Tonight in Seattle: STRFKR, Champagne Champagne, Metal Chocolates, Don’t Talk to the Cops, The Physics, and morePosted by Nikki Benson
Words by Bebe Besch
Just a few months ago, Portland-based electronic outlet STRFKR (otherwise known as Starf**ker) concluded day one of Seattle’s Bumbershoot Music Festival at the Fountain Lawn Stage. The spectacle set hundreds, if not thousands of feet dancing on the grassy and concrete floors of the park, all followed by an eruption from fans for an encore. STRFKR’s set ended all too soon – but now they are back, sure to give those longing for more a New Year’s to remember at The Crocodile. This year STRFKR celebrated the release of their sophomore album, Reptilians, which had their sound compared by many to the likes of the synth-spacey tunes of early MGMT. Reptilians’ theme was heavily about death and the end of the world, but the atmosphere of the songs on the album would suggest the exact opposite. The album brought STRFKR’s catchy tunes in full swing, instilling the idea that without death one cannot fully appreciate life.
Hitting the stage prior to STRFKR is the incredibly appropriate and complimentary trio Champagne Champagne. Self-described “punk-rap-shoegazers,” Champagne Champagne also took the stage at this year’s Bumbershoot Music Festival, where they were one of the most impressive daytime performances. During STRFKR’s set at Bumbershoot, Champagne Champagne shared the stage for a live version of “Dragon Queens,” which can be found on Champagne Champagne and STRFKR’s split 7” Dragon Queens EP, created after their 2011 tour together. Other Pacific Northwest collaborations include an improv jam between Champagne Champagne and Seattle indie-rockers Ravenna Woods at this year’s Doe Bay Festival. Whether connecting with other worthwhile acts or performing on their own, Champagne Champagne bring an astounding energy between their two emcees Pearl Dragon and Sir Thomas Gray, all tied together with the band’s multi-instrumentalist and producer DJ Gajamagic (whom you may recognize for his work in The Blood Brothers and Past Lives). Come toast the night off right by not missing musical support this New Year’s Eve from Champagne Champagne!
Beginning the live festivities for the night we have the highly energized and multi-genre local act Noddy. Each member of the five-piece band take turns multi-tasking throughout their live performances, where each eventually lends a hand at vocals. These vocals change stylistically from song to song and sometimes verse to verse – where you may find yourself believing you’re comfortable with the rock ‘n’ roll turn they’ve taken only to find yourself next in a refreshing hip hop verse. Last but not least, Noddy is pop. Noddy takes pop’s extremes and pushes them in faces with their own electro elements and interactivity with their audience. Expect to see at least one crowd interaction as Noddy is likely to try to start off the dance partying for the night by jumping in with everyone on The Crocodile’s floor!
A local duo on the rise, Metal Chocolates continue to impress audiences with their genre-bending hip hop. Rapper Rik Rude (of Fresh Espresso) and vocalist OC Notes combine for this exciting collaboration filled with danceable hip-hop tunes. After debuting their self-titled album this year, Metal Chocolates have found themselves amongst local top 2011 lists, including Andrew Matson of The Seattle Times’ “Best Pop Music 2011: Seattle and Beyond.” Metal Chocolates was heavily inspired by Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood, which takes on a life of its own within their psychedelic hip-hop creations.
Half of the Mash Hall family, Don’t Talk to the Cops! is made up from emcees djblesOne and emecks. DTttC!’s debut album Regular Show was released earlier this year; SSG Music’s Joe Gustav said it captured the “group’s spastic creativity while toning down the crassness for 9 tracks chock-full of break beats and simple, catchy chants.” This collection of sounds speaks like a soundtrack for b-boys and b-girls, as both emcees are dancers themselves. Check out their funky, danceable tunes opening for Metal Chocolates!
Don’t let Katie Kate’s sass and emcee abilities fool you, she’s got quite a credible background. Katie Kate is a classically trained musician and composer, as she was a flute major and had her hand in playing piano, gamelan, composition, & chamber music. That said, she has brought her flare to Seattle hip hop in a vibrant fashion. Trent Moorman (drummer for acts such as Fresh Espresso and previously Head Like a Kite) wrote for The Stranger that her tunes are “straight up, playful, and sparks off a parade of glitter and gemstone covered heat shields. Heat shields, as in able to both turn away, and contain much heat.” See Katie Kate open on New Year’s Eve for Metal Chocolates with her spunky beats!
Starting the night off first is Metal Chocolates’ own OC Notes. The hip hop/dance producer self-released his own album this year, Secret Society, which the Seattle Times said allowed OC Notes to “follow his muse from smoky funk-rap to bedroom singer-songwriter fare.” All of OC Notes’ music is written and produced in a small studio in Pioneer Square, and he also is the co-leader of Big Band Cinema.
“NYE ’12 The Toast” is presented by Semi-Overweight Productions and tickets will benefit The African Future project. The African Future Project feeds Somali families, who are experiencing their worst drought in 60 years. The Fred Wildlife Refuge has two floors for partying, and this New Year’s Eve celebration will host photo booths, a fireworks show, and a champagne toast as well as musical performances featuring the “bread and butter” of Seattle’s hip hop music scene.
2011 has been a successful year for The Physics crew. Throughout the year they’ve played many shows home in Seattle, with additional sold out sets performed alongside friends like Macklemore and Blue Scholars on national stages. Many also agree that their sophomore album Love Is A Business ranks among the top local albums that were released this year, including Chul Gugich of SSG, who included it on his Top 15 Albums of the Year list. On the side, The Physics have had many other creative outlets going, including the free release of their popular song “Fix You” for their Digital Wildlife project. Additionally, lead emcee Thig Nat was featured on the Blue Scholars 2011 release Cinemetropolis and The Physics emcee/dj/producer Justo (Just D’Amato) has been working with local emcee Good Sin on songs as of late. Grynch has also been tweeting lately about a song that he and The Physics are debuting this New Year’s Day! In conclusion, 2011 was an incredibly active year for The Physics – so come welcome 2012 with the stylish group at Capitol Hill’s Fred Wildlife Refuge this weekend!
There is no one else quite like him in Seattle – DJ Topspin, AKA Blendiana Jones, is known for his finely crafted beats. His intelligent rhythms and polish set him aside, which has his sound compared to DJs from NYC instead of locals. A few months ago, DJ Topspin released VELOUR VIBES 5: HARMONY GRITS which is described as “audible soul food.” On this volume there are exclusives from artists such as Choklate (prod. by Tha Bizness), Black Stax (prod. by Vitamin D), Lace Cadence, Candidt ft. Xperience (prod. by Kuddie Fresh), Malice & Mario Sweet (prod. by 10.4 Rog) and even some vocal arrangements by the beat maker himself. Come listen to some of DJ Topspin’s signature blends as a part of this New Year’s Eve celebration!
Where Seattle lacks R&B, there is Malice & Mario Sweet to help fill the gap. The couple is responsible for backup vocal work of many tracks in The Physics’ discography, as well as one of the sweetest releases in recent memory. Together, the married duo released Happy 2 Year in 2011, a collection of love ballads with each other. There was also a deluxe re-release of the album a few months ago, along with their first music video, created for their song “Mario.” While many of the songs on Happy 2 Year are filled with soulful harmonies, there are definitely danceable tunes as well like their energetic song “Faster than the Speed of Light.” Come kick the New Year’s festivities off right with these two admirable performers!