Best of 2011: Best Photos of 2011 by Daniel Ahrendt

Daniel Ahrendt / December 16, 2011

This is not one of them.

Well everyone, it sure has been a year. Within the mire of joblessness, protests, and government insecurity we have remained and continue to be pissed. However, acts everywhere still made a bunch of noise and melody, keeping cities like our own Seattle alight with glee. Below are a few of my favorite photos clicked through my camera from the past year showcasing some of my favorite musical entities that either came through or belong to Washington state. Needless to say, you shouldn’t have to go far online to locate bigger and better images of 2011’s musical lifeblood (head over to KEXP’s site to search through reliably¬†stellar¬†images and videos). For now though, sit back and take a gander at this photographer’s visual offerings. Here’s hoping for a glorious 2012.

On November 9th, alternative entertainment power couple Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman graced The Paramount with a couple hours of music, stories, and delightful conversation. In celebration of Gaiman’s impending birthday, Palmer organized a surprise burlesque performance toward the end of the show, culminating in a birthday cake being shoved down Gaiman’s gullet.

Rhode Island’s noise rock legends Lightning Bolt packed Capitol Hill’s all ages DIY venue Healthy Times Fun Club in April, turning the basement into a youthful aggro-hole complete with frequent sound problems. Healthy Times Fun Club will be shutting down at the end of November due to rent issues, leaving space for new DIY venues to rise in it’s place.

This was the last year for the Anacortes mini music festival What The Heck Fest, a small gathering of Washington, Oregon, Canadian, and touring musicians that drew a dedicated following to the small northern town for the past ten years. K Records founder Calvin Johnson was present with his little bundle of joy, who was as intent on staring at my camera as Johnson was staring at whatever he was staring at.

Every year, Capitol Hill Block Party takes over Seattle’s Capitol Hill toward the end of July for a few days of concentrated musical madness. This year, the last day was headlined by the one and only Explosions In The Sky, one of the defining bands of the post-rock genre. Having listened to their music religiously in high school, this was a personal delight for me, punctuated by the bright yellow sunlight at the end of the day.

At the end of the first night of Capitol Hill Block Party, concert goers in the Cha Cha Lounge were treated to a special groove fest courtesy of veteran members of the Seattle music scene. Members of Past Lives, Truckasaurus, Whale Bones, Flexions, and others had decided to pass the summer by forming their own Rolling Stones cover band, complete with sailor outfits and a horn section. Their decision resulted in one of the most memorable concert experiences of the whole festival.

Back in February, The Comet hosted one of the weirder bills I had seen there in a while featuring Seattle bands The Tempers and Ononos with Olympia’s Arrington de Dionyso opening. Each act is eccentric to say the least, but Dionyso fed my primal fury the best with his articulated throat singing, bass clarinet improvisation, and yoga technique.

One of the most fascinating punk bands to come into play this year is San Diego’s Retox, a Californian hardcore organ grinder of a band featuring veteran members of the scene from The Locust and The Festival of Dead Deer. The above image is from their show at Chop Suey in early October with Toyko’s infamous video game freak punks Melt Banana and Bellingham, Washington’s Dog Shredder.

At Neumos back in October, Japan’s rock transformers Boris put on one of the strongest live performances I saw all year. A mixture of the metal, doom, hard rock, and pop methods, the band blasted out the Capitol Hill venue with the assistance of Tera Melos and The Master Musicians of Bukkake.

Not that the excitement lasted long or anything, but the hyper popular Toronto dance punk duo Death From Above 1979 reunited this year to the joyous yelps of many. They played the main stage at this year’s Sasquatch Music Festival and were…pretty good. They played their old material well…and that may be all that can be said. Their comeback may have been less than riveting to a lot of fans, but at least this picture is cool.

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