Tuesday, December 30, 2008

SGN cited by Huffington Post

The Seattle Gay News' own Jim Toevs was cited by the Huffington Post.

Jim Toevs of the Seattle Gay News suggests that Warren's increased contact, due to the controversy, with gay people may even transform him into a gay ally.

To see Toevs' commentary for yourself, click here!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Seattle Gay News announces Best Albums, Singles of 2008

Seattle Gay News has selected Fleet Foxes by Fleet Foxes as Album of the Year and "Time to Pretend" by MGMT as Single of the Year, previously announced in our Best of Music 2008 issue on December 19. Our top ten Albums and Singles selections are below, and complete lists including our "worst"choices, hottest artists picks, and exclusive interview with award-winning group Franz Ferdinand can be found at www.sgn.org.

Best Albums/CDs of 2008, in order

1 Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
2 The Odd Couple - Gnarls Barkley
3 Gossip in the Grain - Ray LaMontagne
4 In Rainbows - Radiohead
5 Robyn - Robyn
6 Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends - Coldplay
7 Oracular Spectacular - MGMT
8 Narrow Stairs - Death Cab for Cutie
9 Santogold - Santogold
10 LP3 - Ratatat

Best Singles/Tracks of 2008, in order

1 Time to Pretend - MGMT
2 Last Call - Lee Ann Womack
3 Standing Next to Me - The Last Shadow Puppets
4 American Boy - Estelle featuring Kanye West
5 Mr. Pitiful - Matt Costa
6 Shells - M.I.A.
7 Ulysses - Franz Ferdinand
8 Mr. Carter - Lil Wayne featuring Jay-Z
9 Darling - Sons and Daughters
10 Ready for the Floor - Hot Chip

pictured: MGMT

Friday, December 19, 2008

Best of Music 2008 out now w/ Franz Ferdinand

Grab a copy of Seattle Gay News, already at coffeehouses and bars and numerous other businesses throughout the city, and find out what we selected as the Best of Music 2008. Our picks for the year's best albums, singles, live performances and hottest artists - plus, our worst choices - are inside this climactic music edition.

And, multiple Grammy-nominated quartet Franz Ferdinand is our feature artist interview - so get the scoop on their personal favorites of 2008, where they're spending New Year's Eve, and what bars in their hometown of Glasgow they recommended we check out.

We're celebrating the Best of Music 2008 this week - pick up your copy and remember the year that (almost) was with us.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Franz Ferdinand exclusive interview on December 19

Seattle Gay News is pleased to announce a very special interview with Mercury Music Prize and Brit Award winners, multiple Grammy nominees and international magazine cover boys Franz Ferdinand. On the brink of a third album release and set to embark on a whirlwind year, the Scottish trendsetters are helping us celebrate the Best of Music 2008 in the coming week.

In an upfront interview hours before performing to a sold out crowd at Portland's Crystal Ballroom, lead singer/guitarist
Alex Kapranos and drummer Paul Thomson compiled a joint list of their top 5 (well, maybe 6) favorite recordings of the past year and revealed the group's plans for the upcoming New Year's Eve festivities. Plus, they recalled the important role Seattle has played throughout their career and answered that all important question of who wears the tightest pants in the band (we agreed unanimously).

December 19, we're excited to be among the first publications in the world to feature a Franz Ferdinand exclusive in advance of their new recording Tonight: Franz Ferdinand in our Best of Music 2008 year-end issue. Additionally, our picks for the year's best albums, singles, live concerts and hottest artists will be unveiled in our upcoming edition.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Britney Spears + Pussycat Dolls announce Seattle area concert

Seattle Gay News is thrilled to announce an upcoming performance by Britney Spears with special guests the Pussycat Dolls on April 9 at the Tacoma Dome. Ticket information can be found in our December 5 issue.

Get ready y'all...it's going to be a big ball of fun!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Benjamin Taylor interviews with Seattle Gay News, November 14 issue

We'll have to wait 15 years to see if Kingston and Zuma Rossdale excel to mom's 'Hollaback Girl' success, but we already know that the gene pool has been good to Benjamin Taylor.

Taylor, the son of pop-folk icons James Taylor and Carly Simon, has proven his own singer-songwriting chops on a string of indie recordings, including his 2003 debut Famous Among the Barns and 2005's Another Run Around the Sun. His newest offering, The Legend of Kung Folk Part 1 (The Killing Bite), clearly fits into his impressive resume of handcrafted, organic, and mellow-good tunes. He'll introduce Seattle fans to tracks from his latest album when he opens for John Hiatt at the Moore Theatre on Sunday, November 16. Tickets at www.theparamount.com.

Before Taylor goes onstage he'll talk to Seattle Gay News about his reaction to last week's presidential election, the disappointing defeat of Proposition 8 in California, and update us on his music diva/cancer survivor mom. Grab a copy of Seattle Gay News on November 14 to get familiar with this former Calvin Klein model and actor (appeared on TV's American Dreams), and current rising artist.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Seattle Gay News in Las Vegas for Madonna

Seattle Gay News just couldn't get enough of Madonna, so we've followed her from British Columbia to Las Vegas for another round of the "Sticky & Sweet Tour".

Arts & Entertainment writer Jessica Price is in Vegas at this very moment, prepping for the big show tonight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, the first of two sold out concerts in Sin City. She'll compare notes from the Vancouver show a week ago and give us her take on this newer performance in our November 14 issue.

If heading to Las Vegas in the near future, consider the cool, newly redone Treasure Island (www.treasureisland.com) on the busy strip, home of Cirque du Soleil's Mystere and the Christian Audigier nightclub.

For a review of Madonna's Western Canada performance, click here: http://sgn.org/sgnnews36_45/page21.cfm. And for a second scoop of Madge, this time in Vegas, grab a copy of next week's edition.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Jason Mraz interview on Friday

What's Jason Mraz been up to? Find out in two days.

The world-traveled artist speaks to Seattle Gay News on Friday, just before he performs back-to-back sold out concerts at the Paramount Theatre. This marks the third interview Mraz has extended to our publication, the very first gay weekly in the country to ever give him a write up.

We'll follow the pop singer-songwriter from Seattle to Portland (November 9-10, and 12), and have a summary of all three performances the following week. But a grab a copy of Seattle Gay News this week, November 7, for a one-on-one update on the man with the plan, Jason Mraz.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Game Over

It's so hard to put into words just how incredibly exciting last night was. I love you Seattle, but you just don't party like the Canadians. It was a crazy throw-down from the minute we stepped out of our cab to the stadium. Radio staions were blasting Madge around two blocks. We got there early to watch the craziness and waited until well after 9:00 before the Queen took the stage.

60,000 fans screaming and dancing for almost two hours was something I've never experienced. It was almost eerie from the front when I could hear the entire place singing the hits with her. There were so many song highlights and she did a fantastic job mixing old stuff with new material. Standouts were the punk-rock "Borderline," a hip-hop infused "Vogue" and an old school rendition of "Into the Groove" complete with jump roping and Keith Haring animation!

There was only a small section of slow songs, which included "You Must Love Me" from Evita, when the audience of course gave her nothing but love as she serenaded us with the last few notes. The high energy third act was incredible with a techno version of "Like a Prayer" and a finale that recreated elements of Tron and 80's video games to "Give It To Me" before her final exit behind the screens that said "Game Over."

In spite of the rain, masses of fans paraded out into the streets, heading back to downtown and completely taking over the roads. Every club formed lines out the door but the biggest party was at Celebrites that sold out even before the concert started. Non-stop Madonna music and even an energetic drag show kept the fans dancing well into the 2:00 hour.

Be sure to check out my review of the entire show in next weeks issue.

Everything Sticky & Sweet: Madonna in concert, a bit of everything and everyone

Hey, it's Albert from Seattle Gay News. Not fully recovered yet from Madonna's smashing concert last night at Vancouver's BC Place Stadium but I'm sure my vocal chords and whistling ears will work themselves back to normal on the train ride back to Seattle.

I walked from my hotel, Loden, two blocks to the Burrard SkyTrain station and arrived at the stadium all within ten minutes. Hundreds of people showed up early, though the masses flooded in about a half hour later. Among the first things I saw when I found my actual seat was a 30-something woman dressed in Madonna's signature "Borderline" hair bow and gloves - I don't think she was trying to impersonate Madge as much as I think she really believed she was a direct descendent of the pop icon's queen-dom.

Behind me, a young woman and mother of two boys (who traded them in for a well-deserved night on the town) said exhuberantly, "this is the best concert I've ever been to and it hasn't even started!". This is what Madonna worship does to people, brings out moms and grandmothers, gay men with friends and gay men with partners and gay men with giddy co-workers or BFFs. But there were also a lot of straight couples, and even straight men chugging beer with their hockey buddies - all here for Ms. Ciccone.

I met a gentleman at the show last night who told me at intermission, just after a DJ spun top 40 favorites at the foot of the stage's catwalk, that Madonna wouldn't be going onstage until 9:30 - at the time he mentioned it to me it was 8:05, and I was already buzzed and fighting the anticipation of my first Material Girl live experience. I chose not to believe him, but in the end he proved to be right. The lights dimmed at 9:25, and several minutes following a sharp hi-tech introduction on the jumbotron screens, out came Madonna.

The crowd went nuts, especially the floor crowd who were on foot the entire time before Madge hit the stage. I screamed in delight, never minded if it bothered the irriritating too-reserved chick on my right side - if anything, I raised my pitch because this was the mother of all shows, the diva of all divas, Madonna!

Being a newbie to the Material Girl's live performances, I knew beforehand that she'd reinvent older favorites but I was still hopeful they'd sound similar to the way they did when I began my adoration of her. "La Isla Bonita" was done flamenco-style, and I loved the choreography but not neccesarily the whole number. "Into the Groove" seemed to lack its thumping bassline and appeared a bit slower than the original, though it still carried a lot of energy.

I was most impressed with "Like a Prayer", which really got the sold out audience fired up. And a surprise "You Must Love Me" was a stunner.

Richard Kennedy is reviewing the concert for next Friday's print issue, so I don't want to step on his toes because I know he's got lots to say about it. But, I just HAVE to mention I found it silly that Madonna played guitar for four songs. It was like she was trying to be a rock star, and I've never known Madonna to try and be anything else but herself. And furthermore, when exactly did Madonna start playing the guitar - or any instrument for that matter?

Overall, I really enjoyed the thrill of seeing Madonna in person and the production was spectacular - no one puts on a show quite like this lady, who at 50 can kick and stretch just beautifully. This was a night to remember, and I'll do everything possible to see her again in concert.

Those of you from Seattle staying in Vancouver through the weekend, I recommend doing some much-needed recovery at Skoah spa (http://www.skoah.com/), which does indeed ship their fine products to the US (a correction from a print article a week ago) - their signature facial called "facealicious" is second to none. Or, the Absolut Spa at the Century Hotel (http://www.absolutspa.com/) offers incredible pedicures with a complimentary light meal in their own cafe after your treatment. Massage treatments are a great way to recover, relax, and revigorate for your next adventure. Check these two spas out here in Vancouver.

For Halloween, Opus Hotel (http://www.opushotel.com/) is throwing a no cover bash tonight beginning at 9pm that hops until 3am. It's a fabulous hotel in Yaletown, where the sexy people - gay and straight - stay at when in town, and the place will be filled tonight with cool tunes, cool cocktails, and hot flesh. Also, T-Bodies is hosting a Trans Haunt for trans community members and their friends at Lick (455 Abbott Street) starting at 9pm. A $5 cover charge is in effect.

Well, I gotta run to catch my train. It's been real fun covering Madonna here in Vancouver, her first time ever playing in this city that'll host the 2010 Winter Olympics in a couple of years.

The Loden Hotel (http://www.lodenvancouver.com/) has been an amazing place to report from, a new property in the heart of downtown Vancouver and a hip, gorgeous boutique hotel with many great bells and whistles. I had a wonderful lunch at Voya, the hotel's on-premise restaurant, and the halibut atop fingerling potatoes and fresh asparagus was quite memorable. Add a cheesecake with coconut sorbet, and I was in la-la land.

Loden Hotel will be a prime hotspot for the upcoming Juno Awards (Canada's Grammys) in March, and its penthouse is the bomb. Consider it for your upcoming Vancouver getaway.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Three Hours to Go!!

Like Jessica and Albert below I am beside myself! Did some shopping today and even chatted with store clerks who were looking forward to the show. The Madge countdown has ended for Vancouver. Check out my preview in this weeks issue for a list of songs that we haven't heard recently from the queen in a tour. Even though I already made a list I can't let my writing companions post a list without me. These are the songs that I'll die if she does tonight:

1. Dress You Up - My love as a fan was sealed when she opened her Virgin Tour with this one!

2. Deeper and Deeper - This is one of my coming out songs. It played in every club as I burst out of the closet in the 90's.

3. Like A Prayer - I couldn't have survived growing up Catholic without her.

4. Into the Groove - I could hardly stop staring at her image long enough to dance in my room when I watched this video.

5. Crazy For You - I actually had a cassette of this that I taped from the radion back in the day. Needless to say I wore it out.

See you there. I'll be looking for Seattle-ites.

Hours to go~!

I am sitting in an Internet cafe in Vancouver, and "Beautiful Stranger" is on even as I type. I've been hearing Madonna songs everywhere I go today in fact. Her face is on the over of just about every paper and magazine in town.

Excitement is definitely building and I am no exception. I'm beside myself with nerves and can't wait to hit BC Place. I've been waiting for this show for so long I cannot believe it's finally the big day.

My personal wishlist for tonight is a little far-fetched, but I would die happy with:

1. Get Together
2. Future Lovers
3. Rescue Me (will NEVER happen I know)
4. Drowned World/Substitute for Love
5. Nothing Fails

Off to go bite my nails some more and pick out something to wear...
- Jessica R Price

Everything Sticky & Sweet: Madonna tonight for the very first time

It's Albert again from Seattle Gay News on an overcast morning in Vancouver, British Columbia. Just got back from breakfast at a new place called Medina Cafe (http://www.medinacafe.com/) in the Crosstown District, a place that serves wild morning inventions like a cassoulet with eggs or the Tagines, which I had - two poached eggs over spicy tomato stew, olives, red peppers, cilantro and a side of fresh tortilla chips.

Tonight is the night we've been waiting for, Madonna at BC Place Stadium! I found out where Madonna is staying in Vancouver this morning, but I'm not at liberty to say - though, you can bet I'll walk by there and touch the steps of the hotel just to say I did. Wow! She's here, her crew is already assembling outside the stadium to make sure the stage equipment is ready to go!

And, everyone in Vancouver that I've bumped into seems to be going tonight. In fact, a local radio station announced this morning that a limited number of tickets were available and within minutes a woman said she paid $600 for a pair. Incredible!

I am a total virgin to the live Madonna experience, so I am beside myself just thinking about it. I remember buying my first Material Girl album and listening to "Physical Attraction" and "Holiday" over and over again on my parents' vintage record player. And now, two decades later I'm going to my first ever Madonna concert.

So, if you're in Vancouver and wondering where to go before the show - try 1181's (http://www.tightlounge.com/) Pre-Madonna Party hosted by the Vancouver GLBA and Skyy Vodka kicking off 5:30pm. No cover charge, special cocktails, located right in the Davie Village and that of course spells lots of gay boys cocktailing before the big show. DJ Gluve is spinning Material Girl songs all night long.

Other suggestions in the gay district are Numbers, Odyssey, The Majestic, and Pumpjack. Outside the gay district, check out George, Cactus Club Cafe, Chambar, Global, or Bin 941.

After the concert, stop by Celebrities (http://www.celebritiesnightclub.com/) post-show bash called "The Candy Shop" featuring a performance by stage performer Trixie. $10 charge at the door. The party gets hopping at 9pm and goes to 3am. Celebrities is normally the place to shake it in Vancouver, so tonight it'll be totally crazy.

The Vancouver Sun has put out a tentative set list, according to previous Sticky & Sweet tour stops, in today's newspaper. But, I'm not going to dare peek at it and instead be surprised. My personal wishlist is as follows:

1 True Blue - my absolute favorite song by Madonna, it always make me feel...well, gay.
2 Erotica - heard this for the first time in Hawaii, and it's a personal fave.
3 La Isla Bonita - I was visiting my brother in Miami when this song broke out, and the radio stations and locals went crazy for it there.
4 Dress You Up - an oldie but a goodie, I'll scream if she does it tonight.
5 The Power of Goodbye - from her Ray of Light album, such a great song.
6 Let It Will Be - from the last album and tour, but I'm crossing my fingers for it.
7 4 Minutes - a guarantee tonight, but how will do it without JT?
8 Physical Attraction - I fell in love with Madonna by this song.
9 Live to Tell - brings back memories of my first gay crush.
10 Get Into the Groove - listened to this all the way to Christian camp one summer.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Everything Sticky & Sweet: Vancouver is ready for Madonna

It's Albert from Seattle Gay News, slightly tipsy and in good spirits at the fabulous, new Loden Hotel (http://www.lodenvancouver.com/) in downtown Vancouver. This place is so new that local media just got their first view of it this evening with the grandest of grand opening parties complete with b-boy dancers, burlesque showgirl performances, and yummy appetizers. The room design of this property is spectacular - spacious, neutral decor, views from nearly every room - a fantastic addition to the boutique hotel community in Vancouver.

If you're trekking to Vancouver tomorrow for Madonna, day of show, know that trains are running on time (as of now) but road traffic depends on the weather (it drizzled late afternoon today) and the number of people also making the drive. There are a lot of Seattleites here already, and they're joining their Canadian friends for the first of three nights out on the town (pre-Madonna, night of-Madonna, Halloween).

Speaking of, here's a few more places to dine or cocktail at here in Vancouver:

Irish Heather (http://www.irishheather.com/) is one of the most flocked-to pubs in Vancouver - my friend insisted on taking me there and I'm so glad he did. Located in the developing Gastown district, Irish Heather is loaded with imported bottled beers and local ales on tap like the refreshing Harp Lager. We ordered curry fries and sausage w/ mustard to start, and both were quite good. But the thick, juicy bacon cheeseburger w/ sauteed mushrooms really hit the spot, served alongside a cup of made-from-scratch potato-leek soup. They also offer a beef-Guinness potpie, Japanese-style fish n' chips (with snapper), and a grilled cheese sandwich.

Beyond Restaurant + Lounge (http://www.beyondrestaurant.com/) is a very affordable and highly suggested place to go for breakfast. Tucked inside the Century Plaza Hotel and Spa (on Burrard), this trendy locale's signature "beyond breakfast" includes two free range eggs any style, choice of bacon or sausages, potatoes, and whole wheat toast for just $7. If watching the calories, go for the egg white frittata with asparagus, truffle oil, and mizuna-apple salad. Ample dining area offering tables and booths, unpretentious ambiance, and attentive service combined with well-priced plates makes Beyond a must-visit destination for early morning feeds.

Hon's (no website, 1339 Robson Street) is an eatery visited regularly by both Vancouverites and out of towners. A local-based chain of Chinese diners, the one on Robson is a perfect spot to grub on authentic, low-priced fare in a cafeteria-type setting. The menu features many known favorites, such as almond chicken or pork dumplings or various fried rice dishes, but a good thing to do is to expand your palate by trying new things. Each time I've been here, I've seen just as many single guests as I have couples or families, so it's recommended for solo travelers.

Photo of vegetarian potstickers at Hon's.

Arrived in Vancouver a few hours ago...I can't even tell you how excited I am to be here for Madonna's Sticky and Sweet Tour, but also this happens to be my first time in Canada at all. Everybody's so beautiful here! Tonight the buzz seems to be on Davie St, I can't wait to hit the bars and see how much Madonna Mania is taking hold. I've heard the show tomorrow at BC Place is expected to be the biggest thing since Charles and Di visited in the 80's.

Friends have suggested Numbers and Celebrities as the places for afterparties and dancing. We are booked at the fabulous Moda Hotel, and about to unpack and head down to the Uvo bar downstairs. Swanky seating and tall drinks- PERFECT. Until tomorrow- Jessica R Price

Hey All,

Made it to Vancouver without any unexpected surprises. We are staying at the posh, but understated Executive Vintage Hotel on Drake St. and Howe St. So far I feel nothing but pampered with my fabulous view and in-room jacuuzi. The fitness room is small but nice, and the hot tub is on the 9th floor deck with another great view.

I did a test run over to the BC Place Stadium in my car and found it to be about a mile. From Granville and Robson I would guess it to be a little less than a mile. I'm sure they have the streets well policed for an event but I have to say that I will probably walk tomorrow. If you aren't into that I would suggest a cab. The Executive Vintage Hotel has a shuttle, and other hotels may as well, but I think a walk will be good for me as my nerves are going to be running high before the show. It will be nice to avoid the traffic and parking congestion.

We wandered around Davie St. for a bit and all the local newspapers have Madonna's name and image splashed across every front page. We checked out some post parties and I will probably hit the one at Celebrities after the event. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased in advance. Check out www.celebritiesnightclub.com/upcoming_events/2008/10/candy-shop. I'm going for the drag show but if that isn't your speed The Majestic Nightclub is also offering a post-party.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Two Days To Go!


With just two days to go before the big show I know many of you are making travel plans and I thought I'd throw in a few helpful tips. Be sure to allow yourself enough time for border crossing, and bring your proper documents if you are driving through. You now need a passport OR a valid driver's license WITH a birth certificate. I've been checking the wait times the last couple days at www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/general/times/menu-e.html which is updated every hour and haven't seen any extended wait times. When looking at the chart check out the box for "Douglas (Peace Arch)" to find the crossing from I-5. As expected the busiest times are after 5pm on and I would highly suggest that you get through the border well before then on Thursday. Let's not forget that Madonna is playing a stadium that is three times the size of Key Arena. There will surely be traffic flow coming from Washington that may clog it up. So far rain is predicted on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning. If it does rain into the afternoon on Thursday that may affect crossing times as well. The last time I crossed the border it took 90 minutes JUST for the border in addition to the three hours travel time. I'm hoping that it won't be that bad again, but I'm not taking any chances with time.

Once into the city you can breathe a sigh of relief. You are there and there is no way you are missing the show now so take some time and enjoy it. I have a list of places I hit whenever there. Vancouver is beautiful and if you haven't been I highly recommend doing what I call the "downtown circle" that encompasses my three favorite travel activities: sightseeing, shopping and eating!

The circle is connected by four streets; Granville, Robson, Denman and Davie. It doesn't matter exactly where you start (of course this depends on your hotel location) but I like to begin at Granville and Robson. Both are lined with shopping and places to eat. I start off with a crepe at one of the fabulous Cafe Crepe restaurants or walk-up windows. Once I have my fill I'm off to the shops. Check out the Aldo Outlet right there on the corner of Granville and Robson for great deals on shoes. Head west on Robson for the rest of the stores until you hit Denman and move south. The shops get smaller and more locally owned at this point and you are more likely to find unique items that you won't see anywhere else. Just off of Denman is Comox St. home of the fantastic Delilah's Martini Bar and Restaurant. Super charming atmosphere and delicious eats, this is the PERFECT place for dinner before the show. Check out http://www.delilahs.ca/ for more. Once back on Denman you can head down to the best damn cupcake you will ever eat at Cupcakes by Heather and Lori. It's the cutest little shop that you can't miss because it's entirely pink and the smell of baked cakes will surely lure you in (http://www.cupcakesonline.com/).

Take your deserts and within a short walk Denman will turn into beautiful Stanley Park (www.vancouver.ca/parks/parks/stanley/index.htm). Breathtaking scenery and location make it the "Volunteer Park" of Vancouver...except with sweeping views of the mountains and water. One can easily spend an afternoon taking it all in if this is your sort of thing. It's also a great spot for jogging if your hotel is close enough to it.

Continue on to Davie St. where you will find many of the local gay bars and clubs, as well as some gay owned stores. Pop into Numbers for a drink and acclimate yourself to the area if you intend to partake in the evening activities. This is where you will be bar crawling with the rest of the nightlife. And let me tell you that the kids in Vancouver know how to party. The street scene alone is packed with people on any weekend evening and I expect this to be a blowout week because of Madge and Halloween. We'll do our best to keep you up to date with all activities involving her "Madgesty" including pre and post parties. Check out http://www.tourismvancouver.com/ and http://www.gayvancouver.net/ for more information and ideas. The city is huge and lots of fun so venture out and create some of your own favorite stops.

By the way, last I checked the Executive Vintage Park Hotel (http://www.executivehotels.net/) downtown still had rooms and limited Madonna Concert Packages still available. The package includes room with jacuzzi bath tub, shuttle transfer on availiblitity to BC Place Stadium (hotel guests only), sparkling white wine for arrival and a Madonna CD for just $269. The accomodations are deluxe and they even have complimentary wine tasting every night.
Let's Go!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Everything Sticky & Sweet: Getting to Vancouver, hotels and restaurant picks

It's Albert from Seattle Gay News. As one of my roommates watches Gossip Girl, I'm beginning our special Madonna blog leading up to Thursday's big show at Vancouver's BC Place Stadium.

Three Seattle Gay News writers - myself, Richard Kennedy, Jessica Price - are heading to Vancouver to capture all the excitement as it happens. We're not only attending the concert, we're cocktailing, shopping, meeting cute Canucks, and joining in on all the fun - like pre and post parties. For those also making the trek to Vancouver, here's information to get you across the border and a short list of hotels and restaurants to check out while you're there.


I'm assuming everyone has transportation to-from Vancouver figured out, but if not Amtrak (www.amtrak.com) has daily trips from Seattle at 7:30am with arrival at Pacific Central Station at 10:30am. From the station, you can SkyTrain it to downtown or take bus #23 to Davie Village. You can also reserve coach bus seats to Vancouver via Amtrak. If wanting to carpool, post an ad on Craigslist in the "Community/rideshare" section. A valid passport is the best documentation to have on-hand when entering and exiting Canada, though a birth certificate-photo ID combo works too.


There are lots of hotels in Vancouver to fit everybody's budget, from Best Western to the Four Seasons. But being a frequent visitor to the city, here are four that I highly recommend.

Opus Hotel (www.opushotel.com) is an upscale boutique property located in the Yaletown district with the closest proximity to BC Place Stadium of the four mentioned here. Opus designed its rooms around fictional characters that represent various people in our society, like an outgoing gay male who regularly mixes business with pleasure in Vancouver. Colorfully decorated rooms, comfy beds, large walk-in showers, chic lobby, and style in every corner makes Opus a desired address for A-list celebrities and touring musicians.

Executive Hotel Vintage Park (www.executivehotels.net) is the hotel of choice by one Seattle Gay News writer during his Material Girl-Vancouver stay. Centered in the downtown financial sector, a quick zip via SkyTrain or taxi to the concert venue, this lush property is expressing itself by offering a Madonna Concert Package for $269 + $20 tax per additional person that includes a room with Jacuzzi, shuttle transfer to the stadium (per availability), sparkling white wine upon arrival, and a CD copy of Hard Candy. You'll hear more about this hotel in the following days.

Pacific Palisades (www.pacificpalisadeshotel.com) is South Beach meets Pacific Northwest, or splashy meets natural. A member of the gay-friendly Kimpton Hotels chain, Palisades is home to the twice-held Ginch Gonch underwear pool party during Vancouver Pride. It's fun, it's cool, it's a blend of two complete opposite worlds, and it's in the heart of the city's shopping mecca, Robson Street. What I really love about this property is its sidestreet entrance, allowing my impromptu late night guests to arrive and depart with a bit of discretion.

Metropolitan Hotel (www.metropolitan.com/vanc) is an older property within walking distance to many downtown restaurants and nightlife spots. A lot of gay men stayed here during Pride, enjoying the hotel's indoor pool, hot tub and fitness room looking out to the bustling streets below. The rooms are spacious with big flatscreen TVs, good-sized restrooms, cozy armchairs, and plenty of drawers to place multiple outfits in. And the beds are fabulous!


Cactus Club Cafe
(www.cactusclubcafe.com/locations/bc) in the Bentall 5 Centre has become a quick personal favorite and an extremely popular dining attraction for locals and downtown visitors. Opened earlier this year, as part of a Canadian restaurant chain, this place is trendy, sexy, reasonably priced, and the hottest destination for cocktails or a cold pint of regional beer. Mounted flatscreen TVs treat guests to American baseball, Canadian football (yes, there is such a thing), and other sporting events. The food, such as pistachio-encrusted halibut and mouthwatering burgers, is top notch with some items created for Cactus Club by celebrity chef Rob Feenie. There are several locations, but the Bentall restaurant is where it's at.

Italian Kitchen (www.theitaliankitchen.ca) on Alberni Street, minutes from the cluster of hotels and clothing shops, is a newer restaurant with beautiful-looking servers who parade throughout as if it were a Prada runway. The ambiance is warm and sultry, and the food is out of this world. Suggested eats include spaghetti and Kobe meatballs, risotto of the day, fusilli funghi, and the incredible, heaping "meat platter" that is a carnivore's dream come true. Seriously, we ate so much that no room was left for dessert, which I presume was just as delicious.

Stepho's Souvlaki Greek Taverna (no website, 1124 Davie Street) is a well-known dining instution in the West End district of Vancouver, doorsteps away from the gay bars. There's always a line to get in, but surprisingly you'll be seated within 20 to 30 minutes upon arrival. My friends and I ate here during Pride and licked our fingers at how good it was, plus the portions were fit for a king. The beef souvlaki platter was mounted with meat kabobs, warm rice, golden potatoes, veggies, traditional Greek sauces, and a slice of pita bread. A total bang for your American buck!

Everything Sticky & Sweet: Madonna special coverage on the way

Seattle Gay News is headed to Vancouver, British Columbia this week for Madonna's sold out performance, her first Northwest appearance since 1997.

Three writers will make the journey up north for the big event, and we're taking you with us - sort of. We'll attempt to capture the excitement as it unfolds in Vancouver, tapping into the city's vibe on the day of show and attending pre-show parties before the Material Girl hits the stage. We'll then give you a first-account reaction after Madonna's performance from three different viewpoints - 7th and 14 rows, and upper stadium section.

Leading up to Thursday's event, we'll also provide hotel, restaurant, visitor attractions, and cocktail spot recommendations for those joining us in Vancouver.

Our special blog coverage of Madonna's Sticky & Sweet tour kicks off tonight. Get into the groove, eh!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Against Me! interviews with Seattle Gay News

Cool rock bands? Love them. Hot lead singers in cool rock bands? Love them more.

Seattle Gay News is pleased to feature a one-on-one interview with Tom Gabel, sexy frontman of punk rock outfit Against Me! The Florida-based quartet's major label debut New Wave was named Best Album of 2007 by Spin magazine and produced two big singles, "Thrash Unreal" and "White People for Peace". They're currently on tour, arriving in Seattle on October 24 for a performance at The Showbox Market (www.showboxonline.com) - their first appearance in the Jet City since last year's Capitol Hill Block Party.

Gabel, who launched his music career as a solo act, spoke to Seattle Gay News via email during a recent tour break in the Midwest. Find out what his favorite childhood Halloween costume was, the most common items lost on the road, and which tunes he'd spin at a party if he were the DJ.

Grab a copy of Seattle Gay News on October 24, or read it online over the weekend (click on "The Music Lounge" tab), and get a front row view of Against Me!'s Tom Gabel.

Photo by Ryan Russel for Warner Bros. Records (Gabel second from left).

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Linda Ronstadt talks to Seattle Gay News on October 17

Music legend Linda Ronstadt phoned in recently to Seattle Gay News from her home in San Jose, California to speak about her past accomplishments, future recording plans, and appreciation for gay culture. The Arizona-born diva has enjoyed a long and successful career that boasts 10 Grammy Awards, multi platinum-certified albums, sold out tours, and collaborations with Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Aaron Neville, James Ingram, and Ann Savoy. To date, she has recorded music in various genres, including pop, rock, country, folk, and Spanish language.

Grab a copy of Seattle Gay News on October 17 and get closer to the one, the only Linda Ronstadt - who kicks off her "Romantic Evening in Old Mexico" tour at the Paramount Theatre on October 23. The interview will upload onto our website, www.sgn.org, on Saturday morning.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Seattle cluster of Gay men with multi-drug resistant HIV strain

Nine Seattle gay men with high risk sexual activity have been found to have multi-drug resistant HIV transmissions.

From AIDS Map:

Investigators in Seattle have reported a cluster of nine HIV infections involving resistance to multiple drugs from all the three main classes of antiretrovirals. The report is published in the October 1st edition of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.

Seven of the nine men were newly diagnosed with HIV, the other two men had chronic HIV infection and were receiving antiretroviral therapy. One of these cases appears to involve superinfection during antiretroviral therapy that had been suppressing viral load to undetectable levels.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Bumbershoot 2008: Backstage chatter, Death Cab review in September 5 print issue

It's Albert at Seattle Gay News, exhausted from 3 days of being on my feet at Bumbershoot. I had a fab time and don't wish for a second that I'd taken a laptop to the festival because I would've had to lug it everywhere, and I was literally everywhere on the Seattle Center grounds.

I'll have a wrap-up of Bumbershoot, complete with backstage exclusives with The Blakes and Sons and Daughters, plus sightings of David Cross and Amber Tamblyn together at Flatstock. And of course, a full review of Death Cab for Cutie's awesome concert last night - it was truly a great performance, one for the record books.

Grab a copy of Friday's (September 5) issue or check online Saturday to find out what songs Gibbard and company played, and what they looked like up close because I was in the very front row for a half hour of it before moving further back to have room to breathe and dance.

And to the darling from Bremerton standing next to me yesterday who said, "We'll take of you" in case I fainted or near-suffocated from being squished in the front row, I wanna say thank you for not letting me die at a DCFC show. All my lungs still work this morning, I think.

Bumbershoot 2008: Superchunk is super loud, draw super crowd surfers

Like nearly everyone last night at Bumbershoot, I knew very little about rock group Superchunk. I'd heard the name, but never their music.

I unexpectedly found myself in the very front row for Death Cab for Cutie when I arrived at the VIP gate yesterday, just as the house doors opened. When I stepped foot on the carpeted lawn of Memorial Stadium I realized front row access was for the taking. This meant, however, that I'd have to brave 90 minutes of wait time for Superchunk, an hour-long set by Superchunk, and a half hour wait time for DCFC.

But, I've done weirder things in life so this was a piece of cake. Or so I thought.

I don't even know one Superchunk single or anything about them really, although the bulky guy next to me - the one fan I could find in my immediate area of this North Carolina band - helped fill in some blanks. Apparently, the drummer is a co-founder of Merge Records (Arcade Fire, Spoon) and has a radio talk show somewhere. Two members of the group used to date, and a lot of their songs are about them. That's what I dug out.

It was a loud performance, which riled concertgoers to start crowd surfing. They weren't familiar with the music or the artist, they just wanted to surf. And that they did - over and over and over and over again, a few almost knocking out my teeth. I'm not sure why Bumbershoot allows people to crowd surf, but then again - I have no business being in the front row, do I?

What was interesting to watch was Chris Walla of Death Cab for Cutie standing on the side of the stage shouting out the lyrics to every Superchunk number. He was really into it, shaking his head and moving his body like a slinky as he stood in place. And next to him was comedian David Cross, who I saw earlier that day at Flatstock with actress Amber Tamblyn. Cross was so fired up that the dude next to me said afterwards, "Did you see David Cross going apeshit over there?" Uh, yes I did. Apeshit he was.

I'm sure Superchunk is loved by many, and apparently by DCFC (Ben Gibbard gave them a shout out during their set), but I thought they were just noisy and I would've preferred a mellower opening act like Minus the Bear or Fleet Foxes.

Bumbershoot 2008: Two Galants mini concert a treat for fans

I attended an intimate performance by Two Gallants yesterday at Bumbershoot, inside the Eve Alvord Theatre at Seattle Center.

I'd never heard this duo before, not even on MySpace or YouTube before this mini appearance. Introduced by KEXP radio host Cheryl Waters as one of her favorite artists, the San Francisco pair got onstage and played a 5-song set that included a lengthy rendition of "Fly Low Carrion Crow" and a brand new song with no title given.

There was such intensity on the face of singer-guitarist Adam Stephens, especially on a great and also lengthy version of "Waves of Grain". He's so focused on the song and the mood, I don't ever think I saw him crack a smile in their 30-minute set. Stephens, in black jeans, boots, purple'ish long-sleeve shirt and cropped blond hair is a quite fascinating singer to watch, he inserts himself completely into each song. Vogel, in an 80s punk "do" and hole-in-the-knees jeans was interesting to look at as well, giving his drumset or cymbals the slightest yet most precise tappings.

Two Gallants' music is kind of hard to describe. It's almost like a poetry reading backed by medieval pop music. I'm not sure that's the best description of it, but it's just very different than anything else out there. And while it's not my cup of tea, the 50 or so gathered at this little affair certainly appreciated the rare close-up of Stephens and Vogel.

DJ Waters mentioned a standing ovation during her live broadcast, and technically there was one but only by a third of the audience. The rest of us, newbies to this whole Two Gallants thing, were still trying to figure what we just heard. I have to say, however, Stephens and Vogel are really unique and terrific instrumentalists. I give them big props for creating music, not copying it.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Bumbershoot 2008: Death Cab for Cutie, Old 97's, The Offspring set for final day

It's Albert again from Seattle Gay News, under an hour from returning to Seattle Center for the final day of Bumberhoot.

With all intent to blog on the days of the festival, the reality is that there's so much going on and so much running from stage to stage that I don't even enjoy a filling meal until I'm on my way home. Alas, it's a day late.

Today's lineup features headliners and Seattle's own Death Cab for Cutie. These guys are worth the $40 entrance fee alone, a marvelous live act that fluctuates the mood throughout their sets. Expect to hear "Soul Meets Body', "Title and Registration", The Sound of Settling", "Crooked Teeth", and "I Will Possess Your Heart". Cross your fingers, as I am, for "Long Division", "I Will Follow You Into the Dark", and "Your Heart is an Empty Room". Death Cab for Cutie hops onstage at 9:15pm. Opening is Superchunck at 7:45pm.

The Offspring is one of those bands we thought might disappear at the start of the new millennium. Their brand of quirky, make that downright wacky, rock tunes are far from classics. But fans like them this way, and they should pack Memorial Stadium this afternoon to see them. The Offspring is slated to begin at 3:15pm. Grammy nominees Paramore open at 1:45pm.

Another act sure to draw a good crowd is Old 97's, featuring hot lead singer Rhett Miller. The Texas-based rockabilly band hits the Starbucks Stage at 6:45pm.

I'm in a rush, so I gotta just list some acts to check out today: John Vanderslice, Xavier Rudd, Two Gallants, Minus the Bear, Flobots, and local group Feral Children.

I can't wait to see Death Cab for Cutie again!!! I'm on my way.

Bumbershoot 2008: Stone Temple Pilots give decent showing at Memorial Stadium

Before last night's show at Memorial Stadium, it was rumored Stone Temple Pilots might not even perform. This is because lead singer and bad boy Scott Weiland appeared out of it the previous night when he surprisingly turned up to watch Beck.

But, the rumors proved to be false as the group slid onstage thirty minutes tardy, mind you, and opened with "Big Empty". It was such a slower start than one might expect for a band that hasn't toured together for nearly a decade.

Weiland looked good, in tight black jeans, cranberry shirt and gray vest, but unfortunately it was evident his vocals lacked the bite they once did in the 90s. The rock star Scott Weiland was present, but the gritty vocalist was not.

Concertgoers didn't really care about how great the Grammy-winning act sounded like, or not, they just sang out the songs' lyrics with enthusiasm and wiggled wherever they found room. A petite girl next to me danced by herself with her eyes closed the entire time, and she didn't even mind being rammed into by fellow fans en route to the front.

"Wicked Garden" was electrifying, though that was partly due to a giant, colorful digital screen behind the drummer. What Stone Temple Pilots lacked in quality, they returned with sensational lighting. "Vasoline" was great, yet "Creep" sounded as if it was plucked directly from an MTV Unplugged session - very uninspiring.

Audience members began to leave midway through the group's set, and one fan in particular said he was disappointed that such a long wait to see this reunited act had resulted in a mediocre appearance.

On the plus side, "Plush" was quite memorable. It brought back memories for me, as I used to listen to it over and over again when I lived briefly in Hawaii. It sounded fresh even after all these years, and even after personal turmoils the band has faced.

I left soon after "Plush" was played, and I wished I'd been given me reason to stay. This just wasn't vintage Stone Temple Pilots, this was a band giving a worthy try at being what it once was.

Bumbershoot 2008: Sons and Daughters wow at Rockstar Stage

At Neumos earlier this year, Sons and Daughters sounded terrific yet looked out of place because the crowd wasn't really into it. They liked what they heard, but they were hesitant to show any emotion or to dance or to cheer in jubilation to anything the Scottish act did.

Last night at Bumbershoot, the audience easily made up for that. There was dancing, hollering, hands waving in the air, clapping, and more dancing. Even better, there was a request for more.

A newly comprised lineup, Ailidh Lennon temporarily replaced due to pregancy, drew a good-sized audience to the Rockstar Stage that sits almost underneath the Space Needle. In fact, lead singer Adele Bethel beamed during the group's set when she exclaimed, "I can't believe we're playing next to the Space Needle!"

Concertgoers didn't seem to mind the chilly night, they quickly got moving and warmed up to songs like "The Bell" and the title track of their album This Gift.

Surprisingly, Sons and Daughters wore nearly the exact same outfits as their previous visit to Seattle. For a band with such flair, I was hoping for more eye-catchy threads.

Bethel introduced "Gilt Complex" as a #1 song "nowhere", and then laughed and said it was indeed a charttopper in their native UK. It had the required sass and punch from the original album version, and sounded incredible under a dark sky and illuminated Seattle landmark.

"Iodine" was rather nice, but it was done so fast that I hardly remember it. What I do recall quite well was how joyful and surprised Sons and Daughters were by a strong turn out and the love given to them by this crowd. With The Black Keys and Jakob Dylan performing at alternate stages and people flocking to squeeze in for Stone Temple Pilots, it was great to see a swell gathering at the Rockstar Stage for this Scottish foursome.

"Darling" was jumpy and wonderful, though I would've preferred a bit more heat thrown in. It sounded more pop than rock last night, and could've used some impromptu choreography from Bethel because the song has such energy. Overall, I can't complain - it certainly dazzled in parts.

Called back for an encore, which Sons and Daughters excitedly said was their first at any festival, the quartet jammed mightily to the turbo-charged "Chains".

On this night, both audience members and artist were equally satisfied by each other's display.

Bumbershoot 2008: The Blakes draw big, responsive crowd to Exhibition Hall Stage

Twenty minutes before The Blakes went onstage, I arrived at Exhibition Hall to find about 300 people sitting on the floor - mainly close to the stage, but also scattered throughout this spacious basement-level venue used yearly as part of the Bumbershoot Festival.

Twenty minutes later, the body count increased to over 1000. And they kept coming and coming and coming and coming until over 2000, maybe even 3000, worked their way inside to watch this up and coming Seattle band. Not only was it the biggest local audience The Blakes have played to this year, but the most responsive since February's raucous Chop Suey audience.

The Blakes played usual favorites like "Magoo", "Modern Man" and "Commit" (apparently a favorite of Elton John) and many seemed to recognize each of them from the first chords. But those who didn't, those who showed up out of curiousity, were really taken by the trio's sound - a straightforward dose of hard rock with a Southern-like twist, kind of a punk n' roll cowboy if you will.

On this afternoon, they sounded sharper and more present than their March appearance at the High Dive. Everything worked: Garnet Keim's searing vocals, Snow Keim's thumping bass, and even more effective, Bob Husak's pounding on drums. Having seen these guys three times prior to yesterday's show, I'd never heard better percussion out of them until now - maybe it was the space or a larger stage, but the drumbeats were stronger.

Snow Keim served as the group's spokesperson, greeting everyone in between songs and introducing set list selections with the actual titles, something a lot of live acts don't do enough of. Especially in this modern age of iPhones and Blackberries, concertgoers can immediately type in a song title on their personal electronic devices to download later at their convenience.

"Don't Bother Me" was loose and fun, "Pistol Grip" was tight and slightly intense, yet what stood out for me was a new track called "Before" that will appear on a yet to be announced next record. If there was any question that The Blakes would be a one album wonder, "Before" answers that question. It's a smart, kind of dramatic piece with a great chorus that gradually kicks up speed. I can't wait for this to be recorded.

"Vampire" was terrific, and people near me took advantage of its catchy riff to dance. Ditto for "Run", a fast-paced tune with riffs a plenty.

Prior to "Two Times" being played, it was requested by loud shouts - the crowd was ready for it. I've heard different renditions of this song live, both in concert and on the Internet, and The Blakes continue to perform variations of it. Yesterday's version was shorter and less meatier than what was played at Nuemos earlier this summer, and perhaps that was due to a limited set time. But it didn't have the crunch, the impact that I wished for. "Two Times" is the band's centerpiece, the most awaited song of the night, or in this case afternoon, and it should really be performed at full-throttle.

At Bumbershoot, like most festivals, it's easy to leave a performance that just doesn't do it for you. And I've seen people leave in droves at shows in past years because the band just plain sucked. But The Blakes retained up to 90% of those assembled at the start of their concert until the very end, and with so many talented acts playing on other stages throughout Seattle Center yesterday, this was a cool bonus on top of a better-than-expected turnout.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Bumbershoot 2008: STP, The Blakes, Michaelson on deck for Sunday

Today is the middle day of the Bumbershoot Music and Arts Festival, and there's no shortage of cool tunes to soak up the remainder of Labor Day weekend.

Today's video is "Heaven Sent" by Grammy-nominated artist Keyshia Cole, filmed in a tropical locale (Hawaii, maybe?). The video is a beautiful compliment to a beautiful song, which should net Cole another Grammy nomination in December. Cole opens for rapper T.I. at Memorial Stadium, set to begin at 2pm.

Watch "Heaven Sent" here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vo0qynuXXOU&feature=related

Hip-hop and R&B fans will flock to the main stage in droves for this show. Cole reminds me of a gutsy, early Mary J. Blige, and T.I. quickly became a star on the music scene. From Cole, I can't wait to hear "Shoulda Let You Go". House doors for Memorial Stadium open at 12:30pm, with Cole on at 2pm and T.I. getting busy at 3:15pm.

One of the most exciting acts to emerge from the city of Seattle since Death Cab for Cutie is The Blakes (pictured on this page). This gifted trio is creating a lot of buzz, recently touring with the Brian Jonestown Massacre in Europe, recording an exclusive iTunes live session earlier this year, and performing at a SXSW kickoff party just this spring. Consisting of brothers Garnet and Snow Keim, and Bob Husak, the hard rock threesome also hit the road with The Kills and The Gossip in 08. Their single "Two Times" rekindles the fire and strength of "Smells Like Teen Spirit", though the latter was boosted by a major record label. The Blakes have been courted by a few label giants, but for now are choosing to stick with local indie favorite Light in the Attic Records (The Black Angels, Os Mutantes).

Don't miss The Blakes inside the Exhibition Hall Stage at 3:15pm, and experience why a sold out Chop Suey crowd went nuts for them back in February and why the country of France regards these guys as one of the best new American bands. Listen to "Two Times" and "Vampire" on the band's official MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/theblakes

Another great up and comer is the Scottish quartet Sons and Daughters, who've yet to peak stateside but will likely do so very soon. They've got catchy songs like "Gilt Complex", "The Gift", "Iodine", and my favorite, "Darling". They wear vintage cool threads, provide some shimmy during their live sets, and sound like a million bucks - give them a whirl on the Rockstage Stage at 7:45pm.

Two singer-songwriters close out today's lineup at the Starbucks Stage, Jakob Dylan and Ingrid Michaelson. The former is the son of you-know-who and lead singer of The Wallflowers, and now a solo act. The latter is a delightful, crafty Hotel Cafe Tour alum in the vein of Tori Amos or Regina Spektor. Michaelson has a terrific sense of humor and great energy, aside from being a standout live performer, so she's sure to draw a significant-sized audience to the Starbucks Stage when she headlines at 8:45pm. Dylan is slated for 7pm.

Elsewhere, local band These Arms Are Snakes play inside the Exhibition Hall Stage at 5pm, Tapes n' Tapes conclude the Rockstar Stage's roster at 9:30pm, and The Hands slide to EMP's Sky Church at 8pm.

Sunday's big show at Memorial Stadium is a performance by the reunited Stone Temple Pilots. Selling over 35 million copies of their albums worldwide, the Scott Weiland-led group remains one of 90s landmark rock bands. Hit singles, like the Grammy winner "Plush", "Wicked Garden", "Interstate Love Song" and "Vaseline", helped STP enjoy a successful career before calling it quits due to personal reasons, which eventually gave way for Weiland to inaugurate Velvet Revolver. I saw these boys on the University of Puget Sound campus many years ago, and I remember those sitting in the bleachers broke through the main floor barriers making for quite a memorable concert. Warming things up for Stone Temple Pilots tonight is The Black Keys, which I unfortunately know little about and never seen before.

House doors for Memorial Stadium's night portion open at 6:15pm. And don't forget to stop by locally-owned Easy Street Records and/or Silver Platters near Seattle Center to purchase CDs by Bumbershoot performing artists.

Bumbershoot 2008: Beck energizes and amazes on main festival stage

Going into yesterday's Beck show at Bumbershoot, I'd seen him four times already and had never been disappointed. I was also quite giddy because he's an artist that seems to bring out the kid in me, evidenced by my squeezing near the front of the Memorial Stadium stage with people half my age.

A girl next to me wrote Beck a list of things she wanted to say to him, if given the opportunity. One of them was not to not enforce his Scientology views on others, even as passionate as he is about it. Another girl nearby decorated her leg with a temporary tattoo that read "Beck", and a guy on my right side had waited in line since 3:45 that afternoon just to be close to the front.

I had them all beat, as a diehard Beck fan I once took a day off from work when he was in town to hopefully bump into him. I didn't, but my writing career would later benefit me with a rare chance to meet him in person (three years ago). I was giddy and speechless then, and I was giddy and speechless last night when the pop genius strode onstage at 9:15 and opened with his classic "Loser".

This was the first time I'd ever heard "Loser" played as the opening number, and it set the tone for what would be a high energy and incredibly fun night. The following song was "Girl", and it was a jumpier version than the original found on 2005's Guero album. "Timebomb" was loud and sorta punk'ish, while "Gamma Ray" sounded groovy and vintage rock.

The marvelous thing about Beck in concert is that he's always creating new methods of playing old favorites, like an electronic and punchy rendition of "Nicotine & Gravy" or a hip-hoppy take on "Black Tambourine".

His very long hair and once-youthful face hidden underneath a large hat and all-black attire, Beck appears to be that middle-aged man and musical poetic figure we eventually knew he'd grow into - but we still wish for that apple-cheeked, sneaker-wearing, California surfer boy from to reappear at times.

"This is for all the gueros, the guerolitos", Beck said introducing "Que Onda Guero". The song kept its authentic Mexi-pop feel and got everyone singing along, some waving their arms during the chorus.

A highlight was a purely electronic version of "Hell Yes", as Beck strapped a head set on and stood in a line at the foot of the stage with his four-piece band. Another momentous occasion, and one of only a few that were mellow, was a moody-good performance of "Lost Cause" from the singer-songwriter's Sea Change disc.

"Devil's Haircut" was incredible, as a giant lit-up screen flashed cherry red images of a bullseye and 45-vinyl spindles.

This was an edgier, more digital, more electrifying, and dancier performance by Beck than his appearance at the Sasquatch Festival in 2006. He seemed to be in such good spirits and in the mood to tinker with, not just play, his songs in front of a huge crowd. His latest recording effort, Modern Guilt, seems to signal the reinvented experimental side of Beck that now extends to his live act.

Beck gave a two-song encore, and what an encore it was! "Where It's At" had the entire pit raising their hands in unison and shouting, "two turnables and a microphone!" and then a ripping version of "E-Pro" got everybody bouncing, similar to a hip hop show. It was a total blast, the first time I'd ever bounced at a Beck concert!

On my way out, I heard a college-aged guy say to a friend, "I'm freaking out, I just saw Beck live!". This was my fifth time seeing Beck in concert, and I was just as freaked out kiddo.

Bumbershoot 2008: Band of Horses livens up main stage

Ben Bridwell is a craaaazy guy. And I love him for that.

The lead singer of former Seattle-based trio Band of Horses got the party going on the main stage yesterday, warming up a near-capacity Memorial Stadium for Beck. When he wasn't cracking fake (or were they fake?) beer bottles on the top of band mates' heads, he was shouting "whoo!" after each song and quite frankly, any time he felt like it.

"I love you. I'm just going to go ahead and say it. I love you. Let's make babies together", was how Bridwell chose to greet the crowd after the first song.

Another thing about Ben Bridwell, who interviewed with me last year, is that he's kinda sexy in person. The full beard and headband I can do without, but he looks great in a pair of jeans and his edgy hillbilly appearance is pretty hot. Bridwell also wore boots, navy blue sweater with plaid shirt underneath, and sunglasses. He later removed the sweater, causing a woman behind me to yell, "take it all off!". That said, he's also entertaining to watch live. He loves to have a good time, and for those around me that had never seen Band of Horses in concert before and were anxiously awaiting Beck, he won them over with his wild charm.

Band of Horses played songs from both albums, Everything All the Time and Cease to Begin, and if memory serves me correctly they also dug out a new track from a yet to be announced recording. They gave "The Great Salt Lake" a big finish and sounded amazing during "Is There a Ghost", ditto for a late set entry "The Funeral". And, I really liked the intensity of "Island on the Coast".

Creighton Barrett on drums and Rob Hampton on bass round out the actual Band of Horses lineup but touring musicians sit in for most, if not all, songs. Barrett's black and white-striped tank top was a good choice for the bulky dude. Hampton looked adorable, as is usually the case.

Three numbers really did it for me at last night's show. The first, a totally rocking version of "Wicked Gil" - exactly what I wanted to hear. I've listened to a slower rendition of this track, and was exceptionally glad they jazzed it up for Bumbershoot. It sounded incredible up front, as I was two rows away from the stage.

Another standout was a superb, gripping performance of "No One's Gonna Love You". I literally got goosebumps hearing it live, that's how good it was.

The third, and the most awesome moment during Band of Horses' set, was when a guy proposed to his girlfriend on the spot, and she said yes thankfully, and Bridwell dedicated "Marry Song" to them. Everyone clapped and cheered for the now-engaged couple.

By the way, Bridwell played guitar, keyboards, some wacky handheld percussion instrument, and a flutar (yes, a flutar!!!) throughout the evening. You gotta love this guy!

Band of Horses closed out their show with "Am I a Good Man", and they really won this large audience over - especially those seeing them for their first time ever. The girl next to me said, "I'm going to buy their CD tomorrow". And if I didn't already have it loaded on my iPod, I'd do the same thing.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Bumbershoot 2008: Band of Horses, Beck reviews coming late tonight

It's Albert from Seattle Gay News, at Seattle Center where the sunshine has brought throngs of festivalgoers to the start of Bumbershoot.

Everyone looks excited to be here, and mostly everyone is very anxious to see Beck tonight. I've no idea if he's actually in the building, as we say, but I was tipped from his record label earlier this week that the celebrated pop-rocker might be stopping by a radio station before coming to the festival.

I'm actually going to stand by the press gate on the backside of Memorial Stadium just before 6, and then run down to secure a front row spot for Band of Horses (pictured on this page) and Beck. Unfortunately, this means I won't blog until late tonight when I review both artists from home.

I believe the line has already started to form for tonight's big show with main stage gates opening at 6pm. Band of Horses go on at 7:30pm, followed by Beck at 9:15pm. Beck is scheduled to play at 90-minute set.

Lots of people, lots of independent performers throughtout the Seattle Center grounds playing their instruments, a portable skate park, carnival-type food, and great tunes all around. It's all happening at Bumbershoot.
I'm off to watch a bit of Fall of Troy before changing into my Beck tee-shirt and heading to Memorial Stadium for you-know-who. Look for a review late, late tonight or very early morning.

Bumbershoot 2008: Neko Case oh so heavenly at Memorial Stadium

Neko Case kicked things off in a magnificent way this afternoon at Bumbershoot, performing to a large crowd at Memorial Stadium that saw the sun finally peak through the clouds a few songs into her set.

The alt country maverick was all smiles and all business playing old and new favorites, which included several great renditions from 2006's Fox Confessor Brings the Flood.

"That Teenage Feeling", "Maybe Sparrow" and "Margaret vs. Pauline" were performed effortless and lovely with Case's vocals wrapping sweetly around each of them. A highlight was a gorgeous version of "Dirty Knife", which she introduced as a scary tale told to her by her grandmother. Fine banjo plucking and a dramatic bass drum complimented the number.

"It feels so churchy and formal", joked Case referring to a 1pm start on the main stage. "I didn't have time to prepare and get wasted".

A new song from a forthcoming disc tentatively titled "Middle Cyclone" had all ingredients of a Neko Case standard, as did a cover of Harry Nilsson's "Don't Forget About Me" that is also slated to appear on the upcoming record, set for a March release.

"It's so far away", kidded Case about the new album. "Seems dumb to even bring it up, but hey".

Case looked beautiful as ever, dressed in tight black jeans and matching tank top - her red, long and wavy hair resting on both her shoulders. She never appeared sexier than when she strapped on an electric guitar and rocked out to "Hold On, Hold On".

An almost bluegrassy rendition of "John Saw That Number" was played towards the end of her hour-plus set, followed by a swell redo of Bob Dylan's "Buckets of Rain". Another high point was a stunning performance of "Favorite" from The Tigers Have Spoken, which received a loud roar from the audience immediately afterwards. It really demonstrated the depth of vocal talent this Northwest native has.

Before she did "Look for Me (I'll Be Around)", Case told the crowd "This song is about stalking people, which Washingtonians are famous for". The song is from her Blacklisted release and had a fascinating, mysterious and creepy effect, even on a bright and sunny day.

When bidding farewell, Case told everyone "Thanks for coming to our show, where we played our bummer songs for you in the middle of the afternoon."

Neko Case, who spent much of her childhood in nearby Tacoma, attended Bumbershoot as a teenager. Today, she performed in front of thousands at Memorial Stadium as an opening act for multi-Grammy winner Lucinda Williams.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Bumbershoot 2008: Festival ready to roll with Beck, BOH, Case

Hey, it's Albert. I'm at home watching US Open tennis and resting up for three days of great music and swell times at the 2008 Bumbershoot Music and Arts Festival.

I was at Seattle Center earlier today to grab my press credentials and saw trucks unloading food supplies, banners getting hung, and last-minute details being taken care of in preparation for the big Labor Day weekend festival.

Today is a travel day for several artists performing at Bumbershoot, so flights are being caught and tour vans are being driven as you read this message.

Gates open tomorrow at 11am, and access to Memorial Stadium for Neko Case/Lucinda Williams begins at 11:30am. Case is scheduled to start playing at 1pm, followed by Williams at 2:45pm. This is a dynamite way to kick things off tomorrow, two female mavericks giving back to back performances on a deserving large stage. Case is from the Northwest area, so a big local audience will be on hand to support her.

Local artists Ian Moore and Vicki Martinez will perform separately tomorrow on the Starbucks Stage. Martinez begins at 1:15pm, immediately proceeded by Moore at 3pm.

On the Fisher Green Stage, Saul Williams and !!! will jam at 7:30pm and 9:15pm. A pair of hard rocking bands, Unearth and Anti-Flag, are set to grind at the Exhibition Hall Stage at 6:30pm and 8:15pm. The line to get into the Exhibition Hall Stage, near Mercer Street, is usually long and winding, so arrive early if you want in - unlike other venues at Seattle Center, this space has limited room. In previous years, everyone is asked to be seated inside this venue until just before the band goes onstage to maintain some order because things can get wild.

The Walkmen is one of those bands a lot of folks wanna see tomorrow, and they are slated to go on the Rockstar Stage at 5:45pm. The alt rock quartet debuted on Billboard's album chart this week at #71 with their newest album You and Me, their highest debut in history. And they've just released a music video for the first single, "In the New Year". Nada Surf, another closely followed live act, is also playing on the Rockstar Stage at 8:45pm.

If you're a Crowded House fan, run don't walk to the Wells Fargo Stage for Tim Finn. He's a founding member of 70s-80s pop-wave group Split Enz and later joined his brother Neil in the band Crowded House. Finn, traveling from New Zealand, included Seattle on a short string of West Coast dates. He's scheduled to start at 8:30pm.

Finally, a huge crowd is expected at Memorial Stadium for Beck. Opening for him is Band of Horses, a once Seattle-based trio now relocated to the Carolinas. Ben Bridwell, who interviewed with me in June 2007, has a terrific raw voice that is so effective on moody songs like "No One's Gonna Love You", "The Funeral", and "The Great Salt Lake". My favorite is a faster track called "Wicked Gil". Band of Horses go onstage at 7:30pm with house doors opening at 6pm. You definitely want to arrive early if you want a space on the main floor or a good bleacher spot.

Beck, one of my all-time favorites, returns to Seattle since his 2005 appearance at the Paramount Theatre - a night in which I went backstage right before he played. I'll never forget that evening. He's small, skinny, adorable, and really friendly. The SoCal artist recently put out a new CD, Modern Guilt, a collaboration with noted producer Danger Mouse. Expect to hear selections from it, like "Chemtrails" and "Gamma Ray", tomorrow night. Older stuff from the pop maestro should be on his set list too, such as "Loser", "Devil's Haircut", "Black Tambourine", and "Where It's At". I actually named our music preview column at Seattle Gay News after the song "Where It's At".

Just today, I received a press release directly from Beck's publicist announcing that his upcoming sold out show at the Hollywood Bowl on September 20 will be a collaboration with arranger-composer and his very own father David Campbell. This is the first time both dad and son will perform together on the same stage, and it should be a remarkable, unique night of music.

I've been privileged to see Beck four times in concert and I've never been disappointed. He's so creative, so cool, so incredibly talented, and he's simply a brilliant live performer. We're in for a treat, that's for sure.

If the weather is anything like tonight, unusually chilly for late August, take a sweater or a hoodie to keep warm. Starbucks routinely has a stand on the East side of Memorial Stadium, so grab a cup of coffee or some green tea and see world class acts like Beck and openers Band of Horses play under a Seattle moon.

Bumbershoot 2008: Helpful tips on the eve of the big festival

We're a day away from the start of the 2008 Bumbershoot Music and Arts Festival at Seattle Center. I'm Albert from Seattle Gay News, and I'll do my best to provide you with updates, highlights, mini reviews and guest interviews from the much-anticipated event. My video pick for today is "No One's Gonna Love You" by Band of Horses, one of the top ten tracks/singles of 2007 picked by Seattle Gay News in our year-end best of music issue. The link for the video is below. Pictured is Neko Case. Both Band of Horses and Neko Case are scheduled to perform at Memorial Stadium tomorrow at the festival.

Watch "No One's Gonna Love You": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfX6WTOmt5E

Here are 10 useful tips as you prepare for Bumbershoot this weekend.

1 Transportation

Relieve yourself of traffic congestion and parking headaches, instead take a Metro bus ($1.50 one-way) from downtown Seattle. The best spot to catch a Seattle Center-bound bus is on Third Avenue, between Pike and Pine streets, and look for Seattle Center signage. You can also ride the monorail to-from Seattle Center ($2 one-way) from a platform located on the top level of Westlake Center (Fourth and Pine).

2 Entry

Tickets, priced at $40 (adult), will be available during each day of the festival at Mercer and Thomas street gates. However, I strongly recommend buying them at your nearest Starbucks location to save time. Once inside, you can see whatever you want to see. Look below for information on main stage performances.

3 Re-entering

Festivalgoers are allowed to leave and re-enter the event, but you must receive a hand stamp from one of the gate attendants in order to do so.

4 Food

Food is available for purchase inside the festival grounds, however if you're on a budget you may want to stop at nearby Safeway, QFC, or Metropolitan Market stores on the way in. Lines tend to be long and menu items are pricey at many of the on-premise food vendors, so I recommend going to the grocery store or stopping at nearby Pagliaci, Dicks, or Kid Valley before or after attending the festival. Another money-saving suggestion is to purchase meals at the "Food Court", located inside the Pavillion at Seattle Center. There, you'll find Subway, Pizza Haven, Orange Julius, and other known food retailers with better and less expensive options.


There will be ATMs available on the festival grounds, but the lines are usually long and the transaction fees will be close to $5 aside from what your own bank will charge you. Most major banks have locations in lower Queen Anne, so use an ATM before entering Bumbershoot to save you time and money.

6 Alcohol

No outside alcoholic beverages are allowed into the festival, though you may purchase beer and other types of liquor inside.

7 Wristbands

While your ticket allows you access to all Bumbershoot performances, you must have a wristband to enter Memorial Stadium for main stage shows (Beck, Stone Temple Pilots, Death Cab for Cutie, etc.). Visit this link to see where you can get a free wristband, available on a first come-first served basis: http://bumbershoot.org/festival-faq.htm#inmain

8 Clothes

It may be sunny and warm during the day, but temperatures tend to drop dramatically at night. If spending the entire day at Bumbershoot, bring a long-sleeve shirt or light sweater that can be wrapped around your waist and a pair of long pants to change into later. Also, a light pair of shoes or sneakers with comfortable support are great to have or change into. I'm planning on taking a pair of flip-flops and sneakers for different portions of the day.

9 Backpacks

Backpacks are allowed into Seattle Center, but they can't exceed 17" x 12" x 10". Remember, the more you bring in the more you have to carry - so pack light. My recommendation is a tote bag vs. a backpack.

10 Smoking

Smoking is not allowed inside any of the concert venues at Bumbershoot or inside any of the beer gardens. You may smoke in any of the outdoor areas at Seattle Center, but please dispose of your cigarettes in appropriate receptacles.