On Friday, the Little Big Show made its return with a sold out gig with a stellar, diverse lineup, and raising funds for a wonderful charity. Each couple months, KEXP teams up with STG and Starbucks to put on these incredible events, where no less than 100% of tickets sold benefit the charity selected. For LBS #8, the Seattle arts and leadership training program Reel Grrls. Here, girls ages 9-21 can learn media production skills from volunteer professionals and voice their individuality through an engaging medium. Reel Grrls short films have been presented and honored at over 90 film festivals globally. In short, no one was disappointed that the sold out show brought in $14,000 for Reel Grrls to continue making magic in the future. Then, between the eclectic wonder of LA synth pop band Kisses, Seattle’s own Kingdom Crumbs, and the mesmerizing soundscapes of Washed Out, we got to celebrate this achievement in vibrant form.
Kisses opened up the evening with a strong set of new wave style synth pop that had the room inching closer to their significant other throughout. Kisses is the brainchild of Jesse Kivel and Zinzi Edmundson. Last year, the two put out their sophomore record Kids in L.A., which is chalk full of nostalgic, radio-ready pop magic. Kivel rocked a classic Bryan Ferry look as his jangly guitars and crystal voice shimmered throughout the Neptune, while Edmundson busted out synth line after synth line and worked on the crowd motivation. There wasn’t a bad cut between them – the two have dialed in to a pretty spectacular sound with tracks like “Bermuda”, “Funny Heartbeat”, and “Kisses”. All in all, even having to cut one track due to time at the end, Kisses garnered quite a few new fans in the audience for their Little Big Show set.
Seattle hip-hop group Kingdom Crumbs are all over the place, but that’s not a bad thing. Rather, they just tackle a much larger sonic spectrum in their sets than you could expect or even encourage. Sometimes, they are rocking spacey, atmospheric thought pieces over barely there beats. Other times, they have the crowd off their feet with burning pseudo-house bangers. Regardless, the four piece of Tay Sean, Mikey Nice, Jerm D, and Jarv Dee seem in tune with whatever other-worldly existence they are trying to convey with us lowly humans, and I want to know more about their universe. The group dropped their self-titled LP in August of 2012, featuring brilliant weirdness like “Evoking Spirits”, “For The Birds”, and “The Infinite”. Everywhere here, we see a massive spread between reserved R&B, pounding dance music, and the experimental, atmospheric hip-hop we’ve seen in recent Seattle acts like Shabazz Palaces and THEESatisfaction. Even with some initial sound issues, Kingdom Crumbs rocked a strong set and kept the crowd going.
Ernest Greene continues to wow us at every possible turn. Tonight was the second time Seattle has gotten to witness his material from the excellent 2013 Paracosm – we first saw it at Bumbershoot, but plagued with stage sound problems the set was cut short and the energy was uneven. Here at the Neptune, Greene and his band were fired up and ready to turn their musical kaleidoscope up to 11, and that’s exactly what they did. Paracosm material was incredible and all-encompassing. Older cuts were rearranged to fit the modern Washed Out context perfectly. “Belong” from High Times was turned into a scorching jam band-style guitar showcase. Later, the now ubiquitous “Feel It All Around” got a super fresh intro and a new vibe of melancholy unseen in the bouncy, lazy-eyed groove of the album version. But the crowd went wild towards the end of his set when Greene pulled out Within and Without classics “Amor Fati” and “Eyes Be Closed”. With Washed Out’s expansive new instrumental setup, these tracks felt massive in the Neptune space, and brought Greene’s fantastic musical visions to their full realizations. All in all, Washed Out was just as atmospheric and visceral as ever, but with a well-balanced, extensive new live setup and great crowd interaction, this Washed Out show may have been the best Seattle has seen yet.
Keep it tuned to KEXP to find out about future Little Big Show events, and catch Washed Out again in May at the first weekend of Sasquatch!