While the sun is still making up its mind about whether or not to show its face this summer, KEXP has decided to shrug off our jackets and get ready for this year’s Concerts at the Mural series. Every Friday in August, KEXP and Seattle Center will be hosting a free concert at the Mural Amphitheater, featuring different bands and artists that frequent the KEXP airwaves. Each week, doors open at 5PM, with music starting at 6PM. This Friday, the festivities kick off with The Maldives, Hey Marseilles, and Black Whales. This leads into the 9th Annual KEXP BBQ, Saturday 8/6 at 2PM.
Leading off this Friday’s lineup is The Maldives, a local Seattle alt-country orchestra, comprising of nine members who play a variety of instruments, including violin, lap steel guitar, banjo, mandolin, and accordion. Aside from consistently selling out shows at venues around town, the band has also made appearances at the Bumbershoot, Sasquatch!, South By Southwest, and Doe Bay music festivals. They’re integral members of Seattle’s thriving roots scene, pulling influences from Neil Young and The Band, and capitalizing on the success of their partners-in-crime Fleet Foxes and The Moondoggies.
Following The Maldives are Seattle’s chamber pop darlings Hey Marseilles, another big band with seven members, grown considerably from the original lineup of University of Washington students Nick Ward and Matt Bishop. 2008 saw the independent release of their debut, To Travels & Trunks, which was then re-released nationally in 2010. Though the band has seven members, the band’s lush instrumentation often outnumbers its human counterparts, with disparate elements such as mandolin, accordion, piano, trumpet, cello, and viola accompanying the basic rock setup of guitar, bass, and drums. The result is a pop fusion that transcends any of their contemporaries, a unique blend of sincere wordsmithing and expert craftsmanship.
Closing out this Friday’s concert is another local band, Black Whales. The riotous rock quintet is celebrating the release of their 2011 album Shangri-La Indeed, a collection of 60’s-inspired mid-fi psych-pop jams that sound like they’ve been imported directly from your garage. It’s the band’s obvious sincerity and homegrown production that’s endeared them so much to the Seattle community, built on a basis of hooky riffs and danceable beats. As much Kurt Vile as The Beatles, Black Whales are cementing their place in Seattle’s scene as the foremost purveyors of down-and-dirty rock ‘n roll.