2014 was a helluva banner year for Debacle/MOTOR: Dreamweapon was a fucking force in the bunker-like confines of Kremwerk, our new home base for our parties here in Seattle. We took a trip down to Portland to hang with our MOTOR core there. Powell flew all the way over from the UK to demonstrate his selecting prowess, and hello--Container! We also had our dreams come true, hosting none other than Wolf Eyes for one our biggest crowds yet. Speaking about big crowds: Debacle Fest blew our minds with not only practically all the weirdos of the NW coming out of the woodwork to rock on some of the finest shit we could book, but it was just set after set of the best sets we've seen from those artists. Anyway, enough self-congratulation, this list is for the top stuff I witnessed over the past year, and while I could pat myself on the back all day for the great year we had, many others are also making cool shit happen:
Swans (Showbox Market, September 14th)
Do I really need to say anything more? I'm sure you can surmise why they'd be at the top of my list, so let's just keep in mind: Michael Gira is 60 years old and continues to be more enthralling than people half his age, and I doubt a tighter band exists. They also played for practically a week straight yet no one left halfway thru and there was zero banter or breaks.
Neutral Milk Hotel (Neptune Theater, April 4th)
This show sold out within three minutes, and not just because it's novel they came out of hiding. Like Swans, the band was extremely tight, there was very little bullshit banter to fill up space (as expected with as bashful a frontman as Jeff Mangum is) and they rocked out for hours. No hitches, all hits.
Diane Cluck (Gallery 1412, March 6th)
What a dream. Pretty sure I died and went to heaven. I'll just put this here:
Vanessa Skantze, "Radiant Poison" (Teatro de la Psychomachia, October 11th)
Wow. A one-woman butoh performance (though scored by a band) boasting as much weight and emotion as a full production, using little more than expressive movements, powder, and dramatic lighting. This piece had me on the edge of my seat the whole time as it evoked pretty much the entirety of the human condition in a succinct vignette. This one had me feeling like I was watching a thriller. It's not surprising to learn Vanessa has been host to many a workshop teaching this piece to others.
White Gourd (Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, March 14th)
Dressed up like The Devil, and with a large backdrop of the tarot card looming above her, White Gourd gave one of the most mesmerizing performances this year. Many have done, and will continue probably forever, the whole solo performance helped by a chain of loop pedals thing, but dude! This had gongs! And chanting about how "the devil made me do it!" And just when it got real freaky, she made it rain on the audience with fake money bearing anti-capitalist messaging. Hell yeah.
Thunder Grey Pilgrim (private party, September 20th)
Okay, this one is cheating a bit because it was a private backyard autumn equinox party, but those can have some of the best intimate performances. This one was extra special, as the "chamber doom" trio treated us to a set around a bonfire that was so on-target I don't think anyone watching breathed the whole time.
Disemballerina & Kvndry Sings (Gallery 1412, August 17th)
On the topic of chamber doom, get yourself to the nearest site sharing Disemballerina's music and listen NOW! So beautiful, it's no wonder there's a good swirl of press around this band. Also touring with them was Kvndry Sings. Are you a fan of Antony Hegarty's? Well, look up this Oakland fellow whose voice bears a striking resemblance to the singer's heavenly falsetto, but does it dressed like a hellish metal head (complete with painted on forehead upside cross and mirrored upside down cross earrings.)
Lori Goldston and Julie Baldridge (Hothouse Spa, March 11th)
Another unconventional show to make the list--hey maybe there's something to shaking up the program with a different setting? But how does a heady duo of unplugged cello and violin floating through the air as you soak naked in a hot tub and sauna with only 19 other lucky attendees at an RSVP-only evening sound? Yeah, that's what I thought. Amazing.
Li'l Debbie (Crocodile, April 20th)
Alright, alright, alright. Why is she on this list? Though my phase with her lasted all of about the month surrounding this show, I'll tell you why: girl plays a CHARACTER and plays it well. I mean, it's debatable if she knows she's still a parody or has let her minor amount of fame get to her head now, but the show was entertaining as hell. And it was on "420!" People were throwing blunts AT her, pinging her in the face while she rapped about being able to "bake" a cake and just being ridiculous. Here's a blurry photo of me rocking out to her.
Fever Witch & Knifecream (Cairo, March 8th)
Two extremely tight sets from two very talented buds; Fever Witch being from Oakland and Knifecream being our Debacle bud Mitch.
Notables and people/events you should try to catch in 2015:
Mynameisann!, Briana Marela, Funky Photos, The Gods Themselves, Exploding Daydream, Interracial Sex, Noise Yoga, Pent-Up Fest, Wind Burial, and Slates.
-Rachel Leblanc, Event Coordinator