Seattle Theatre Group Presents STRFKR, Alabama Shakes and Alt-J; Tickets on Sale Beg. Today
Back to the Article
by BWW News Desk
Seattle Theatre Group (STG) announces the following concerts going on sale this week:
It's hard to say exactly when it happened. It could've been during one of the 100+ shows STRFKR played over the past two years -- ecstatic sold-out dance parties that started in tiny, sweaty rooms before word of mouth spread and forced a move to larger (and even sweatier) venues. It might've been when touring guitarist Patrick Morris officially became a full-time member in late 2011, rounding out a line-up that included multi-instrumentalists Josh Hodges, Shawn Glassford, and Keil Corcoran. Most likely, though, there wasn't a single defining moment when the change occurred. With evolution there rarely is. Instead, progression happens naturally and steadily -- each step leading inevitably to the next until you reach a point when you realize how far you've come without even being fully aware of how you got there. In early 2012, during a rare break in the group's touring schedule, Hodges retreated to secluded Astoria, Oregon. But this time, rather than completely isolating himself to work on new material (as had always been the case in the past), Hodges invited the other members to visit often and truly collaborate in the process of writing STRFKR's third full-length, Miracle Mile. And so it was that STRFKR became a band. As a result, whether participating in all-night lyric writing sessions, fleshing out song skeletons originally conceived during European soundchecks ("Malmo") and long van rides ("Leave It All Behind"), or completing half-finished ideas kicking around Hodges' brain and hard drive, there isn't a single song on Miracle Mile that every member of STRFKR didn't contribute to and ultimately improve. For proof, look no further than first single and opening track "While I'm Alive," a song that bursts out of the gate with what can only be described as swagger. Not overconfidence or false bravado, but the undeniable sound of a band that knows exactly who they are: swirling keyboards that take you up, down, and all around, rhythmic guitars, irresistible basslines, and drums that keep an unrelenting beat. Disco-y standout "Atlantis" is the paragon of this formula, with vocal and musical hooks seemingly cusTom Fitted to a spot so deep inside your eardrums they'll never dislodge. But upbeat isn't Miracle Mile's only tempo. In fact, it's in quieter moments like "Isea," which briefly slows down the album's pulse with gentle "oh-oh-ohs" over acoustic guitar, that the record truly coalesces as a complete whole that couldn't have come together any other way. Just like STRFKR.
The story of the Alabama Shakes begins in a high school psychology class in Athens, Alabama. Brittany Howard, who had started playing guitar a few years earlier, approached Zac Cockrell and asked if he wanted to try making music together. "I just knew that he played bass and that he wore shirts with cool bands on them that nobody had heard of," says Howard. They started to meet up after school and write songs sitting on Howard's floor. "It had that rootsy feel, but there was some out-there stuff," says Cockrell. "David Bowie-style things, prog-rock, lots of different stuff. We started to come across our own sound a little bit, though it's evolved a lot since then." StEve Johnson worked at the only music store in town, and Howard knew he played the drums. She invited him to a party where, she says, "he met everybody from our side of the tracks." The three young musicians began working together, further expanding their style and approach. "Steve is kind of a punk-metal drummer," says Howard, "so we embraced that edge he brings to everything he does." The trio soon went into a studio in Decatur to record some of the songs they were working up, and this proto-demo found its way into the hands of Heath Fogg, with whom Howard had been familiar because he had been the lead guitarist in what she describes as "the best band in our high school." Fogg, who by now had graduated from college, asked them to open a show for his band, which they agreed to do-on the condition that he play with them. The response was immediate: "That first show was really explosive," says Howard." Though they had been focusing on original material ("It's just more fun to write than to learn someone else's music," says Cockrell), as the band-newly christened the Shakes-began playing out, they added more cover songs. They played classics by JAmes Brown and Otis Redding, but also by Led Zeppelin and AC/DC. "We had to find music we could all agree on and figure out how to play together," says Howard, "and that had a lot of influence on how we play now." Now, with expectations at fever pitch, the Alabama Shakes have delivered Boys & Girls-six of the songs from that initial Nashville session, and another five recorded during the rest of the year. From the heart-rending title song to such stomps as "Rise to the Sun," the album demonstrates the sense of groove and space the band learned from their idols, along with a blistering force and emotion that simply can't be learned.
alt-J (?)'s name takes a little explaining. Pronounced "alt-J", the delta sign is created when you hold down the alt key on your computer keyboard and punch 'J' on a Mac computer. The symbol has a deeper meaning for the band, as guitarist/bassist Gwil Sainsbury notes, "in mathematical equations it's used to show change," and the band's relatively new name came at a turning point in their lives. Gwil, Joe Newman [guitar/vocals], Gus Unger-Hamilton [keyboards] and Thom Green [drums] met at Leeds University in 2007. Gus studiEd English Literature; the other three Fine Art. In their second year of studies, Joe played Gwil a handful of his own songs inspired by his guitar-playing dad and hallucinogens, and the pair began recording in their dorm rooms with Gwil acting as producer on Garageband. Needless to say, the response to Joe's hushed falsetto yelps and Gwil's rudimentary sampling skills was good. When Thom was played the tracks he joined the band straight away. "I hadn't heard anything like it," he says. "It was music I was looking for, I just didn't know I was. I just loved it." Gus completed the band's lineup and together - first as Daljit Dhaliwal and then as Films - the four friends spent the next two years playing around town, developing a precise and unique brand of alt. pop that draws on poignant folk verses, crushing synths, smart hip hop syncopations and tight vocal harmonies. They dropped the moniker of Films in 2007, largely to avoid confusing the band with Californian punk troupe The Films. alt-J (?) gave them a unique name to go with the unique 'folk-step' that they now concoct in the basement of a terrace house in Cambridgeshire.
About STG: Our mission is to make diverse performing arts and education an integral part of our region's cultural identity while keeping three historic venues, The Paramount, Moore and Neptune, alive and vibrant. STG presents a range of performances from Broadway, off-Broadway, dance and jazz, to comedy, concerts of all genres, speakers and family shows - at these three iconic theatres in Seattle and venues throughout the Puget Sound region and in Portland, Oregon.
Based on Pollstar, the Concert Hotwire Magazine's 2011 Mid-Year Worldwide Ticket Sales, STG ranked #43 of the Top 100 promoters and The Paramount (ranked #12) and The Moore (ranked #44) were placed very well among the Top 100 Theatre Venues.
STG is the 501 (c)(3) non-profit arts organization that operates the historic Paramount, Moore and Neptune Theatres in Seattle, Washington.