• Recent Shows

    4 Nov 2014, 7:08

    I've seen a lot of live shows this year. Some of the national acts I caught were Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Mark Lanegan, Boris and Wolves in the Throne Room. Mostly though I checked out local artists. I probably saw half the gigs my friends in anticulture played. Too bad they broke up. Fortunately a couple of them are also in Powerhitter which is still going strong. They are in the same vein as Melvins, Tool and Helmet. I don't think they have a last.fm page yet but you can find them here http://www.reverbnation.com/powerhitter if you're interested.
  • Crossover Thrash Show at El Corazón

    23 Ene 2014, 8:39

    Last Saturday I was at El Corazón in Seattle for a good old fashioned crossover thrash show. My friend Glenn and his band anticulture were the openers. It was their second gig since reforming and they put on a great show. Here is a clip from their set. If you look carefully you'll see me make an appearance in the pit.

    In no particular order, the rest of the supporting bands (all local) were Misuse of Power, Regional Faction, local legends The Accüsed and Toe Tag which is led by former Accüsed frontman Blaine Cook. Here's a clip from the Toe Tag set:

    Headliners for the evening were the mighty D.R.I. who really got the crowd going. They did a long set with lots of classics and were called back for two encores.

    The crowd was very diverse with a wide range of ages. At 58, I was probably one the oldest there but I did talk to one guy who was 55 which was really cool. I also got a lot of attention for my Discharge t-shirt. It was a great show and I had a lot of fun.

    Duane Harkness
  • Autismpalooza

    15 Ene 2014, 6:22

    Last Sunday I attended a charity concert called Autismpalooza at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue, WA. Proceeds from the show went to the Academy for Precision Learning which specializes in education for kids who are on the autism spectrum. The set was a mix of dance and music, with Xolie Morra and the Strange Kind as the headline act. Also on the bill were Jason Kertson and the Immortals, Emily Randolph and a number of local artists.

    I was really blown away by Xolie Morra. She has Aspergers Syndrome which is on the autism spectrum so the show was obviously meaningful to her. Before her set she spoke to the audience for a while, struggling through the occasional verbal and physical tic. She pointed out, however, that as soon as she picks up a guitar and starts to sing the tics go away. After a few minutes of technical difficulties with the equipment she and her band started up and the change was incredible. She is an amazing musician. Apparently she performed recently on Jimmy Kimmel so I hope that's the beginning of a great career.

    I did get one surprise. One of the performers who wasn't on the bill looked awfully familiar but I couldn't quite place him. Fortunately he later joined Xolie to play steel guitar and when she thanked him I realized it was a friend I hadn't seen in a few years - Drew da Man. I talked with him after the show and he told me he's got a new band called Pretend Sweethearts based out of Portland. Drew is a cool guy - he cares about people and is very talented. If you ever get a chance to see him or his band, do it.

    Duane Harkness
  • Dubspot - Pads & Rhythmic Theory class

    16 Ago 2012, 3:09

    A few months ago I signed up for the electronic Music Foundations program at Dubspot. It consists of a series of three online classes - Pads & Rhythmic Theory, Keys & Melodic Theory, and Electronic Music Appreciation. The classes are primarily streaming videos and homework (LOTS of homework) plus a few hours each week of group chat with the instructor and back/forth questions and answers via the class forum.

    I just finished the Pads & Rhythmic class. It was a lot of work but I also learned a lot, especially from the homework and feedback from our instructor Martin Perna, founder of the group Antibalas (among others). Martin is an awesome instructor and a really cool guy. His group just came out with a new album and will be performing here in Seattle later this year. I'll definitely attend.

    The focus of this first class was learning how to use Ableton Live (the DAW we use throughout the course), how to play pads (I used a KORG padKONTROL) and a lot of information on rhythmic theory, especially for dance oriented music. Given my minimal background in all of this it was like drinking from a fire hose. Probably less than half of what I learned stuck but that was still a lot.

    The biggest disappointment I had with the class was how quickly attendance dropped. We started with 20 students and by the end I think only 5 of us were still fully participating. I'm certain it was the heavy homework schedule that drove everyone away. I'm curious how many of those missing 15 will come back when the second class starts.

    Next up is Keys & Melodic Theory. I'll be using my Akai MPK25 for that. Class starts this weekend and runs for two months. I'll do another writeup when I'm done with it.

    Duane Harkness
    a.k.a ConsumerComrade
  • Gigantour

    25 Feb 2012, 22:28

    A few days ago I saw Megadeth, Motörhead, Volbeat and Lacuna Coil at the Showare Center in Kent. I primarily went to see rock icon Lemmy Kilmister. The other Gigantour bands were an added benefit.

    The opening act was Italian goth metal act Lacuna Coil. I have their Comalies and Karmacode albums, which are solid. Over the years I think they have evolved into more of an alternative metal / hard rock band than goth metal and this performance didn't change my opinion. I wasn't wowed, but on the plus side Cristina Scabbia's vocals and stage presence are top notch.

    Although I had never heard of the second act, Danish artists Volbeat, I was very impressed by their energy and the wide range of styles they played - metal, punk, rockabilly, thrash - they even covered a Johnny Cash song. The crowd responded well and I'll definitely check out more of their stuff. I do wish they'd played more than just the intro to Slayer's "Raining Blood" at the end of their set though.

    Next was Motörhead. They were everything I expected. The band was no-nonsense tight, Lemmy was cool, and they played requisite standards like "Ace of Spades" and "Bomber". I bought a "Motorhead - England" T-Shirt at their merch booth. All is now well in the universe.

    As the headliner, Megadeth came on last. I have their classics Countdown To Extinction and Peace Sells... But Who's Buying. The crowd was really into them and you could feel the energy in the general admission section where my friend Jhary and I were hanging out. The show was visually exciting with excellent use of lights and background video displaying typical Megadeth-style images. Dave Mustaine's playing was as flashy as ever. I was also very happy he kept his social and politcal commentary to just a single mention of the controversy he's stirred up. He has a right to his opinion, but his point of view is pretty much diametrically opposed to my own so I'm glad I didn't have to sit though any eye-rolling crap like suggesting African American women need to "put a plug in it" if they can't afford to take care of their children. Stick with the guitar Dave. It's bigger than your foot so you're less likely to stick it in your mouth.

    Duane Harkness (a.k.a ConsumerComrade)
  • Wolves in the Throne Room at the Crocodile

    19 Ene 2012, 6:14

    Last night I saw Wolves in the Throne Room at the Crocodile in Seattle. Due to the heavy snow warning I was pondering skipping the show but as 8:00pm rolled around the snow hadn't shown up yet. I was going to be taking my 4WD Dodge Dakota so I figured I might as well give it a shot. Good choice because the snow didn't actually show up until this morning.

    The opening act was black metal trio Druden. I thought they were very solid, especially the drumming. Next was local music collective Master Musicians of Bukkake. I'd heard a lot about them and I own their Totem One album but this was the first time I've seen them live. I was really impressed by the extreme diversity of styles they employ. I think there is some informal connection between them and Sun City Girls which isn't at all surprising. I'll be picking up another album or two by them eventually.

    The Wolves' set was awesome. I love how they were able to put me in a head nodding trance by the sheer force of their musical onslaught. Several times I caught myself just closing my eyes and swaying to the drone. But I guess there wasn't much to see anyway since the stage lighting was minimal - candles, a few lights around the drums and small blue lasers mounted on the Weaver brothers' guitars. After the show I picked up a Two Hunters shirt to add to my collection.

    The only minor issue for me was the crowd. They didn't seem to be as into it as much as I was. As I was waiting in line to pick up my ticket, a woman in front of me said to the guy she was with "I can't believe I have to pay fifteen bucks to see fucking Wolves in the Throne Room". I noticed quite a few people during the show had their smart phones out texting (it was hard to miss those bright white lights in the crowd). Also when the Wolves played their last song the crowd seemed more interested in getting out of the place quickly than showing their appreciation. Oh well. As I said - minor issue. Overall it was a great experience.

    Duane Harkness
  • Experimenting with Ableton

    26 Nov 2011, 8:39

    Just before my divorce (about 5 years ago) I was starting to get interested in home music recording/composing. Unfortunately some of the gear I'd started to accumulate went with my ex when we split so my recording/composing adventure never really took off.

    I've decided to give it another go. I still have a pair of Behringer Truth B2031 near-field speakers that were sitting in storage, so for my birthday I bought a Focusrite 2i2 external audio interface. It's low latency, connects to my PC via USB 2.0 and has two inputs and two outputs so now I can connect up the near-field speakers plus get input from two external sources. I'll pick up a mic soon, probably a Shure SM57

    The audio interface came with a copy of Ableton Lite. I've been looking at Ableton Live for a while and figured this would be a good opportunity to give it a whirl. Ableton has a pre-Christmas 25% off sale going right now so if I decide to upgrade from Lite to a full version of Live it won't be as painful.

    As a learning experiment, I'm putting together a simple techno track. I don't know much about composing so I'm using "The Dance Music Manual" by Rick Snoman as a reference. So far it's been fun.

    Duane Harkness
  • Agalloch at El Corazon

    10 Oct 2011, 5:38

    Last night I saw Agalloch, Atriarch and Sedan at El Corazon.

    Sedan opened with a very heavy keyboard + effects set. I had never heard of them before but they did a good job. Deathrock/funeral doom outfit Atriarch was up next. A lot of good guitar tone and some great drumming. After the set I saw a couple of the members out on the floor talking to the audience and answering questions. I thought that was pretty cool.

    Agalloch put on a fantastic show. They played a few songs from their latest album ("Marrow of the Spirit") but since this was their second time in Seattle on the current tour a majority of the set this go-around was from older albums - classics songs like "Falling Snow", "In the Shadow of Our Pale Companion", "The Hawthorne Passage", etc. The crowd ate it up and so did I. True stark beauty.
  • Is this any way to cheer up?

    8 Oct 2011, 3:18

    My girlfriend and I broke up last month. We are still friends but I'm still pretty down about losing her and am looking forward to eventually feeling better. I've been thinking about activities that might help jump start my cheer-up process. Since I haven't seen any live music in a while I thought maybe I'd check out a few local shows. I did a quick internet search and noticed Agalloch is playing this weekend at El Corazon. They definitely don't play "cheer-up" music but they are one of my favorite bands so I'm going anyway. Should be interesting. I'll probably pick something more upbeat for my next show.
  • Ryuichi Sakamoto at the Moore

    1 Nov 2010, 2:51

    Sat 30 Oct – An Evening with Ryuichi Sakamoto - Playing The Piano

    This is the first time I've seen the great Ryuichi Sakamoto-san live, but it was the 5th time for my girlfriend Nozomi. She said he didn't seem up to his normal self and thought maybe he was tired or under the weather. Regardless of his physical condition, it was a great show. The first few pieces were from his newer work. Over the last 10 years he has developed a strong ecological conscience and that was clearly reflected in his music which touched on important issues such as global warming without being either preachy or didactic. He also brought back some work from his old days with Yellow Magic Orchestra, which he reinterpreted in a very refreshing way. The theater was packed and the crowd was definitely appreciative. He came back for two encores, including a requisite rendition of "Merry Christmas Mister Lawrence". The show lasted just under two hours, and although we were hoping for a few more songs, we had a great time. Thumbs up!