Todd's Reverb Fest Rundown/Good Time Exploration

Laura Musselman
Some dudes and some strings on some steps on Ballard Avenue, Reverb Fest Saturday.

I caught bits of about a dozen sets, but I'll stick to the highlights for the sake of brevity. Here we go:

At 1 in the afternoon, The Art of Hip Hop--a Tacoma workshop that teaches kids to craft verses and perform--put their term's worth of material on display at the New York Fashion Academy. "Uplifting" would be a great word to describe the show, the climax being the moment teacher Darren "Scooter" Spencer appeared onstage with one of the students to perform a duet, explaining he "didn't know I had a son a year ago" as he gestured to his charismatic stage partner, who'd performed several songs already. They had at last come together and bonded through the workshop; their song (with chorus "like father, like son") was somewhere between inspiring and eye-watering.

Dyme Def played another early set at the NYFA. The trio is nearly fantastical in their cockiness (Brainstorm was wearing a shirt that said "If I was you, I'd hate me"--an official Dyme Def shirt w/ logo) which is actually a great part of their live set, leaving you pumped up on residual confidence. The microphone levels kept sliding off balance--Brainstorm's verses especially sounded quiet--but I still felt good about show.

More after the jump...

Fast-forward to 6:30 p.m., and (after a captivating stage introduction by yours truly) You.May.Die.In.The.Desert could be found elevating the decibel level at the Fashion Academy (I went to other venues keep reading!) with their instrumental rock. With only three members, the band is able to approach Oceansize's Effloresce-era ambiance with At the Drive-In's sense of urgency without sounding forced. Full disclosure: I'm a big fan of these guys, but I understand a possible impatience the casual listener might have with a group that plays a progression THEN PLAYS IT LOUDER as a general structure. The draw is this: Their route is extremely creative, and they hinge their progressions on such delicate interplay (rhythmic, tonal) that it's impressive to watch/listen to; they're also extremely good at tugging at your mood. They closed with "Monolith," an eight-minute song that's probably their most epic, and brought a good set to an awesome close.

Mash Hall played to a packed house at the Sunset at around 11:00. If you looked close enough, you would have seen me jumping up and down near the front, shouting out requests (full disclosure: Having me as a fan is a bit of a mixed bag, as I tend to heckle my favorite bands the worst). Many touring rap groups could take a cue from MH and not suck live. They are always entertaining, and can pull you into a set whether or not you like their music (but you do, so bonus, right?). Onward to the heavy metal portion of the evening!:

Sandrider closed the 2 Bit Saloon at the end of the strip, and two days later, *my ears are still ringing. The sound bounces around the smallish venue and amplifies the volume roughly a zillion-fold. The trio of Jon Weisnewski (Akimbo), Nat Damm (Akimbo), and Jesse Roberts (The Ruby Doe) have a sound (I think!?*) very similar to Akimbo, where the guitar and bass have an intimidating growl when they come together at the end of a sequence (see: "The Corpse"), though their tracks are less bass-driven than the former, Weisnewski having moved to the guitar for this project. The set was acoustically violent, like a great white convulsing on stage, trying to bite the head off anything it could reach. There was a four-person mosh pit. I was in it. The set was awesome. I walked home.

Update: I nearly failed to mention that Dude York put on a rad show. They were extra-energetic, and pumped their fists after each short-burst punk song in a Sweet! We pulled it off! kind of manner. Those guys are definitely worth seeing in the future.

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