4:38 a.m. KBCS Studios, Bellevue. In four hours, Chris Peterson will be teaching a third-grade class at Bellevue Children’s Academy, but right now he’s back- announcing an Ecuadorian wedding song. Peterson has just played Chaskinakuy’s “Sahuaringui,” from A Flor de Tierra, on his radio program, Inca Cola. It’s the tail end of KBCS’ fall pledge drive, and in a gentle, knowing voice as suited for 8-year-olds as it is for early, early morning fans of South American music, the DJ nails the segue: “While we’re listening to wedding music, why not make a pledge yourself?” It works, and as an Argentine tango bleeds out over the airways and the ether, the station’s phone line comes alive. Readying his next few moves, Peterson jockeys CD cases and old vinyl, purchased for a song on one of many trips to Bolivia, while he patiently takes a local caller’s credit card number.
“We’re supposed to play upbeat music during pledge drive, but I’m actually playing a lot of Andean music this morning; it actually gets me better listener response,” the experienced community radio DJ says. Although it is underwritten by Bellevue Community College and other businesses, KBCS (91.3 FM) is operated by a team of passionate volunteers and is 80 percent listener supported; Peterson’s show, which he began at a station in his native Michigan and resurrected 14 months ago, takes a cross-cultural, cross-genre approach, easing from ’70s Peruvian rock into sambas and Creole waltzes.
His last song of the morning is Lucila Campos’ “A Saca Camote Con el Pie.” Campos, he tells listeners, is a “top diva of the Afro-Peruvian style.” Off-air, Peterson looks satisfied and a little wiped out. “The amount of coffee I need to ingest to get through the show means I can’t go back to sleep before I go to work,” he says. “So I just push through.” LAURA CASSIDY
6:20 a.m. KEXP Studios, Lower Queen Anne. It’s not even daybreak in Seattle, and KEXP (90.3 FM) morning host John Richards has already received 26 e-mails from Chicago, Atlanta, even Manchester, Madrid, and Toronto. After seven years on the air, Richards has perfected the balancing act of checking his in-box, answering the phone on loudspeaker, cueing tracks, and finishing a bowl of cereal—superhuman for those of us who wrestle with the toothpaste cap at this hour. “Congratulations to those who’ve made it through the week,” he offers at the usual caffeinated clip, nodding to the “cubicle army,” his term for regulars plugged into their desktop computers.
Does Richards have a surefire morning tune? He says he can’t choose just one: “I’ll play my favorite Friday morning tune, how about that?” Goldspot’s acoustic-pop “Friday,” along with Sinéad O’Connor’s reggae number “Vampire,” sets a gentle pace for the day. Richards saves the rock and roll for seven o’clock: The cubicle army, after all, needs to be prodded into the day, not razzed. KATE SILVER
8 a.m. The Internet. “Blogio Oddio turned me on to the wonderful sounds of N.Y.C. band Luminescent Orchestrii, purveyors of fine ‘Romanian gypsy punk’ music,” Scotto, the Seattle-based proprietor of www.comfortradio.org, writes on this morning’s post. “They claim that ‘orchestrii’ means ‘small ensemble with orchestral intent’; I just think it sounds cool.” Indeed it does: “Warsaw,” one of two tracks Scotto posts today, is a fiery, fleet instrumental near-jig, while “Stranger” is slower, knottier, and features female vocals that sound like commands: “Stole the gold from around my neck/Stole the jewel from my chest/Stole a girdle from my hips/Stole the rose from myyyyyy . . . lips.” MICHAELANGELO MATOS
11:20 a.m. Screenplay, Inc., Interbay. If you’ve been inside a department store, hotel, or nightclub in the United States, you’ve likely observed Screenplay’s “audio-visual business environments” without even knowing it. Drawing from the biggest music-video archive in the world, they service retailers—Seattle clients include R Place and Experience Music Project—with monthly compilations designed to attract and keep customers’ attention.
Lanna Apisukh is hospitality, sales, and marketing coordinator for the company’s Nightlife division, which expands on the DVD subscriptions by placing customized video jukeboxes in sports bars, casinos, and other venues. “I find leads for the salespeople, and if they’re qualified I’ll send info packets and a demo,” Apisukh says. The jukebox near her desk reads “Lanna’s Fo Shizzle,” and it’s playing Sonic Youth, Throwing Muses, the Killers, Elefant, the Hives, Depeche Mode, the Distillers, Zwan, Blondie, and Beck.
Upstairs in Acquisitions, deals are being made with labels; in Quality Control, someone checks the videos for glitches and objectionable content. Does the receptionist, who sits 5 feet from an always-looping video screen, still enjoy MTV? “Uh, no,” she says, almost too quickly. RACHEL SHIMP
12:02 p.m. Tower Records, Lower Queen Anne. Moving across the street from a large music retailer is a bad, bad idea for an inveterate record buyer. Every morning—or, equally often, early afternoon—I end up stopping in Tower, usually to see if any new books or magazines are in. Today I pick up the British edition of GQ, a “music issue” featuring a very airbrushed-looking Mariah Carey on the cover. Playing over the system is a flickering ambient drone that fades out after a minute; oddly, nothing takes its place.
Across the street at Caffe Vita, the stereo is plenty active. It takes me a second to recognize the groove and the voice playing medium-loud on the system, but then I do: “I Want You,” from Worldwide Underground. “Is this Erykah Badu?” I ask the barista as she opens the bottle of water she’s ringing up for me. Her eyes widen like I’ve uttered the secret password: “Yes,” she says. MICHAELANGELO MATOS
12:12 p.m. Sub Pop Records, Belltown. Midday in the offices of Sub Pop Records, the most pressing issues are (a) what time everyone’s leaving for lunch, and (b) whether or not anyone will show up at 3 p.m. near the fountain at Westlake Center to claim four free tickets to tomorrow night’s Iron and Wine show at the Moore Theatre. Lacey Swain, who handles online sales for the label, says that the tickets were offered to fans via a posting on MySpace’s bulletin board, and an announcement was sent out over the RSS feed on the label’s Web site. The contest was announced earlier this morning; fans were given a password and the vital coordinates and told to look for a Sub Pop employee with the band’s name written on his bare chest. Still, Swain seems unsure that anyone will show—as if she doesn’t know that most MySpace members log on to the site hourly if not more, especially on Fridays when the work day drags and weekend plans are taking shape. LAURA CASSIDY
12:30 p.m. Composition Lab, University of Washington School of Music. In the basement of Raitt Hall—the entire building, startlingly, is wrapped Christo-style in white plastic as part of a “Masonry Abatement Project”—is the main studio for UW’s DXARTS program, location for today’s class. From speakers hanging on all four walls, we listen to Organon Sostenuto by Joshua Parmenter, in which flute, bassoon, cello, and bass sounds are subjected to real-time processing. The instruments’ abrupt gestures are stretched, echoed, and layered into turbulent, haunting washes of sound, with a hint of pure A minor suffusing the work as it progresses. There’s plenty of programming arcana to be explicated, but midway through the class one student suggests, “Let’s not talk about technical stuff.” The class then digs into some of the classic computer-music aesthetic questions: the need for small, subtle gestures in a medium that can produce overwhelming volume with just a twist of a knob, the problems of balancing electronic sound with acoustic sound in live performance, the desire to create a rewarding listening experience that travels outside the Lab’s ivory tower. GAVIN BORCHERT
2:05 p.m. The Internet. Around 30 track listings for mixtapes, mix-CDs, and MP3 playlists are posted daily on www.artofthemix.com, a Web site begun eight years ago by Seattle software engineer Jim Januszewski that allows you to categorize your mixes as well as list them. Of the 18 posted today so far, the most striking belong to Keebdemon666, who’s put up four of them—two industrial, one goth, one “alternating DJ.” The most notable is “An Industrial Migrane” (sic), which features tracks from Bile, Blue Eyed Christ, the Cruxshadows, the Faint, Laibach, Rammstein, KMFDM, Ministry, VNV, Mortiis, Nine Inch Nails, and Zeromancer. “I made this mix before I went to go sleep with this girl,” Keebdemon666 explains helpfully. “She had bad taste in music, and it’s hard to have sex with EMO music in the background.” MICHAELANGELO MATOS
2:08 p.m. Pike Place Market. In the spirit of a band happily going down with the pirate ship, three men are digging into a hot-jazz polka: “I look good in my tuxedo/It hides the bleeding well/So I’ll take another bullet in the head, barkeep/’Cause I only go out in style.” Moonpenny Opera is indeed loaded with style, if not exactly the black-tie variety. Singer-guitarist Shmootzi the Clown (top hat, New Wave shades, nose ring), stand-up bassist Meshuggenah Joe (purple boots, stingy pork pie) and accordionist Harold Smaude (green trousers, red suspenders, animated face) play to a rotating crowd of passersby, some won over enough to stop and even to buy a copy of the group’s hand-labeled CD-R Charmed, I’m Sure. “It’s got our violinist on it,” they tell the crowd. “She’s so good!”
A few feet away, Choice Produce staffer Jacquie Roa dances as Sean Kelley hands out slices of “mucho delicioso” persimmon. A tall, tousle-haired kid in a Mariners T-shirt wanders by with an acoustic guitar. He cocks an ear, stops about 6 feet away, and contributes a bluesy solo to the din before strolling on. RICKEY WRIGHT
2:17 p.m. The Internet. An eBay seller in Fenton, Mo., is offering a 7-inch single of Mudhoney’s “Touch Me I’m Sick” on brown vinyl. There are currently 12 bids; the price is at $23.51 for 10 minutes of 15-year-old garage punk. Another seller, from London, offers a timely “very rare live CD from grunge ‘pioneers’ Nirvana entitled Trick or Treat. It was recorded live at the Paramount Theatre, Seattle, Washington, USA on the 31st October 1991.” Bids: 11; current price: $18 pounds—or, in cold, hard American cash, approximately $31.88. LAURA CASSIDY
3:01 p.m. Westlake Center, downtown. The instant after Sub Pop employee Andrew Sullivan, who works in the label’s media department, pulls off his T-shirt to reveal the words “Iron and Wine” written in Sharpie on his bare chest, eager fans approach with the password, “beard.” The tickets are gone, just like that, to happy fans. “The Internet works,” Lacey Swain proclaims ecstatically. “It works!” LAURA CASSIDY
3:38 p.m. Band practice, Capitol Hill. After navigating a small, difficult passageway leading into the dank basement of guitarist Marshall Nall’s Capitol Hill house, vocalist Gary Smith and bassist Rachel Ratner start discussing new song ideas for their band, PartMan PartHorse, while Marshall and drummer Lisa Smith, Gary’s wife, finish their cigarettes. The band has been playing poppy new wave songs like “High Five Heaven” around town for almost two years. They’re incredibly energetic live, but today they’re working quietly on new material. That’s partly because two days ago the police were called due to excessive volume.
As a result, tensions here are definitely high. After six songs, Gary stops everything cold: “Lisa, you’re playing too loud!” “Well, what the fuck do you know?” she responds. Gary throws an afghan over Lisa’s drum kit as they heatedly discuss the possibility of another police visit. Ratner excuses herself to go to class while Gary yells at Lisa, “Why don’t you have another cigarette?” Walking away, Ratner smiles and says, “They do this all the time. At least they are being kind of quiet.” LIAM COLE
3:44 p.m. McDonald’s, downtown. The sidewalk outside the McDonald’s at Third Avenue and Pike Street has always been a popular spot to loiter, and six years ago, its owner, Rick Barrett, decided to do something about it. First, he took the lead of several other cities and began piping MUZAK out onto the corner. The kids stayed put, so Barrett switched tactics by blasting country music, a racially acute bit of target marketing that garnered noise complaints from the neighbors.
Save passing traffic, today no music can be heard outside this McDonald’s. Step in the building during lunch and you can just barely hear what’s being played inside, too: A faint, schmaltzy big-band slow jam that’s swallowed up by cash registers, ice machines, deep fryers, and order-up pings, not to mention the murmurs and shouts of 50 or so customers and a dozen employees. A supervisor asks a manager to ID the source—satellite radio, tuned to the Italia station. As I go to work on my fries, the music gets a hair rambunctious, threatening to break through the room’s ambience. Just as suddenly, it cuts to another station that I, along with everyone else, cannot quite hear. MICHAELANGELO MATOS
4:15 p.m. Laura Dean’s piano studio, Ravenna. This has to be the cheeriest piano studio I’ve ever seen: hard-boiled-yolk yellow walls, salmon carpet, peach blinds, orange striped curtains, and French doors letting Indian-summer light flood in. “Let’s start with these arpeggios,” Dean says, and fifth-grader Natalie Krasnow opens with a firm F major and G major. Her D major is a little halting; “Aim for the A with your thumb as you’re going down,” Dean advises. Next is the assigned repertory. “What’s your best piece right now?” Dean asks. “It’s always good to start off with something you’re confident about.”
For Natalie that would be “Tumbalalaika,” a wistful Yiddish folksong. Dean brightly offers instruction on everything from posture to music theory, deftly using a variety of approaches to hold Natalie’s attention: They play one piece as a duet, for another they tap the rhythms alone, and in a third they figure out how to milk the ending for maximum performance effectiveness. “Look at the accent marks here,” Dean says while Krasnow punches out the open fifths of “Turkey in the Straw” with sonorous relish. “It doesn’t have to sound pretty!” GAVIN BORCHERT
4:21 p.m. Liberty Loans, downtown. “Generally, most of our stuff comes out on a loan,” Jeff McBee explains of how this pawn shop, across from the Pike Place Market, gets its merch. If the loan isn’t paid on time, he says, “It goes out on the floor.” McBee is standing behind the counter and in front of a couple dozen guitars, a handful of them—a black-and-blonde-wood Epiphone Dot V8 with stickers of flame and the Playboy logo ($425), a Harmony banjo ($199)—so much nicer than you’d expect here it makes you wonder what prompted their arrival. “People generally don’t sell to us,” McBee explains. “We only pay one-tenth retail.” He shows me a Line 6 amplifier selling for $399.99; portable CD players go for between $29.95 and $39.95. Then McBee grabs the banjo and offers a quick demonstration. He is, it turns out, a pretty good picker. MICHAELANGELO MATOS
5:15 p.m. The Gap, downtown. Who needs a cocktail when you’re surrounded by racks of tweed and denim with the thrill of payday in the air? Friday afternoon shopping gives new meaning to happy hour, if you can handle the excitable throngs angling for the same pair of pants in your size. The ample sunlight and whitewashed walls turn the Gap into a three-story temple to business casual, but new wave and Brit-pop offer a secular soundtrack. Teenage Fanclub’s subdued “Time Stops” preserves the frenzy like a Life magazine snapshot; a few steps away, Coldplay’s “Speed of Sound” raises girlish excitement to fever pitch next to bins of cotton robes and discounted thongs. Stand between them and you can hear both songs making an MOR mash-up among the equally ambiguous sportswear. KATE SILVER
5:30 p.m. Seattle Drum School of Music, Pinehurst. It takes roughly 45 minutes to get to the Seattle Drum School from downtown. FCS North’s Andy Sells plays a variety of styles comfortably, which is why I take lessons from him. To warm up, we play a portion of the Rudimental Ritual, a snare solo played over a bossa-nova pattern, then talk a bit about the school’s fundamentals as developed by owner Steve Smith, especially counting odd-time. Next, we continue working on triplets being shifted around the kit in the jazz idiom, and discuss space in composition. Sells plays me a Shelly Manne piece to illustrate slow-groove note placement, as well as left-foot triplets; I then begin playing a moderate-tempo jazz piece. Andy switches to turntables and scratches a horn phrase for accompaniment. As we wind down, I mention that I’m learning Herbie Hancock’s “Palm Grease,” with my left hand playing time and my right interpreting the Latin rhythms on the toms; Sells offers some ideas about phrasing the piece. “Good luck, boss,” he says. “See you next week.” LIAM COLE
6:10 p.m. Easy Street Records, Lower Queen Anne. “Children are here—that’s wonderful,” singer-songwriter Rosie Thomas says in the middle of her in-store set. “There’s free beer in the back,” she offers the adults in the 50-or-so-strong crowd, then gestures to a bandmate: “Andy, I think, had something other than beer.”
The audience has been raptly silent during Thomas’ first couple songs, but the band’s lengthy retuning allows the crowd to talk. The singer’s goofy stage manner—her speaking voice is cartoony, her singing one commanding—gives us permission to relax, permission that isn’t quite there in Thomas’ often tense songs.
Tuned up, Thomas and her sidemen begin “Since You’ve Been Around,” the opening number from her new If Songs Could Be Held (Sub Pop), gradually filling up the once-again hushed room. Then an amp croaks. “Once, when I was in Boston, I heard a newscaster say to keep an eye out for spritzle,” Thomas says, indicating the now-useless equipment’s dying breath. Near the used aisle, a couple has been carrying a little white dog; now, it needs to leave, and the couple follows. MICHAELANGELO MATOS
6:30 p.m. Meany Studio Theater, University of Washington. Rehearsal for the UW Music Department’s production of Kirke Mechem’s opera Tartuffe, after Moliere, opens with the women in the cast convivially lacing each other into their corsets. In tonight’s scene, a young woman sings a melting, pleading aria to a cleric in a vast purple velvet robe; she’s apparently a little too persuasive, because the hypocritical horn-dog starts chasing her around a table. “Only scandal makes a sin—a secret sin’s no sin at all!” he sings.
Director Claudia Zahn interrupts to work on the cleric’s timing. “Slow it down!” she commands. “How many times do we girls have to tell you that?” The scene gets snappier and funnier with each of Zahn’s pointed comments.
“I really want to see your tongue hanging out here. . . . “
“This is quite lovely and dutiful, but I’m still missing the enjoyment from both of you.”
“More venom, more venom, more venom.” GAVIN BORCHERT
6:43 p.m. Ewajo Dance Centre, Madison Valley. Chris Daigre pumps up the volume on a Shakira CD, trying to get the teenage students in his Friday evening hip-hop class to cut loose. The longtime Seattle dance teacher shows the class how to do it, his rib cage popping in a sweat-soaked University of Arizona T-shirt, and the students follow along as best they can. By the end, each one of them is dripping wet—an hour well spent, all seem to agree. Daigre refers to his musical choices as “a mixture of cultural and hip-hop”—that is, rap cut with jazz, Caribbean, or other-flavored beats, mostly downloaded from iTunes, like US3’s jazzy “Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)” and Doo Bop, the final album Miles Davis recorded before he died. LYNN JACOBSON
7:10 p.m. Ann Powers’ home, Fremont. “BLING BLANG!” cries 2-year-old Rebecca Brooklyn, waving her minidoughnut hands in the air. It’s reading time, just after dinner, but lately the serenity of Goodnight Moon has given way to repeated demands for some rousing American folk song. We’ve been dreading the onset of toddler music obsession, which can lead parents to dream of mass Wiggles burnings and Laurie Berkner boycotts. At least B.B.’s showing some class with her crush.
It all started when I found a covetable kids’ book at Epilogue in Ballard—illustrator Vladimir Radunsky’s constructivist take on the Guthrie song “Bling Blang.” After a few months of chanting the verses while B.B. squealed at Radunsky’s colorful dogs, cats, and building tools, Eric, my mate, got sick of not knowing the tune and looked it up on the Web. Emusic.com yielded Guthrie’s typically onomatopoeic original, and once B.B. heard it, she was scarily hooked.
So here we all go, off the couch and into Daddy’s study, where he fires up the wi-fi and gets Woody on the horn. “Hammie wit me hammie!” screams B.B. in toddler patois. She whirls like a dervish, threatening to dislocate her shoulder with mock pounding. She jumps. She jigs. She head-bangs. Then the song ends. “More!” she commands. ANN POWERS
7:30 p.m. VERA Project, downtown. Local break-dance crew the Massive Monkees are hosting an art show, Freeze, at the Fourth Avenue all-ages venue. Photographs of dancers by London’s Lone Star and graffiti art on canvas by Sneke line the black walls of the showroom, as DJ Bles One spins a mix of ’70s breaks, funk, soul, and hip-hop. It’s almost too dark to make out the images, and the few patrons actually interested in the art weave around practicing B-boys to squint at the pieces. Volunteers manning the reception area and snack stand are bored with the lack of action, but since there’s no show scheduled later, it’ll be an early night.
As the experienced B-boys check their footwork and power moves, one dancer sitting on a bench tells me about a huge battle tomorrow at the Jefferson Community Center in Beacon Hill, where many of Seattle’s B-boys and girls perfect their moves. “That’s why nobody’s here but the Massive Monkees,” he says. Having taken top and runner-up prizes at last year’s World B-Boy Championships in London, they’re some of the best dancers in the world. The dancer on the bench takes break lessons from Massive Monkee Jeromeskee, but he’ll probably prepare elsewhere. “I’m a little intimidated,” he admits. RACHEL SHIMP
7:49 p.m. Triple Door, downtown. My friend Rod can’t tell which Jimi Hendrix song the World Saxophone Quartet Experience are playing right now, either. As the saxophonists themselves—David Murray on tenor, Bruce Williams on curved soprano, Oliver Lake on alto, and Hamiet Bluiett on baritone—harmonize the chords, trombonist Craig Harris solos; then everyone leaves but Williams, drummer Lee Pearson, and bassist Matthew Garrison. Williams sounds good, especially with some breathing room—the full lineup can seem a bit overripe at times. After a few minutes, Bluiett takes over, bringing the piece down to earth after Williams’ gusts, but the terrain is still frayed—and even about two-thirds of the way into the number, still not quite recognizable.
Then Garrison ventures a familiar pattern—a crooked walking bass line that brought Hendrix’s song back from its instrumental break, announcing its close. Rod’s eyes light up; he leans toward me and says, “It’s ‘Hey Joe.'” Indeed it is—right afterward, the full ensemble returns and lights into the song’s lead riff en masse. After a couple of iterations, their cards now on the table, the band goes wild again, with Murray and Harris getting into a high-wire glissando duel as the rhythm section skids to a slow halt. Murray skirts the outer edge while Pearson throws in left-hook harmonics every so often. They finish with a squeak, and everyone blasts it home. MICHAELANGELO MATOS
7:54 p.m. Orbit Audio, downtown. In a cherry-hued, velour-covered basement, Joe Reineke, studio owner, lead engineer, and member of Alien Crime Syndicate, leans back against his hit machine of various knobs and faders, his loungey repose reflecting his surroundings. “There’s only two kinds of music,” he explains. “There’s good and there’s not. And I only try to do the good music.” He morphs into a Christopher Walken swagger, mimicking Saturday Night Live‘sseminal “More Cowbell” skit: “I put my pants on one leg at a time, and pretty soon, I’m makin’ gold records.”
Tonight, Top Heavy Crush guitarists Jimmy Paulson (formerly of New American Face) and Kevin Day critique their album in progress, which they began recording in December. They wanted a live feel for this one, and with the Studer Multi-Channel Tape Recorder A 800 rolling continuously, they’re getting it. To Reineke and company, the warmth of analog tape feels like home. “[ProTools] just doesn’t sound like rock and roll to me,” says Reineke.
All eyes tailgate the movement on the frequency monitor as Reineke and Crush members await Day’s solo on a staccato pop track availing chugging bass lines and Keith Richards–esque chords. “Sounds like a single to me,” says Reineke. CHRISTINA TWU
8 p.m. Gallery 1412, Eastlake. Not much has changed in this intimate, spartanly functional space since the current management inherited what until last October was the Polestar Music Gallery—the art on the wall is a bit more self-indulgent, maybe. Lyn Goeringer has been exploring the use of her theremin not for its own sounds but as a controller for her laptop. Her improvised set opens with very low, vaguely liquid rumblings—sounds soft enough to be drowned out by my note-taking pen. The connection between what the audience of 15 sees and what we hear is indirect; with Goeringer’s hands darting gracefully in the air, her performance is almost as much a seated dance piece as a work of sound-art. Her second number features grinding, back-of-throat sounds, fragmented and popping in and out of silence. It’s Goeringer’s “attempt to create a theremin drum machine,” she says, turning this drone-friendly, long-line instrument into percussion. GAVIN BORCHERT
8:07 p.m. Chopstix, Lower Queen Anne. Billy Mac opens the show at this “dueling piano bar”—think The Fabulous Baker Boys meets Polly Esther’s—with Billy Joel’s semi-obscure “The Downeaster ‘Alexa.'” This is fitting, because every number Mac and partner Eric Meany play tonight sounds like Joel, from “Georgia on My Mind” (during which Meany dons corny wraparound shades) to the Doobie Brothers’ “Black Water” to an impressively BJ’ed version of Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know?” Rapidly, the scene turns into a compulsory bidding war for requests, with Mac and Meany shifting scraps of paper with $20 bills attached to the front of the line. “We do appreciate your generosity,” Mac says. RICKEY WRIGHT
8:17 p.m. Band rehearsal, Kenmore-Bothell. “Feel free to solo,” Rebecca Helmer says breezily, nodding toward guitar player Seth Paul. In the North Seattle living room of drummer Forrest “Gooch” Richardson, Paul is auditioning for a spot in Helmer’s eponymous band. After keeping up amiably through two verses and two choruses, the candidate takes the singer’s suggestion and noodles around a bit before seamlessly rejoining the band for a final chorus. Gooch’s wife, Peggy, doesn’t mind a bit that the band has taken over her front room—in fact, she made cookies. The neighbors probably don’t care either—noise from Bothell Way, just 200 or so yards from the Richardson’s front yard, muffles most of the band’s grown-up pop sounds.
Helmer, Richardson, and bassist Mark Reed posted a musician-wanted ad on Craigslist (“Original band that would be best described as Pop Rock with Soul, comparable to Sheryl Crow and Dave Matthews looking for lead guitarist”), but Paul is actually an old acquaintance of Gooch’s; the pair recently ran into each other at a Guitar Center drum competition. Helmer, who writes all the songs, accompanies herself on acoustic guitar, and sounds like a grounded Sarah McLachlan, was a finalist on Gimme the Mic, KONG 6/16’s local version of American Idol. She’s tall, blonde, gorgeous, and totally in control.
“Put a pause on that D minor,” Helmer says, smiling at Paul between verses of “Flowers for India.” Gooch rocks a Fleetwood Mac–esque beat, sending out shimmery cymbal sounds and big bass notes. Paul, again, keeps up admirably. Wiping his brow after the song, Gooch notes, “Seth can go from the shed to the Sistine Chapel: Whatever you want.” LAURA CASSIDY
9:40 p.m. Century Ballroom, Capitol Hill. Most Friday nights, this retro dancehall would be filled with women in slinky dresses and Latin men in a collective salsa clinch. But tonight, tables and chairs cover the floor and a black-tie, multigenerational crowd inhabits the room. “Wedding reception,” explains a tight-lipped security man at the door. Tom Petty’s “Free Falling” can barely be heard over the clinking of glasses and convivial laughter. Out in the hallways, two young girls in party dresses tease a tiny boy in a suit. Inside, no one dances. LYNN JACOBSON
9:43 p.m. Tula’s, Belltown. Trumpeter Jon Pugh, a longtime collaborator of Northwest jazz legend and bop-era saxophonist Don Lanphere, and the New Stories Trio are playing a sold-out tribute to Lanphere in the homey jazz club. Pugh takes off on a piercingly fast solo in “Who Wrote This Thing?” (Lanphere composed it, Pugh says, as a challenge to himself.) He finishes to wild applause, and shrugs.
Down the block, Mike Battle, a Louisiana transplant, is using two coffee cans as bongos. He asks passersby for change, maybe to buy more of the Red Dog he uses to keep his energy up. Battle is insistent that one thing be understood: “Goddamn it, I’m not from New Orleans!” The Shreveport native is no refugee; rather, he says, the military brought him to Seattle. RICKEY WRIGHT
9:45 p.m. Paramount Theatre, downtown. Bauhaus have just finished their second encore when the lights in Seattle’s most opulent theatre suddenly illuminate a sea of black-clad concertgoers. Perfume permeates the venue as gorgeous women with blood red hair and leather dresses slink past men in tailored jackets and eyeliner toward the exits. A woman waves a black fan in one hand and a black scarf in the other to beckon a friend; gloved and bejeweled arms brush by me in haste. Everyone’s exhilarated, charged by the show.
“Are you going to the Vogue?” a gruff, somewhat charming man in his 40s asks, referring to the goth club’s Friday night dance party. “It’s free entry with your ticket stub.” I’m not, but I do ask about the Mercury, where I have yet to go (the club’s reputation is notoriously “members only”). “Saturday’s the best night,” he says, before leaning in solicitously. “And you’re pretty—somebody will get you in.” RACHEL SHIMP
9:55 p.m. Center on Contemporary Art, South Lake Union. About 20 artists are halfway through a 24-hour painting marathon, an annual event that culminates in a fund- raising auction. The evening’s self-proclaimed DJ, Travis Stanley, has just popped a Portishead CD into his boom box. Now he’s working on his art, drawing penises on pictures of male models cut out of fashion magazines. (“The idea is to take the sexuality that’s already in the images and make it over the top,” he explains.) Stanley always listens to music while he works. “It allows you to remove yourself from time and existence in a certain way,” he says, citing favorites like Neil Young, Sun Kil Moon, and Stereolab. “I love all music,” he says, though there is one kind he says he can’t work to: “Other people’s music.” LYNN JACOBSON
11:17 p.m. Tractor Tavern, Ballard. “I’ve been waiting 12 years for this,” says Radio Nationals frontman Jared Clifton from the stage. Clifton has been waiting not to break up his band, though this is their final show, but to sing a soulful duet with opening act Carrie Akre on the traditional “Katie Dear.” The first of two sets will end with a Cult–meets–the-Marshall-Tucker-Band skid through “She Sells Sanctuary” and a pointed instruction: “Don’t fuckin’ leave—we’re at the door.”
Down the street at the Sunset Tavern, local power-poppers Gary Reynolds and the Brides of Obscurity have finished their set opening for Columbus band and recent Warner Bros. signings the Sun. Reynolds holds up a clipboard with two pages of new contacts for the Brides’ mailing list and beams: “We sold, like, 10 CDs.” RICKEY WRIGHT
11:18 p.m. Laura Cassidy’s home, Normandy Park. Having dozed off during side two of Ocean Rain by Echo and the Bunnymen, I’m half asleep on the couch when my cell phone rings. It’s my friend Lars Finberg, singer-guitarist of the Intelligence. I say hello three times before I realize he can’t hear me because he didn’t call to talk; instead, he’s using his phone as an ad hoc broadcasting device. Finberg’s in Portland tonight with his band; earlier in the evening they opened for the Country Teasers, who are onstage now. He’s got his phone up to catch one of their new songs, and although the sound quality is shittier than any of the band’s deliberately shitty recordings, I appreciate the effort. My friends and I do this for each other a lot these days; I called my friend in San Francisco during the CocoRosie show at the Triple Door to let her hear our favorite song in real time with me, and another friend recently sent a Rolling Stones song to her stepdad in the Midwest. Ah, the wonders of wireless phone service. LAURA CASSIDY
11:53 p.m. Neumo’s, Capitol Hill. You don’t typically go to see the charged political rapper Sage Francis for jokes—his clunky rhythmic sense and hectoring vocal style don’t promise an especially good time, and the earnest, sweaty, confused-alpha-male vibe of the room doesn’t help. Nevertheless, after Francis’ backing CD begins to skip, the performer first berates himself, then promises to make it up to us, and then fires away. “What’s George W. Bush’s position on Roe vs. Wade?” he asks, then pauses. “He doesn’t care how you get out of New Orleans.” MICHAELANGELO MATOS
12:31 a.m. Jade Pagoda, Capitol Hill. The rented dining room here is dim, smoky, and filled with dozens of inebriated guests celebrating the double-birthday party of the two girls twirling on the “dance floor” as music resonates from a clunky boom box resting in a corner booth. Co-birthday girl Callie Bishop has made her own mix for the party, eliciting cheers and off-key sing-alongs as Bad Company’s “Rock & Roll Fantasy” slips into Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s “Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth”; soon even the wallflowers in back are playfully gyrating to the Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy.” After a trip to the bar, I arrive back in the birthday room just in time for Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”; the crowd gestures grandiosely and dances more erratically by the minute. HEATHER LOGUE
12:34 a.m. Comet Tavern, Capitol Hill. “I hope everyone’s drunk,” Leslie Beattie says to the bar’s small assembly between songs. “We’re Cantona, and we’re a Seattle pop band,” she says. “Pop” is a multifarious term, but in this case you can add a silent “Brit-” to it: Not only does this local quartet dress the part—guitarist Glenn Pittaway short-haired in a buttoned-down T-shirt, bassist Erik Noren in a vertically striped pullover, Beattie’s dark hair cut mod-style over a long pink scarf that offsets her bright green T-shirt—they’ve also clearly taken their audio cues from mid-’90s London. Pittaway’s and occasionally Beattie’s guitars are loud, clean, and occasionally dreamy; live, they’re far crisper than on A Sort of Smile, their self-issued EP produced by the Posies’ Jon Auer from earlier this year, and Beattie’s voice is far more controlled. Near the end, they pull out a cover of Elastica’s “Stutter,” and I smile to myself: Aha! I knew they were Brit-pop. MICHAELANGELO MATOS
1 a.m. The Internet. I avoided Friendster during its dizzy peak as an Internet fad: Posting yearbook-style comments on your friends’ pages seemed like the biggest example of the Net’s brain-sucking time-wasting so far. Naturally, I raised a skeptic’s brow when I received an invitation to join MySpace. But when I clicked on the link for the band the Hope, the typical personal profile and “we [heart] you” cheese was augmented by a streaming jukebox of four songs which, considering I sit at my computer at night when other music fans actually go to shows, I might never have heard otherwise. I realized that computers and the Internet were about to change my listening habits—again.
MySpace is a useful map by which to navigate Seattle’s ever-crowded musical landscape. Like bands sync up with like bands, so the Hope’s Tori Amos–meets–Coldplay sound leads me to the spacey, soothing pop of Argo, which in turn brings me to Crown Aruba’s angular indie rock. A few clicks later, I’m grooving to the sassy garage stomp of the Hot Rollers and Augustus Sweetheart’s catch-all power pop. Bulletins and Evite–style show invitations keep me in the loop, and I have to admit to having posted my share of fluffy comments. I [heart] MySpace. CHRIS LORRAINE
3:24 a.m. Denny Way. After hooking up with some friends to see what the after-party soundtrack might be, it turns out tonight’s is silent. After foraging for beer around Capitol Hill and heading to someone’s apartment, we’re left to our own conversation and a sound-off TV playing an animé DVD before our host hands out markers, pastels, and paper, requesting drawings for her wall.
Walking back to Lower Queen Anne, I make my own soundtrack—or rather, my 60GB iPod, set on shuffle, does it for me. The playlist: DJ Krust, “Asian Love Dance (Remix)”; Count Basie, “Rhythm Man”; Richard Hell & the Voidoids, “Liars Beware”; Alfie, “Cloudy Lemonade”; Jimmie Rodgers, “T for Texas (Blue Yodel No. 1)”; the Lost Generation, “The Sly, Slick and the Wicked”; Gogol Bordello, “Sally”; Funk Deluxe, “This Time (Original 12″ Mix)”; Hugh Le Caine, “Dripsody”; H-Bomb Ferguson, “She’s Been Gone”; John Kirby Sextet, “Coquette”; Trenchmouth, “Washington! Washington!” MICHAELANGELO MATOS
4:15 a.m. Five Point Cafe, Belltown. I expected this scene to be a little more tragic. If you’re still out at a place like this at this time of night, there’s probably a good reason you shouldn’t be at home. But the Five Point, a 24-hour diner and all-day bar a short stumble from the Belltown corridor, is packed two hours after last call. It turns out that reasonable people don’t just fall into bed after a long night out—they come to places like this to load up on grease and rinse the night out of their brains before driving clear-eyed into the sunrise.
It looks like a dive but feels like a day spa. Aside from the guy at the bar who’s nervously texting his dealer, Seattle’s night creatures look like they’re ready for a nature hike. The jukebox mists the place with music to give everyone a soft landing—nothing too edgy or unfamiliar, just the lesser hits of the Cult, the Cure, Nine Inch Nails, Guns N’ Roses, and so on. Everyone knows the music, and no one cares. It’s exactly what we need—just enough noise to give the place an atmosphere, nothing more.
The jukebox goes quiet at 4:30. The bar opens again at 6, but nobody’s up for it. People pay their checks and grab their coats. The waitress watches and waits, then sneakily cues up a new round of songs as the last of them files out the door. MATTHEW CORWINE