Recap: Friday Night @ City Arts Festival

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Fox and the Law– Fox and the Law is one of the Seattle bands at least partially responsible for bringing back dirty garage rock to our fine city, so it totally made sense to see them playing in a basement- albeit the only basement in town boasting velvet marigold colored curtains. Prior to the band playing Barboza the venue was rather sparse, but thanks to the great word of mouth this band continues to get the place filled just as Guy, Peter, Patrick, and Dan took the stage.

Guitar player Peter Williams is a name you’re likely not familiar with, but familiarize yourself now as his will be a name you’ll be seeing in reviews of F&tL from here on out. As Ryan Granger is taking the time to focus primarily on The Grizzled Mighty, Williams will be taking the lead guitar role and making it his blues-inspired own. Friday’s show was only his second performance with the band and while he may have looked a tad nervous during the first few songs, by the end he had completely found his footing and looked at ease during his spot-on guitar solos. I’m looking forward to seeing him grow into his role, but while he does that front man/guitarist Guy Keltner can command the stage just fine. Guy’s simply a natural on stage, smirking through a snarl as he peeks through his long curly locks. He’s got the rockstar looks and moves down, with an interesting voice to match. These boys have yet to disappoint in a live setting and always keep me coming back for more.

Ravenna Woods, Photos by Amber Zbitnoff

Ravenna Woods– Looking around at a packed Crocodile, we were all anxiously awaiting hometown heroes Ravenna Woods and expecting the sort of performance that would leave us as breathless as the performers. Leaving the show, I noticed nothing but wide grins and wild eyes from audience members- at a rock show, this is the outcome you hope for and Ravenna Woods delivers time after time. The trio has recently expanded with Samuel Miller, and with his addition and new material like ‘The Jackals’ they debuted, I have a very good feeling about the upcoming album of the same name.

The performance was, in a word, perfect. I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever seen the band sound as good as they did coming from the Croc’s speakers. Playing material from their previous two albums Valley of Headless Men and Demons and Lakes, the band kept everyone on their toes dancing along with Chris Cunningham’s relentless vocals and insanely invigorating guitar playing. If you haven’t seen him play, it’s a sight to behold- he’s so quick and fluttering yet solid at the exact same time. It’s just captivating. As great as he is as a front man, take your eyes off of him for at least half a song and direct your attention to Brantley Duke on xylophone or the huge drum he likes to throw around and beat the hell out of. He has this controlled intensity about him, paired with this grin that is just contagious. His vocals coupled with Cunningham’s during songs like ‘We Want it All’ make their material what it is- powerful and urgent.

Speaking of powerful urgency, have you ever really listened to or heard what Matt Badger is doing to a drum kit during a Ravenna Woods song? I can’t lie here, this was my first time seeing the band where I couldn’t stop asking the poor people standing around me repeatedly “who the hell is this drummer?” What makes this band so impressive is that every member is as commanding of whatever he is doing as the guy next to him. Badger, Cunningham, Duke and newcomer on keys Miller create a masterpiece on stage during every song, pushing each other and the crowd to go harder, go faster, be more thoughtful, go deeper.

Closing the night they guys brought up Andrew Vait from local band Eternal Fair to reveal another new track from their upcoming record, Voices. All and all from start to finish, I think it’s quite possible this was my favorite performance of all 18 that I saw. Ravenna Woods is more than a local band, their strength lies in their ability to bring an audience to life. At first listen their music may seem dark and intended for our Seattle gloom, but this band makes the sort of music that brings people to life and animates the soul. I didn’t want this set to end, and can’t wait to see them on stage again.

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