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Matson on Music

Music news, concert reviews, analysis and opinion by music writer Andrew Matson.

August 31, 2009 at 10:13 AM

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If I booked a mini-festival, it would look like Saturday at Bumbershoot: Past Lives, Mayer Hawthorne, Gang Gang Dance, De La Soul

Posted by Andrew Matson

First can't-miss Bumbershoot concert: local band Past Lives (3:30, Saturday at EMP). It's one of the most inventive we've got.

Blilie, Gajadhar, Welch, Henderson; photo from Suicide Squeeze

With singer Jordan Blilie, it's not about notes, so much. He's a firehose with a touchy throttle. As thrashy as he gets, he can have an almost dainty way with shouts, bellows, and screams. It's a trip just to watch him be affected mid-concert, especially when he does that momentarily-paralyzed thing with his super-thin, long-limbed body. An unsung instrument, that.

BTW: The drummer from Gossip, Hannah Blilie, is his twin.

Blilie's intensity and self-seriousness would be unstomachable if he and the rest of his band members weren't actively dismantling and re-piecing together rock 'n' roll. But they are. All of them. Each seems focused as much on creating distinct rhythm parts as on carving out his own novel sound. Sometimes I think every Past Lives member must believe he's in a different band.

Mark Gajadhar's Olympic-athlete drumming is the most impressive in Seattle. Hands down. Devin Welch's guitar clangs and slices, but also builds walls. It's architectural. The epitome of anti-noodle. Morgan Henderson is an experimental force, a guitar re-stringer, amp-swapper, keyboard sequencer. There is no other band like this band. (There was also no band like the other one they were all in at one point or another, but that's another story.)

I talked to Henderson on the street in Capitol Hill the other day, and he said the new Past Lives album is nearly done, that it features a horn section, and sounds like the Pixies and the Breeders.

"Totally '90s," he said.

I bet we'll hear songs from it at Bumbershoot.

Here's "Strange Symmetry" from last year's EP of the same name:

And then at 4 on the Fisher Green stage it's Mayer Hawthorne, the Motown man with a hiphop heart. Check my gigantic interview for an introduction to his impeccable style.

Then Gang Gang Dance plays the Exhibitiion Hall at 7. Should be a sweaty dance party.

And to cap off the day, back to Fisher Green at 9:30 for De La Soul's outside-the-box, but never difficult-to-understand hiphop.

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