The second day of Macefield Music Festival invoked thunderstorms and musical fanfare as dozens of bands faced ecstatic crowds of music lovers at the KEXP Mainstage, Tractor Tavern, Conor Byrne Pub, and The Sunset. Seattle rapper Grynch threw down his approachable, lyrical west coast rhymes for an early group of fans at the Mainstage. Full of attitude and flair, Fly Moon Royalty took the spotlight next as the sun broke through the ominous cloud cover. The group’s front woman, Adra Boo, charmed the crowd with her soulful vocals, as MC Mike "Action J" Illvester commanded the keys. The atmosphere in Conor Byrne was more relaxed, as the ramblings of Hotel Vignette’s Nils Petersen and the ring of the band’s harmonious horn section eased the audience in for the long haul. Over at The Sunset, just as the rain started pelting the streets of Old Ballard, Mommy Long Legs burst from the stage with the tight precision the all girl punk rock band is coveted for. Their energy and colorfully eclectic outfits hit all the senses.
More than a band, Stallion is a rock sensation, and the group shook things up at Tractor Tavern as they delivered on their self-proclaimed legacy as “the rowdiest rock & roll band in the land.” Rock collided with an earful of scuzzy garage punk at Conor Byrne as Thee Sgt. Major 3 rattled the house with their driving, frenetic energy. Fans relished in the group’s seasoned performance as Kurt Bloch (Fastbacks), Jim Sangster (Young Fresh Fellows), Mike Musburger (The Posies), and vocalist/front woman Leslie Beattie (Cantona, Flatpack) took out all the stops. Dark, dissident, and distorted, Merso brought their mix of post-rock and progressive punk to The Sunset next.
Boyfriends, the wily Seattle feminist punk band, never fail to push gender boundaries and misbehave, and they put on another exhilarating show at Tractor Tavern, with a playfully nonchalant stage presence, dusted with doses of off-the-cuff banter. With a combined musical resume including The Posies, Tube Top, and Ruston Mire, the four-piece rock group Service Providers slung their classic rock and post punk contradictions at Conor Byrne.
After feigning stage fright, Gazebos front woman Shannon Perry stole the show—she commanded the Tractor Tavern in a vintage wedding gown, and beckoned the crowd to push a little closer and dance a little harder. Heartfelt and dreamy, Bryan John Appleby graced Conor Byrne with his Northwest folk style and minimal instrumentals as he charmed a hushed crowd of captivated onlookers. Back over at The Sunset, it was all heavy-gaze as Dust Moth's haunting vocals and crushing guitars created a sludgy, layered atmosphere.
Los Angeles musician Nika Roza Danilova took a pilgrimage to Vashon to record the latest Zola Jesus record, and her performance on Saturday on the Mainstage offered a show divergent from her earlier work. From the island’s isolation sprung the inspiration to put a voice to why we're so alienated from nature. With dark vocals and an even darker demeanor, Zola Jesus toed the line between disarmingly frantic pleading and beautiful submission.
An anthem to punks and musicians everywhere, Wimps guitarist and lead vocalist Rachel Ratner proclaimed, “I slept in late / I slept in later than I meant to,” with the rumbling of Matt Nyce on bass and bashing of the drums by Dave Ramm. Their set bounded forward, building energy and showcasing dextrous guitar hooks and impeccable timing. It was impossible not to move to the danceable rock energy of Mirrorgloss at Conor Byrne, and just when the audience got its groove, the band’s two front women - Najamoniq Todd and Del Brown - launched into a nuanced ballad, only to pick up the tempo all over again. With the force of freight train, Wild Powwers' dark and heavy grunge rock filled the Tractor Tavern to the rafters with gritty distortion. A little trip hop and a lot of slow jam, Guayaba engulfed Conor Byrne in her hypnotic, silky smooth voice. Fine-tuned ears found music with a message, as she performed songs like “Parasites and Gentrification,” spinning a web of Spanish and English lyrics.
Selene Vigil hit the Tractor Tavern with her iconic, raspy voice and endearing no bull$h*t demeanor for a performance that blended newer, darker, gothic material with staple grunge tunes from the days of 7 Year Bitch (1990-97). Hip-hop artist Christianne Karefa-Johnson, a.k.a. DoNormaal, brought her deeply honest lyrical poetry to Conor Byrne as she confidently and expertly delivered stories of mortality, diversity, and love. Heavy rock band Sandrider made more noise than was seemingly possible from a three-piece band, as they hurled menacing guitar riffs and crushing beats at The Sunset.
Reigning Sound of years past embodied a punk, garage rock temperament, but these days, still devoted to the esteemed vocals and songwriting of Greg Cartwright, the band is driven more by lyrical melodies. Saturday’s final set at Tractor Tavern featured clean guitar harmonies, infused with country, classic rock, and soul. The masterful, award-winning Seattle quartet, Industrial Revelation, closed the night at Conor Byrne and eased festival-goers into the wee hours of the morning on a wave of funky R&B and bluesy jazz.
The last time Foals were in town, frontman Yannis Philipakkis jumped off the Neptune Theatre's balcony into the crowd. It was, quite frankly, as thrilling as it was dangerous. On the band's return trip to Seattle three years later, he (wisely) did not jump from the Paramount Theatre's balcony. Pers…
Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Afte…
Day 2 of Macefield Music Festival possessed a nice balance of crisp October weather, jangly jams, electrified éclat, and some bona fide rock 'n' roll - such as the rapturous return of Hazel! It's been a minute since the 90s grunge-era band has reunited to play a festival, possibly since 2012's Musi…