Based on the YouTube footage I watched of Yo Majesty electrifying audiences in Austin, Texas, at this year's SXSW festival, I figured their appearance at Chop Suey last Saturday would be a must-see. Sure enough, I was glad I didn't pass this one up, because these badass butches are easily some of the most riveting live performers I've seen all year.
The crowd may have been smaller than the Orlando, Fla.–based hip-hop outfit deserved, but thanks in part to the promotional efforts and libidinous opening set by Lisa Orth (aka DJ Amateur Youth), the night was so sweaty, enthusiastic, and demonically dance-driven that the club felt fuller than it actually was. Dance duo Team Gina were front and center when MCs Shunda K. and Jwl B. took the stage along with producer/beatmaker David Alexander. Looking fiercely beautiful and sounding aggressive, the brash pair dropped smart, hilarious, and powerful rhymes about their "kryptonite pussies" and incited the crowd to chant along to their most recognizable cut, "Club Action." Über-babe Shunda K. kept her assets tucked tightly into her ribbed, white tank top. But as anticipated, Jwl B. had no problem going topless for much of the set, a move that felt less like a novelty stunt and more like a natural expression of their ribald and fearless attitude.
Chatting backstage afterward with a Courvoisier and cranberry in her hand, Shunda filled me in on their latest coup, signing with Domino Records, while Jwl discussed the motivation that makes them such a gorgeous force to be reckoned with. "We really just want to have a good time, and we're blessed to have these gifts. It really is just about being positive."
Kwab Copeland must also have a pretty friggin' positive attitude, because the former Sunset booker seems to be really tackling a lot lately. He's in the process of taking over booking for Jules Maes and helping get future Georgetown venue Last Chance Chili off the ground, so I'm seriously impressed with the lineup that he pulled together for Seattle Weekly's first REVERBfest. Bumbershoot and the Capitol Hill Block Party have their place in terms of big, national headliners and mainstream appeal, but this city has been sorely in need of a festival that puts the spotlight entirely on both established and up-and-coming local artists.
Conceived in the same spirit as our Outsider in-stores at Easy Street Records (the next of which is with the Cave Singers on Sept. 25), the idea behind REVERBfest was to focus purely on locals. There's a slight emphasis on relative newcomers like the Pleasureboaters, the Maldives, Das Llamas, TacocaT, Throw Me the Statue, Fleet Foxes, "Awesome," Macklemore, Grynch, and Siberian, plus a sprinkling of old-school stalwarts like Girl Trouble, Mark Pickerel, and the Dusty 45s. There are also plenty of stellar DJs set to throw down over at Hazlewood, including the boys from the Cops, DJ dAb, and my KEXP colleague and human encyclopedia of musical knowledge, DJ El Toro.
All this will take place starting at 2 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 6, on nine different stages in venues around Ballard, four of which will be all-ages. Tickets are on sale on our Web site (seattleweekly.com/promos/reverb) and are just $8 ($10 day of show).
Of course, the multivenue event that everyone is talking about this week is the experimental, electronic orgy, Decibel Festival. Read previews by Steven Sawada, Travis Ritter, Jeff Morrison, and Rachel Shimp in this issue (p. 75), and find postshow blog action on Reverb (www.seattleweekly.com/music/blogs/reverb).
As for me, I plan on saving my energy for the show at the Funhouse on Saturday, Sept. 21. It's a happy coincidence that it's my birthday that night, but the real guest of honor is local musician Dave Bessenhoffer, an all-around great guy who has played in tons of excellent punk bands, including Blow Up, Tractor Sex Fatality, New Fangs, and (most recently) Fort Hell. With a little help from his friends (and mine), plus suitably noisy accompaniment from the Pleasureboaters, we'll be wishing Bessenhoffer well as he heads for the sunnier environs of Austin.