This evening will see the kickoff of the KEXP Concerts at the Mural series, ushering in the weekend with FREE live performances from The Maldives, Hey Marseilles, and Black Whales. Of course, if you can’t make it or just want some more great FREE music, there’s always Saturday, where KEXP’s 9th Annual BBQ will be storming Seattle Center. Hosted by KEXP DJs Larry Mizell Jr., Troy Nelson, John Richards, and Kevin Cole, the BBQ will open at 2pm with bands beginning at 3pm. Admission is free for an all-ages audience, with accompanying 21+ beer & wine garden and street food provided by Skillet. This year’s lineup features Fool’s Gold, Rainbow Arabia, Capsula, School of Rock, Virgin Islands, and Mad Rad.
Leading off the event is the Los Angeles collective Fool’s Gold, the brainchild of Luke Top and Lewis Pesacov. Fool’s Gold fuses inspiration from African music, Krautrock, and 80′s dance-pop, forming a perfect blend of sunlit, world-influenced pop. Aside from critical acclaim, Fool’s Gold are renowned for fiery live performances, which have seen them garner invites to such venues as The Hollywood Bowl, The Summerstage in Central Park NYC and The Black Sessions in Paris. Throughout the band’s history, guest musicians have oft frequented the ranks, including Orpheo McCord (The Fall) and Michael Tapper (We Are Scientists). Expect a set packed full of new hits, as the band’s second album Leave No Trace is set for an August 16th release.
Following in Fool’s Gold’s worldly dance footsteps are Rainbow Arabia, another LA duo who focus more on electronica. Drawing influences from Arabic, North African, and Asian music styles, the husband-and-wife pair of Danny and Tiffany Preston perform a unique fusion of avant-garde dance-pop. They’ve slowly built a name for themselves in the experimental dance scene, touring with Mogwai and Gang Gang Dance, and have just released their debut album Boys and Diamonds on Kompakt.
Buenos Aires band Capsula have been described as “wild animals” onstage, helped along by the spastic noise-freakouts that pilfer through their dirty, scuzzy garage rock. Lead singer and guitarist Martin Guevara stands with the swagger of a glam titan, ripping through riffs like tissue paper. Coni Duchess keeps the groove with filthy basslines while drummer Ignacio Villarejo maintains the heartbeat, pumping blood that courses through the veins of the band’s furious singles. The trio is touring behind their seventh LP (not counting their collaboration with Ivan Julian), but their sound’s as fresh and brutal as ever.
There’s nothing quite as bittersweet as watching a group of kids with considerably more talent than you realize their dreams. That’s precisely the opportunity that awaits, as Seattle’s School of Rock plays all their favorite hits at the KEXP BBQ. These young’uns have dedicated themselves to perfecting their craft, and each graduating class seems better than the last. At turns inspirational and a little bit depressing, it’s nonetheless fantastic to see these kids rock the stage.
More Seattle locals follow, with Mike Jaworski’s Virgin Islands. The band rose from the ashes of Northwest favorites The Cops, and aside from the name, not much has changed. Still intact: hard and fast rock n’ roll in the style of Joe Strummer and Sid Vicious, rip-roaring and unbelievably energetic in its fury. The band, though around since 2009, has just released their debut full-length, Ernie Chambers Vs. God, recorded in 8 days directly to tape with producer Johnny Sangster (Mudhoney, The Briefs, Cute Lepers).
Anyone familiar with the Seattle music scene will have heard of Mad Rad - the glam-rap collective’s onstage antics have gotten them banned from every major venue in town, summarily unbanned, and threatened to be banned again. But whether or not the guys are climbing onto the roof of the Yeti Stage at Sasquatch! or brawling with security personnel at Neumo’s, their shows are guaranteed to be a party. Equal parts electropop and hip-hop swagger, MCs Buffalo Madonna, P Smoov, Terry Radjaw, and DJ Darwin don’t just take the stage, they own it.