Wednesday, August 24, 2016

CONCERT REVIEW: Fitz breaks the walls at the Knit

Posted By on Wed, Aug 24, 2016 at 3:15 PM

Fitz and The Tantrums put on a high-energy show on Tuesday at the Knitting Factory.
  • Fitz and The Tantrums put on a high-energy show on Tuesday at the Knitting Factory.

The lights dim in the Knitting Factory and a drummer, a bassist, a saxophonist and a keyboard player take the stage. They set to work adjusting their instruments as the audience's volume raises. After a few moments of anticipation, the main foci arrive. Noelle Scaggs walks in from stage right, garbed in a shiny silver jacket and a half-skirt. Michael Fitzpatrick comes from stage left in a button up, jeans and polka-dotted shoes. After a moment of smiling and waving, an acknowledgement of the audience's riotous cheers, the six-piece, the fully formed Fitz and The Tantrums, explodes into performance.

The L.A.-formed indie-pop/soul group broke onto the scene in 2010 with the release of their debut album, Pickin' Up the Pieces. This June, the band released their self-titled third album, headlined by the infectious dance inducer "HandClap." The album, despite struggling through some critical scorn, has been a commercial success, peaking at number 17 on the Billboard 200. 

That success is obvious at the group's Knitting Factory show Tuesday, where a large, tightly-packed crowd on the floor interact excitedly with Scaggs and Fitzpatrick throughout the concert. Each time they're called upon to clap or sing along, they do so willingly and enthusiastically. All the while, a square-centric light show radiates behind the stage as the rest of the band jams along to back their two charismatic singers. 

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CONCERT REVIEW: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis give a wild lesson in civic pride

Posted By on Wed, Aug 24, 2016 at 12:34 PM


Good morning Spokane and welcome to the day after Macklemore and Ryan Lewis hit your town to open their Camping Trip tour. And no, those massive dirt ditches surrounding the Bing Crosby Theater are not result of the mayhem that hit that block last night, but it's understandable that you'd think as much.

What I expected to be a simple hip-hop show at an intimate venue turned out to be an all-day hullabaloo in downtown Spokane, where fans were lined up by mid-morning to get a good spot in the pick-your-own-seat show. By 2 pm, T-shirt stands were set up outside the Bing and a few hours later Macklemore and Ryan Lewis appeared to sign gear.

Note, this was still a good three hours before the show was set to begin. With Fitz and the Tantrums nearly selling out the neighboring Knitting Factory, the entire block, and the surrounding bars and restaurants were jam-packed on this rare celebratory Tuesday night.

OK, so after standing in line for a thorough security pat-down, the masses who'd snagged a ticket for this gig that sold out in a matter of minutes when it was announced back in May finally got closer to answering the question: "What the hell is this Camping Trip thing?"

We knew it was a string of shows in smaller towns in Washington at mostly historic theaters and that this was notable because Macklemore and Lewis have just returned to the states after playing stadiums in Europe. But that was about it. Inside, though, we got a look at the log cabin stage motif, decked out with trees and a spartan DJ set-up.

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CONCERT REVIEW: Dave Alvin's Roots on the Rails tour makes most of Spokane stop

Posted By on Wed, Aug 24, 2016 at 10:48 AM

(left to right) Cindy Cashdollar, Christy McWilson, Dave Alvin, Eliza Gilkyson, Rick Shea - DAN NAILEN
  • Dan Nailen
  • (left to right) Cindy Cashdollar, Christy McWilson, Dave Alvin, Eliza Gilkyson, Rick Shea

It's not every day that an artist ends a concert by announcing that the band — and part of the audience — has to hustle to catch a train to Montana. 

That was just one of the moments that made Tuesday night's "Roots on the Rails" tour stop at Chateau Rive, headlined by roots-rock singer-songwriter Dave Alvin, something special. 

Alvin led a crew of stellar folk artists including Eliza Gilkyson, Rick Shea, Cindy Cashdollar and Christy McWilson through two hours of swapping stories and songs to a packed room in the bottom of the Flour Mill building. The cast of performers rotates at each stop of the tour being done by train, and there was nothing to complain about with Spokane's lineup as each artist charmed with their own songs while jabbing and joking with each other in between tunes. 

The audience sat in rapt silence for most of the night, respectful of the performers, and the group included a bunch of folks traveling the whole six-stop tour through the West that came to Spokane from Seattle and headed to Glacier National Park for its next show. Among the travelers were 10 who flew all the way from England, and a couple I chatted with were utterly delighted by show's end. 

As well they should be, given what filled the show. Shea's straightforward folk kicked things off  with story-songs like "Mariachi Hotel" and "Sweet Bernadine." He then introduced Gilkyson, who dotted her set with hilarious commentary. At one point, she explained that she was trying to avoid repeating any songs over the course of the train tour, "so I keep going back to earlier and earlier material, from several marriages ago." 

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Bartfest 2016 is canceled, as promoters cite low ticket sales

Posted By on Tue, Aug 23, 2016 at 3:10 PM

Twin Peaks are still heading to the Bartlett this fall. - DANIEL TOPETE
  • Daniel Topete
  • Twin Peaks are still heading to the Bartlett this fall.

In a day and age where music festivals continue to pop up like dandelions, some festivals are now struggling to compete (this year's Sasquatch! and Paradiso festivals didn't even sell out). Today, the Bartlett owners announced they would cancel Bartfest, a two-day music festival they had scheduled to run the last weekend of September/first of October at their venue and neighboring nYne. 

Although a two-day pass was listed at $30 (a far cry from the first Bartfest's $90) for a lineup consisting of up-and-coming indie acts Twin Peaks, TOPS, Tangerine, White Reaper, Soft Sleep and the Echolarks, the pre-sales were not enough to keep the 3-year-old festival afloat. Although Spokanites are notorious for not purchasing tickets until close to a performance/event date, owners Karli and Caleb Ingersoll had been burned before when their first Bartfest outing only sold a third of tickets needed to break even. 

"Canceling is definitely a self-protective move," the Ingersolls wrote in a Facebook post today. "If people don't buy tickets, our venue is put at risk because festivals are based on guarantees only and not percentages of ticket sales. So, when people don't show up, we suffer."

But all is not lost. Twin Peaks is still booked to perform at the Bartlett that weekend and TOPS will play at the Observatory, both on Sat, Oct. 1. The owners plan to keep moving forward. 

"Bartfest may re-emerge at some point, but for now we are going to focus on what we feel the most confident in — bringing in really great bands weekly and giving them a great space to play in," the Ingersoll's wrote. 

Read the full Facebook post below: 

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Brett Dennen bound for Spokane on Tour Por Favor

Posted By on Tue, Aug 23, 2016 at 12:50 PM

Brett Dennen brings his folky acoustic style to Spokane come September.
  • Brett Dennen brings his folky acoustic style to Spokane come September.

Brett Dennen has known some degree of stardom ever since he released his self-titled debut album in 2004. The folk singer/songwriter was born in Oakdale, California, and spent his early homeschooled days basking in creative freedom and learning to play the guitar and write music. A social activist at heart, Dennen led anti-smoking campaigns during his time at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and is still involved with The Mosaic Project, a Bay Area nonprofit dedicated to fostering peaceful intentions in youth of different backgrounds and ethnicities. 

Following the release of his first album, Dennan has put out five subsequent records, including his most recent, Por Favor, which hit shelves in May. Over the course of his musical career, he's toured with John Mayer and Pete Murray, and collaborated with Jason Mraz on a song included on the compilation album Songs for Survival, the proceeds of which went to charities focused assisting tribal peoples in the Amazon.

Now, Dennen is on tour to promote his latest album's release — a tour that will take him to Spokane's Knitting Factory on Friday, Sept. 30. It's not the first time Dennen has graced the Inland Northwest with his presence, but a number of years have passed since his last visit.

At the show, the artist is likely to focus on songs from his newest record, one that he strived to imbue with raw honesty and some degree of looseness. It's an album with a generally uplifting sound despite the seemingly somber nature of some of its subject matter, which includes Dennen's grappling with feelings of loneliness and loss.

Tickets to the show go on sale Friday, Aug. 26, at 10 am on the Knitting Factory's website, and will cost $20 before fees. At the door, the base price will increase to $22.

Here's Dennen performing one of the songs on Por Favor, titled "Cassidy," live:

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Friday, August 19, 2016

THIS WEEKEND IN MUSIC: Rage-Apalooza, Fruit Bats, Wimps and Steam Plant Block Party

Posted By on Fri, Aug 19, 2016 at 3:24 PM

The Hoot Hoots headline Saturday's Steam Plant Block Party.
  • The Hoot Hoots headline Saturday's Steam Plant Block Party.

It's another weekend full of tough musical choices. Too bad it's impossible to be in multiple places at once. 

The thing about bands that say they are breaking up is that they normally are telling the truth, or at least the truth in that moment. Back in 2013, the Fruit Bats played their "final show" as a band in Portland. Yet last year, lead singer/songwriter Eric D. Johnson announced he was back at it. Absolute Loser is the act's first album in five years and you can hear much of those sweet, sorrowful tunes at tonight's Spokane show at the Bartlett. The show starts at 8 pm and is $17 at the door.

Tonight, the first-ever Rage-Apalooza (a combination of the All Age Rage and Octapalooza music festivals) continues at the Viking, and the lineup playing the two outdoor stages includes all local acts. Get a load of this list of bands: Invasive, Soblivios, Seven Cycles, Concrete Grip, Cold Blooded, Hexxus, Children Of the Sun, Thunder Knife, Project-X and Catalyst.

The show is $15 at the door for a single-day ticket. Be sure to check out the lineups for Saturday and Sunday as well as read the Inlander's full event preview right here. We're most looking forward to Portland's own metal act Red Fang closing out the festival Sunday evening. 

Wimps are back! While the Seattle trio did play Sasquatch! this year, they haven't been in Spokane since last August. This time, the punk rockers will take on the Observatory with the help of local artists Peru Resh and S1ugs. Cost is $7 at the door and you should probably arrive around 9 pm. Check out the band's new album below. 

For those on the hunt for yet another cool festival/block party, look no further than the all-ages Steam Plant Block Party. Held in the parking lot between the Steam Plant and Baby Bar, the lineup kicks off with DJs Ca$e and Pauliday at 2 pm and ends with Seattle’s own wild indie rockers the Hoot Hoots. In between? Local acts including Flying Spiders, Von the Baptist, Summer in Siberia and Lavoy. On top of the music expect a handful of vendors, food trucks, a T-shirt screen-print booth, even a dome to hang out in. The party doesn’t end there, moving inside Baby Bar after 10 pm for even more sweet tunes. See the full lineup right here. Tickets are $10. 
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The Spokane Symphony's new season features Harry Potter, a scary silent film and romantic Rachmaninoff

Posted By on Fri, Aug 19, 2016 at 11:15 AM

The Spokane Symphony is busy the next few weeks, playing their annual crowd-favorite shows at Arbor Crest Wine Cellars and then Pavillion and Comstock parks. These outdoor concerts help celebrate the fading days of summer, but it's the upcoming season — performed mainly indoors at the Martin Woldson at the Fox Theater that we're most looking forward to. 

Below are the performances you'll be remiss to miss. Get all your ticket information here. 

Opening Night
Sept. 17-18
You may recall the flying whale scene in Disney's Fantasia reboot back in 2000. That animated vignette was set to the music of Respighi's Pines of Rome, which the Spokane Symphony will perform to close out its opening weekend performance of the 2016-2017 season. You can choose to imagine whales bursting through clouds while listening to this piece, or ruminate on something else. Either way, the final minutes of this will take your breath away. The weekend also features master violinist Philippe Quint (who once left his $4 million Stradavarious in the back of a New York taxi cab) playing the U.S. premier of the "Tropoi" Violin Concerto.

The Rach 2
Oct. 8-9
It's  one of the most obvious piano concertos out there, and one of the best. So when the New York Philharmonic Artist-in-Association pianist Inon Barnatan comes to play Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2, you'll need to go hear it live. The piece is romantic to the core. Plus, any Celine Dion fans out there will recognize the interlude from her version of "All By Myself."

Beastly Mahler
Oct. 22-23
Gustav Mahler is a beast of a composer, giving musicians a full body workout from start to finish. And his Symphony No. 3 is the most monstrous of them all — clocking in at nearly two hours, it is the longest piece played by most orchestras around the world today. Calling the performance A Hymn to Nature, the Spokane Symphony enlists the help of the Symphony Chorale, the women of the Whitworth University Choir, the Spokane Area Youth Choir and alto soloist MaryAnn McCormick. Your mind will certainly wander during this one, but it will be worth it in the end. 

Wands (batons?) at the Ready
Oct. 29
John Williams' Harry Potter film scores will soon be on full display just in time for Halloween. That's right, the Spokane Symphony is playing selections from all of the Potter films and, similar to last year's Star Wars event, people are encouraged to dress up. As part of the interactive event, concertgoers can also select a Hogwarts house to be a part of. The 2 pm matinee show is best for kids, and the 8 pm performance is more so for adult fans. 

Nov. 4, Jan. 13, March 10
Ditching the name Symphony with a Splash, this year's collaborative event series is now called Intersect. The program looks to reel in folks who may not have been to a symphony show before, combining the talents of local artists, chefs, bartenders, pop musicians and of course the Spokane Symphony, who will largely play modern works here. Check out the Astor Piazzola piece being played for the tango-themed Intersect evening. 

Phantom, Still 
Feb. 4
Even today this face is scary.
  • Even today this face is scary.

Before Andrew Lloyd Webber came around, there was the 1925 silent film version of Phantom of the Opera, among others. Continuing its Symphonic Film at the Fox series, the symphony will perform the soundtrack as the scary black and white masterpiece appears on screen. The makeup alone is enough to give you nightmares. 

The Russian Soul
March 25-26
At just 25, American violinist Benjamin Beilman comes to Spokane to perform one of the most technically difficult works of all time — Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D Major.  The composer only wrote one violin concerto in his lifetime, probably because he put all of the things in this one piece. 

The other Requiem

May 6-7
The final classical concert of the season closes out with the operatic Verdi's Requiem, which is about as full scale as possible with choir and soloists accompanying. The below clip is beyond terrifying and perfect to play loudly in the morning when no one in your house is getting out of bed. There's no way you can fall asleep listening to this one. 

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Love the 90s? Spokane Arena has a show for you

Posted By on Tue, Aug 16, 2016 at 10:30 AM

Here's hoping that when the "I Love the 90s Tour" stops by Spokane Arena this fall, people celebrate the occasion appropriately via their attire.

Bike shorts, Zubaz, Guess jeans, some flattop haircuts — how great would it be to see an entire audience dressed like they just stepped off a Saved By The Bell set?

One of several package tours bringing a slew of artists to towns across the country for a night of nostalgia, the "I Love the 90s Tour" stops in Spokane on Oct. 2. Tickets go on sale Friday at 10 am at the arena and all TicketsWest outlets for the show at the Star Theater inside Spokane Arena, and will run you $47.50, $67.50 or $87.50. 

That isn't cheap, but you do get a whole lotta artists for your money. The acts listed for the Spokane stop of the tour include Vanilla Ice, Salt-n-Pepa with DJ Spinderella, Color Me Badd, Coolio, Tone Loc and Young MC. Combine all the hits from those acts and you have the makings of a serious time warp to dance to "Let's Talk About Sex," "I Wanna Sex You Up," "Fantastic Voyage," "Wild Thing," "Bust A Move" and, yes, "Ice, Ice Baby." 

Now start practicing your dance moves for when Color Me Badd is on stage: 

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Saturday, August 13, 2016

CONCERT REVIEW: Culture Club and friends deliver non-stop hits in Airway Heights

Posted By on Sat, Aug 13, 2016 at 9:11 AM

Berlin at Northern Quest Resort & Casino. - DAN NAILEN
  • Dan Nailen
  • Berlin at Northern Quest Resort & Casino.
Some concerts are memorable because they're full of transcendent moments and mind-blowing creativity on stage. Some are just as memorable for a much simpler reason: A non-stop cavalcade of hit songs that take fans back in time, at least in their mind. 

Friday night's Culture Club, English Beat and Berlin show at Northern Quest Resort & Casino falls firmly in that second category. While there were certainly excellent individual moments across all three bands' sets, the most impressive thing about the concert as a whole was just how many classic '80s-era songs those three bands are collectively responsible for. 

It starts with Culture Club. The headliner, on their longest-ever tour, racked up enough hit songs in its heyday to easily deliver nearly 20 songs that the crowd knew every word to, and could easily sing along. Include a couple of Boy George solo hits (a cover of Bread's "Everything I Own," and "The Crying Game") alongside the classics like "Time (Clock of the Heart)" and "Miss Me Blind," and a few new songs such as the funky "Like I Used To" and "A Different Man" and you have one worthy nostalgia-fueled 90-minute dance party. 

All eyes are naturally drawn to Boy George, the cheeky frontman known for his bold stylistic choices and soulful voice. Both are still in fine form, although he did want the media photographers at the show to stand a bit further back than the other bands required. Hence, this is the best photo I could get: 
Culture Club at Northern Quest Resort & Casino Friday. - DAN NAILEN
  • Dan Nailen
  • Culture Club at Northern Quest Resort & Casino Friday.

Even so, it was easy to see his suit covered in X's and O's, and later costume change into a rainbow-themed hat and lapels, from pretty much anywhere in the venue. His voice has aged a bit, deepened, but that didn't detract from the songs, and it stayed strong throughout the show as George shimmied and swayed to the reggae-tinged tunes created by his bandmates Roy Hay, Mikey Craig and Jon Moss, joined by an array of horn players and backup singers. 

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Friday, August 12, 2016

HUGE WEEKEND IN MUSIC: Culture Club, Garland Street Fair, Ben Harper, Brewers Fest and more

Posted By on Fri, Aug 12, 2016 at 1:26 PM

Culture Club is all here.
  • Culture Club is all here.

The Inlander Northwest's August music lineup is getting downright out of control. There is far too much to choose from, but you should try anyway. 

The Spokane Brewers Festival kicks off this afternoon with three local acts playing the Spokane Arena parking lot. The even is free to get in and is open to all ages. The schedule is as follows:
CARLI OSIKA, 3-4:30 pm
TYLER AKER, noon-1:15 pm
FAT LADY, 4-5 pm
Read our preview story about the brews right here. 

Keeping on that festival track, the Medical Lake-based Blue Waters Bluegrass Festival also kicks off tonight and runs through Sunday. Chatham County Line and Front Country headline. Read our preview of the annual family-friendly event right here. 

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