Friday, December 15, 2017

Goodnight NICOLE ATKINS - Gig Review from Seattle, WA 12/12/17

Nicole Atkins

Lauren Ruth Wade


The Sunset
Seattle, WA


As we come closer to winding down 2017, I can't help but think about some of the incredible artists I've been fortunate enough to cover for Eclectic Arts. A good number of them have been at The Sunset in Ballard. Maggie Koerner, Pale Waves, Guitar Wolf, Muna, Steve N Seagulls, to name but a few.

Last night I can add Nicole Atkins to the list (Lauren Ruth Wade as well)!

Originally it was billed as three artists then recently it was changed to two (the original opener dropped off due to the tour due to illness). When I arrived at the Sunset I saw that it was back to three bands.

First up was Indianola. Performing as a two-piece (guitar/vocals and drums), the band played a few songs to get things going. I liked the upbeat tunes more than the ballads but the guys were skilled and it would make sense later on why they opened the show.

With nearly no changeover, Lauren Ruth Wade hit the stage with a partial band as well (guitars - rhythm section was not playing these shows). Being her first time in Seattle, Lauren performed with such a raw intensity; you couldn't help but be drawn into her aura on stage.

Her songs were as raw as her performance - and I mean that in the best possible way. I've said this before but I'll say it again - artists have to cross that line when they perform otherwise the audience won't cross it with them. Once everyone is on that other level, both artist and audience, magical things happen. That was the case with Lauren's performance. I might also add that this was especially amazing since she only had a short 30-minute set to boot.

Several in attendance knew her songs and were singing along to their favorite tunes. I was new to her music but definitely left a fan. If I had extra cash on me, I would of made a merch purchase for sure (next time).

After a short changeover, Nicole Atkins came out and hit the ground running. Backed by a three piece (two of which were from Indianola), Nicole wowed the audience with each and every tune. Her powerful yet nuanced vocals were something to hear. This being my first time seeing her live I enjoyed her set immensely.

With engaging and funny inbetween song banter (farts at the Crocodile on her first visit to Seattle, unknowingly meeting Carole King's daughter, etc), Nicole played songs from her newest album, "Goodnight Rhonda Lee" as well as older cuts, ending the night with arguably her best known track, "The Way It Is".

Her set lasted around 75 minutes or so, and clearly was not long enough for the crowd. Always leave them wanting more and on Tuesday night in Seattle, Nicole did just that.

An amazing night of music from all involved, it was truly a pleasure to cover this show. I can't wait to see all of the artists back in this area again. I left the Sunset inspired which I owe to the Nicole, Lauren, and Indianola. Much thanks!

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Special Thanks: Taylor for the credentials - I really appreciate it!

Vanquished In Seattle - WARBRINGER Gig Review! 12/8/17


Studio Seven

Seattle, WA



Having grown up on late 70's and 80's metal, I can always appreciate a band that pulls from the metal that I grew up with. Warbringer are one such band. Having toured relentlessly for their latest album, "Woe To The Vanquished", the band stopped by Studio Seven on Friday as special guests of Darkest Hour. Warbringer are doing a short string of dates before the holidays, with a few headlining gigs as well.

The bands 45-minute set was eagerly awaited by many in Studio Seven, including a large group of under 21's on the main floor (the second level is where the bar is for those unfamiliar with the venue).

Once the entrance music stopped, John and the boys launched into a thrashtastic set of old and new tunes. Constantly encouraging the fans to get into the pit, the five piece played their asses off to a very appreciative crowd.

Metal bands that don't tour fall behind. One could argue the same of any type of band but with metal, it's all about the stage, getting out there and playing your music to your fans (and making new ones in the process). The vans with trailers, driving hundreds of miles between gigs, sleeping on the floor or wherever you can find space, loading in your gear, loading out your gear, meeting the fans, selling your merch, and then doing it all over again - the road will weed out the weak.

Warbringer have proven over the years that they are all about the metal. Weakness is not in their vocabulary. Until next year - all hail Warbringer!


Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Special Thanks: Jon and Katy for the credentials. I appreciate it!


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Let It Flow - Washington Winter Beerfest 2017 Review! 12/2/17

Winter Beerfest

Seattle, WA


(Session 3 Report)


The first weekend (Fri/Sat) in December means many things to everyone but to me it means BEER! The Washington Brewer's Guild Winter Beerfest 2017 in Seattle, WA goes back to the Hale's Palladium days (maybe earlier). Since the move to Hangar 30 at Magnuson Park, I have attended the festival regularly. Three sessions spread out over two days (one on Friday, two on Saturday), I was fortunate enough to be credentialed as media for one session - and I picked Session 3, as it was the Saturday night session.

Beer festivals are fun in numbers. This year there were at least fourteen other people that I knew/met so some of my report may be sprinkled with their observations of the brews they sampled.

Upon entering the festival, one thing was different from last year - they kept some of the house lights on. Please keep doing this! Last year it was so freaking dark that toward the back wall you couldn't see much of anything. Having partial light allowed those breweries with festive lights to still be seen properly and those that didn't to be seen period. Thumbs up to the organizers.

Everyone has his or her way of approaching a beer festival. The geek has already jotted down which beers he or she wants to get to first from their laundry list of "ticks" (like ticking off a list). Others beer shop and try what sounds interesting, what draws them in like the set up (Dirty Bucket won for best booth at my session - hi Steve!), what others have said about a beer from a particular brewery, etc.

Me? Being both a beer geek and a casual beer guy, I opted this year to hit what I wanted, regardless of ABV (something I normally don't do). Fremont hit the spot with their first rotational of Cinnamon Coffee B Bomb. Beautiful balance, rich, thick mouthfeel, everything I expected from Fremont. Last year I waited too long and by the time I got to their booth, their rotational kegs had kicked, as had their other dark barrel aged varieties. So, I was already up one compared to last year.

The festival wasn't too crowded at the start - a bunch of wet coats and jackets as it had been raining most if not all of the day, including when we were in line outside. The attendance picked up during the first hour to where it was packed (I later found the session sold out). Food trucks were lined up outside as well just like last year.

I kept things dark and interesting via Counterbalance, Slaughter County, and 7 Seas while I also went the holiday festival ale route with Rooftop, Port Townsend (personal favorite of the festival - such an underrated brewery IMO), and Anacortes that had a cask of their Noel Ale available.

A few breweries were absent this year that I'm used to seeing in attendance (Naked City and Santa Don for sure).

I had too many sips of other beers from my beer brethren but there were some definite consensus misses (I won't name them here but one was a drain pour - yeah, it was that bad - and I can choke down almost anything so that's saying something). But, hey, that's part of the fun of a beer festival - trying out new beers or breweries that you haven't had before. If you don't like one, there's always another that you will.

The vibe during the event was fun and relaxed - like most beer festivals are. A wide mix of people in attendance, all looking to have a good time with some good craft beer, made for an excellent night.

The move to go to plastic tasters was smart this year. Since the festival is in a hangar with concrete floors, the "ohhhhhhhhs" when someone drops their glass tasters (happens at every festival where the glass can actually break) was for the most part gone. The Washington Brew Fest in June is on grass so glass works out ok there. But for anything in Fisher Pavilion or here, plastic is the way to go.

WABL had their area set up like they did last year. I've been a member longer than I can count and was wearing my shirt from like three years ago as it's one of my favorites.

Eclectic Arts has been building its reputation on being diversified. I had a personal goal this year to bring that back to EA as it was getting way too concert focused in recent years. So, in many ways, covering the craft beer scene is going back to my roots both as a media outlet (I interviewed Black Raven, Dirty Bucket, and Foggy Noggin in 2012) as well as a consumer (I've been around the Washington craft beer scene since Grant's got things rolling over in Yakima many years ago). I also worked for a local craft brewery for a short but fun stint.

The Washington craft beer scene is alive and (seemingly) well. There were definitely new breweries in attendance this year. For next year, I would love to see some added holiday decorum around the hangar itself if possible but that's a minor quibble. People are there for the beer first, the time of year is just a bonus.

Be on the look out for announcements via social media in the fall for ticket sales for the 2018 Winter Beerfest event. And while you're waiting for that, check out the upcoming Belgian Fest in January and the Cask Fest in March.

Craft beer time is always a good time. Happy Holidays!

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Special Thanks: Matt for the credentials. I sincerely appreciate it and hope I can cover more events in the future!

Washington Brewers Guild


Friday, December 1, 2017

The Emotion Behind Performance Capture - An Interview with KARIN KONOVAL


If you are a fan of the recent Planet of The Apes films (Rise, Dawn, and War), then you certainly know who the character of Caesar is.  What other characters come to mind from all three films?  Maurice, of course!

If you are familiar with the process of performance capture, then you know the heart and soul of each character comes from the actor that portrayed the character in the film.  So, who is behind the memorable performances of Maurice?  

Karin Konoval.

Below is my interview with Ms. Konoval.  I am thrilled to feature this interview as a part of Eclectic Arts.  Enjoy!

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Karin Konoval Photos: Gordon Dumka

Planet of The Apes VFX and BTS Photos: Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox, the BTS images are Doane Gregory

EA: Hi Karin! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. How are you?
KK: Fine, thank you.

EA: Great.  For those that aren’t familiar with you, can you tell the readers a bit about your background? I read that you were born in the U.S. but have lived most of your life in Canada…
KK: I was born in Baltimore, Maryland and moved to Edmonton, Alberta with my family when I was eight. After I graduated from the University of Alberta when I was nineteen, I moved to Vancouver, B.C. to study at a theatre school and pursue a career as an actor. I've lived in Vancouver since then.

EA: I read that you have an extensive background in dance as well as acting. When did you start in both? Who/where did you study? What drew you to both?
KK: Dance and writing were my first loves. I trained as a classical dancer until I was sixteen and apprenticed that year with a ballet company. I realized then that a career as solely a dancer may not be the most fulfilling for me. When I entered university the next year I began to take part in extra curricular theatre productions and discovered a joy in playing different characters and being part of the storytelling that compelled me. And in being an actor, I could continue to use and develop my skills as a dancer, and eventually as a singer too.

EA: What was your first on stage experience like (play/theater)?
KK: Well, the very first onstage experience I remember was in kindergarten. Some kind of musical dance performance in our blue uniforms. I only remember that all the other little girls were wearing white socks, but for some reason I'd chosen to wear red ones. It had nothing to do with wanting to be noticed because I was actually quite terrified of being onstage and looked at until I was much older. I just really liked red socks. Who knows, maybe I found it a reassuring color!

EA: Red works for this time of year, too.  How about your first memories of television and film roles?
KK: I think the first screen role I had was as a secretary in a tv movie, a few years after I graduated from theatre school. In my early career I was completely focused on theatre work. I remember finding the filming process a very strange and different experience from theatre, doing repeated takes of the same short pieces of script, having to consciously repeat actions with props in exact continuity, finding my "T mark" on the floor without looking down to see it. It took several years before I became at ease with the technicalities of filming, and it wasn't until I had the chance to play a lead role in the film "Cable Beach" in 2006 that I finally felt truly at home on set, and in fact fell in love with being part of the storytelling process of a film. That's when it became as interesting to me as working in the theatre had always been.

EA: How did the opportunity to play "Maurice" come about for, "Rise of The Planet of the Apes"?
KK: I was called to an audition for a chimpanzee in an untitled feature film. I thought it was a bit silly, but prepared overnight as best I could and went anyway, and expected that to be the end of it. Then I got a callback to a group ape work session under Terry Notary's guidance. It was incredibly challenging, and very interesting. A part of it was just getting the basics of quadrupedal walking, which is immediately (and exhaustingly!) humbling. Then I got a callback to come as an orangutan. As I dove into research and prep for the audition, that's where the journey truly began. I remember the moment I first pulled a book from the children's section at the library in our neighborhood, and looked at the orangutan on the cover. All I could think was, who are these creatures? I have to know more.

EA: Motion capture is such a physically demanding job for actors. How did you prepare for the physicality?
KK: Motion capture - or more accurately in the case of the POTAS, performance capture - is a technology that captures our performances as actors. There's no challenge in putting on the suit, the helmet and face cam, the wires, the dots. Well it's not necessarily the most flattering outfit when you look in the mirror, but other than that! The challenge in playing Maurice is to play the orangutan character with full psychological, physical and vocal integrity. In other words, it's the character that is the challenge. Not the technology.

EA: Oh, I see.  Thank you for the correction.  How about the preparation for the playing an orangutan. What research went into your role prior to filming?
KK: Comprehensive and ceaseless throughout the filming of all three movies. I began by reading every book about orangutans I could get my hands on, watching every video, listening to every sound recording of orangutan voicings and "long calls" in particular, which are only given by mature males. The physical training and practice with arm stilts in quadrupedal walking, and specifically as an orangutan (rather than as a chimpanzee or gorilla), was intense. I worked hours a day on my own, and in the gym, also training flexibility, upper body strength, etc etc etc. I did daily vocal work trying to increase the resonance of my sound, to get the long call as specific as possible. Eventually I went to observe orangutan Towan who lived in Seattle, and in a magical moment when he came to observe me and remained to study me closely for 20 minutes or so, I felt that I finally and truly found the soul of Maurice. I've continued to visit with and study Towan and the rest of his family on a regular basis for the past six years, spending two or three full days with them every two months or so. Largely this has been a personal choice for me, having nothing to do with the films, because the moment I met Towan, and the more I got to know about orangutans, they've compelled me to want to know more and more and more, and of course to learn about the challenges facing their conservation and how I could best support. So that's an ongoing personal journey for me, but certainly the constancy of getting to know orangutans, learning more and more all the time, has contributed hugely to my portrayal of Maurice. The physical training I undertook for "Dawn" and "War" was even more extensive than for "Rise," as the role of Maurice has grown and the demands with that. I could probably write a book about the process of learning and training myself through the three films, a paragraph barely touches it!

EA: After making the first film, were you contracted for two more films?
KK: No. I was approached and contracted for each of the subsequent films about four weeks before each of them began filming.

EA: Did you feel that the first film would be the success that it was before it was released?
KK: All I knew was that playing Maurice was one of the most interesting, challenging and rewarding roles I'd ever done, and I was grateful for it. Also, having the opportunity to work with Andy Serkis, and watch his work (and I did watch every take of his that I could in the monitors, if I was on set but not in a scene with him) was extraordinary. He's one of the finest actors I've ever had the privilege of working with. Working with him, and watching his work, I felt I was watching an Oscar winning performance. That's one thing I did feel for sure.

EA: When the second and third films came out, they had a noticeably darker tone. They also had a different creative team (such as the director). Now that all three have been released, what do you think the first film would have been like had the same director directed "Rise …"?
KK: Rupert Wyatt who directed "Rise" was an absolutely wonderful man to work with, and I adore what he did with the film. Matt Reeves has brilliantly crafted and directed "Dawn" and "War" and I have adored working with him. I honestly can't imagine anything being done differently than it has been done.

EA: I'm sure there are numerous memories from each film but what are one or two that stand out right now?
KK: So many from each one, impossible to narrow down to a couple of standouts. The filming journey of each of these movies has been huge and unforgettable. A couple from the recent filming of "War": the whole month before filming began training on Navarone, the dutch fresian stallion I rode in the film, with the brilliant Danny Virtue. I learned so much from Danny and Navarone, not just through that first month but throughout filming. The filming of the final scene with Andy. An unforgettable day, pretty heart breaking and also my mind kept flashing back six years to when we first met, and filming that scene on the rock in the atrium in "Rise" between Caesar and Maurice. I even sat down with a "whumpf!" of a landing in this final scene, same as I sat down in that scene on the rock in "Rise." There's a little secret I've not shared before.

EA: Thank you for sharing that little secret!  You've had a long successful career in the entertainment world through dance, acting, writing, etc. What do you attribute your lengthy career to? What are some of the milestones in your career?
KK: I'm a hard worker, I think that's really all it is. I love my work as an actor, I'm willing and happy to explore deep and wide, find the necessary stamina and endurance for tough shoots, I treasure working with other hard working people. I love getting to the heart of a story, being at the heart of a good story telling -- whether it's as an actor, a dancer, a singer, a painter, a writer. It's a joy and a blessing I never stop being grateful for, the opportunity to do these things.

EA: For your fans out there, what would they be surprised you enjoy?
KK: I don't know that this would be surprising, more perhaps just not very exciting, but I really love to cook and clean. I love being in my kitchen chopping and dicing vegetables for a stew or something, calms and grounds me.

EA: What is coming up in the future for you?
KK: This season I've had recurring roles on the series The Exorcist and Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, really neat parts to play, and in the new year I'll appear in a very special and oh so cool guest starring role on The X-Files, as well as a briefly recurring role on the series Beyond.

EA: Awesome!  I saw online that there is the possibility of the franchise continuing with a fourth film. Any insight into this that you can share?
KK: I honestly know nothing about nothing! If there is a future to the franchise, I'll likely be one of the last to know.

EA: As we're winding down 2017 in a matter of weeks (where'd the time go?) - what events or moments stand out for you?
KK: Lots of cool moments in the year, but here's three that come to mind: filming the X Files episode "Plus One" was truly the most joyous work experience of the year for me -- probably one of the most joyous work experiences I've ever had. And in July, when I was in New York for the premiere of "War for the Planet of the Apes", I stayed for a couple days exploring the city with a dear friend, and I'll never forget walking into the Museum of Modern Art for the first time in my life. I was overwhelmed seeing the work of all these great artists in one place. And then there's tap dancing. I finally had time this year to begin studying tap dance on a regular basis, and while I'm still barely a beginner it's a total kick every time my feet "get" something. Kind of fulfilling a childhood dream.... despite all the other forms of dance that I studied extensively and have performed professionally, tap was something I always wanted to learn as a kid but never did til now. So I've now got a new skill to work on and develop for the rest of my life.

EA: Thank you so much for taking the time, Karin. I really, really appreciate it! Happy Holidays!
KK: Thanks Mark, same to you!

Rituals In The Northwest - BELPHEGOR Gig Review! Seattle, WA 11/27/17




Studio Seven
Seattle, WA


When this tour was announced I was very excited having been a fan of Belphegor for years. I was fortunate to see them last year so I knew what they brought to the table as a live act. Add in Cryptopsy and Panzerfaust (in place of Hate) and you had one solid ass lineup for Monday night at Studio Seven.

Panzerfaust was the first up of the touring bands. The four piece really set the tone, and in some cases, obliterated it for the evening. Dark, back lit, with the singer standing behind the drum kit (on a box), decked out in a faceless robe, Panzerfaust made the most of their set time. Pure darkened atmosphere in the best black metal way, they really surprised many in the crowd with their performance, myself included. Awesome set and a band I would absolutely see again.

Side note: the band was in a serious accident two days after the Seattle show. Luckily none of the band members were seriously hurt but they lost their gear and merchandise. If you'd like to help the band out, they have a post on their Facebook with a PayPal email you can use to donate what you can to help them finish the tour.  Click Here To Go To Their FB

Death metal veterans Cryptopsy were up next. I saw them last year on one of the best death metal bills in a long time. Technical death metal has always been the name of the game with Cryptopsy and the band delivered in spades at Studio Seven.

The pit was going during the majority of their set as they punished the crowd with Canadian technical death metal. Personally, I always enjoy watching Flo behind the kit. One of the pioneers in extreme metal drumming, he is amazing to watch live. Cryptopsy always deliver and Monday night was no exception.

And then it was time for Belphegor.

Inverted crosses on each side of the stage, along with skull stands, and tons of fog, the bands brand of black metal death is as extreme as ever. The four piece took to the stage and just laid waste to Studio Seven. There's no other way to put it. Again, having seen them last year, I knew what to expect. And I was not disappointed.

Performing songs off the new album, "Totenritual", as well as older gems, Belphegor are a mechanized well-oiled machine every time they play live. If you wanted your metal dark, black, and religiously hateful, you left the gig completely satisfied.

Even though it was the Monday after Turkey Weekend here in the US, the holiday season has started off with a blackened bang with the latest Belphegor tour in North America. A must see when they come to your town!


Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Special Thanks: Charles for the credentials - I really appreciate it!