The never-ending carousel of music festivals in the Northwest continues this week with the first ever City Arts Festival. This might mark the end of the summer festival season, but it is sure as hell a good way to go out, as over 30 events will take place in over 20 venues spread out across Seattle. There are a wide variety of events and performances encompassing several artistic mediums, but seeing as this is a music blog, I’m going to restrict my incomplete, undetailed, and incomprehensive rundown to music.
Before I get into the City Arts Fest, there are two other shows I’d feel bad if I didn’t mention were coming through town this week. Starfucker will be playing with Octopus Project and Strength at Neumos on Tuesday the 19th, and Deer Tick will be playing with J. Roddy Walston and the Business at Neumos on Sunday the 24th. Both of these will be excellent shows and you can read reviews of both bands’ recent performances in Seattle by clicking on their names in the parentheses that end this sentence. Enjoy! (Starfucker @ Neumos 5/10/10; Deer Tick @ Tractor Tavern 4/22/10)
On to the City Arts Fest!:
Wednesday, October 20th
Fresh off the release of their eighth album Belle and Sebastian Write About Love, delicate Scottish indie poppers Belle & Sebastian will bring a string ensemble to Benaroya Hall on Wednesday. I’d say this is a more than suitable headlining performance for the first-ever City Arts Fest! It’s also a great representation of how the Fest is more than just popular artists playing in the typical Seattle venues. Neumos, both Showboxes, and The Crocodile will all house festival acts, but so will Benaroya Hall, the SIFF Cinema, and the 5th Avenue Theater, where Cat Power and She & Him will play. And how special is Wednesday night’s other Main Event, a who’s who of Seattle hip hop at the Paramount Theater, in what has to be one of the best and most comprehensive showcases of local hip hop ever assembled. Who else could headline this show but veteran mainstays Blue Scholars? Brother Ali isn’t local, but he doesn’t seem one bit out of place in a lineup that also includes Macklemore (with Ryan Lewis!), Fresh Espresso, and Mash Hall, which features KEXP’s own Larry Mizell Jr. Also taking place on the festival’s opening night will be notoriously awesome live act Gogol Bordello playing to a sure-to-be rambunctious audience at the Showbox SoDo. It’s just plain not fair that all three of these shows are happening at the same time on the same night, but I guess it’s one of those problems that are good to have.
Thursday, October 21st
Thursday is when the festival events really start to kick into high gear. Another great thing about the City Arts Fest is that it is indeed an arts festival, and not just a music festival, as it’s mainly been publicized as. There are readings, film screenings with live musical accompaniment, and “Fireside Chats” that serve as discussions pertaining to everything from the death of fiction to the state of the musical. There’s even an overnight “Sleeper Cell Training Camp” that focuses on tactical dreaming and after which a continental breakfast will be provided. I’m not going to begin to preview every event, but here’s a few I’d recommend…actually, now that I’m actually going over the schedule, there are too many that I’d like to recommend. Just click here and see for yourself. Don’t let some of these amazing opportunities pass you up!
In addition to all the extra stuff, live music will be happening at venues around town Thursday as well:
Cat Power will be at the 5th Avenue Theater, which will be a special treat and a can’t-miss performance for any of her fans. Roky Erickson, the godfather of psychedelia will be at Neumos on Thursday, with local favorites The Maldives and Massy Fergusonopening. Despite Roky Erickson’s age and the sheer amount of drugs he has surely ingested over the course of his life, he is still going strong. He is fresh off collaborating with Okkervil River, but will be playing his original songs Thursday at Neumos, so expect some 13th Floor Elevators favorites. And while “psychedelic” might be the 184th word you’d use to describe The Maldives, they strangely seem like they’ll be a perfect opener for Erickson. Fellow local act Massy Ferguson shouldn’t be missed either. You can hear his song “Long Time, No See” here. Also of note Thursday is Phosphorescent, who will be playing with People Eating People and Daniel G. Harmann at Chop Suey. And what kind of local festival would it be without The Head and the Heart? It’d actually still probably be just fine, but it’s always nice to know that ambitious young local folk collective will be playing. If you haven’t seen what all the buzz around them is about, this will be a great opportunity. They’ll be opening for The Weepies at The Crocodile.
Friday, October 22nd
The Vaselines are back! After a few successful reunion shows the other year, the Scottish duo decided to get back into the studio and record only their second full-length album. Sex with an X was released barely a month ago and in addition to playing some of the new tunes, they’ll undoubtedly delight us with all the old favorites as well. There’s no reason this show shouldn’t be just as good and receive just as warm of a reception as the gigs that that prompted them to record the new album. San Diego femme trio and frequent Northwest visitors The Dum Dum Girls will be opening along with the Young Evils. Also playing on Friday will be Oregon neo-folk rockers Blitzen Trapper. They played a stellar set just a few months ago at the Capitol Hill Block Party, and should be even better headlining a bill at the Showbox at the Market. And don’t miss Fruit Bats, who are opening and are scheduled to come on at 9:45. Not to mention the fact that eccentric Seattle electronic rockers Head Like A Kite will be at the Crocodile along with Brent Amaker and the Rodeo and RA Scion of Common Market, also known as Victor Shade. The hard part in all this is decided which show you’re going to see. Again, though, not a bad problem to have.
Saturday, October 23rd
The festival will go out with a bang on Saturday, with Big Boi headlining another great day of music. Due to Andre 3000’s flashiness and the fact that he sings Outkast’s biggest hit “Hey Ya”, big Boi has been somewhat unfairly overshadowed over the course of the past decade. This year, however, he’s come out with a critically-acclaimed solo album Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Dusty Chico, featuring the single “Shutterbugg”. His flow is incredibly quick and precise, making Big Boi one of the best straight up “rappers” around today. He’ll be playing with local MC Fatal Lucciano, among others. And make no mistake about it, this isn’t hipster rap that’s been sweeping the Northwest as of late. This is the classic Deep South dirty dirty. On the lighter side, She & Him should be a perfect fit for the 5th Avenue Theater, playing with Mike Coykendall & The Golden Shag. The best show on Satruday, however, might be Foals, who are playing with Pica Beats and Esben and the Wtich at Neumos. I just saw Foals outdoors last weekend, and they were incredible. Seeing them inside at Neumos is going to be special, and will be a more-than-adequate high note on which to end the festival.
And, of course, any additional information, such as venue locations, ticket prices, and performance times can be found at the City Arts Fest website.