Concert Review: Madeon and his Pixel Empire

“Would you like to hear some of the new music I’ve been working on?”

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It’s not his first time touring the States, and it probably won’t be his last, either. Meet Madeon, the stage name for 21-year-old electronic prodigy Hugo Leclerq. Having made a name for himself in the past year following the release of his chart-topping album, Adventure, scoring production credits with Lady Gaga, and performing at enormous festivals like Coachella, Leclerq didn’t wait long before starting off another coveted tour around the United States. After stopping by Seattle for not one, but two performances last year in September, Madeon chose this time to play at Foundation for a small DJ set gig before kicking off his big Pixel Empire Tour down in Portland, Oregon following the MLK weekend.

That didn’t stop me from following him there anyway.

Madeon, of course, wasn’t alone. Joining him on his tour this time was Skylar Spence, the stage name for a certain Ryan DeRobertis. The vaporwave artist, formerly known as Saint Pepsi, has also made a name for himself over the years. It quickly became clear why Skylar Spence was Madeon’s opening act: DeRobertis’ nu-disco synth sounds match well with Leclerq’s own style of house music, since both are very pop-driven. Skylar Spence, it seemed, was to be the appetizer to Madeon’s prepared main course.

But half an hour after DeRobertis had left the stage to applause and cheers, the star of the show was still nowhere to be seen. Just as the impatient whispers of the crowd had begun to grow into a muffled roar, however, three large screens flickered on to display an iconic diamond amid a crowd of cheers.

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To have the crowd wait in suspense for such a dramatic entrance reveals Leclerq’s talent as both musician and entertainer who doesn’t fail to deliver as the artist Madeon. Standing center stage and an outline of the Adventure diamond logo flashing vivid scenery behind him, the set began with “Isometric”, the intro from Adventure that immediately had fans – including myself – jumping up and down in anticipation. The rest of the night was filled with jumping, since Adventure is mainly glitch-hop, pop, and disco-inspired; even slower-paced songs, like “La Lune” or “Innocence”, possess a strong, dance-driven beat. The energy in the room somehow stayed alive and never slowed, due in part to Madeon’s own enthusiasm as he danced to the melody or hopped in time with the manic rhythm of his own tracks.

Props must be given to Madeon not just for his passion, but for his ability to mix such an incredible set. Crowd favorites like “Pay No Mind”, “OK”, and “Nonsense” blended consecutively one after another to the point where their transitions seemed near non-existent. Giving recognition to older tracks like “Pop Culture” and “Shuriken” from his earlier days, the set celebrated Madeon’s growth overall as an artist, and nothing impounded this theme of his Pixel Empire tour more than when he introduced live exclusives like “Albatros” and the newly produced “Together”.

An encore, being inevitable, led to an eclectic, upbeat medley of his set that ended the concert with an electrifying finish. On the drive back to Seattle, Adventure ended up being blasted on repeat, and for good reason. When you stop by the Pacific Northwest again, Hugo, I’ll be waiting.

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Wendy Kang



Check out more music and news from Rainy Dawg Radio @ RainyDawg.org!

Dark Sunglasses – An Electrifying Event at Showbox SoDo (Show Review)

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RAC lights up with a live band at ShowBox SoDo on Tuesday, Nov. 24th

Light keyboard filled the air and a soft beat emitted from the over-leveled speakers. With only half the room filled, the music blasted through the Showbox, piercing the silence until the crowd settled into the sound. The first opener, filous pulled out his guitar, bowed his head slightly and riffed over a reverberating female vocalist. The two instruments together, a midi setup and fx-ed guitar sounded like a chorus of chilled-out house music.

“Hey Seattle,” the beanie-sporting artist spoke before returning to his instruments. A faint cheer could be heard from the bar in the back.

Not phased by the crowd’s lack of enthusiasm, Filous strummed along to dance-worthy tracks. Smiling all the while, the casually-dressed multi-instrumentalist switched between MIDI controllers, keyboards and his various guitars. As he slammed on the bass, the crowd swayed and lights flashed before us.

Filous introduced himself as an artist from Vienna. Over a few spouts of laughter, he further explained his adventures at Jack in The Box before playing his next song, “Coming Over” – a synth-heavy sound featuring the same summery guitar riffs that had been heard frequently throughout the set.

Light lyrics sprinkled throughout the song and the line, “All I can think about is coming over” repeated into a somewhat-tropical instrumental chorus. The hook brought many to the dance floor and the strobes shimmered among us. With all of his talents, I got to wondering why the microphone was placed so properly as if it’d be used whilst playing. All my questions were answered in a single breath as Filous pulled out a harmonica for his last track – blowing us away with his breath-induced harmonies.

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filous wowed us with flawless multi-instrumentalism

After a short break, two musicians approached the stage. Both on drums, the two multi-instrumentalists represented the Portland-based Karl Kling. Arpeggios filled the air and a dimly lit duo sang indulgent lyrics over two sets of electronic instruments. A light up set of tools stood adjacent to a traditional drumset as the two musicians harmonized with one another.

We moved our bodies back and forth and a few other audience members joined us. Although I wasn’t there alone, I couldn’t help but notice the sheer amount of standing that took place during this show. Of course, I could chalk it up to the fact that we were watching an opener, but since this is my last post for Rainy Dawg Radio, I thought I’d mention something that’s been bothering me since I moved into this city and began participating in the music scene:

Why don’t Seattle Concert-goers ever dance during openers?!

Their music is good. The dance floor is ready! If anybody has an answer to this question, myself and all of the touring artists in our area would like to know… Synced beneath the falsettos as the two men expressed themselves among a sea of careless Seattleites. Catchy riffs soared beneath existential lyricism as the band showed off their chops, from drums to loops and electric guitars, the multi-talented Portland band never ceased to amaze us.

Yet most of the audience remained unfazed while my date and I swayed just the same. Harder now. Deeper now. The harmonies seemed to strike nearer than before. Perhaps the volume kept increasing but something about the atmosphere above us kept me present as the fog filled the air and the band requested a dimming of the lights.

“Alright Seattle. This is dance time,” Karl attempted to work the crowd. But only a few cheers could be heard in response as many audience members lingered in the back – bobbing their head to the rhythm instead of shaking what their mamas gave them.

“So dust of your regrets” Kling sang, “Cus there goes the day again. Born into this world.”

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Karl Kling sported two drummers and a sounded like Death Cab in a dance club

80s melodies and melancholy choruses led from one song into the next as the opening set came and went. During their last song, “Careful” the duo smiled as they witnessed some energy beginning to emit from the evening’s underwhelming attendees. As Big Data prepared their set, I prayed for a miracle that the dance floor would pick up.

Fog filled the air and screams rang out in support of the surreal visuals that began to appear so subtly behind a coordinated set of electronic musicians. A robotic voice could be heard from the pumped-up speakers and the band members began to move in tandem to a static beat. Almost inaudible, a set of muted vocals began to sing the opening lines of “Dangerous” and the crowd finally moved in-tow to the enthralling rhythm.

The two vocalists played off of one another flawlessly. Each computerized run ran into the next as the lights glimmered among us. The music enticed us to engage as Big Data entertained with alluring visuals above driving drums and guitars; all the while the two frontmen acted as conductors of the crowd below them.

Bobbing their heads back and forth to the ephemeral sound of their own creation, the crashes and clangs of the live instrumentation filled the set beneath layers of enchanting lyricism. All the while, the audience followed along in a daze, drunk in the sound of a presented simulation.

References to a computerized system filled the breaks between songs until the word, “Imagination” broke the sequence, “Your simulation is now complete.” The robotic voice complimented our enthusiasm as the lights reflected off the band-member’s florescent sunglasses.

As the lights continued to dim, the combination of the visual and musical performances pulled us in to a videogame-like trance – complete with the sounds of dial-up modems and mid-2000s internet references. Throughout the set, Big Data did nothing but entertain as our eyes reflected the shimmering stage above us.

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With flashing lights and surreal digital visuals, Big Data drew the crowd ever-closer in a existential haze

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Members of the other bands and backstage crew joined the band as they repeated their hit track, “Dangerous”

The crowd cheered and familiar faces replaced the physical places of Big Data’s digital revolution. Karl Kling and André Anjos (RAC) stood left and right of a headband-wearing frontman. Behind them, Pink Feathers (aka Liz Anjos) rocked out on a keyboard while a full-sized drumset stood lit and elevated above.

We moved in waves as the live band played covers and originals frequently associated with RAC’s collection of (re)mixes. Hiding behind a telecaster, André occasionally sang along and smiled all the while Pink Feathers and Karl Kling led the upbeat performance. The collection of Portland artists did not disappoint as the crowd sang along to their favorite tracks. From Odesza to The Postal Service, local hits were met with more energy from the audience as the four-piece band reworked popular songs with their disco-inspired beats.

“Hollywood” and “Let it Go” were met with thunderous applause as André stepped out into the center to wail over the beat with his electric guitars. The foursome played off each other splendidly, cracking jokes and smiling along to the energy brought from playing their songs live.

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André Anjos leads his live band, shredding along with a pulsating performance

After seeing RAC in the past and wondering when he would break out from behind his turntables, I was inspired and impressed by the entire performance! Altogether, the variety of bands made for an excellent combination of Portland sounds that was able to break through the ever-famous Seattle Freeze.

Check out Pink Feathers, filous, Karl Kling, Big Data and RAC on their respective social medias and don’t forget to check out RAC’s website for the latest and greatest from the Portland music scene!

For more on RAC and his eclectic sets and sounds, check out my interview with him right here!

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DJ Desman

Seaweed, Flannel, and Coffee Beans – A Blitzen Trapper Artist Spotlight

Imagine you’re making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Only, instead of jelly, you’re putting alternative country music on it. And
instead of peanut butter, you’re smearing some groove rock. And instead of
bread, you’re building your sandwich upon the very essence of Portland.

Such is the recipe for making Blitzen Trapper, one of
Portland’s finest musical offerings and Rainn Wilson’s favorite band. Originally called
Garmonbozia, this agglomeration of musical geniuses utilizes a range of genres
to create a sound like no other. Every album offers something a little
different, with the older albums experimenting more than the newer albums.
Their sound seems to have settled on a country groove rock that is just wonderful.

If you want to start listening to Blitzen Trapper, and you
should, I suggest you listen to several of their songs. Because their sound can
vary quite a bit between songs, going from standard folk on one track to groovy country
rock on another, one song just won’t do. I’ll give you a few songs that are good examples of their music, but there are many more that you should check out. 

The song “Black River Killer”, off their album, Furr, is one of their most popular songs. This is the song that got me
hooked on phonics Blitzen Trapper. The folky guitar combined with the
chill drum beat caught my ear faster than a barefoot jackrabbit on a hot greasy
griddle in the middle of August. If a cowboys inner demons had a sound, this would be it. 

Gold for Bread”, also off Furr, is a great introduction into their more experimental sounds,
as well their rock influences that are prevalent throughout their work. A fun
drinking game with Blitzen Trapper is to take a drink every time they sing a
lyric that you don’t understand. I’m not responsible for any liver damage that may occur. If anyone can explain the lyrics to this one to me, please do. 

Wild Mountain Nation” is the title track to the album that
first really hit it big for them. This song has a Grateful Dead vibe, and was
ranked the 98th best track of 2007 by Rolling Stone. Why it wasn’t
number one is a mystery to me. “Roc Boys” by Jay-Z was ranked number one; an
inferior track, in my mind.

If you liked this music, Blitzen Trapper has a show coming up at The Neptune on November 19 that you should definitely go to. If you see me there, be sure to ask for my
autograph.  

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Niles Kyholm



Check out more music and news from Rainy Dawg Radio @ RainyDawg.org!

Honey Bucket: Punk Geniuses

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While I am usually a huge proponent of complex musical genius, it’s hard to ignore the brilliance of a simple (and kick-ass) punk song.  Portland, OR’s indie rock scene is doing a fantastic job of giving us just that; and in the case of Honey Bucket,
it’s coming at us in a sardonically playful, utterly catchy package.  Their self-titled EP sounds as if it was
recorded on an 8-track in the basement of your parents’ house senior year
(which is fitting since that’s how this EP was
recorded) – complete with the twangy, distorted power chords and a few layers
of fuzz carpeting the drums and vocals.
And despite the lo-fi film covering all sound, each instrument manages
to stand out from the rest, playing its important role in the development of each
(albeit simple) song.  Their sound
doesn’t vary much within their EP, and to magical results: 8 tracks of
three-chord garage-punk masterpieces, each one wackier than the last.  

If the basic catchiness of Honey Bucket’s musical abilities
reels you in, their off-beat sense of humor keeps you hooked.  Honey Bucket stole their name from the
Pacific Northwest’s favorite port-a-potty company, characteristic of their
unique sense of humor.  Their lyrics
follow suit, playing up somewhat disturbing scenarios with injections of biting
sarcasm to round out the off-kilter vibes.
The opening track “Dumpster Dive” chronicles a day of pointless teenage
activities, including a trip to a dumpster, a graveyard, and other random places
to search for buddies to get stoned with.

“Spot Me” is a slower, groovy track highlighting a classic slacker teen’s
woe of dealing with that one friend who is constantly asking to borrow money,
summed up in a lighthearted, sarcastic tone.

“Hairspray” is the standout track of the
EP.  Not only does its three-chord earworm
riff make its home in your head for days, its brilliantly biting lyrics about
eating razorblades, drinking hairspray, and spending nice days under the
freeway pinpoint the sentiment of outsider-dom that all punks/teenagers in general feel at some
point in their ‘slacker’ careers. Perhaps
my favorite part of the short track is the perfectly placed “um”s that define
the musical groove while also increasing the sarcastic humor to its full
potential.

All in all, while this
particular EP may not be the most interesting piece musically speaking, its
clever storytelling coupled with its raging simplicity is certainly setting the
stage for Honey Bucket’s sound to blow up the circuit. 

Be sure to keep a lookout for more music on their Bandcamp and for upcoming tour dates/other information on their Facebook page!

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Katie Hanford