huge, impersonal chasm of a room like Key Arena. Their music was effortlessly, if not perfectly played, so it wasn’t as if those in attendance didn’t get their money’s worth. The clean-cut brothers (and one cousin) from Nashville delivered 26 songs over roughly two hours; a long stretch for any musicians, let alone a group of guys playing nearly every night since the beginning of February and now firmly entrenched in the last gasp of a grueling tour. Coupled with what one would have to assume are weird, fluorescent, arena-appropriate backstages, cramped buses, and that elephant in the room which is the space between band and audience, it’s no wonder Kings of Leon looked a little worn down. In fact, they didn’t really move much.

They did their jobs appreciatively and spot-on, regardless: the uber-polished sound of every song belied a band that’s honed their craft carefully over countless shows around the world. Some have done it practically since birth: at the time of their very first release in 2003, the youngest of the Followill brothers was only 16. Before that, it’s reported that the now full-grown men spent much of their early lives driving through the southern United States with their parents (their father was formerly a United Pentecostal Church preacher).

Kings of Leon at Key Arena (Photos by Matthew Lamb, courtesy of Livenation)

Kings of Leon at Key Arena (Photos by Matthew Lamb, courtesy of Livenation)

Perhaps from this unusually road-tested background, Kings of Leon have honed one critical skill: pacing. Aside from sheer professionalism, the ability to muster energy by increments throughout the night was most impressive. Starting out with “Charmer” and “Rock City” and on to “Temple”, they were restrained and a bit flat, but over the course of the set hit all the high points (“Family Tree”, “Back Down South”, “Wait For Me”). By the time they busted out “Supersoaker”, the time-release energy reserves started to appear and Kings of Leon let go as much as they could, bit by bit, until they drove the whole shebang home with a three-song encore including last hurrah “Sex On Fire”.

An audience may tire of standing for two solid hours, but Kings of Leon made it look like they could do it in their sleep. Which is perhaps exactly what they need before hitting the grueling festival circuit this summer – lots and lots of sleep.

Kings of Leon at Key Arena (Photos by Matthew Lamb, courtesy of Livenation)

Kings of Leon at Key Arena (Photos by Matthew Lamb, courtesy of Livenation)

A Q&A with emerging soul diva V. Contreras.

V. Contreras (Photo by Jason Ganwich)

V. Contreras (Photo by Jason Ganwich)

~ Written by Jessica Price. This review also appeared in Seattle Gay News (April 4, 2014)

Victoria Contreras (or V., as she’s commonly referred to) is emerging as Seattle’s answer to the most memorable alternative soul divas of recent memory: Amy Winehouse, Adele, Joss Stone. Although unlike at least one of these beloved ladies, there’s nothing tragic about V.; she’s got the strength and talent to go far. Since the success of Northwestern artists Brandi Carlile, Neko Case, Macklemore, and rising star Mary Lambert, there’s been a watchful eye turned to Northwestern talent, particularly its leading ladies. V.’s self-titled debut album will be released this month and she’ll headline the Triple Door’s opulent mainstage April 11. No small accomplishment for a new artist, but one that speaks volumes for the preliminary buzz on her inaugural album, produced and engineered by Martin Feveyear (Brandi Carlile, Common Market, Blue Scholars) and featuring string and horn arrangements by Andrew Joslyn (Macklemore, Mark Lanegan). V’s songs fall somewhere between elegant, modern torch songs and sizzling retro soul. Though there’s an obvious kinship with iconic influences Dusty Springfield, Linda Ronstadt, The Ronettes, and Patsy Cline, V.’s music is sophisticated and all her own. It’s positively addictive.

V. recently took time out to talk about the beginnings of her musical journey:

Jessica Price:
You’ve earned great advance buzz and have an upcoming cd release show this month. Have you felt a lot of momentum building since the release of your single and teaser EP?

V. Contreras: Yes, I have felt an enormous amount of support from friends, family and fans. This is partially due to the fact that I launched a Kickstarter campaign over two years ago to help fund a portion of the album and quite honestly, to help push me to get into the studio. When you have to be accountable to 100 people, it makes a huge difference.

Right after releasing the first single Lush, I had my first performance at The Triple Door and was so flattered by the reaction to the music. You never know how people will respond to music they have never heard and I teared up at least twice at that show due to the audience enthusiasm. Since releasing Lush as a single and then the EP Burn, I have felt a significant amount of momentum building and I’m thrilled with the new fan base I am starting to build. I feel very lucky.

Price: You are a classically trained vocalist and long-time jazz aficionado, which really comes out in your music. What did you grow up listening to? Have your tastes changed much?

V.: My parents are from a small town in Idaho that is 8 hours away and those round-trip adventures became my induction to music. My parents were not that interested in modern music at the time. They loved music from 50s – 70s. So, my sister and I sang, as loudly as we could, to artists like Linda Ronstadt, Patsy Cline, Heart, The Supremes, Sam Cooke and Dusty Springfield. I started singing songs from those artists on stage when I was 8 and at 12 years old I had an opportunity to be one of the featured singers fronting the Highline College 25-piece jazz band. I played with them for at least 4 years at clubs and recital halls and that was when I became obsessed with jazz – Sarah, Ella, Carmen, Aretha, Diane Schurr… I was in heaven immersing myself in their tones, inflections and eerie intervals. I also have a great appreciation for all of the extraordinary music being created today. I’m really a nut about lyrics and musically, I particularly like anything that sounds unique and hard to classify. For the past 6 months I’ve been listening to BANKS non-stop.

Price: What sort of female stars appeal to you, and why?

V.:
I have great respect for those who stay true to themselves as artists and human beings and who use their celebrity status in a positive way. (So, basically, if you have a sex tape on NetFlix, I’m not talking about you). One of my favorite autobiographies is Honky Tonk Angel: The Intimate Story of Patsy Cline. Patsy Cline was revered as a kind and smart woman, yet strong as nails and philanthropic to the core. I adore current stars like Adele, Jennifer Lawrence and P!nk. They seem to be strong and sexy yet they don’t take themselves too seriously and they all seem to possess a vulnerable side as well.

Price:
You’ve performed in public often (featured vocalist with Seattle Rock Orchestra, the Patsy Cline Sweet Dreams Tribute, etc) but it’s taken time to get comfortable with presenting original work. Did you feel the time was right to reveal something new to yourself and to listeners?

V.: Yes. I have been singing covers in front of audiences for a long time and have also been writing songs, in what feels like almost a hermit capacity for years. As for the songs that people have actually heard, prior this album, most were songs written with other people, with specific guidelines and structures in mind. I also spent a few years writing songs on my own with other recording artists in mind in hopes to pitch the tunes to them and get my fix of writing without having to put myself out there. In that capacity, you tend to write really generalized lyrics that anyone can relate to.

Eventually, over at least a three year period, I started writing a collection of songs as a way to work through some things I was going through. They were inspired at random times in random places and I felt liberated writing them, knowing no one would ever hear them. They felt like a secret pool of ridiculous, lustful, and sometimes very sad songs. Without boundaries or guidelines, the lack of rules became the foundation of the album. I eventually played one of the songs for a very close friend late at night and she connected to it more than any of those songs I had deliberately written with broad topics and strong hooks.

I guess that was the catalyst that inspired me to record these songs. They had served my purpose while writing them and maybe they could give some fire or solace to someone else by listening to them. Even if it makes me feel extremely vulnerable, touching even just one person’s life is a lot more useful than storing the Garageband files on my Mac.

*****

V. Contreras performs at The Triple Door April 11. Get tickets HERE.

Battleme @ El Corazon, Seattle (March 27, 2014)

Battleme_600pix

Ah, the exquisite pain of standing in an achingly slow-moving line in the rain, knowing that the band you really came to see is already on stage because you can hear them starting up, less than 50 feet away from you, through the decrepit walls of El Corazon. Battleme opened for The Supersuckers and The Toadies last night in Seattle – kind of an odd bill, but not so much when you consider all three are descendants of a sort of scrappy rock n’ roll outlaw prototype; although radically different in delivery there’s a similar intent (feel good, rock out, the end) and varying degrees of South/Southwestern state connections (Battleme’s Matt Drenik, a Portland-by-way-of-Austin transplant, was showing his colors in a faded Bocephus tshirt).

Battleme’s opening set was just what I’d hoped for: raw and crackling with pent-up energy, lots of spitting and wild-eyed looks flying around, the kind that make you feel like you might be in trouble if you’re not paying attention in the first couple rows and get some eye contact. (A frontman that puts the fear of god in you with some piercing eye contact is never a bad thing…unless you’re standing still). Battleme’s jangly but solid songs are built on that mysterious combination of elements that many aim for but few honestly do well: songs that can make your heart swell or tears spring up because they just sound so crucial somehow. It’s warm weather music, made to crank up in the summertime.

Having said that, Battleme’s second album – Future Runs Magnetic – just came out March 11 on El Camino Records. It’s probably the only record I’ve played and played again obsessively from the get-go since Prince started mysteriously dropping new music with 3rdEyeGirl on his website last year. It’s fucking fantastic, and I can’t put it down.

Looks like I’ll have a chance to make up for my lost 15 minutes of set time when Battleme returns to Seattle June 5 as they’ll be headlining over at Barboza. Get tickets HERE. They’re gonna go fast.

Have I mentioned it’s been a minute since I blew all my fun money a week before payday at the merch booth, stocking up on super-soft tshirts and vinyl?

I’d rather be listening to the Paradise Edition.

Somehow I find Lady Gaga easier to take watching this morning’s hour long keynote interview at SXSW by John Norris than I’ve found her in any other instance from 2013 until now. (And when I say ‘keynote’ I mean it loosely, as it used to be that SXSW keynotes were more about the state of the industry than about the artist personally…which this attempts to do, but…it’s really more about Gaga). Yes her Artpop album is dismal, yes her performance at SXSW wasn’t quite as artful and terrific as she seems to think that it was (it was actually awful), yes her mind wanders and are we seriously talking about Doritos??? But, then when I listen to her I think “ok, she’s not sooooo bad in person.” Maybe I’m actually the one that’s detached from reality.

*****

LANA MAY 27 2014(1)

In more flawless news, tickets came and tickets went for the WaMu Theater’s upcoming Lana Del Rey performance. In fact the entire North American tour is sold out, except Montreal (which goes on sale tomorrow). The cavernous WaMu Theater holds 3,500 to 7,200 depending on the configuration – in this case I’m sure it’s going to be stuffed to capacity or more – so a sell out in just over 24 hours speaks volumes.

Lana is coming. Look busy.