Thursday, July 13, 2017

Searching for Beer and ... ELYSIAN SEARCH PARTY 2017 - Seattle, WA!

Elysian Search Party

Benefitting the Vera Project


Fisher Pavilion at the Seattle Center

Seattle, WA





For those that have been following Eclectic Arts all these years, you already know we have a long relationship with the craft brewing industry, particularly here in Washington.  We have featured in-depth interviews with a few breweries as well as attended many a beer event over the years.


We of course have also been featuring music of all kinds since our inception.  Covering an event that features both beer, music, and good vibes (profits were going to The Vera Project) was a no brainer.


On Saturday July 1st, we headed down to the Seattle Center.  A VIP session was set up for media to partake in the event one hour before the doors opened to the public.  With 4 VIP only beers to be had (I tried three of them), and time to walk around the grounds of the event unobstructed, it was a great way to see what lay ahead for the next 8 or 9 hours.


The barrel-aged “Loser” from Elysian was interesting – very barrel forward for sure with that VIP beer.  During the course of the day I had samples of mostly Elysian beers with a few of the other local beers they had available (Counterbalance, Flying Lion, to name a few). 


We could not have asked for a better day.  Sun and mid to upper 70’s, the stage was set for a great afternoon/evening in Seattle!  Onto the music:


The first band of the day was Thunderpussy.  Having built up a following through their live performances, the band has a rabid local fan base that is growing every day.  Having just returned from a UK tour, with a stop in New York, the local days may be numbered as the band is gaining popularity worldwide. 


The band hit the stage for a 45 minute set of bluesy rock guitar licks, thunderous bass lines, innovative jazz-rock drumming, and command the stage vocals, Thunderpussy delivered the goods like they always do.  A combination of fun, 70’s-ish rock, tongue-in-cheek humor, and devil may care attitude, Thunderpussy are on their way up.  Everyone in Seattle knows it.  Soon the whole world will.  They are mixing their debut record which should see the light of day soon.  If you haven’t seen them, go the next time they play your town.  Year of the ‘Pussy, indeed!


The Texas duo Black Pistol Fire took the stage next.  Drums and guitar/vocals along with a laptop near the drummer, the duo raged on the stage sounding much bigger than two guys and a computer.  Blues influenced rock, with a ton of energy – they did not disappoint and built upon what Thunderpussy started.  A short lived round of crowd surfing occurred but didn’t last for very long – perhaps next time the audience will understand how to surf someone “properly”.


Next up were The Struts who were arguably the most known band on the bill.  The London band had many fans waiting at the rail before their set.  Once they hit the stage, it was pure musical bliss for many in attendance.  Singing along to the lyrics, smiles abounded as The Struts played their brand of rock ‘n roll for the Search Party goers.  The band played with high energy and conviction all throughout their hour long set.  It was easy to see why The Struts had such a following. 


The last band to perform was also a welcome home to the local but internationally known The Sonics.  The garage band that started it all in the 60’s, they have retired a few members from all the recent touring, but they partied with the best of ‘em on Saturday night.  A pit broke out during part of their set which gives you an idea of how pumped up people were (they were also full of beer). 


I grabbed another Thunderpussy shirt at the merch table – it was a Large so I ended up gifting it to my mom.  The story is that in December I bought two other shirts from the band – both Large – because they were out of XL’s after the show.  I figured I could drop a few pounds in the New Year and fit into those shirts without looking like a sausage.  Nope.  So, they’ve been in storage, new as day, as more mementos than anything. 


I didn’t want to hang onto a shirt again for the majority of the day on Saturday so I figured I’d wait again.  Had I learned my lesson the first time, I would have bought a shirt immediately.  Nope.  Apparently I didn’t learn anything.  The XL’s of the new design were gone by the time I got to the table.  I’ll remedy this at the next Thunderpussy gig I attend.  I also should mention I got a cool little button for $1.


I met some fun photographers – one I knew of from her work and two I knew from their media outlets.  Non crowded photo pits are always a nice change of pace.


The proceeds from the event were going to the Vera Project – which is a volunteer run program that assists young people with gaining skills in the music and art world.  They put on concerts at the Seattle Center where they are based.  As one member of my party noted, it would have been good to have a MC mention the Vera Project in between the sets, to raise more awareness.  If you didn’t go inside Fisher Pavilion, you wouldn’t have seen their tables nor would you have necessarily known what the Vera Project was.


The attendance was moderate – great if you were there as a consumer – room to walk, play games, eat, drink, and/or check out the bands.  There weren’t any long lines at the beer stations, they had plenty of beer stations scattered throughout the grounds, and the throwback aerialists were fun to watch (especially pouring station specific beers) as well as the other little “Easter eggs” like the gold coin to get the Wheat Wine.  The Seattle Center was busy that day too as Queen were playing at Key Arena and The Seattle Reign also had a match that night. 


This review is all over the place but let me say this – the beer was flowing, the bands were strong (not one weak link in the lineup), and the event was as smooth as could be.  I hope Elysian considers hosting this event every year!






Special thanks:  Sean and his crew for the amazing hospitality.  They were consummate fun professionals and I hope I am involved with future events with them.


Elysian for putting on a well done event. 


The members of Thunderpussy for being so down to earth and accessible. 


Ruby from Thunderpussy for being amazing – thanks for being so nice to my family, too. 


Thanks to my fellow photographers for the conversations. 


I hope to see everyone at a similar event next year.  I hope a lot of money was raised for The Vera Project!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The TIGER ARMY by way of MURDER BY DEATH - Gig Review! 7/2/17

Murder By Death

Tiger Army


w/Tim Barry



Seattle, WA



The co-headlining tour of Murder by Death and Tiger Army rolled into Seattle this past Sunday with Tim Barry in tow.  Alternating nights to close the show, the Showbox was packed with fans of both bands.  Tiger Army and Murder by Death normally headline on their own so this was going to be a show for the books! 


Opening the show was Tim Barry.  Performing solo, with an acoustic guitar, Tim played a solid 30 minute set of tunes that were all about his life.  Raw and straightforward lyrically, Tim received a warm reception to his road worn tunes.


Next up were Tiger Army.  Nick 13 and company hit the stage and the energy went through the roof!  Sounding precisely clean and clear, the band played a mix of songs from their catalog for roughly a 70 minute set.  Old standards like “Never Die” mixed in nicely with newer tunes like “Prisoner of the Night”.  Having been a recording act for nearly 20 years now, Tiger Army really connected with the audience and as all good performers do – left them wanting more.


After a brief changeover, Murder by Death took the stage.  The band has been taking a break but took a pause on said break to do this tour. 


Unassuming but seasoned veterans of the stage, they were immediately in the pocket from the first song of their set.  Like Tiger Army, Murder by Death had a very clean sound and showed themselves to be the consummate professionals.  The five piece from Indiana have a unique sound of indie rock mixed with Americana.  They’ve played Seattle a handful of times, including at the Showbox.


Also playing a 70 minute set of tunes to close out the event, Murder by Death were a perfect compliment to Tiger Army.  Major bang for the buck with this tour.  When each of these performers comes to your town, do yourself a favor and check them out – all of them!





Thursday, July 6, 2017

A New Interview with ECLECTIC ARTS!

Paper Nova’s Christiana Wu sat down with Mark from Eclectic Arts to get an update on what’s been going on in the world of EA!


CW:  Hi Mark.  Thank you for taking the time to do this interview.  Now that Eclectic Arts is six years in the making, how would you describe the evolution of content over the last few years?


EA:  Howdy!  Thank you for the interview opportunity.  I always enjoy talking about my work. 


The evolution of content for Eclectic Arts has been rather organic I’d say.  I have always been mindful of not pigeonholing EA into a specific corner over the years.  Lately, as in the last year or so, there have been tremendous opportunities in the music review/photography realm.  Outside of a few exceptions, EA has been focusing on expanding and improving our concert coverage here in Seattle, WA.


CW:  It’s great that you cover a variety of content. Which pigeonholes would you say you were trying to avoid?

EA:  I wanted EA to reflect my own open mindedness toward the arts.  I used to read fanzines from the underground - predominately metal ‘zines.  As much as I love metal, I didn't want to get stuck where that's all I was known for.  Ditto interviewing adult artists (I did two interviews over the years) - I didn't want to be known as just "that" guy.  I want to try to strike a balance between music, film, and other areas of interest.  And within those areas, keep things as open as possible within reason. 

I know a lot of photographers seem to work in one main genre and will venture out into other genres based on paying clients or their own personal interest.  I want to continually strive to cover as many different things of interest as possible with EA.



CW:  You’ve been averaging about three posts a month since 2016.  Would you like to cover more events, and if so, what kind?


EA:  If I had my way, I would be writing a few blog posts a week.  But, due to a day job that cramps my style, I posts new entries when I can – and usually tied into a concert review.  I miss the entries where I was writing more about what was going on at the time, answering readers’ questions, and such.  If I can get back to that, I certainly will. 


CW:  If you don't mind me asking, what is your day job?

EA:  I work as a manager at a local private high tech college.  I've been there just over two years now.  It's quite different than the EA work that I do but there is some crossover.



CW:  What set of events in the past year have stood out to you and why?


EA:  Oh wow – that’s a tough one.  Off the top of my head would be covering the Guns N’ Roses gig at Century Link Field last August.  A band that I got interested in before they blew up in the 80’s.  A big name summer concert tour.  A gig that seemed out of reach (in terms of getting credentials) but that’s never stopped me in the past.  So, getting credentialed for that show was amazing.  And the show was amazing to boot!


Babymetal would be in there as well.  I had checked in with their PR person for like a 6 month period of time trying to get an interview and/or credentials to cover the show.  While the interview didn’t happen, coverage did!  And it was also a great experience!


Meeting and interviewing Vienna Teng again last July also stands out.  Mainly because she has left the music industry in many ways to focus on her other career.  So, the opportunity was a rare one as her musical future is definitely up in the air.


I was also fortunate to get turned on to a lot of new bands that I never would have otherwise if it wasn’t for EA.


CW:  Those are some awesome musical artists.  So what shows do you have coming up that you're just as excited about?

EA:  When I get an opportunity to cover a band, I'm either excited or really excited (laughs).  Even when it's a band I don't know too well, I always enjoy the live experience and can't think of the last show I saw where I was disappointed. 

I love it when I get to cover a band more than once, where some of the band members recognize me.  Having said that, getting to cover a "big" band for the first time is always a big deal to me. 

Of the shows coming up, there are several that I put in for but nothing is confirmed so I'd rather not say as they may or may not happen.  Depending on when this interview sees print, I am always excited to see Delain as I've seen them every year since 2013. 

I will be seeing U2 for the umpteenth time but this is not EA related.  I will be going as a fan.  I don’t cover concerts or anything else that I go to as a fan - anyone can do that.  Those types of so-called "media" are all over YouTube.  I only publish reviews and such of artists where I've been officially credentialed by the management, publicist, and/or the band themselves.

CW:  Are there any genres of music you don't typically review?  And why is that?

EA:  I have yet to review a hip-hop or rap show.  I'm not much of a fan of the genre but that wouldn't prevent me from covering a show.  Right artist at the right venue and I'd be happy to be there in the pit.



CW:  What audience demographic do you think you’re currently reaching?


EA:  It’s interesting – the demographics question.  When the magazine started out, I was reaching mainly 20-30 year olds.  Currently it’s more of 15-40 – we’ve widened the exposure.  Some of this is due to the artists we’ve been covering, some of it is due to a larger social media presence than in the past. 


I would hope in the future we continue to build upon those demographics.




CW:  Who else do you hope will read your blog?


EA:  In a perfect world, people that approach the arts like I do would be reading the blog, and telling their friends.  I know many artistic minded people like a lot of different things like myself.  I firmly believe that I am not alone in appreciating a local band, an underground band, a big time mainstream band, and a band that’s been around the block several times.  Let alone all the other non-music artists out there that EA covers.  Life’s too short to be closed minded about the arts.


CW:  So you've done interviews with Jeff Bridges and Olivia Newton-John, some big names in the film industry.  You also mentioned that a dream interview would be with Sly Stallone.  How do you go about scoring an interview with such high-profile talent?

EA:  Clarification - I didn't get the opportunity to properly interview Olivia Newton-John.  I did get to go backstage (downstage as the dressing rooms were below the venue) after her performance and chat with her directly thanks to her publicist but that was more of a special opportunity to speak with her.  There were only select friends and family down there - and me with my assistant. 

The big names are basically impossible to land interviews with for someone of my reach.  There are opportunities where said star may be coming to town for a film festival, promoting a book, or something similar.  Outside of that, it's really pure luck tracking down the right folks representing a high caliber star.  And even if you do manage to find the right person, that doesn't mean they're going to give you the time of day.  It's really a crapshoot. 

I mentioned this in another interview but finding the right contact is the first step toward landing a high profile artist.  Most of their information is not available publicly or if it is, it's some common generic email or phone number.   

If I wanted to pursue Hollywood more seriously, I would need to do more interviews with up and coming stars or similar folks to build up that portion of my resume.  I would also need to see if I can get onto a few filming sets to really legitimize my work that much more.



CW:  What camera gear do you sport during interviews?


EA:  Right now the gear used for photography is Nikon - including the lenses.  For video interviews I’m using a Zoom video camera with an external mic.  As with everything I do, I always looking to improve which means this gear will be upgraded as funds permit. 


CW:  What's the next item on your equipment list that you want to get?

EA:  I just ordered a new DSLR body that should be here next week.  Now that I've been doing event photography for a year or so, I have a good idea what I need and my gear is holding me back.  So is a lack of funds (laughs).

A better computer set up for editing my work as well.  I'm really piece mealing my equipment right now which is not ideal at all.  I'm doing the best I can with what I got.



CW:  Can you tell me more about what’s it like to work in a photography pit at a sold-out show?


EA:  I’ll tell you I’m still figuring out the photo pit at shows.  I remember roughly a year ago, the first time I was in a pit, I felt extremely out of place.  For starters, I didn’t have any decent gear.  The band that you’re a fan of (hopefully) is taking the stage directly in front of you which is exciting and distracting.  The fans are cheering and going nuts behind you.  And then there are the other photographers in the pit, many of whom are seasoned professionals. 


In addition, you have a job to do in three songs (industry standard).  So, you capture what you can in those first three songs and then that’s it.  Some of the club shows you can shoot the entire set if you like but for the bigger shows, it’s three and done.


I’ve found that everyone is mindful of each other when you’re in the pit.  We stay out of each other’s way.  You wait a few seconds if someone is trying to get their shot.  You move and don’t stay in one area preventing others from getting that particular shot (like in front of the singer for example).


Photo pits are very much a case of the more you do it, the better you’ll get.  I’m finally getting some images I would put in my portfolio – after a year’s time with substandard equipment. 


I’ve encountered some fans that want you out of the pit – basically because you’re in their way and they feel we, as photographers, aren’t necessarily fans.  I think every photographer I’ve met is always mindful to duck, move, and not block a fans sightline as much as possible.  Sometimes it can’t be helped but we don’t stay there for 15 minutes, it’s more like 5 seconds.


Some fans have been very cool – especially if they keep seeing you at the shows around town they’ll start to recognize you.  I’m not hard to spot (laughs).


There are still many venues around the area that I would like to shoot at that I haven’t so far – Key Arena, Tacoma Dome, etc.  Soon.  Soon those will be checked off the list.


CW:  Have you had any interesting encounters with fans, other photographers, or security?

EA:  You know I can't really think of anything that stands out.  The photographers are either social or they keep to themselves.  I haven't met anyone that was off putting (knock on wood).  Security have never been an issue.  They know you're there to do a job just like they are.  If you talk to people like people, that helps for sure.  I've been to all of these venues enough as a fan that some of the folks working them already know me.  Fans are just like me.  Every now and then you'll get a hardcore fan in the front that wants you out of the pit because you're in their sight line or they're a bit peeved that they waited for hours to get a primo spot in the front only to have a photographer walk past them and go into the photo pit.  But, even that hasn't been anything major.  Just folks that want to enjoy the show unobstructed.  All of the photographers I've seen, or at least most, are really mindful of where they are when they're shooting, if they're blocking someone's view, etc.  We all move quite a bit in the pit, for our own sakes to take turns in different areas of the stage, and so the fans can enjoy the show.  Many fans are cool and since I'm a fan (like most of the photographers), we all can talk shop and geek out about the band we're seeing that night.  I've given picks that landed in the pit to fans in the front as I know they'd appreciate them.

I've had some rude fans at shows where there is no photo pit (El Corazon mainly).  Somewhere along the line, a generational shift happened where people standing on the floor assume that when they leave their spot, it will be waiting for them when they come back from the bathroom, bar, or merch. stand. 

I'm an old fuck.  I remember you staked your claim on the floor.  You hit the head before you entered the floor, as you knew you weren't coming back out AND getting your spot back.  Certain types of music I get it - more mellow music I have no issue with this new concept of "saving someone's spot".  But for hard rock/metal/punk etc - forget it.  You leave?  Your spot is gone.  Sorry pal.  I've been standing for hours and if you think I'm just going to give you your spot back in the front because your bladder was full, think again.  That's just my mentality.  A pet peeve if you will.

Oh - I should also mention the hipsters that think they can bring their drink with them and cut into the front of the crowd before the headliner comes on (I’ve seen this at the Crocodile more than anywhere else) - fuck you.  This is actually worse as they weren't even standing on the concrete floor for hours.  They show up later into the evening and think they can snag a prime spot up front because they're cool or hip.  Fuck you.  Take your ass to the side or back of the venue.



CW:  What do you think EA has in store for the future?


EA:  The future.  I told myself that this year, 2017, I was going to do my best to bring some balance back to EA.  As much as I love the concert coverage and learning to improve as an event photographer, I really want to get back to the interviews like I had done in the past.


Also, spreading the coverage to more than just music.  So far, I’ve chipped away at this goal meaning I covered some concerts of musicians that are also actors (or vice versa).


I’m hoping to add to my interviews this year with an actor or two.  I’ve also dabbled with the idea of interviewing a brewery again.  But, what I plan and what actually happens are two different things (laughs).


CW:  Thanks Mark for sharing your EA experiences with me!

EA:  Thank you for the opportunity.  I appreciate it! 



Thursday, June 29, 2017

GUITAR WOLF Attack Seattle! 6/21/17



Isaac Rother and The Phantoms


Mommy Long Legs


The first day of summer brought Japan’s jet rock n’ roll trio, Guitar Wolf, to the Sunset in Ballard.  A sold out show, the band were on the road supporting their newest album, “T-Rex From A Tiny Space Yojouhan”.


For the uninitiated, Guitar Wolf live is quite the sight to behold.  They are reminiscent of the early days of punk rock.  Sweat dripping from the walls, loud, rude and crude, no apologies kind of shows.  The gig on Wednesday night was sold out – people turned away at the door, phone callers told there were no more tickets for the show, etc.  I knew I was in for a wild ride!


Opening the night at 9pm was Mommy Long Legs – a local four piece punk outfit.  There 30 minute set was brief but to the point. 


Up from LA, Isaac Rother and The Phantoms were in the special guest slot.  A throwback to the surfing bands of the era mixed with everything you loved about the ghouls and goblins soundtrack as well.  The band definitely got the crowd warmed up who were dancing through the majority of their set.  The stage was set for the headliner.


The sold out Sunset was packed with fans for Guitar Wolf.  Donning the stage in dinosaur masks, Drum Wolf and (new) Bass Wolf walked on first followed by Guitar Wolf (Seiji).  For the next hour or so, the Sunset became a fun filled, punk rock sweatbox.  No breaks in the set-list other than to pull a fan up (one of the guitarists from Mommy Long Legs) to channel Guitar Wolf which is still one of the coolest things I’ve seen a band do in a while.  Guitar Wolf crowd surfed per usual during this part as did the fan. 


The band shows no signs of slowing down even after all these years.  After their main set and encore, the lights came up and the fans started to leave to get some air outside, grab another drink in the bar, etc.  Guitar Wolf came back on for a solo encore song which half of us got to hear that stayed.


Watching Seiji playing a song this way, solo, after the encore, was awesome.  Sweat drenched and leather clad, he epitomized punk rock and what Guitar Wolf have stood for all these years; Jet Rock N’ Roll!





Guitar Wolf!