There are a lot of overwrought "patriotic" songs masquerading as inspirational, but the ol' U.S. of A. has also moved many artists to actually come up with some killer tunes. We've collected a few of our favorites here, and we'd love to hear what songs you feel capture the spirit of the country. Let us know in the comments below.
In the meantime, dig in to some sonic goodness slathered in the stars and stripes to help you get ready for the Fourth of July festivities.
Let's start with arguably the best version of the national anthem from semi-recent memory, courtesy of Whitney:
The Godfather of Soul? Yup, he dug living in America, and appearing in camp classic Rocky IV, where this song comes from:
At Tuesday night's Tyler, the Creator show, the MC skipped out on an encore.
It could have been a combination of things: the heat, tiredness, perhaps he was hangry. Whatever the reasoning, Tyler, the Creator didn’t come out for an encore at last night’s Knitting Factory show to the disappointment of his fans.
No artist is required to do anything, and coming back out to do just one more song isn’t necessary. Maybe we shouldn’t expect it. But seriously? Besides festival shows where there isn’t the time, I can’t even think of the last time I didn’t see an encore for a big show. The rapper was only out on stage for a little over an hour, and last night he left his audience wanting more.
The neon-clothed kids (and these really were kids — there was a row of waiting parents in cars after the show let out) had already lined up outside well before 5 pm for a show that wouldn’t start until about 8:30 pm. Once inside, they packed in, excitedly waiting for a guy many parents would freak out over if they ever read his lyrics.
Taco — not to be confused with this Taco — warmed up the stage for his man Tyler, spinning a bunch of Jay-Z, Lil’ Wayne, Kanye and more. Then out of nowhere, the artist burst onto the stage as if blasted out of a canon going straight into the song “Bitch Suck Dick.” Ah, yes. Joined by Jasper Dolphin, a fellow Odd Future cohort, he glided quickly around the stage. Sometimes there was gangsta swagger, other times he looked like an adult man throwing a tantrum.
After that first song he moved into the part of the show where he spoke to the audience. He called out one dude for using a selfie stick, he pointed out one woman's outfit whose hair looked like big Minnie Mouse ears.
“Have I been to Spokane before?” he asks a cheering crowd. “I guess it
must have been a long time ago. What do you do around here? It looks like nothing.”
And with all of these sweet things to say, the MC moved into more crowd-pleasing songs like the slow “IFHY” (perhaps his answer to Eminem’s “Stan”), the money-motivated “Smuckers” and the pedophilia-vibing song “F—-ing Young / Perfect.” For everything he did, the audience fist-pumped and jumped and cursed him and sang along with nearly every word.
Right around 10 pm, he stripped off his white T-shirt, thanked the crowd and peaced out … never to return.
But even if Tyler wasn’t interested in being in Spokane any longer than he needed to, let it be known he worked his ass off with the songs he did do. There were breaks between tunes that lasted almost a minute just so he could catch his breath and towel off the gallons of sweat pouring out of him. He was scary, he was raw, he made all the faces. He was even kind enough not to incite a riot.
People had a lot of fun Tuesday night, and even with Tyler leaving straight to his hotel right after, that feeling of abandon while his catchy music was pumpin’ is what everyone will remember. And that’s what they should remember.
By Dan Nailen
on Tue, Jun 30, 2015 at 11:39 AM
Some music just begs to be heard in a hot, muggy roadhouse, where the sweat drips off the beer bottles and the dancing fans alike. Gregg Allman's sound is a perfect example, whether leading his own band or playing with the Allman Brothers Band, as he mixes gritty Southern blues, rootsy rock 'n' roll and more than a dash of funk and soul.
Allman's show at the pristine Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox was pretty much the polar opposite of a dank, smoky club, but Allman and his eight-piece backing band did their best to evoke the down-home vibe that propelled him to stardom back in the '60s and early '70s alongside his brother Duane, and eventually landed him in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Pulling songs from throughout his career, Allman created 90 minutes of music that took the audience on a trip that was both adventurous and nostalgic.
Allman took the stage with a slow ramble to the front shortly after opener Matt Andersen delivered his own blues-heavy set — one that proved popular judging by the line of people buying his CDs between acts. Allman entered waving at the crowd and looking a bit gaunt before he plopped down behind his Hammond B-3 organ and led his charges through an instrumental intro that opened up into "It's Not My Cross to Bear," a tune from the Allman Brothers Band's self-titled 1969 debut. The slow blues was a bold way to kick off a show where no doubt many expected a raucous dance party, and it was an ideal way to showcase Allman's voice — a strong, gruff instrument that belies the 67-year-old's slight stature.
Like many songs to come, the "Cross" also featured a searing guitar solo from Scott Sharrad, who Allman would later introduce as the musical director of the group that also included two percussionists and three horn players, as well as the remarkable piano man Peter Levin. Considering Sharrad was tasked with ripping out some of the most classic of classic-rock riffs, guitar parts created by Duane Allman and Dickey Betts that have stood the test of the time, the man proved up to the task, easily incorporating their urgent rhythms and wicked slide parts throughout the show.
Allman followed up "It's Not My Cross to Bear" with "I'm No Angel," a song from his 1986 album of the same name that I recall being a overly produced, way-too-slick addition to his catalog. Seeing that song on MTV as a kid kept me from getting into the Allman Brothers Band for years. I'm happy to report the song has aged better than I'd ever expect thanks to the straightforward approach taken by his band, and the addition of an excellent horn section. Of course, I'll never be able to separate the song from one of Amy Poehler's greatest Saturday Night Live moments in my mind.
Dude! This week is laced with good music every single day. What a wonderful way to stay cool (in more ways than one).
Tonight, you’ll need to check out Gregg Allman at the beautiful downtown Martin Woldson at the Fox Theater. The legendary rocker is still doing things his own way, choosing to continue performing at the tender age of 67, even after the Allman Brothers Band has called it quits on the touring circut. It’s great to finally have him in town after his Spokane show was postponed last summer. The show begins at 8 pm, features Matt Andersen and starts at $35.
Check out our interview with him here and be sure to read our concert review tomorrow.
Even in hip-hop terms Tyler, the Creator is pretty crazy. He’s told a fan to eat vomit, he’s incited a riot, he’s every parent’s worst nightmare. And Tuesday, he hits up the Knitting Factory to bring a little chaos to the downtown scene. The show starts at 8 pm, is all-ages and features Taco.
Check out our recent story on the rapper here and also read our concert review on his show come Wednesday.
Over at the Bartlett, the show contending for your heart is Portland indie-rockers Blitzen Trapper. While the band was here about a year ago, they’re back with some spankin’ new songs (ones you won’t have heard anywhere else) Tuesday night. Also expect a couple Neil Young covers thrown in as well — the band's most recent release was an exclusive Record Store Day LP covering Young's seminal Harvest. The all-ages event costs $17 and starts at 8 pm.
The Big Dipper is bringing it Wednesday night with so much rock ‘n’ roll, including the Bay Area-based Stone Foxes and local favorites Hey! is For Horses, Flannel Math Animal and Buffalo Jones. The Stone Foxes have opened for the likes of the Black Keys, Cage the Elephant and ZZ Top, and soon enough, if we have anything to say about it, young bands will proudly brag about sharing a stage with these instrument-swapping roots-rockers. The all-ages show starts at 7:30 pm and is $12 at the door.
THURSDAY Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas swing back through the Bartlett Thursday. If you’re interested in voices that thrill your soul as well as your ear drums you need to hear the Detroit-based Hernandez belt out her retro-influenced rock tunes. The all-ages show starts at 8 pm and is $12 at the door.
We in the Inland Northwest are fine with the humidity-free temps swirling around 90 degrees F. But when the thermometer pushes well over 100, as it’s predicted to do this weekend just in time for the Ironman Coeur d’Alene triathalon competition and Hoopfest, we don't quite know how to handle it.
So we've compiled a list of 10 songs to keep your spirits up, in spite of the heat. Feel free to listen to this while eating popsicles and sitting in a ice water-filled kiddie pool.
10. Fleet Foxes, “Sun It Rises”
This Seattle folk act’s beautiful whiney crooning is perfect for the beginning of a hot, hot day.
9. The Lovin’ Spoonful, “Summer in the City”
It’s no wonder this song topped the Billboard charts back in 1966, it’s just so damn catchy. Plus, the words: “All around, people looking half dead / Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head,” describe this weekend perfectly.
8. Violent Femmes, “Blister in the Sun”
It’s fine that this song isn’t really about the sunshine or the heat at all. Listen anyway, and relive all the other times you got this song stuck in your head.
For those who haven’t experienced a Round at the Bartlett yet, tonight is a perfect edition to start with. Musicians include Water Monster (a 2015 Inlander Band to Watch), Drake Wilcox and Lindsay Johnston along with poet Elissa Ball and painter Elie Downes. Watch as all the action happens at the same time. Cost is $10 at the door.
Local metal act Mercy Brown recently garnered fans from around the world when a collaborative Mary Poppins video went viral. Check them out headlining the Knitting Factory tonight along with Cold Blooded, Rasputin and Serpentspire. The show starts at 8 pm and is $5 for those 21 and under or otherwise free. Read this week's profile on the band here.
SATURDAY Jan Francisco is actually 16-year-old Spokanite Norman Robbins. His one man show comes to the Baby Bar Saturday night along with Dead Sea Squirrels and Fun Ladies. Be there around 10 to catch the rockin' party.
Marshall McLean Band (Another 2015 Band to Watch) plays all sorts of venues but the Bartlett is certainly one of the group’s favorite joints. MMB and Jeffery Martin take on the Bartlett stage Saturday night starting at 8 pm and cost is $15 at the door
In Portland’s Eight Bells, the trio’s chops are delivered in the service of sprawling tunes that evoke drone-rock, dark metal and psychedelia, says Dan Nailen. The band brings this flair for the dramatic to Pinnacle Northwest Saturday at 8:30 pm. Cost is $7 for the all-ages show. Mercy Brown will play at this show too.
Bazaar, the sister event to Terrain, runs all Saturday. Purchase local art all while listening to local regional music. Basically, take part in a perfect day.
Here's the whole lineup:
11 am: DB Record Selector (Spokane)
12:30 pm: DJ Breezy Brown (Spokane)
2 pm: Silver Torches (Seattle)
3 pm: ORPHANS. (Bellingham)
4 pm: City Hall (Bellingham)
5 pm: Scott Ryan (Spokane)
6 pm: Wild Wants (Seattle)
7 pm: Friends of Mine (Spokane)
8 pm: Mama Doll (Spokane)
9 pm: Down North (Seattle)
Continuing the area’s string of free, local, music-packed concerts is the third annual Stateline Music Festival. Taking place down at the newly remodeled Cruisers in Idaho, owner Justin Veo says that Father’s Day weekend should be the right fit for families to come out for live music (after previously trying Hoopfest and Labor Day weekends). While the first year started with 10 bands, this year’s festivities features two days and 18 acts. Saturday features hard rock bands doing their own stuff — expect a lot from Invasive, Mechanism, Elephant Gun Riot, AntiHero, Free the Jester, Banish the Echo and Children of Atom — while Sunday includes cover bands like Coleman Underground and Slightly Committed playing the whole musical gamut from country to funk. The event will also include aerial flyovers, roller derby exhibitions and yes, fire dancers. The shows run all afternoon into the evening.
SUNDAY Grieves is back, back again. That’s right, the Seattle rapper is at the Bartlett Sunday throwing his sweet rhymes down. The show is $20, but as he’s sold out the venue before, you’ll probably want to get your tickets early. The all-ages show starts at 8 pm.
Expect significant changes from the experiment that was last year’s first-
ever Bartfest. The basic concept remains intact — a celebration of local to national indie acts at the Bartlett and next door nYne — but this time around Bartlett owners Karli and Caleb Ingersoll have made the event two days instead of three, moved it from September to October and all but obliterated the price tag. Currently, weekend wristbands are running at $15 online, a far cry from the original $90 all-access pass of last year.
The first wave of the 2015 Bartfest lineup was just announced (expect about 16 bands when all is said and done) and right now it’s shaping up well. Angel Olsen, who just played Sasquatch! and performed at the Bartlett last year, is the biggest name on the list thus far but we’ll see what is to come.
While the Oct. 9 - 10 event is all-ages, note that nYne is 21+ after 8 pm . Wristbands will move up to $30 after July 15.
BARTFEST LINEUP (so far)
Angel Olsen (Chicago)
Horse Feathers (Portland)
Marshall McLean Band (Spokane)
Bryan John Appleby (Seattle)
Silver Torches (Seattle)
Mama Doll (Spokane)
Drink in all of this beautiful weather with live music abounding!
We begin with the Street Party on Wall happening tonight featuring singer-songwriter with Spokane ties Anthony Hall, Brooklyn-based Joe Marson and a DJ set from Jake Robideaux, of KYRS’s Subterranean hip-hop show. It’s a free all-ages party (expect food trucks) outside of the Spokane Transit Plaza running from 5 pm to 10 pm.
Stevie Lynne passionately sings all the songs off her debut album Liars, along with a handful of new ones, at the Bing Crosby Theater tonight. The all-ages show begins at 8 pm and is $20. Read this week’s story on Lynne here.
Two screaming female punk bands hit their stages hard tonight. Phlegm Fatale (a 2015 Inlander Band to Watch) plays a show along with Xurs and Outercourse at Baby Bar. Across downtown at Jones Radiator Itchy Kitty gets loud and rowdy along with Dem Empire and Marijuana Killed Marc. Both shows are free. Maybe try and catch both, get your punk on.
Spokane bluegrass aficionado Kevin Brown has a brand new original album Book of Skies, featuring a genre-spanning ensemble of veteran Spokane musicians. He has an album release show happening tonight at First Presbyterian Church downtown starting at 7:30 pm. The all-ages show is suggested donation.
Neutral Milk Hotel doesn't allow photos or videos at their shows.
Jeff Mangum strides onto the Spokane Knitting Factory stage, unrecognizable from the fresh-faced singer-songwriter of younger years, sporting a bushy beard and pulled-down messenger cap. But immediately starting into “A Baby For Pree,” that voice is unmistakably his own nasally and bitterly beautiful tone. Soon, the rest of Neutral Milk Hotel joins him under the hot lights taking up trombone, saw, bass, keys and drums. The packed-in room buzzes with human electricity. It smells heavily of garlic and sweat. People of all ages are breathing in the moment, as if it’s the first time and the last time they’ve heard (the sound system is on point about one song in) this influential ’90s band.
Bass/accordion/saw/banjo master Julian Koster and his blue knit hat.
And in a way, it is the last time, at least live. The group announced earlier this year they’d disband and June 9 would mark their final show. Friday night, Lilac City fans witnessed what was possibly one of the band’s last ever performances.
Three songs in, NMH launches into “King of Carrot Flowers” and the crowd goes nuts. This is the first song off 1998’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, the group’s second and likely final album, and this is the record that people know the best (it is the best). So any time the band plays a song off that work, the audience sing-along begins. Songs from their first album, On Avery Island, or EPs weren’t as familiar to people.
I want to ask every person wildly singing where they were the first moment they heard this music, and how these strange lyrics changed them. But I don’t; the fact is, this folk-rock, Irish-influenced music has changed people. Even if the band never works again, they'll have that. Intermittently, fans raise their hands to the sky in worshipful reverence, as if to pull the music in through their fingertips.
For anyone who saw Mangum when he was touring solo four or so years ago, this Knitting Factory show, with all of its eclectic instrumentations (this was the first time I’d ever seen a banjo played with a violin bow) is so much more fun and care-free. Julian Koster, master of saw/bass/accordion/keys, bounces around in a circle or sits on the ground and never stops moving, his blue knit hat barely hanging on. It’s clear to be in this band you have to play at least three instruments (except the fiddle player and Mangum, who played guitar), as everyone kept switching it up, even the drummer.
An eight-minute version of the seminal “Oh Comely” has the audience swaying and singing. And all too soon, the act bows and leaves the stage. But it wasn’t over.
Mangum begins with “Little Birds,” the only song written after Aeroplane that he plays at concerts. It’s quiet and moving. Once the entire band joins him for the final three songs of Aeroplane, it’s like a match has been lit. It’s pandemonium on stage, with some of the eerie and creative instrumentation sounding like something you’d hear at a modern classical music concert.
It ends perfectly …”Two Headed Boy Pt. 2” with Mangum alone with his voice and guitar.
He says “thank you” after the final notes, bows and leaves. He doesn’t wallow in the moment, that’s our job. The house lights come up and we’re left to wander out into the warm night air reflecting on the miracle we’ve all just witnessed.
The Big Dipper hosts young, up and coming Spokane rock bands Stucco (who played the Dipper last Friday as part of Volume), the Backups and Ben Arleth. The all-ages show starts at 7:30 pm and is $10.
Tonight, tonight, Neutral Milk Hotel is finally here. Not to rain on anyone else’s parade but this is one of the biggest shows of the entire year and it’s not sold out at the Knitting Factory yet. At $32 it may seem like a steep ticket price, but it’s worth every dime. Be there at 8 pm and also read our preview story on the strange and wonderful act here.
The exciting Elkfest lineup begins tonight in the heart of Browne’s Addition. After two weekends in a row of awesome festivals (Sasquatch!, Volume) we’re excited to power through for this free, all-ages event. Do note, this year the Elk Public House will only be all-ages until 4 pm, and then all occupants must be 21+. All beer gardens will charge $2 for entry.
4 pm: Bossame (Spokane)
5:30 pm: Hey! is for Horses (Spokane)
7 pm: Rust on the Rails (Seattle)
9 pm: Robert Jon and the Wreck (Orange County, California)
Elkfest continues with this schedule:
2 pm: Folkinception (Spokane)
4 pm: Pine League (Spokane)
6 pm: Megan Wilde (Seattle)
7:30 pm: Ayron Jones and the Way (Seattle)
9 pm: The Grizzled Mighty (Seattle)
The Hop! is (sadly) closing, officially. Go and pay your respects Saturday night starting around 6 pm. Local bands seeing the all-ages venue off are FAUS, Reason For Existence, Straight To Our Enemies, Rot Monger, Least of These, Hearts Like Lions, Sorority, Serpentspire and For What May Come. Cost is $10.
Missoula death-metal act Walking Corpse Syndrome (an actual mental illness that leads the afflicted to believe he or she is dead) is no stranger to Spokane, having recorded their 2013 album Alive in Desolation at the local studio Amplified Wax. Saturday night at Pinnacle Northwest, the decade-old band bring their dark-as-night, thunderous noise music back to town. You won’t be able to decipher any of the Cookie Monster-sounding vocals frontman Leif Winterrowd makes, but you won’t care. Other acts at the $5, all-ages show includes Morbid Inc., A Cryptic Ending, Ground Zero and Concrete Grip.
Remember the Eugene, Oregon, act Cherry Poppin’ Daddies? They were going to play the Red Lion Hotel at the Park summer music series Saturday night at 6 pm, but that show has been cancelled. Tell your friiends.
SUNDAY Elkfest continues with this Schedule
2 pm: Crystalline (Spokane)
4 pm: Left Over Soul (Spokane)
6 pm: Flying Spiders (Spokane)
7:30 pm: DJ Ahem (Sandpoint) w/ Don Da Vinci (Seattle)
9 pm: Lyrics Born (Berkeley, California) Read our interview with the rapper here.