This summer in Seattle has been one of the best I can remember. The weather has been stellar, and the outdoor music festivals we are fortunate enough to get up here have been sun-drenched and dry as a bone. All of that heat and lack of moisture can’t, of course, make music better, but it does enhance the experience and somehow, can make great music…greater.
Three gigs in recent memory come to mind:
Purity Ring: Electronic music with a flair for simple ambience and no guitars or drums probably wouldn’t sell a guy like me. I like shit to be real, and often, abrasive (in all of the best of ways). But, after an introduction through a teenage daughter, I came to enjoy PR’s first offering, Shrines. The mellowness of the record almost hides a mysterious and intangible darkness.
On my way up to the Capitol Hill Block Party with aforementioned teenage daughter, I was a bit worried that my “mellow” little band wouldn’t be quite big enough to handle the 9 p.m. headline slot on Saturday night. Would they be ruined by hecklers and other beer-infused jack-offs?
Nope. This ambient duo from Edmonton rose to the occasion. Live, Purity Ring recalls OG’s like Siouxie and the Banshees and Fleetwood Mac while remaining radically original and hip, and yes, mysterious. It’s the type of band that a crowd like the one Saturday on Capitol Hill need not necessarily know to like the music. Its infectious and groovy, and the light/video show on the buildings during the set were pretty damn fucking cool too. We are lucky to have such a well-run event as the CHBP. With fine weather to boot, the mixed crowd’s differences in background and social class were made null by the simple cadence and pulse of good music.
Peter Frampton (at the Tulalip Casino outdoor stage): I saw Peter Frampton once before. It was 1976 or ’77, I was 13, and that shit was at the damn Kingdome. I’m sure I was smoking weed, and I am sure I was all caught up with young teenage dreams of how cool mega-rock stardom must be. I didn’t understand then, the lineage Frampton encompassed at the time, with his rock group Humble Pie and the significance of British blues guitar in rock history.
But a long time has passed since then, and when I got the chance to go to the show last Sunday, I came fully versed as learned scholar of not only Frampton himself and Humble Pie, but also Steve Marriott, Small Faces, Rory Gallagher, Free, Bad Company, Eric Clapton, and many other contemporaries of Frampton.
The gig encompassed classics from his Frampton Comes Alive mega-hit live record from the mid-’70s along with Humble Pie’s “I Don’t Need No Doctor” and even his Grammy award-winning instrumental version of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” which, this night, featured Mike McCready on guitar (Mike and Matt Cameron played on the recorded version too).
The encore version of “As My Guitar Gently Weeps” with McCready, Frampton, and Kenny Wayne Shepherd was absolutely mind blowing.
The Cult (at the Showbox): Yes, a decidedly non-outside venue housed this rock ‘n’ roll shot in the arm of The Cult playing the Electric album in its entirety, before launching into another set of songs from their latest Choice of Weapon and other rock gems from their illustrious career. I got to open for The Cult in 1987 with GN’R, and have seen them many times since, but it’s always inspiring to see a rock band like this, that somehow found a way to never leave their fucking prime.
Taking it all in under warm, clear Seattle skies is icing on the fucking cake.