The Crocodile Presents:
5th Annual Big Ass Boombox Music Festival
Theoretics, The Fabulous Downey Brothers, Vibragun, Wall of Ears, X Suns, La Fonda, Weep Wave, Peyote Ugly, Perfect Families, Vox Mod, Cashing in Karma, Neat Beats, Von Wildenhaus, Close Encounter
2200 2nd Ave
Seattle, WA, 98121
This event is all ages
Theoretics has performed at large festivals throughout the Northwest, including Bumbershoot and the Photosynthesis electronic music festival, as well as packed shows at venues like the Showbox Market and the Crocodile. The band has been pushing to evolve its sound and incorporate new instruments and technologies into their music, as featured in their recent EP Plenty of Anything and continues to explore and evolve as they generate material for their upcoming second full-length album.
The Fabulous Downey Brothers
The Fabulous Downey Brothers are an award-winning 6-piece Seattle/Olympia, WA band known for high energy performances with a dash of theatrics and the bizarre. Drawing comparisons to Devo, The B-52's and The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, the only thing you can expect at a Fabulous Downey Brothers show is the unexpected. In addition to opening for The B-52's at Marymoor Park, they have previously played such venues as Chop Suey, High Dive, Blue Moon and the Crocodile and continue to play shows throughout the Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia area. The band may represent polar dynamics: Love and Hate, Darkness and Light, Happy and Pissed, Boring and Exciting - all expressed in the abstract. It's contradicting and humiliating.
Seattle's VibraGun mixes the hard-driving shimmer of early Swervedriver with hips and swagger that would make Marc Bolan proud, then slingshots the whole payload heavenward in a blast of cosmic rocketfire. Founded by husband/wife team Joel (vocals, guitar) and Amber Bergstrom (vocals, synth), the band is rounded out by Dusty Scott Ross (bass) and Preston Frazier (drums).Their 2014 eponymous full-length, engineered and produced by Evan Foster (Boss Martians, Dirty Sidewalks) is rife with massive riffing, narcotic lyrics and midnight-drive adrenaline in songs such as "Send Me to Dream," and was ranked by Huffington Post UK in their top 20 albums of the year for 2014. In the time since, they've toured the U.S. and Japan, licensed the album as an import through indie label Hands & Moment (Japan), opened for acts such as A Place to Bury Strangers, and played live on Seattle independent radio station KEXP. VibraGun's long-deserved release as a beautiful vinyl LP on Seattle's No-Count Records only cements the group's bright future.
Wall of Ears
WALL OF EARS is a Seattle-based psychedelic pop collective, centered around the ongoing musical vision of CW Lott. Wall of Ears performances are collaborative and immersive experiences, drawing upon collective improvisation, noise-baths, guitar freak-outs, and galactic synth hallucinations - all formulated into gooey pop bliss. Their second record HELLO BEAUTIFUL NOTHING is a "holographic roadmap toward pataphysical transcendence” (City Arts) and "vows to boldly go where no man has gone before" (Entropy Mag). Their sonic energy is both a reflection and a mantra on disintegrating the boundaries between ourselves and the hyper-complex world humming around us.
X Suns was formed in 2009 by Keith Furtado, Trent McIntyre, and Adam Tricoli. They started playing live at the start of 2010 (as Ten Suns). In Oct. of 2011, They recorded a 5 song E.P. with Justin Armstrong at Electrokitty Studios. Soon after they changed their name to "X" Suns (X as the roman numeral for ten). After self-releasing the E.P. on CD and Digital Download in January of 2012, the band decided to enlist the skills of Skippy Tim King (of the Seattle band Patrol) as their second guitar player to beef up their live sound. They continued as a four-piece until May of 2012, when Keith Furtado decided to part ways with the band. He was replaced by Richard Burkett in August. Currently they are working on new material for their next release.
La Fonda combines 60s surf with 90s alt-rock nostalgia, reverb-inflected guitars, driving basslines, catchy melodies and honest lyrics. The indie pop band is led by sisters Veronica and Valerie Topacio, their dreamy, harmonically rich vocals exploring the highs and lows of love, longing and loss.
La Fonda released their debut EP "Good Love" in 2017 and have since toured all over the United States. Their songwriting and surf rock inspired guitar riffs share the same pop-infused veins as Best Coast, Rilo Kiley, and Japanese Breakfast.
WEEP WAVE was formed in 2016 in Seattle, WA where the band quickly became known for their lo-fi recordings, flashy shows, DIY attitude and strange noises. WEEP WAVE is Dylan Fuentes (Guitar/Vocals), Colton Harold (Keyboards), Dylan Trujillo (Bass) and recently Van Wolf (Drums). WEEP WAVE recently got back from a 3 week west coast tour, opened up for PUP at Neumos and back in June played a show sponsored by KEXP and 107.7 The End opening for White Reaper and Ron Gallo at The Tractor Tavern.
Perfect Families are a Seattle Dream Pop/Indie Rock duo offering bittersweet, layered nuances and a driving, melodic pop sensibility.
Their full-length, self-titled album was recently released in August of 2015.
The band was created by two brothers Joel and Micah Smith in 2012. They also feature live musicians Raven Macdaniels, Tamir Rawlings and Joseph Oakes.
"Vox Mod is an electronic music project that is an exploratory quest for enlightenment through sound and ideas. It is both a solo project and a collaborative effort. Vox Mod is mind bending and expansive, metaphysical and ephemeral. It is meditative and playful, contemplative and frivolous."
-Brooklyn Benjestorf, Seattle Peach
Cashing in Karma
After 10 years spent deploying sonic barrages with saturnine heavy-riffers Federation X, tinnitus wasn’t the only voice in the back of Ben Wildenhaus’s head. “I had always listened to surf along with garage and punk and all the heavy and angular Olympia stuff,” he says. “But at the same time I was playing and listening to a lot of jazz—Bill Evans, Duke Ellington, Miles, especially electric Miles, and getting weird with experimental stuff.”
Languishing in the drowsy college town of Bellingham, WA, those other sounds started speaking in the back of his brain, too. Without Federation X touring or recording on a regular basis, he started playing in every other band in town. “I was playing two or three nights a week in Bellingham, and touring as a sideman. I started to get pretty tired of Americana, Townes and Graham Parsons, bluegrass beard rock, etc. I learned a lot about playing but missed the creating new music.”
So he and wife, Tawni, broke the notorious clutches of that town and landed in New York City. “I always felt an attraction to NYC. It’s the closest you can get to world travel without the need for deep pockets. I decided to focus on six-string guitar—in Fed X we used only the four heaviest strings—by playing as much as possible around Brooklyn and composing new music for a podcast called Instrumental Quaalude.” There wasn’t exactly a clamoring commercial demand for Wildenhaus’s new style at first, so he played where he could, whether he was expected or not:
“There was this small vegetarian restaurant/cafe down the street from our place called Phoebe’s that hosted random singer-songwriters. One day I asked the bartender if I could play during her shifts. I arrived every Wednesday and, instead of setting up in the front, I’d take a position in the dark back-area, among the boxes of wine and beers and napkins. I’d set my amp to a very low volume and mic it through the house stereo system. Then I’d improvise wallpaper jams for hours in exchange for a meal and booze.
"And I wrote a lot of material while improvising there. I also learned a lot about space in music there. When you’re performing in front of an attentive audience, there’s a lot of pressure to keep changing things, to move the music and your body, make things progress in some sort of visual way. In the shadows at Phoebe’s, I could let a simple melody or pattern settle into the space, get into all the corners.”
Great Melodies from Around (2011)
After gigging around, Wildenhaus ventured out of the shadows to start playing real shows. His first performance after stepping out of his wallpaper roll was at the Regina Rex inside a Takashi Horisaki’s latex sculpture with about 15 people sitting around him. “At that point I had the confidence in my playing and direction to lead an audience with my performance,” he says. “A character started to emerge on stage, an anxious Neil Hamburger type who’s aggressively demanding audience attention.” Offstage, his burgeoning zeal for composition and professionalism had crystalized, and he started taking work scoring film shorts and videos for Etsy, the occasional video game, a web series, NPR, and other non-profits.
Eventually, he cut Great Melodies from Around, which traipses hazily through Eastern-influenced melodies and rhythms, fireside pedal-steel languor, and just about everything in between. Using tape loops, voice, guitars, bass, drums, a sine-wave generator, pedal steel, lap steel, accordion, piano, and a Wurlitzer [organ], Wildenhaus traverses melody fragments and song sections that seem to drift in and out like wraiths, never staying long enough to grow tiresome. The result is at once meditative, transformative, and isolating. And with Melodies, Wildenhaus pinpointed what he calls his dream band—Jude Webre (Dimestore Dance Band) on bass, Anthony LaMarca (War on Drugs, Dean & Britta) on drums, and Denise Fillion (Iktus Piano & Percussion Duo) playing his Wurlitzer 200a. “We started playing Zebulon, a now defunct francophile bar in Williamsburg that had a great musician music scene going on,” he says. “Lots of global music, experimental sounds, local weirdos, and neighborhood celebrities.”
When James Anthony of Riot Bear Recording Co. heard a cassette copy of Melodies, he picked up the record, pressed vinyl, and had CD copies made. It met favorable reviews, and tours and SXSW followed. Wildenhaus also started collaborating with the House Plants outfit on video projects, including the 30-minute Orbothology, a self-described “trippy, stoner video projector/music nightmare.”
“We recorded II in the summer of 2012 as my family packed up to move to Seattle,” Wildenhaus says. “It took another year of being too poor and dealing with seasonal-affective disorder and homecoming shock before I was able to get the ball rolling again.” The idea of professionalism, which is “abundant in NYC and unheard of in the old NW DIY scene,” drove the creation of II, he says. “Great Melodies From Around was meant to sound like a pastiche of found sounds and various kinds of degraded-fidelity media. II is completely pro.”
Thus, some additional players on II: Vocalist Clara Kennedy is a Juilliard graduate, Scott Matthew is an internationally successful touring artist (and was also featured prominently in John Cameron Mitchell’s Shortbus), and Jeff Cook is a full-time Midtown Manhattan studio engineer who also runs a more affordable night-and-weekend studio from his Bushwick home for “friends and like-minded poor-asses.” The resulting II is a mirror record, meaning that side two is a mirror image of side one, physically, thematically, and melodically. The song breaks in the grooves on side one look identical to those on side two. Side one features the vocals of Kennedy on four of its five songs, and side two features the vocals of Matthew on four of its five songs.
Wildenhaus explains further:
“For example, the first song on side one is "Bad Lament I,” which is based on a three-note melody sung by Clara. Its flipside, “Bad Lament II” contains the same three-note melody now sung by Scott. “The Knife Thrower I” is the opening-credits theme song to an imagined ‘70s Italian western, and on side two, "The Knife Thrower II” could be considered the score to that imagined film’s tense finale.“
“Al Azif” features Kennedy and Wildenhaus’s solo guitars laying a pensive melody over a mesmeric sine wave loop. The name comes from H.P. Lovecraft’s “History of the Necronomicon.” In that book, Lovecraft uses the term “Al Azif,” an Arabic word he interpreted as “whistling wind” or “weird noise.” But Wildenhaus says: “My Arabic-fluent friends say it means something closer to ‘musician,’ or ‘instrument player,’ but I wanted the song to mimic what Lovecraft called ‘that nocturnal sound (made by insects) supposed to be the howling of demons.’ Side two’s counterpart of that song is “An Nur,” which translated from Arabic means “the light,” a Qu’ranic reference to the guiding light of Allah.”
The record employs themes of classic duality that exploit the dual-program format of the vinyl record—good versus evil, light versus dark, but as “a good little grad student” Wildenhaus says he couldn’t let duality go untarnished. “The melodies from side one slip into side two, and vice versa. Neither character [in side one’s Spanish-sung closing ballad, “Tú,” and side two’s English-sung closing ballad, “Two”] is good or evil—they’re both crazy.” The overall sound of II is crisp and deliberate. It plays out like a precise map without a note or tone in the wrong place.
In 2015, Wildenhaus is set to play live sets of the new material in New York City and Los Angeles, as well as throughout the Northwest. In culmination, Wildenhaus says of his recordings under the name Ben Von Wildenhaus: “Both Melodies and II are conceptual. Melodies is based on degraded audio fidelity, and II is based on pristine New York sensibility. Also, I moved to Seattle by the end of the II’s production. So if Melodies was how I imagined my ideal northwest, II is how I like to remember NYC.”
Seattle-based strange pop outfit Close Encounter wants to take you out of body. Through the hazed visions of it 3 core members, Close Encounter's latest debut ‘Lost Time' uses diverse textures to depict a wide range of moods, dealing with heartbreak, and the loneliness of modern communication. Close Encounter is made of Bill Darksoft, Bobby Sydney, and Cameron Lambert. When playing live, they perform as 4-piece with a bassist for hire.
Close Encounter assembled in 2016 and has since released First Light (2017) and Lost Time (2018). Their self-produced recordings have received airplay on KEXP, DKFM, and many other independent/college radio stations. They've played many Seattle venues including Neumos, Chop Suey, The Sunset, among others. They went on their first American Tour in March 2018, and will be performing in their first festivals in 2018. ‘Lost Time’ CDs are now available for purchase online via independent record label Look Up Records, as well as in all record stores in Seattle.
Poster by Morgan Bak