Sunday, July 05, 2009

This weekend, my bunkhouse mate, Stephanie and I went to Seattle. Stephanie hails from New Mexico and has never been to Seattle or anywhere else in the northwest, for that matter. I invite her to come along to Seattle to see Jason Webley's Elevanniversary show. She agreed, especially since her cousin was living on a military base near Seattle and was having a 4th of July/birthday BBQ. This was going to be my first Webley show in a few years. It seems like we have been dancing around each other all over the country and I was never in a town at the right moment to catch a show. Finally, the stars aligned and I was going to see JASON WEBLEY. In the end, while it wasn’t my all-time favorite Webley show, it was still good, a lot of fun, and I'm glad I went.

There was a huge will-call line outside of Townhall, the venue, when we arrived at 7:45. We didn't make it inside until 8:10pm. Apparently, we missed the first performers, Seattle’s Orkestar Zirkonium but they made a second appearence with Jason later. The show itself was divided roughly in half, with the first half devoted to Jason’s friends and collaborators doing short sets on their own, and Jason coming out for the second half. This ended up having some definite pros and cons: on tshohe plus side, we got some more exposure to the people Jason’s been working with over the past few years, all of whom had quite enjoyable sets; however that also meant that Jason himself had a somewhat abbreviated setlist. He didn't play nearly as many songs as he usually does and I didn't hear any of my favorite ballads. He did play a lot of the louder, more exciting, get-everyone-bouncing-around songs though!

The first guest performer up was Andru Bemis, who worked with Jason on the How Big is Tacoma EP, with three of his own songs. Jay Thompson (Eleven Saints) read a few poems. I am so sad that I don't have the Eleven Saints collaboration now. Reverend Peyton, who collaborated with Jason on Two Artichokes and a Bottle of Wine did a couple songs but spent most of his time tuning his guitar. Some of Jason’s goddesses did a silly Billy Joel “We Didn’t Start the Fire”-inspred pseudo-retrospective of Jason’s career, accompanied by only a big bass drum. I don't have Amanda Palmer's collaboration album, Evelyn Evelyn, either. And after her set, I am determined to find it somehow. I am also interested in finding her work with the Dresden Dolls and as a solo artist. After Amanda’s set, we were treated (after some slight technical issues) to a short, four-minute edit of video from Jason’s first public performance from eleven years ago, featuring songs from his first album, Viaje. It was fun to see — younger, shorter hair, a bit more unfinished, but definitely Jason.

Jason performed after the video with his Alex (Sprout) Guy, Jherek Bischoff, and Michael McQuilken. They did a few of Jason’s songs, one from each album including Forever, Once Again, and then he invited his guest performers up one-by-one to perform songs from their collaborative EPs. Before his collaborators started joining him, though, Jason invited onstage one of the first people to welcome Jason into the world of busking when he started all those years ago, Seattle legend Artis the Spoonman, who joined Jason for an incredible performance. After this, Jason and two others changed into white jumpsuits and sunglassed and did a short, bizarre, techno-Devo-ish piece that just seemed odd and out of place.

Next up came a short word about Sunday’s Camp Tomato, along with indoctrinating (or, for many of us, re-indoctrinating) us all into the Tomato Scouts, with both the Tomato Scout Oath and the Tomato Scout Song. Jason read a sweet short story about a boy with a dream of feathers, boats, balloons, tomatoes, and lots of friends, only to wake up to find that the dream was still ongoing. Alex, Jherek and Michael came back on stage and were joined by a string trio of two cellos and one violin. After a few songs, they were joined by the Orkestar Zirkonium and shortly afterwards, Jay Thompson came on for “Eleven Saints."

Many more balloons were launched, both big and small, people got up and danced in the aisles, and the marionette version of Jason from a few years back floated around the room underneath big red balloons. The audience was in a chaos of balloons and dancing and the stage was packed with people and instruments, creating the perfect atmosphere for the grand finale, “Music That Tears Itself Apart."

There was a giant tomato cake over in Freeway Park and Stephanie and I wandered for awhile with other fans to try and find it but were too tired to stay for long and so we headed to my friend's house for the night and slept soundly with visons of balloons and boats and tomatoes running through our dreams.


H. Case said...

Yay, Rachel! I'm glad it all worked out for your Seattle trip (Did you end up staying with Dan?). ;) I don't know much about Jason Webley, but it was interesting to read your observations.

ニットギブス said...

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!(need i say more)