Rad Report: A mind-blowing evening with Laura Jane Grace

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“The best place to start would be at the beginning,” said Laura Jane Grace of Against Me! as she walked out on stage right here at The University of Washington this past Saturday night (the 22nd).

Where and when is the beginning of any of our personal journeys? Is it when we start understanding our own identities? Is it the moment that we first realize we are doing what we love? For Laura Jane Grace, the beginning was when she dropped out of high school and began writing songs. Sure, she may have been writing since she was a lot younger; but at age eighteen, Against Me! was started by Grace. Stemming off of many long years full of anger and angst, her music was based on DIY, anarcho-punk, and protest music movements.

I may not be a long time fan of her music, but listening to Laura play guitar and sing her moving lyrics on Saturday has turned me into a fan of hers for eternity. Starting out the show with one of the first songs she ever wrote, “Walking Is Still Honest,” I got a really deep sense of the type of music that Grace writes.

This song has beautiful lyrics, and lets listeners in on how it feels to realize truths in this world. At this point in her life, Laura was experiencing an extreme sense of gender dyspohoria—which motivated her to continue writing songs that were tremendously telling of her emotions, which would later inspire others who felt the same as her.

One of these songs, with completely awesome lyrics, is “Tonight We’re Gonna Give it 35%.” She even paused in the middle of this song to fill the audience in, saying “and this is the dysphoria part.” Along with getting laughs from the audience with her naturally hilarious demeanor, she seemed instantly relatable.

Another song she sang for us, “Pretty Girls,” really allowed listeners to develop insight into Laura’s thoughts and feelings at the time she wrote this. One line stands out, “Sometimes at night, I pray to wake a different person in a different place.” Whether or not we’ve experienced gender dysphoria, we’ve all experienced feeling uncomfortable in our skin—again making Laura a relatable role model to all of us.

As the night continued, I felt myself become absorbed in each song and story that Laura shared. The next songs on her set list were “Dead Friend,” written for Laura’s heartbreak over a friend passing away; “Two Coffins,” originally written for her daughter; “FuckMyLife666,” which is about coming out publicly in Rolling Stone and dealing with a breakup with her second wife; “Paralytic States,” where she shares that at this point in her life she was “never quite the woman that she wanted to be;” and then lastly she sang a cover of a song that she felt very connected to, “Androgynous,” originally by Paul Westerberg.

The latest songs that she’s written deal with the frustration of feeling pressure to change oneself to fit the mold of what society wants—whether that be a gender role or a major record label’s idea of what’s perfect to them. But the greatest part about this fantastic evening with Laura Jane Grace is that she made it clear that there isn’t simply one mold to fit into.

She left the audience with words of wisdom: she says with a laugh that she’s “a high school dropout, transgender, ex junky with a felony record” in the most reassuring way possible. I say “reassuring” because after years of battling all the challenges she’s had to, she’s coming into herself and on top of this, is inspiring and giving hope to people all around the world dealing with similar struggles to the one’s she’s endured.

At the end of the show, there was a question and answer session where fans were able to ask her just about anything. I decided to take the backseat and listen to insight she had to share. She had so many beautiful answers to these questions, but one really stuck out to me. When asked about Laura’s daughter’s knowledge of her being transgender, she said that her daughter is pretty good about understanding; however, what I loved about this was that Laura said she’s been trying to teach her daughter to “be true to yourself and to [not be] ashamed” of who you are. I just loved this—because what’s a better way to teach something than to practice what you preach?

That is exactly what Laura Jane Grace is doing with her life—as a parent, as a musician, as a transgender woman, and as an inspiration and a muse to all of us.

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Rad Rebs

Rad Report: Otieno Terry blows the roof off the Vera Project

I’d like you to close your eyes for a moment and imagine that some kind of intangible, energy-like force comes up from behind you and jolts you in a way that makes your body move uncontrollably. Before you realize it, liveliness is radiating out of your body in a way that can only be interpreted as dancing.

The energy that Otieno Terry brought onto the stage last Thursday night (the 23rd) was incomparable to any other artists I’ve seen perform. Although he’s a complete wildcard in the scheme of my music taste, he most obviously has the ability to create the kind of energy-like force I was referring to above. Although his music is a little more on the hip-hop/jazz/R&B end of the spectrum than I usually explore, I found myself captivated by the ambiance that radiated from his stage presence toward the crowd. Between his smooth yet hip-hoppy vocals and his exhilarating dance skills, he was able to get the whole crowd moving to his music in a way that very few artists have the ability to.

Each song that he performed had an individual flare to it with vibes pulling from different genres. He joked around about naming one of his songs after one of his band mates, but later got more serious when he revealed that one was about “falling in love and shit.” My personal favorite was his cover of Sweet Dreams (originally by Eurythmics), which he clearly made his own (as seen and heard in the video above).

After an amazing show, I was lucky enough to meet this one-of-a-kind artist with my main girl and fellow blawger Ani Joon (check out her vlog, The Ani Joon Review). I only had the opportunity to speak with him for a few minutes, but discovered that he is actually a really awesome dude. On top of that, he’s a local artist, originally from Central District. This isn’t his first time rocking shows in the Seattle area and his next show is coming up at The Crocodile on November 28th! Check him out next month and don’t miss this awesome opportunity to become enveloped in Otieno Terry’s awe-inspiring music and energy. 

Photo of Otieno Terry and me after the show

Rad Rebs

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

Rad Report: Modest Mouse isn’t being too modest!–reissuing of two albums

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Yo all you Rainy Dawgs out there! This is the Rad Report with blogger Rad Rebs, and before we get down and dirty with some awesome new details about Modest Mouse’s reissuing of their first two LPs, we’re about to get slightly philosophical so bare with me. Its been said that “bad news comes, don’t you worry even when it lands good news will work its way to all them plans” (Modest Mouse, “Float On”). This resonates with me as I float into a new world, full of changes and new experiences. On a broader and wider spectrum, it’s only human to wonder when our luck will take a turn for the better—into the utopian-esque world that we tend to imagine. No matter which point we are at in our lives, it seems to be inevitable that we will face a wave of challenges; at any given moment we may experience the “bad news” that Modest Mouse refers to, but just as often we find ourselves in a state of euphoria in the next instant.

We can relate to Modest Mouse in many ways as being their fellow Washingtonians—the lead singer (Isaac Brock) originally grew in Issaquah just east of the UW campus. Although growing up poor, Brock formed the band in the early nineties and received a lot of luck with their first two LPs released in 1996 and 1997 respectively.

We’ll all be considering ourselves pretty lucky starting on October 28th, when Modest Mouse’s This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About is reissued on vinyl—and AGAIN on November 4th when The Lonesome Crowded West is reissued. In a world where digital has become the norm, there still seems to be an agreement that listening to an album on vinyl has a charming sound unlike anything else. When we step back and take a moment to realize that this is the first time in over ten years that these albums have been available on vinyl, I’m predicting a pretty serious rush on these reissues. Can’t wait to get my Modest Mouse on vinyl–as Isaac Brock might sing, good news is definitely working its way to all them plans.

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Rad Rebs

More info below:

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/artists/modest-mouse/biography

http://impressionofsound.com/index.php/news/490-modest-mouse-to-reissue-first-two-albums

http://consequenceofsound.net/2014/09/modest-mouse-to-reissue-first-two-albums-with-unreleased-music/