Seattle’s 11th annual Decibel Festival is quickly approaching, which means it’s time to start the agonizing process of picking and choosing amongst the myriad of showcases, Optical shows, After-Hours, conference workshops, and boat parties the festival has to offer. There are shows and conference activities...

The Pacific Northwest's premiere music festival, Decibel Festival 2013, has come and gone, with another half-week stint of dream electronic music lineups for all. The type of festival that non-Seattle music lovers drool over and Seattle music lovers take amazing late-night advantage of, Decibel has come a long way in the ten years since its inception... and with this review, we celebrate the best of year 10's acts, which include a party sounds by JETS, the collaboration between Jimmy Edgar and Machinedrum, Machinedrum's visually-entrancing new live show, neo-classical-meets-electronic composer Nils Frahm, and goofy electronic pioneers, The Orb.
Photography by Lizzy Eve

JETS = Machinedrum & Jimmy Edgar

It can be a bit surprising how successful after-parties at Decibel Festival are -- especially considering they always begin at 2:30am, and sometimes on weekday nights. Thursday evening (or Friday morning at 3:30am, if you wanted to get all technical about it) was JETS' headlining slot at the Leisure System Afterparty, and it was my most anticipated show of Decibel Festival 2013. Still, I didn't really know what to expect from the duo, comprised of Machinedrum and Jimmy Edgar, since JETS is a relatively new project and the amount of material they have out in the world is quite tiny. I knew from their dearth of recordings that they know how to make bangin' party music and that they at least somewhat have metaphysical interests -- but it was only after seeing them perform at Neumo's that the tie between the two seemingly disparate elements actually began to make sense. JETS create a whipped-up blend of DJ sensibilities for the complex listener -- but their adept copiloting of an atmosphere filled with entrancing sonic trickeries also makes them appealing for the complex dancer. Upon first taking the stage, JETS reminded me of futuresonic explorers in electronic hyperspace, and I nearly expected the mixer that both Machinedrum and Jimmy Edgar laid their hands upon to turn into a brightly-colored glowing orb. Well, it didn't, and the sci-fi sounds soon faded, but what they gave way to was a challenging set that remained in a constant state of transition. Beats shifted again and again at perfectly-timed yet completely unpredictable intervals, and even better were the moments where JETS dropped down low -- sometimes obviously and sometimes almost imperceptibly. While beats continued, repeating vocal samples would brew up from beneath, bubbling up through otherwise dense layers of sound, in the form of subtle mind suggestion cues telling you to "dance", or some variation of the same. Such is a subconscious trick that JETS have mastered, with effects that one might not even notice immediately. When I go to electronic shows, I sometimes get bored of my own dance moves because the music remains so static -- or conversely, because the music changes with such a jitter that it loses momentum or leads to abrupt transitions between dance styles. Not so with JETS... and this, coupled with the sly vocal mind-control mechanism previously described, may be the most successful aspects of their approach. They are seamlessly dynamic -- to a point where it almost hurts because it is so good, and you're so tired, but you just can't stop dancing. The way in which JETS can inspire a melting away of a crowd, leaving only the purity of sound -- made their set godamn transcendent -- and that is not an adjective I use lightly. - Vivian Hua

To be old and punk rock is to be old and potentially irrelevant, and that is, to a certain degree, why most punk bands have such a limited life cycle. How can anyone maintain the anger, aggression and emotional commitment to hold onto the values and morals deemed important as a teenager, without the world grinding it all down into a jaded package of disillusion? There is nothing that says that being in a punk band means you have to start when you are 20 and cease when you are 27, but to a certain degree, the writing is on the wall the moment you start. You may have been bellowing discontent to a crowd of 20-year-olds with your first vinyl, but after the third album is released, an older you will probably still be bellowing that discontent to a crowd of 20-year-olds. With that in mind, it is completely understandable why bands in the realm live and die so quickly, and those that stick around for decades are few and far between.
February 10th, 2012 @ Showbox at the Market, Seattle But Gainsville, Florida quartet Hot Water Music are one of the few between. Hot Water Music released Finding the Rhythms in 1995. After eight full-lengths, numerous EPs, and returning from an "indefinite hiatus", the torchbearers of the post-hardcore/emo wave of the mid-'90s are still going strong. For their tour in support of their latest release, Exister, HWM took out for support two very similar bands in different points in their career: La Dispute and The Menzingers. When reminiscing about Hot Water Music, most people bring up how they were their favorite band at one point or how no one else spoke closer to home lyrically, etc., etc. For many in the punk community, Hot Water Music proved that you can wear your heart on your sleeve and not sacrifice any points for it. This evening at the Showbox in Seattle, the legions of kids that sang along to their every word 15 years ago have aged and matured likewise, rounding their set out with one of the oldest median age punk crowds you'd see in a while. When "Wayfarer" rang out, the crowd cheered almost louder than the band sang. The mosh pit was active, but not in a stupidly vicious way, and there wasn't a single crowdsurfer until a teenager finally was able to get on the shoulders of someone else to make his mad dash for the barrier between the crowd and the stage. SEE ALSO: HOT WATER MUSIC - EXISTER ALBUM REVIEW LIVE SHOW REVIEW CONTINUED BELOW

 

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