Rock and Roll Highlights from City Arts Fest 2012 (Photo Gallery)
[See our previous entry for a more exhaustive report on City Arts Fest 2012, as well as more photos from the Fest.]
This year, City Arts Fest also utilized Neumo’s basement cousin Barboza, which meant that wristband holders could see two different sets (and a slew of bands) with a simple jog up and down a flight of stairs. I took advantage of the very convenient logistics to augment the hip hop action with a dose of rock.
Barboza’s Friday night line-up included ex Koko and the Sweetmeats guitarist and singer g. vandercrimp’s one-man new wave band Prism Tats (hyper, minimalist, yelpy, and really damned fun), San Francisco psychedelic rock collective Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound (think the Brian Jonestown Massacre, Cream, and Crazy Horse sharing tabs of acid and really raging on guitar), and Seattle monster-rockers Fox and the Law (a terrific heavy-rock band whose lead singer/guitarist Guy Keltner was a show all by himself). Friday Barboza headliners Howlin’ Rain (another SF outfit) balanced their stoner tendencies with a dose of Queen-style bombast and ambition.
Last but sure as hell not least, I forced myself to exit Neumo’s before Fresh Espresso’s reportedly-great set (sorry, guys) to catch Ravenna Woods pack the house at the Crocodile. There’s a reason the Woods have earned hosannahs from nearly every music journalist in the region: On a good night, they’re the best live band in Seattle, and last Friday was a very good night, indeed.
Keyboardist Sam Miller fleshed out the sound with some apt sonic cushioning, but for the lion’s share of the set it was just the band’s core. Fount-of-ingenuity Brantley Duke capably hopscotched between guitar, keyboards, and percussion, and Matt Badger’s brilliantly outside-the-box drumming propelled the music with haunting relentlessness. At front and center, Chris Cunningham remained a guitarist of staggering skill and a frontman of evangelical energy. Oh, and they showcased some great new material from their forthcoming 2013, too. The band plays live around town with a fair amount of frequency around town, but based on their showing at City Arts Fest, it’s a fool’s game to take them for granted.