Thursday, June 29, 2017

GUITAR WOLF Attack Seattle! 6/21/17



Isaac Rother and The Phantoms


Mommy Long Legs


The first day of summer brought Japan’s jet rock n’ roll trio, Guitar Wolf, to the Sunset in Ballard.  A sold out show, the band were on the road supporting their newest album, “T-Rex From A Tiny Space Yojouhan”.


For the uninitiated, Guitar Wolf live is quite the sight to behold.  They are reminiscent of the early days of punk rock.  Sweat dripping from the walls, loud, rude and crude, no apologies kind of shows.  The gig on Wednesday night was sold out – people turned away at the door, phone callers told there were no more tickets for the show, etc.  I knew I was in for a wild ride!


Opening the night at 9pm was Mommy Long Legs – a local four piece punk outfit.  There 30 minute set was brief but to the point. 


Up from LA, Isaac Rother and The Phantoms were in the special guest slot.  A throwback to the surfing bands of the era mixed with everything you loved about the ghouls and goblins soundtrack as well.  The band definitely got the crowd warmed up who were dancing through the majority of their set.  The stage was set for the headliner.


The sold out Sunset was packed with fans for Guitar Wolf.  Donning the stage in dinosaur masks, Drum Wolf and (new) Bass Wolf walked on first followed by Guitar Wolf (Seiji).  For the next hour or so, the Sunset became a fun filled, punk rock sweatbox.  No breaks in the set-list other than to pull a fan up (one of the guitarists from Mommy Long Legs) to channel Guitar Wolf which is still one of the coolest things I’ve seen a band do in a while.  Guitar Wolf crowd surfed per usual during this part as did the fan. 


The band shows no signs of slowing down even after all these years.  After their main set and encore, the lights came up and the fans started to leave to get some air outside, grab another drink in the bar, etc.  Guitar Wolf came back on for a solo encore song which half of us got to hear that stayed.


Watching Seiji playing a song this way, solo, after the encore, was awesome.  Sweat drenched and leather clad, he epitomized punk rock and what Guitar Wolf have stood for all these years; Jet Rock N’ Roll!





Guitar Wolf!


Sunday, June 11, 2017

TOBIAS THE OWL - Gig Review from Ballard, WA! 6/7/17

Tobias The Owl


@ The Tractor Tavern

June 7, 2017

Ballard, WA



On a pleasant Wednesday evening, the Tractor was sporting a local lineup – with the special guest slot being Tobias The Owl.


I’ve covered Tobias’ work for roughly six years now.  From the early beginnings here in Seattle to the current version that I saw play on Wednesday, it has been a joy to watch the growth of Tobias The Owl.


Many times performing solo, tonight Tobias The Owl was backed by a four piece band (percussion, bass, keys, and violin with backing vocals as well from some members).


The Tractor was getting noisier as the set started.  The stage side had a lot of local musicians and friends from all of the bands in attendance.  The bar side had the same but much more talking and such.


“Every Eye Is A Universe” came out in late 2016 and has been performing extraordinarily well.  A few tunes were played from it on Wednesday night – including the album opener, “The Wind and The Echo”.


The band sounded good with decent lighting this time around (compared to the last time I saw them in March).  Songs such as, “Murmurs”, “Low Life”, “Sing Me To Sleep”, and a personal favorite, “Inverse Seconds” were aired to much appreciation by the audience.


I’ve already stated that I feel Tobias The Owl could go as far as he wants to with his music.  I can hear it in commercials, films, etc.  His voice is rich with character as he weaves his tales of human relationships, science, and other worldly topics. 


Catch him this summer either solo or with his band – Tobias The Owl never disappoints.



Mark Sugiyama

Eclectic Arts


Special Thanks:  Tobias The Owl for the credentials!


Friday, June 9, 2017

LETTERS FROM THE FIRE Return To Seattle! 6/6/17

Letters From The Fire

@ El Corazon

June 6, 2017

Seattle, WA


If we play a little six degrees of separation (well, maybe not six, more like two or three), I discovered Letters From The Fire via another band.  Actually, no, scratch that.  I discovered them via another band's publicist back in 2016.

Said publicist had been sending several invites to artists on his roster that were coming to Seattle.  Either schedules didn't match up or genre of music or sometimes both.

Finally, in September, another invite came but from a band I was interested in and it was on a day that worked for my schedule.  Bingo!

I checked out the club to see who else was on the bill that night.  I did a quick Internet and You Tube search on each band. 

One of those bands was Letters From The Fire.

I saw them play - first of the three touring bands that night - to about 20 people.  And they played the shit out of their instruments to those 20 people. 

Impression made.

One t-shirt, CD, and picture with singer Alexa later, I was home listening to the CD and was impressed even more.  No filler.  No throwaway tunes.  Punchy solid production.  Amazing album!

Fast forward to March of this year - 2017.  Letters From The Fire returned to Seattle - this time one band under the headliners.  Many more than 20 people this time around to play to and make fans out of - I'd say mission was accomplished at that gig. 

And this brings us to Tuesday night - a warm Tuesday night in Seattle.  Letters From The Fire were here as the first touring band supporting another headliner act.

Guitarist and taco aficionado Mike Keller guested me so I could cover the show.  An interview was discussed but had to wait until another time.  Actually an interview was discussed briefly for the March show too but I had to bail on that one so we're even so to speak.  Next time I hope we can make that happen.

If you haven't seen the band live, they just go for the throat.  What can I say?  I cover a lot of shows and a lot of the "newer" bands (LFTF aren't really new but this incarnation is) play hard but they're usually missing something to these ears.  Sometimes it's musicianship.  Others its stage presence or songwriting is still a work in progress.  Letters From The Fire have it all working - firing on all cylinders.

I have yet to see them do a headlining set (hopefully soon) but the 30 minutes they're given they always make the most out of.  All of them - and I mean all of them - just wail away on their instruments. 

Clay (bass) reminds me of what James and Lars must of felt when they first saw the late Cliff Burton in his former band Trauma.  Just point in his direction, pick your jaw up from the floor, and say to yourself, "we need that guy in our band"!  He and Mike should start a side band - like a death metal band for fun - call it "Devil's Tacos" or "Taco Death" or even "Fire Amongst Us".  Clay reminds me a bit of Alex Webster of Cannibal Corpse fame - thus the death metal idea.  In any event - the guy rips on the bass.

Mike (guitar) - doing the jock and roll deal these days (as in started out as an athlete and then took up the guitar - still hits the gym often, though).  Rhythm guitar for days - side to side head twisting with hair flipping out all over the place.  Tongue sticking out, finger flipping at times, controller of the laptop backing tracks, Mike keeps it all together.  Every band has at least one member that handles the business on the road, they're the ones that know the details of the gigs, behind the scenes bullshit every band deals with on tour, riders, payouts, media requests, etc.  Mike gives it all he's got live - you can tell he lives for that time on stage.  And his rhythm work is extremely tight.  Such an under appreciated part of a band - trust me, you'll know when the rhythm guitarist is a slacker.  That ain't Mike.

Cameron (guitar) - handling the leads in the songs when called for, Cameron is the school of rock guy - the one that could probably tell you about every aspect of his instrument, your instrument, and your brother's instrument.  Rocking out equally hard as the rest of the band, there's a calm strength to his playing where one can tell that he's in control of his instrument, not the other way around.

Brian (drums) - he's the drummer - this means he's got to be somewhat crazy, yeah?  He beats things for a living with a stick - and Brian goes to town on his DW kit - all three times I've seen him.  The drummers I've known are a breed all their own - and Brian keeps the tradition alive (and kicking)!

Lastly Alexa (vocals) - she can sing damn it!  She, like the rest of the band, gives it her all when she's on the stage.  She can hit the notes on the songs just like the recordings. She fronts the band and is the ringleader during the show.  Enough said.  A great fit for the band!

What else can I say at this point?  I've been very fortunate to have seen LFTF three times in about a span of 9 or 10 months.  Want to know what songs they played?  Go see them the next time they play your town.  When they wrap up this leg of the tour, they have a week or two off, before heading back out with Seether for round 2 of that tour. 

They have three music videos from the album ("At War" being the newest), several lyric videos from the album, and of course there are fan-shot live clips all over the web. 

They're a great fucking band.  I'd love to see them headline or even co-headline a tour that brings them back to Seattle.  I think a band like New Year's Day could work - different yet similar crowds.  Stitched Up Heart perhaps? 

In any event, until next time, I'll be playing my "Worth The Pain" CD on 11 and wearing my LFTF hoodie I purchased from their Big Cartel site (shameless plug) once it shows up here next week. 

Safe travels all and next time - we talk!


Mark Sugiyama

Eclectic Arts

Special Thanks: Mike for the credentials - no issues at the door this time!  Cheers!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

RODRIGUEZ Finds His Way To Seattle! Gig Review - 5/30/17


Arum Rae

@ The Moore Theatre
May 30, 2017
Seattle, WA

 (c) Rodriguez Official Site


Guitar?  Check.
Sunglasses?  Check.
Hat?  Check.
Audience?  Check.

I was very fortunate to witness the music of Rodriguez.  If you aren't familiar with his story (or the film that brought this new found attention to the man and his music the last five years), it honestly would not have mattered at the show in Seattle. 

There is an honesty and integrity that rings through each note of music that emanates from Rodriguez.  One can't help but feel like your witnessing the performance of a wise man, an elder, a poet from yesteryear.

The Moore Theatre in Seattle, WA was the perfect setting for an evening with Rodriguez.  This was the last stop on a string of west coast performances. 

Opening the night was NY based singer songwriter Arum Rae.  Performing solo - standing with an acoustic guitar - Arum poured her heart out into an opening set of songs that went over very well with the audience (myself included).

What was unique was that as Arum got deeper into her set, the more intimate the 1800 capacity Moore Theatre became.  Her voice singing of life's trials and tribulations, hopes and dreams (including one of touring with Rodriguez), I found her performance hypnotizing. 

Accompanying herself on acoustic guitar - no capo key adjustments for any songs, which was unusual - Arum made quite a few new fans with her performance.  I would strongly suggest checking her out if she plays your town.  Beautiful music and performance!

After a brief changeover, the three-piece backing band for Rodriguez was introduced who took their positions on the stage.  Then, the man himself was introduced.  Escorted out with assistants on either side, the 74-year-old musician came out to thunderous applause.  After getting situated on a high backed stool, with a stand to his right, Rodriguez said a few words to the audience before donning sunglasses and, at first, a beanie/skull cap. 

He and the band launched into a few songs before Rodriguez changed his beanie for his more familiar black hat.  In-between songs it was interesting to notice that he would always turn to his right, strum a few chords, sometimes say something to his guitar player (and I'm guessing music conductor for the band), and then reach out to see where the mic was before launching into the next song.

Very few in-between songs banter - although he would respond when the audience was yelling out things to him. 

Everything from, "I Wonder" and, of course, "Sugarman" was aired as well as several cover tunes including The Door's, "Light My Fire" and Jefferson Airplane's, "Somebody To Love". 

The sound got better as the night continued on (I think initially the mic for Rodriguez was not close enough to him and the FOH sound didn't adjust at first - even with audience members yelling out for more vocal in the mix).  Watching Rodriguez play his nylon string acoustic electric with his right hand strumming and slapping the chords out (no pick), his unmistakable voice really hit home just what an amazing musician he is.  To think the majority of the world never would of known of this immensely talented man had it not been for the Academy Award winning film, "Searching for Sugarman" is amazing to me. 

Thank goodness for the film shining a light on Rodriguez.  The world is a better place with he and his music in it.

The evening ended with a full crew bow to the audience.  Waves and thank you's from the stage and Rodriguez was escorted off to stage left as the house lights came on.

A satisfying evening of music from both Arum Rae and Rodriguez, I was fortunate to be there with the other fans in attendance. 

As Rodriguez said from the stage, "Sugarman" the song is "descriptive not prescriptive", and, "hugs not drugs".  Rodriguez is the music man - delivering music to anyone that will receive it.  "Searching for Sugarman"? 

I found him here in Seattle, WA.  And I'm hooked.

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Special Thanks:  Nate (for Arum Rae) and Rodriguez for the credentials!


Arum Rae