By Matt Crowley/The AS Review
On Friday, Jan. 29, the ASP Underground Coffeehouse Concert Series and the Viking Union Multipurpose Room will join forces to host the second ever What’s Up! Magazine Pre-Awards Show. The show will be held for the first time on Western’s campus, showcasing a total of six local acts in a celebration of Bellingham’s music scene.
The Coffeehouse will host the free portion of the show that begins at 7 p.m. and runs until approximately 8:45; locals Council of Lions and the Bellingham Free Choir are set to perform.
Despite being a relatively young act, garage-rockers Council of Lions recently released a five-song EP entitled “Bees Knees,” which they recorded with No-Fi Soul Rebellion member Mark Heimer. Council of Lions is comprised of a fairly straightforward guitar-bass-drums lineup, employing plenty of distortion and driving drum lines to give themselves a much bigger sound than their trio suggests.
The Bellingham Free Choir is comprised of, well, whoever wants to be in it. Not much is known about the group due to its continually rotating member pool. Undergound Coffeehouse Assistant Coordinator Lora Mednick said the group is planning to project the lyrics to the songs they will be performing so that audience members can sing along.
Later that night, at 9 p.m., four local acts will perform in the VU MPR: Yogoman Burning Band, Sugar Sugar Sugar, Rooftops and Idiot Pilot. The show costs $6 for Western students and $7 for general admission. Doors open at 8:30 p.m.
Local favorite Yogoman Burning Band will play Western before embarking on a monthlong tour south through Olympia, Portland, Ore., and much of California.
“Yogoman is kind of a local favorite … he usually plays here once a year so we thought [the pre-awards show] would be a good opportunity for him to play here,” ASP Pop Music Coordinator Hallie Anderson said.
Anderson is right; if you haven’t heard Yogoman Burning Band before, you will eventually. Leader and longtime Northwest musician Jordan Rain, a.k.a. Yogoman, has deftly crafted one of Bellingham’s finest reggae/ska groups, having won What’s Up! Magazine’s “Best Booty Shakin’ Music” award three years in a row. As for the music itself, it sounds pretty much exactly like what you are imagining: heavy reggae/rocksteady and ska roots, with bits of soul and funk mixed in. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, listeners of all ages can find something to enjoy in YBB.
Idiot Pilot, arguably the second biggest band to come out of Bellingham behind Death Cab for Cutie, brings with them post-hardcore and a flair of electronica. Michael Harris and Daniel Anderson recorded and self-released their debut album, “Strange We Should Meet Here,” in 2004 and through word-of-mouth scored a record deal, began touring and released a second album in 2007.
Since then the band has been relatively dormant, instead focusing on other projects. Easy comparisons can be made to fellow alternative rockers such as Muse, but influences from other groups are evident as well. In “Strange We Should Meet Here,” an effects-heavy arpeggio intro (Explosions in the Sky) gives way to falsetto vocals and soft electro beats (Radiohead) before erupting into a scream-punctuated chorus (At The Drive-In).
While they may not have the renown of their fellow acts, Sugar Sugar Sugar and Rooftops have plenty to offer. Sugar Sugar Sugar has one of the more interesting sounds of the bands playing the pre-awards show. Not quite classic rock, not quite punk, not quite the White Stripes, not quite Woodstock. To call it “struttin” music wouldn’t be exactly right either, but it absolutely exudes confidence. In “Come Out and Play,” lead singer and bassist Andru Creature asks, “Do you wanna come out and play,” as everything halts in time for him to ask, “With me?” before starting all over again.
As for Rooftops, who sound like a more pop-y Minus the Bear, it’s more of a matter of uncertainty, and not just because their music is all instrumental. Every guitar note and cymbal crash seems to come with a question mark at the end and you’re never quite sure where each song is about to go next. The lack of vocals obviously contributes to this, but while their sound may not change from one track to the next, the way each song is approached certainly does, making for a very rewarding listening experience.