Semi-Finalist Night #2
Had the chance to check out the second semi-finalist set of “Sound Off!” at the EMP. It took my friend and I a while to get to the Seattle Center but once we were there, we felt right at home. The venue was filled with adequately dressed hipsters and music lovers as well as family, friends, and even teachers of the performers. The competition felt like going to four different shows at four different venues as the atmosphere at the EMP would completely change with each new band, not only because of their music and lighting but also the way in which each band interacted with the audience.
Grant Eadie’s project, Manatee Commune, was the first act and he really got the audience pumped up. He decided to speak very little, usually to express gratitude and one-worded descriptions of his next tune; however that was all he really needed. Eadie walked onto stage shoeless and with a beautiful Les Paul strapped to his back, occasionally picking it up to play nice strums or an intense set of stringing to go with his electronic beats – much like The XX. Just when you think he has enough equipment he pulls out a violin and continues to dance around when he starts playing his “dancey” song. After the “dancey song”, Grant asks the audience to close their eyes and “just feel it”. I put down my pen and do as he says. The rich electronic sonata is already enough to take me away but then he starts playing amazing guitar. All that mixed with the stage lights and disco balls blinking on your closed eyes makes you feel like you are out of space. My friend describes Grant Eadie’s performance as best as I cold imagine: “like something out of a comic book”.
From the balcony we saw The Onlies do their pre-show huddle up; the trio however, was anything but nervous. They stepped on stage, picked up each of their instruments consisting of acoustic guitar, mandolin and violin, and began their first “fiddle folk” song, all huddled around one microphone. While their set up made it at times uncomfortable, the instrumentalists did not let the awkwardness faze their intense string playing. You would honestly forget how old the band members were due to their amazing talent. At one point, one of the boys took their mandolin and rocked out to it like Michael J. Fox to “Johnny B. Good” in Back to the Future. In the song “Recast”, written by the girl in the band and head violin player, two violins came on. The duo looked like they were having a competition between themselves rather than other bands. Another great example of the chemistry between the band members was when the two boys would harmonize together. Their talented voices reminded me of the great harmonizing between the Head & the Heart’s Jossiah Johnson and Jonathan Russel. The Onlies won second place, having raw talent and enthusiasm as their fortes.
Nabii KO$MO gave me a hell of a first rap concert. The rapper marched on stage and began his heavy rapping right away and within seconds a mosh pit broke out and was quickly discontinued by EMP security. One thing that made the music so intense was the live drummer Nabii brought along with him. It seemed however, that they were not so experience performing together as they would often get off beat. Nabii also had another rapper with him named Indigo but you would often forget he was there until he started shooting his own rhymes. At many points in the performance, Nabii would roughen up his voice to resemble shouting. That and his dark lyrics about his dad abandoning his family added a lot of passion to his music and made it so the crowd could still get back into the groove regardless of all the little mistakes that kept reoccurring. The last song opened up with vintage piano playing and ended with Nabii taking out his nicely decorated electric guitar and ending the performance with a bang. What I concluded is that Nabii KO$MO most definitely has the talent and the skills to be a performer; he just needs a lot more experience. This was after all, his biggest show. Whereas a lot of the other bands already have experience performing in official concert venues. Experience will help the rapper improve his improvisation skills and add a lot more taste to his performing.
I did not expect the most intense punk concert I have ever seen to be in an all ages’ music competition. Had the winners of the competition, Thee Samedi, performed right after their second place successor, The Onlies, the crowd would have been completely stupefied. In fact, the gap between the two shows gave the audience a chance to be mixed up. From the high school student’s fellow peers and teachers to the die hard, experienced mosh pit punks that did not allow EMP security to regulate the chaos. How could they? With the performance the shirtless, blood stained singer of Thee Samedi gave, how could passionate fans not lose their minds? Regardless of the spine bending and screeching resembling that of an exorcism, a definite forte for the singer of Thee Samedi is his sex appeal. Fans would rub his legs and grope his butt whenever he approached the edge of the stage. The only singer in the competition to crowd surf, his performance became completely distinguished from that of the other bands and that is how Thee Samedi won first place both by judges standard and by audience reaction. This was probably the closest I would ever get to a Courtney Love show.
-Gabriel Ferri/Pictionary Savant/KSUB Reporter