Live Review: Mitski, Japanese Breakfast and Jay Som at the Crocodile 07/13/16

photos by Amber Knecht (view set)

There was a palpable moment of anticipation in the crowd right before Mitski Miyawaki hit the most pivotal D chord in the evening, the one that kickstarts the massive chorus of “Your Best American Girl”, song-of-the-year candidate and the track pushed the Brooklyn musician’s buzz from slight rumbling to deafening. And when the audience was embracing for that huge, heart-crushingly distorted chorus – it didn’t come, at least not in the way they expected. Her guitar and voice at the same volume and intensity as they were during the preceding verse – direct, yet quiet – the chorus washed over the crowd with a subtle magnitude, making up for what it lacked in punch with a disarming sublimeness. In the midst of a sold-out tour and a tidal wave of critical acclaim, Mitski doesn’t seem the least bit interested in adapting her stage show to the bigger stages she’s already inheriting. However, her stoic, spartan performance at the Crocodile was striking in its own way, a bold choice by an artist who seems intent on ensuring that her truth never comes second to the performance.



Jay Som

Japanese Breakfast

Japanese Breakfast

Thematically speaking, the tour’s bill of Mitski/Japanese Breakfast/Jay Som is about as on point of a lineup as any tour will have this year. The lattermost of the three was up first, with the San Francisco songwriter born Melina Duterte briskly performing a handful of songs while laying out her reflections with nothing more than an electric guitar to back her up. While Duterte is just starting to get attention a few years after recording, the bill’s middle act, Japanese Breakfast are on the cusp of breaking into something much bigger. Michelle Zauner and co. are essentially in the same spot Mitski was in a year ago: solid, but not hyperbolic, critical marks for their current full length, Psychopomp, and a deal from Dead Oceans that will ensure the next full length has plenty of push behind it. Judging from their stunning 30 minute set, they know they’re expected by more than a few people to be increasing their profile in the near future, and they delivered on that. Impressively replicating the album’s dense, colorful production with only three musicians, Zauner is a talented musician and perhaps an even more striking frontwoman, vibrantly showing off the bona fides she honed in the Philadelphia rock outfit Little Big League as she precariously walked along the Crocodile’s all-ages-separating rail during the band’s finale.

But as impressive as both acts were, there wasn’t any question who the crowd – who couldn’t have been older than 20 on average – was there to see. Mitski played her first Seattle gig almost exactly a year ago at El Corazon, which was well attended, but that venue’s box office wasn’t turning people away. Furthermore, business at the bar at the Crocodile was as slow as this writer has seen any venue bar in ages: those in attendance weren’t there to drink or be seen or to catch Pokémon (exclusively anyway, as there was plenty of that in between sets) – they were there to see Mitski, who they treated with a quiet reverence rarely seen at gigs that aren’t at coffee houses, recital halls, or living rooms. For her part, Mitski played a show that, dynamically speaking, wouldn’t have felt out of place at any of those venues. Backed only by a drummer and playing a set that leaned heavily on her previous album, 2014’s stellar Bury Me at Makeout Creek, Mitski’s 40-ish minutes onstage didn’t bear much similarity to Puberty 2, her fourth and most recent album that’s propelled her to be one of, if not the, critical darlings of 2016. But, to be frank, it didn’t seem like the crowd cared all that much what the setlist was or that Mitski was playing the songs in what essentially amounted to solo arrangements: they were there to see hear whatever songs she was going to play at whatever format they were going to get from their sad queen.

Although she wasn’t particularly talkative (she was, however, very gracious to the numerous people in front declaring their love for her), Mitski was completely focused, giving “Thursday Girl”, “Once More To See You”, and the other songs in her set the emotional gravity that’s come to define her music. Every song felt heavy, quiet not because it lacked punch because For those expecting fireworks (either the song of the same name or any sort of stage spectacle), this show very well could have been a disappointment. A mixed review of her show a few days in Denver from the city’s alt-weekly would later call her presence “disengaged,” but as Mitski herself pointed out, she wasn’t aiming to please anyone. “I try to give something real. What is real to me isn’t a flowery show of love to people I’ve never met,” she explained on Twitter. To say that the show wasn’t as accessible as one would expect from a rising star might be fair, but the crowd’s fixation showed that there are already plenty of initiates in the church of Mitski. Whether she changes her show to adapt to the bigger (read: festival) stages that she’s surely getting offers to play is unclear, but for the time being, Mitski’s Crocodile performance was a showcase for both the completely engrossing experience Mitski was willing to give to those who were willing to follow her down her musical rabbit hole and the rapt, young audience that she’s already cultivated in a relatively short timespan.

Japanese Breakfast

Japanese Breakfast

Japanese Breakfast

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Song of the Day: Nite Jewel – You Now

photo by Jose Wolff

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Morning Show with John Richards, is “You Now” by Nite Jewel from her 2016 album, Liquid Cool, on Gloriette Records.

Nite Jewel – You Now (MP3)

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Live Around Town This Week

CHBP-2016-lineup

Tuesday, July 19th:

EPMD, Ambush, DMS, Flawless Tha Don, Tre Ross at The Crocodile // 21+ (more info)

Inter Arma, Withered at Barboza // 21+ (more info)

The Jayhawks, Fernando Viciconte at The Neptune // All Ages (more info)


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In Stores Now 7/18

This week, New Jersey producer Clams Casino hits a jackpot with his first official album. KEXP Music Director Don Yates calls it, “a strong set of expansive hip hop and R&B with woozy soundscapes combining atmospheric synths, spacy ambient noise and trunk-rattling beats with an impressive guest lineup of rappers and singers ranging from A$AP Rocky, Lil B and Vince Staples to Future Islands’ Samuel T. Herring, Kelela, Mikky Ekko and Alt-J’s Joe Newman.”

UK artist Michael Kiwanuka shares his sophomore LP; Yates notes the album “finds him mostly moving away from his folk-soul beginnings towards a darker, more edgy and brooding sound (courtesy of producer Danger Mouse along with Inflo and Paul Butler) with rumbling electric guitars, gauzy keyboards, cinematic strings, backing choral voices and stark, muscular rhythms accompanying his plaintive, soulful vocals and often-poignant lyrics of lost love, doubt, isolation and injustice.”

Montreal band No Joy share a “rock-solid 3-song EP of shoegazerish noise-pop with fuzzy guitars, ethereal vocals, and strong song hooks,” and Boss Hog go the EP route, too, for their first release in 16 years. (Though as co-founding member Jon Spencer said in their KEXP session, it’s not a reunion.) Former-Seattlite, current L.A.-based artist Jherek Bischoff found inspiration at Fort Worden in Port Townsend, Washington for his latest, recreating a cistern (an underground reservoir for rainwater) in his own home recording studio. And William S. Burroughs rises from the grave via previously unreleased audio of the legendary author reading his 1959 novel, Naked Lunch. Guitarist Bill Frisell, pianist Wayne Horvitz, and violist Eyvind Kang recorded audio for it in 1995, but it was shelved until King Khan and producer Hal Wilner took another stab, with help from Australian garage-punk band Frowning Clouds and vocalist/composer M. Lamar.
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KEXP Presents: Trouble Boys w/ Author Bob Mehr + Peter Jesperson 7/20

PTRM----master-image

We can’t hardly wait for this hootenanny of an event! If you will dare, join us in the KEXP Gathering Space on Wednesday, July 20th as we welcome Bob Mehr, author of Trouble Boys: the True Story of The Replacements, with special guest, Peter Jesperson, former Replacements manager and co-founder of Twin/Tone Records.

With Trouble Boys, Mehr has written the definitive history of this iconic band. (Check out a review of the book on the KEXP Blog here.) Hear him deliver a special reading, followed by a Q&A moderated by Sean Nelson with Mehr and Jesperson. Jesperson is credited with “discovering” the band when a young Paul Westerberg left the band’s demo at Oar Folkjokeopus, the record store where he worked. Jesperson later co-founded the influential label Twin/Tone, whose roster eventually grew to nearly 100 bands.
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TV Eye: Week of 7/18

YG

YG // photo by Patrick Luhrs (view set)

KEXP has our TV eye set for this week in late night television. Set your DVR, TiVo, or just drink some coffee to stay awake for these musical guest performances on your favorite talk shows. Here are the highlights:

Monday, July 18th:
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon: Troye Sivan
The Late Late Show with James Corden: SWMRS
Last Call with Carson Daly: The Soft Moon, Car Seat Headrest (R)

Tuesday, July 19th:
Jimmy Kimmel Live: Domo Genesis featuring Anderson Paak
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Nice as Fuck

Wednesday, July 20th:
Jimmy Kimmel Live: Culture Club
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon: A$AP Mob
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Wyclef Jean
Late Night with Seth Meyers: Royal Headache
Last Call with Carson Daly: Escort

Thursday, July 21st:
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: case/lang/veirs

Friday, July 22nd:
The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore: YG

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Monday Music News

photo by Peter Noble

  • As the music world reels from the news of Alan Vega’s passing, several fans have shared cover versions of Suicide songs online. Check out Win Butler of Arcade Fire‘s take on the 1979 single “Dream Baby Dream” below, shared under his DJ Windows 98 name, and MGMT‘s resurrection of Vega’s 1983 track “Goodbye Darling.” Devon Welsh, formerly of Majical Cloudz, shares an original track he wrote in 2011 but never released, titled “Me and Alan Vega.” R.I.P. Alan Vega.


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Song of the Day: CC Dust – Never Going to Die

photo by Jamie Naidel

photo by Jamie Naidel

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Morning Show with John Richards, is “Never Going to Die” by CC Dust from their upcoming self-titled EP, out August 19 on Perennial.

CC Dust – Never Going to Die (MP3)

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R.I.P. Alan Vega

Alan Vega

Today, the music world lost another star, as Alan Vega, co-founder of ’70s proto-punk duo Suicide, passed away. Vega’s friend and fan Henry Rollins announced that “relentlessly creative” and “startlingly unique” artist died peacefully in his sleep. According to Vega’s family approved statement:

Alan Vega was the quintessential artist on every imaginable level. His entire life was devoted to outputting what his vision commanded of him.

One of the greatest aspects of Alan Vega was his unflinching adherence to the demands of his art. He only did what he wanted. Simply put, he lived to create. After decades of constant output, the world seemed to catch up with Alan and he was acknowledged as the groundbreaking creative individual he had been from the very start.

Alan’s life is a lesson of what it is to truly live for art. The work, the incredible amount of time required, the courage to keep seeing it and the strength to bring it forth — this was Alan Vega.

Alan Vega was 78 but his influence will live on. Dream, Alan, dream.

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KEXPort 2016 Live Video Stream

On Saturday, July 16, our friends at KEX Hostel in Reykjavik are throwing the 5th annual KEXPort, a one-day festival of great Icelandic music in collaboration with KEXP. From noon until midnight, 12 bands will perform in 12 hours, proving once again that Iceland is one of the most creative and musically diverse countries in the world!

We invite you to “KEXPorch it” and watch KEXPort all day at your very own home thanks to a live video stream presented by MusicReach.tv.

Here’s the full line up, listed in Seattle (Pacific) time:

5:00 AM – DJ Flugvél og geimskip
6:00 AM – $igmund
7:00 AM – Hórmónar
8:00 AM – Hildur
9:00 AM – Auður
10:00 AM – Mugison
11:00 AM – Alvia Islandia
12:00 PM – Tómas Jónsson
1:00 PM – Tilbury
2:00 PM – Singapore Sling
3:00 PM – Misþyrming
4:00 PM – Grísalappalísa

Watch live video here:

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