Tag Archives: SoDo

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

André and Me – A moment between worlds with Portland’s RAC

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Photo courtesy of Nashville Nights

It’s 10 minutes before the interview and my phone rings to my dismay. The basement of Winkenwerder was not where I wanted to talk shop with one of my favorite musicians. But there I stood, with a piece of TP in one hand and a buzzing cell phone in the other.

“Shit,” I mutter – fully intending my pun as I answer the Texas caller ID.

“Hey there!”

“Hi, I’m calling for your interview with André. I know it’s not for another ten minutes but he’s ready now and we’d love to get started.”

“Of course!” I grin as it starts to feel real. Standing with my pants half-pulled up, I remember my situation. “Erm… Can I call you back in 5 minutes? I just need to get everything set up.”

“Yeah sure. I’ll call you then.” Click.

I fasten my belt, swing my pack over my shoulder and head out into the hallway – frantic to find a spot to sit in relative silence. Behind a giant stump that looks like it was cut from a forest a millennia ago, I slump over and attempt to set up my audio recording equipment before my phone rings again.

“Ready?” He asks.

“Ready as I’ll ever be,” I respond with slight hesitation as my recording fails to start. A familiar voice is heard on the line and some light indie rock can be heard in the background.

It’s about time Portland grew up

From his home studio in Portland, Oregon, André Anjos talks about the last six years of his life living in the eccentric city. “I feel like a local,” he states first off, “and I love it here.” He goes on to explain that the city has been changing “like crazy” just like the Bay Area and Seattle. Referencing a recent trend in real-estate listings, he laughs about seeing “No California”-stickers, “as if that would dissuade people from moving here.”

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Photo courtesy of Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

“People are complaining,” he goes on to mention. “They’re saying that a lot of things that made Portland unique is getting lost.” Although he really has appreciated the “amazing food” and “interesting things” in the city, André wants Portland to grow up a bit. Hesitating, he puts off the rest of his answer – stating that he might have a better opinion in a couple of years.

Portland, prisons and college

“Everything post-college has been here in Portland,” André goes on to say. “Well, sort of. I spend more time at the airport than at home.” We laugh.

“A couple of friends moved here.” His buddy, Karl Kling, had a girlfriend out here in college and they had a place to move. Rent was “cheap” – at the time it was $500 a month. Coming from a life at Greenville College in Illinois, this was quite the change.

“Three thousand people in the town were prison inmates and they counted that as part of the population,” he laughs. “It was a very small town and a dry town!” He had never heard of something like that before, especially since coming from Portugal, where the drinking age is fourteen.

When asked about his major, André couldn’t help but make a few jokes. “I got a music business degree, which is hilarious.” Greenville college was in the middle of nowhere and the Portugal native decided to learn about music from a bunch of old Illinoisans. “Maybe some basic knowledge came in handy,” he continues, trying to give some credit to his education. “But the music industry changes every year and you’re learning information that’s five years old in college.”

So, in school, he learned how the music industry used to work. “I guess you could say I earned a music business history major,” we laugh again.

The idea of RAC, what happened to the collective

“From the beginning, we wanted to be a group of people that all do remixes under one name,” he explained. “We could gather some talent and do it as a group as opposed to an individual person doing on your own.”

“How did that work out?” I asked, already knowing the answer.

“You know when you’re in a group project and you’re the one person doing it all?” He asked rhetorically. “Well, I was doing it all. A lot of people had jobs and real obligations – I was just in school.” So André took over the project and started doing everything under the same name, Remix Artist Collective.

“The name stuck and I kind of ignored it. When I started touring, I brought Karl who started DJing with me.” The definition of the name, he went on to explain had started changing during those tours until it stopped meaning anything. As he moved into producing original music, it ceased to make any sense but, “at one point,” he explains, “I decided that I spent six years of my life building this brand… I’m just gonna stick with it.”

“It’s called RAC,” he concludes. “It doesn’t mean anything – it doesn’t matter.”

Now that things have developed and he’s become a writer of original music, the name has unintentionally become a point of confusion. He’s now writing with other people, covering tracks with his wife and has even produced original music for the HBO series, Entourage.

Independence, album woes and staying relevant

"I feel like I put out a track every week,” André says. “A lot are remixes but… it’s just easier to focus on a song at a time and just put [that one] out.” Since recording his album in 2011 and having to wait three years for the record label to approve the content for legal and distribution reasons, RAC has taken a step back from the traditional record deal.

“After the album came out, I didn’t really feel like it was relevant to do that in 2015,” he says of the album’s long release schedule. As of June 2015, a month after getting out of his contract, André has been dropping music at least once a month with a staggered release schedule. From single tracks to lyric videos, these regular releases are his way of “keeping [his] head above the noise.”

“There’s a lot of amazing work, and a lot of mediocre work out there… [the internet] is so incredibly saturated [with it]. Fortunately, a thing I got used to with remixes is getting to do things very quickly.” Despite the constant work, André is satisfied with this new methodology as, “with a waiting period that was once three years is now two months at the most.”

When discussing the success of his album, he reminisced but responded contritely, “the music doesn’t represent who I am anymore. You have three years of built-up expectations and when they don’t go in [the way you want], it’s so frustrating.”

Making music, with new singles and successes

Last month’s single, “3AM feat. Katie Herzig” (embedded below) has been quite the success – garnering almost half a million plays in the weeks since its release. When I asked him how he felt about this, André answered estatically, “I feel like we’re gaining momentum and people are catching on to what we’re doing. We compare numbers a lot since we’re doing things independently. Keeping my eye on it [lets me] make sure things are going well. I think it’s been a very fun game to get into that that, [especially] in these last couple of tracks.”

With all the data analysis that he and his team had been doing, I followed up by asking why he still makes music. Despite a somewhat-programmatic release schedule and metrics to understand their success, RAC manages to keep the soul in the music.

“So who do you make music for then?” I asked, “Your numbers? Your fans? Yourself?”

“Myself,” André answered, “Absolutely.” Stating that he continues to make music “purely for [his] own entertainment,” the man just wants to be happy with what he does. As it turns out a big part of him being happy is making others happy!

“I’m not just stroking my beard, happily listening to my own music,” he says. “For one, I don’t have a beard and I see it as kind of a game and it’s my job and it’s something to have fun with.” His goal is to “keep going” as he’s noticed the music is “creating an outlet for this weird desire [to] ‘have to make music’ and want[ing] to keep that going.”

“Part of growth is being heard and having people listen to your music,” he says. For André it seems that this is the core of the game. “Artists that say it doesn’t affect them are lying,” he continues. “If a lot of people are stoked about your song, it really affects you.”

In regards to his fans, he said “it feels good when sometimes people will leave really kind messages like, ‘hey this helped me out during this time of my life’.” He hears me smile through the phone and continues, “I don’t sit down and write songs to help people in that way, but it’s a really nice validation.”

Building a synth and making some music

In addition to his solo work as RAC, André still finds time to record music with his wife, Liz. “There was this goal on the surface to release [them] as a free track to celebrate when we hit milestones on social media,” he says of the covers (check them out on soundcloud). “There’s obviously a selfish side of it and it’s a fun project.” Aside from the benefits of recording for fun, he also has been grateful for the opportunity to be creative in a way he hadn’t tried before. “Working with Liz is also really fun,” he sums up, “even though we live together, we rarely collaborate.”

In his home studio in Portland, the electronic musician mostly uses physical instruments, “whether that’s a synth, drum machine, guitar, bass… I have a lot of toys and I just work [here],” he says. “It’s a really nice balance with the touring and, when I’m not touring, it’s good to be home.”

When it comes to his own production, André just “feels more comfortable” playing an instrument rather than programming music on the computer. “You can create exclusive items that you just can’t make on a computer since most people don’t have [the same] instrument,” he explains. “You create a unique sound that’s impossible to replicate.”

“The problem is that I can’t work when I’m travelling,” he continues. “I can’t fix a mix or something when I’m on the road, which can be frustrating.” Despite his long time spent on the road, the remix artist still finds time to come home and write original music on his modular synthesizer. “I’m a building a modular synth,” he says excitedly. “It started with one box and now I have five. It’s so much fun and it’s so nerdy!”

Yet the synthesizer has been more than a toy in André’s creative process. With it’s inspirational aesthetic and pleasantly unique sound, the modular synth has become a “magical machine”:

You turn the lights on and it’s blinking. It gets really heady sometimes when I have to think about every wire. But it creates a situation where a lot of unexpected things can happen. Most of the time they’re very positive things, like happy accidents – you can stumble upon a sound. It’s a magical machine. There’s so much potential that sometimes it’s too much… but it’s great because of that.

After geeking out about gear, it’s easy to become existential in describing the sound of an instrument. So André concludes, “I’m very into the studio and that whole process. I’d say I probably enjoy recording music just as much as I do writing it.”

Inspiration and dedication, some advice for new artists

The PR rep’s voice came over the line, “Hey guys. We’re running kind of behind so this could be the last question or so.” Looking at my notes, I grew excited as I read, “Which relatively new musicians have you been listening to or enjoying lately?”

Immediately, André answered, “A decent amount of people know Pomo. He’s a guy from Montreal and it’s just a breath of fresh air compared to the EDM, droning military march stuff. I really like it. His remixes are really top notch and I always check them out and add them to our set.”

I followed up by asking what advice he could give new electronic artists. He answered:

I think it’s important to learn how a lot of these sounds are created, specifically for electronic artists. If you learn the basics and understand synthesis, it’s going to go a long way. You can’t do the production tricks if you don’t know it. Learn the basics of recording and avoid presets. They are an easy way to get a specific sound that sounds good but then there’s everybody else and they’re using the same thing. If you can distance yourself from that and try creating sounds from scratch, [you’ll find] you’ll especially know what you’re doing.

Another line could be heard coming into the phone call and André began to quickly finish up. “Musicians need to beat themselves,“ he said. "You don’t want to be somebody else since they already exist. You can be inspired by other people, but try to do something that, personally, you’d be.”

Be sure to catch RAC as he starts up his tour again, this week! André will be performing with Big Data at Seattle’s Showbox SoDo on November, 20th – expect hours of awesome from openers, Karl Kling and Filous.

As always, check back at the Rainy Blawg for a show preview/review from yours truly as the end of November draws ever nearer!

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DJ Desman