Lutes cut loose at LollaPLUza

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Otieno Terry’s performance was powerful, to say the least. Terry has played multiple fests in the Seattle area and was accustomed to performing in front of a large crowd.

This piece was originally published in Mast Magazine via mastmedia.plu.edu
Photos by McKenna Morin.

   Lutes cut loose at LollaPLUza 2016, just two weekends before the end of the semester. Students and community members sprawled across the golf course on the uncharacteristically-warm day in early May; dancing, singing or listening to the live bands the LollaPLUza team had booked for the event.

     At 1 p.m., the gates opened and student band Head Portal started the day off strong with a set of classic covers to get the crowd going. Caleb & Denae followed them up on the B stage while seattle locals Prom Queen set up. Runaway Satellite, an acoustic rock duo,  played between Prom Queen and Otieno Terry.

     Terry’s music is a charming mix of many different genres.

     “My biggest influences were video game soundtracks, and a lot of orchestral stuff,” Terry told the Mast after his set. “Eyrkah Badu, Little Dragon, Kanye West, Outkast, Crying Baby Ray. R&B, electronic music, and hip-hop.”

     “Last year, we did Madaraka festival at the EMP, we did Sasquatch, we did Capitol Hill Block Party, Bumbershoot, and the Homeskillet festival in Alaska and the John Coltrane Festival in North Carolina,“ he said. With a history of performing for large crowds, it’s no wonder Terry was a natural on stage at LollaPLUza. He credits some of his success to winning Sound Off! 2014 at the EMP, an all-ages music competition that helps artists showcase their music and launch their careers.

     “Sound Off kinda set things off a little bit,” Terry said. “Sound Off got me that Bumbershoot performance and Block Party, kinda opened the door to my name, people just started booking me. Also, it was cool to hook up with other people from the sound off, and the people from the EMP are really nice. Super down to earth.”

     The following hours saw sets from Navvi, Dave B., and the PLU Dance Team.

     This year’s headliner, Pickwick, blended sweet dancing melodies with driving guitars and came into a sound all their own on stage.

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Pickwick’s vocalist Galen belts out a high one over their groovy rock sound. They’re new album is scheduled to come out in fall.

     “I’d call our music rock and roll, but it’s fun to go disco at times, be chill at times, it’s been fun to try different things,” said Pickwick vocalist Galen Disston.

     Pickwick’s been hard at work recording their new album with producer Erik Blood. Blood also produced albums for Seattle artists Shabazz Palaces and Tacocat.

     “Here’s what I’ll say about it: It’s the best experience I’ve ever had making a record, we made [Can’t Talk Medicine], but it was kind of like a compilation, some songs we’d done two times already by the time we got here,” Disston said. “It felt fresh, some of [the songs] we had written right before we went into the studio. I don’t know how to describe it, but the record made this place that I want to be in […]  not the studio, just this place, metaphorically, that we were at when making it, and that i go to when i listen to it.”

     Throughout the day, a number of non-musical activities were available for participating Lutes as well; the rock wall, the obstacle course and food trucks were all hits.

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Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock tried to warn Seattle

Album artwork for Modest Mouse's second LP The Lonesome Crowded West. Isaac Brock, the band's frontman and lyricist, predicted the metropolitan nightmare that Seattle would become in the years following the album's release.
Album artwork for Modest Mouse’s second LP The Lonesome Crowded West. Isaac Brock, the band’s frontman and lyricist, predicted the metropolitan nightmare that Seattle would become in the years following the album’s release.

 

By Jeff Dunn

Isaac Brock was right. In the album released by Modest Mouse The Lonesome Crowded West, Brock predicted the now-inevitable metropolitan megalopolis that will end the Seattle-Tacoma area as we know it.

OK, you could say I’m a bit bitter. Lonesome Crowded was released in 1997, just before the city began to feel the weight of its own size and expansion. At the time, nothing was being done to prevent issues Brock points out. We’ve made progress since then, but too little, too late, and for the foreseeable future I will be forced to endure the endless monotony of traffic up  and down the I-5 corridor.

The satisfaction we gained from our rapid and immediate expansion has cost us much more than just our elbow room. We would’ve been better off “compacting” our conscience and keeping it safe for another time, rather than to “bottle and sell it.”

Nineteen years later, Lonesome Crowded‘s predictions for a dystopian Seattle have come to fruition. To someone like Brock, who was quick to point out that he was an Issaquah native, and who penned such lines as “I didn’t move to the city, the city moved to me,” which carried more weight under the surface than above it. Brock becomes (or already was) the character Cowboy Dan in the song of the same name, who rails against the city encroaching on his lonesome, crowded west. On “Convenient Parking,” Brock bemoans the destruction of nature to make way for the paved world. He even comes off as accusatory (Well aren’t you feeling real dirty/Sitting in your car with nothing/Waiting to bleed on the big streets).

Teeth Like God’s Shoeshine opens with “From the top of the ocean / To the bottom of the sky / I get claustrophobic.” Here, at the top of the album, Brock sings against the dangers of consumerism. Brock’s entire world is shrinking around him. The Seattle he knows and loves is rushed with wave after wave of new residents, draining themselves into spaces that weren’t there before, propelling the city ever-forward on its capitalist tide. The influx of Amazon employees has long been touted as the reason behind rising rent costs in the downtown and South Lake Union area (Brock couldn’t have predicted Amazon specifically when he wrote “Workin’ real hard to make that internet cash/ work your fingers to the bone while sittin’ on your ass on the album’s fifth track, Jesus Christ Was An Only Child).

Seattle has crested since 1997. The Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area added 57,000 people in the last year and remains the nation’s 15th largest metro area, with 3.61 million people. 65,000 of those people live downtown, and 24 new residents move in per week. That’s a lot of people. And all of these people are always out and about. I don’t know if you’ve tried to get anywhere downtown recently, but it’s a nightmare. It’s the 5th most traffic-congested city in the U.S., with drivers in the metro area waiting in traffic for an average of 89 hours per year.

Seattle has nearly 100,000 parking spaces downtown. But, as Seattle Business editor John Levesque puts it, “it always seems that my car is No. 100,001 in line.” Brock and Levesque share the feeling that though we live in the metro area, something as simple as convenient parking has gone down the drain.

The city has not been stagnate in getting traffic flowing again. In November of 1996, (yes, 1996) King, Pierce and Snohomish County voters approved a tax increase which allocated funds for a 25-mile light rail system. Thus began what is collectively known as the “Dark years” for Sound Transit. I’m not being dramatic for effect, the time between 1999 and 2009 wherein the project faced numerous political and financial delays is referred to in numerous source documents as “the Dark years.”

While the Link is open now, and in fact just opened two new stations in Capitol Hill and the U District, it isn’t a solution. The process that was funded 1996, won’t even be anyway to “Ride the Wave” line to ride from Federal Way until 2023.

Seattle is, however, ranked the best city in America to find a job, the fastest-growing big city in the country and the most “cultural” city in the United States, according to the State of Downtown 2015 release. We may have made small steps in the right direction, but Brock’s central message was ignored; the time has come to pull the bottle of conscience off the shelf, pop the top, and drink up.