This past weekend, Macefield Music Festival presented a stellar lineup, with performances by more than 20 Seattle bands over the course of the 3-day celebration. A diverse set of music fans strolled the Ballard neighborhood to see shows from some of the biggest players in Seattle's indie music scene. Friday offered the first glimpse at the impressive talent that filled this year’s festival.
Radio Raheem kicked things off at Tractor Tavern with their high energy, catchy rock and dance songs. Delilah Pearl and the Mantarays offered a refined opening set at Conor Byrne Pub as attendees were transported to another time and place and Delilah’s silky smooth voice curled itself through the room with the sound of impeccably invoked jazz standards of the 1940’s. Hexengeist began the festivities at Sunset Tavern with an "aural assault" of thrash metal.
There aren’t too many reggae shows at the Tractor Tavern, but the chill crowd that gathered for Wet City Rockers welcomed the band with open arms. Former frontman for The Pharmacy, Seattle-based singer/guitarist Scott Yoder delivered a set filled with folk-noir spirit at Conor Byrne Pub. And The Family Curse captivated fans at Sunset Tavern with their unforgettable "electro filth rock" musical exorcisms.
It was a packed room for Gifted Gab at Tractor Tavern, with classics from the shit-talking hip hop artist's 2014 album, Girl Rap, drawing fans in. Another strong female musician, but with a starkly different sound, Shannon Stephens mesmerized her audience with crooning lullabies that enticed the already intimate crowd at Conor Byrne Pub to inch closer to the stage with each song. Self-proclaimed "Seattle's favorite children," the newly debuted group Steal Shit Do Drugs brought an energetic west coast punk stage show to at the Sunset Tavern.
Next up, fresh-faced punks Fox and the Law pulled out loud and energetic guitar riffs at Tractor Tavern. Mindie Lind's honey-smooth voice, a sound that recently brought her local recognition in KEXP’s Pianos in the Parks contest, was a treat to hear in the lounge-like setting of Conor Byrne Pub. The Full Toilet set at Sunset Tavern that, for those in attendance, will never be forgotten. Volatile, erratic, seemingly untrained, without purpose or proper motivation, the aging punkers left onstage, beside a transplanted porcelain commode, a hefty load of (self)loathing, thrashing and rib-splitting humor.
The photos hint at the collective charisma of Don’t Talk to the Cops who expertly enthralled the folks at Tractor Tavern with their provocative punk instrumentals and hip-hop lyrics. The newly formed band Lowman Palace frontman Dean Johnson delivered melancholy twang to indie-folk fans at Conor Byrne Pub. Another punk band to perform Friday night to a packed room was Gaythiest at Sunset Tavern. Punk, post-hardcore noise rock, fuzzy doom, and quirky lyrics, all combined into an ear-splitting show.
If the name wasn't clear, Thunderpussy is a female-only, rock 'n'roll band, and every eye in Tractor Tavern was glued to their bad-girl charm as they performed hypnotizing power ballads. Maszer, a trio, showcased brand new material, combining classic psychedelic rock with distinct Middle Eastern grooves at Conor Byrne Pub. For those whole liked what that saw and heard, the group plans to donate at least 10% of its profits to fellow bands and artists. In the vein of Hot Snakes and Fugazi, punk group Blood Drugs threw down dissonent chords and deeply-felt lyrics that held hard-hitting power at Sunset Tavern.
The night came to a close with stand-out sets from Grace Love and the True Loves (Tractor Tavern), Powwers (Conor Byrne Pub), and Kinski (Sunset Tavern).
Apart from one streaming album, Doris Rising, you won't find much written about Powwers online—not yet. Besides friends and family, their Macefield audience only knew the band as a "trio of wing nuts" who "shotgun beers and make you feel things." Their indie-rock set was just as unique and quirky as we hoped. With seven LPs under their belt(s), rock band Kinski brought the house down with their genre-bending instrumentals full of non-traditional chord structures, grunge riffs, and loud feedback. At Tractor Tavern, the only thing that came close to rivaling the booming, heartfelt vocals of "Seattle's first lady of soul" were the syncopated rhythms of the other 8 pieces that comprise Grace Love and the True Loves. The bluesy accompaniment of the full horn section went far beyond the stage, through the rafters, and into the streets of Ballard.
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