Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Manic In Seattle - DOLL SKIN Gig Review! 8/17/17

Doll Skin


@Chop Suey


Seattle, WA





This week has been one of checking out younger artists for Eclectic Arts - one of which was new to me, two of which were not.  Doll Skin fit into the ladder category having seen them last year in April.


The foursome from Phoenix AZ were out on a headlining run of dates supporting their newest release, "Manic Pixie Dream Girl", which came out on the best day ever - June 16th (my birthday).


The band joined the Warped Tour for several dates earlier this summer (including Seattle on June 16th) before this headlining run of shows.  They will be hitting the road again this fall on the One Eyed Doll tour.


Doll Skin initially created a buzz due to their young ages, the David Ellefson connection of Megadeth fame, and perhaps being an all female band.  Anyone who saw the band live in the last year or so know that they are exactly that - a band.  Other than Sydney's voice sounding young (which can't be helped due to her age - it'll mature as she matures), the band bring a raw intensity on stage that rivals any other band I've seen, regardless of their age.  The punk spirit is there as well as a healthy dose of fun.  When I first saw the band, I could not believe how bombastic they were for being a relatively new band.  They killed it a year ago and I could only imagine what all this touring had done to hone their stage experience.


Thursday's show was all ages so I expected to see a lot of the younger set at the gig.  I'd say there was almost a 50/50 split.  I do believe some parents brought their teens to the show and then hung out in the bar area as well to watch.


After a brief changeover from the opening bands (Amsterdam from Seattle were quite good and Next To None showed their prowess on their instruments), Sydney (vocals/guitar) asked the crowd to come close to hear her secret.  After the crowd obliged, she screamed, "we are Doll Skin and we're ready to rock" (or something close to that). 


The band played many tunes off, "Manic Pixie Dream Girl", including single "Shut Up".  Bopping, jumping, and headbanging all around the stage, Doll Skin are like a precision missile on stage these days.  Alex (guitar), Nicole (bass), and Meghan (drums) are really coming into their own.  The new songs are well written and their live performance has strengthened and improved (and they were already good to begin with) since last year. 


It was interesting to watch some of the younger fans in the audience.  You could see that look on their faces of pure bliss watching one of their favorite bands.  I also believe that Doll Skin is showing young ladies in general that you can do whatever it is that you want to in life.  They are role models at such a young age but it would not surprise me to see more and more young rock/punk bands in the next five years or so that sight Doll Skin as an influence.


From start to finish the performance was so worth the price of admission.  I would of liked to have heard, "Furious Fixation" but that's just a minor quibble.  I still can't get parts of certain songs out of my head - they're so catchy!


An idea popped into my head while at the show as well.  Doll Skin were marketing themselves last year with different hair color for each member.  I think they should take that a step or two further.  Much like the Beatles and KISS back in the day, I think the band should consider emphasizing the "four of them equals one" idea. 


For starters, live, they could pick one song that each of the band members sings a bit of lead on.  They all sing background vocals so this isn't much of a stretch.  Take "Family Of Strangers" and have each member sing a line from a verse, or two lines, or whatever feels natural.  I think the fans would love it and I think it would bring a new aspect to the band. 


If the idea really starts to grow, then have each member eventually sing their own song - like Ace Frehley was known for "Shock Me" and Peter Criss "Beth", there could be a song that is Nicole's, one that is Alex's, one that is Meghan's, etc.


Marketing could follow suit - release different cover art for, say, a single that has each member on a different cover (all for the same single).  The ideas are really endless.  Just a random thought.  Maybe the band will kick it around and try it out in the live setting first.  Again, that would be the easiest place to give it a go.


Doll Skin bring it, plain and simple.  Wherever you are, when they come to town, go out and support them.  After the show, for whatever reason, if you didn't like it, then you can tell me to "shut up". 



Mark Sugiyama

Eclectic Arts


Special Thanks:  Shauna for the credentials!


Other Notes:  I was scheduled to do an interview with the band before the show but due to scheduling issues, I couldn't get to the venue during the allotted 6pm time.  Hopefully, next time they come through town I can sit down with the band and pick their brains a bit.


Other Other Notes:  I've been listening to the new album for the last week.  Even though I liked it before I saw the gig, I really like it that much more now.  Punchy production, great songs, and there's an air of that punk vibe that comes through that I really enjoy.  The balance between the songs, the production, and the performances, really make this one of the best albums of 2017. 




Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Summer Soul Collecting - SEPTEMBER MOURNING Gig Review! Seattle, WA 8/3/17

September Mourning


Studio Seven

Seattle, WA




Thursday night Studio Seven welcomed back the Soul Collectors known as September Mourning.  If you’ve been reading Eclectic Arts, you already know that we have been a firm supporter of the September Mourning horde. 


Seattle was under a hot spell as of late (in the 90’s) with poor air quality due to smoke from Canadian fires blowing down to the Emerald City.  We were rated worse than Beijing and LA on Thursday for air quality.  Studio Seven was surprisingly not as hot as I thought it would be.  Granted, it was far from comfortable, but it could have been a lot worse.


Now, if you’re wearing costumes on stage, makeup, and you’re performing, I’m sure it was a different story.


September and three of her Reapers (Shadou has been absent the last three shows I’ve been to) presented a new aspect to their stage show – comic story telling through video.  This aspect really helped create and sell the trans media concept that is September Mourning.  I enjoyed the interplay of dialogue and animation with the bands songs.  This addition is a big step in the right direction for the band if you ask me.


I would love to see this presentation in a theater like the Moore or the Paramount. 


For those that haven’t seen the band before, they always bring a show of fog, lights, costumes, props, and other stage items to bring their concept of September Mourning to life. 


Musically, the band has backing tracks that help fill in some of the recorded elements you hear on Volume II (which just had its one year anniversary) or that you hear/see in their music videos.


Two friends made it down to the show who knew next to nothing about the band.  They both walked away fans.  This is what it takes for these road dog kind of bands – fans bringing new people to the shows to create new fans of the band.


They’re finishing up this leg of the Summer Tour before a quick break.  Then, they head out on one of the best bills of the end of summer/fall – the Xandria, Kobra and The Lotus, and September Mourning tour.  All three bands are quality and all three bands play different types of metal.  I wish this tour was coming to Seattle but they already made their stop here on the first leg of the Xandria/Kobra tour.


After that, I would think a longer break is in order so September Mourning can get some new material written and recorded.  I would expect that we’ll see the band again sometime in 2018 – hopefully with a new album to promote and tour behind. 



Mark Sugiyama

Eclectic Arts


Special Thanks:   Rich for the credentials.  No worries about the interview last night.  Hopefully, it won’t be so damn hot next time in Seattle so we can get an interview done.


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

KATIE KUFFEL at the High Dive - Gig Review! 7/25/17

Katie Kuffel


High Dive

July 25, 2017

Seattle, WA




There are many clubs, rooms per se, that I have known about here in the greater Seattle area but I have not actually been to for a show.  The High Dive is one such room.  On a warm Tuesday evening, I went to see a local artist that I had only seen once before (and that was recently, too).


I enjoyed Katie Kuffel's set the first time I saw her perform.  I had known about her for a while but never saw a gig.  The mixture of her voice - which I believe is key - along with the variance in music sold me at that first show. 


The show at the High Dive was a headlining show.  Two indie touring artists opened up the evening (with one member of Mighty Brother having a birthday as well).  I have a pet peeve but I'll save that for the end of this review.


Katie's trio really works for me.  I like hearing the drums and bass filling out the sound to Katie's songs (keyboards and vocals).  Theirs is a vibe or chemistry that works on stage with the three of them.  Like many local musicians, Katie has performed in different lineups at her shows.  I hope she keeps this trio going - there's a lot of potential there.


Her song selection for her set was varied - I recognized a few songs from the first gig I saw while there were definitely a few others aired that were new to me.  The bonus tune with Jonah on sax was a fantastic way to end the evening.


Katie is a talent - there is no question about that in my mind.  But, with all singer songwriters, the rooms they play make a big difference.  Or, rather, that audiences they play to. 


Nothing irks me more than hearing the white noise of chitter chatter from folks in a bar not giving a shit about who's performing on stage.  The High Dive is at least laid out in a way that the drinkers can hang in the back part of the bar and talk the night away while the listeners can be up front by the stage. 


Unfortunately, this is part of the deal when artists perform, especially at bars.  People are there to drink, mingle, talk, etc.  I know this from playing my own gigs.  Friends and family sometimes are going to talk through your set - and yes - it irks me then when it happens to me, too. 


So what's my point?  In a perfect world, people would go to listen to the artist on stage.  I know this world isn't perfect - far from it these days.  I would just hope that if you're friends with the artist, keep your chit chat to a minimum OR stand away from the stage area so those that want to take in the artist’s music can do so without distraction. 


Now that I'm off my soapbox, go check out one of Katie's gigs - she has several coming up before the summer winds down.  I hope to myself.  And if you see me at a gig, say hello between artists sets.  Is that a deal?  Cool - and thanks!




Mark Sugiyama

Eclectic Arts


Special Thanks:  Katie for guest-ing me!