Wednesday, September 14, 2022

King Youngblood

Down North

8 p.m.

$10 in advance, $10 day of show
Limited Seating, first come first serve.
Expect standing room.

21 and over

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King Youngblood

King Youngblood

King Youngblood is focused on reclaiming rock music, specifically black fronted rock packed with strong song writing, Afropunk attitude and an undeniable exhilarating live show. Alternative Press calls King Youngblood "Seattle's Alt Rock Princes" - they sure got that right. Twenty-three-year-old founder and front man Cameron Lavi-Jones, along with, drummer Alix Daniel, cellist Chet Peterson, and bassist Hamoon Milaninia have a singular mission: grab heavy guitar/drums rock by the collar and drag it into the willing arms of the fresh new generation of fans currently fueling the world-wide resurgence of rock music. The world agrees with affirming descriptions including AfroPunk Magazine in October 2021 declaring "King Youngblood's skill at transforming a small phrase into a massive hook is at this point unparalleled in the world of heavy music."

Their 2022 year is explosive with singles and videos releasing every 30-45 days including the banger - Thousand Songs with a music video that premiered on noncommercial Seattle radio station favorite KEXP 90.3 FM. Big Thank released March 13, 2022 with a resoundingly loud and rocking celebration at the Crocodile's Madam Lou room May 11, 2022 filled with industry folks and fans head banging with wild abandon.

Incessant touring, a comic book series called Afrothunda depicting King Youngblood as rockers and super heroes from "Planet Xenon," more music videos and unique merchandise all are part of the cavalcade of activity and stuff erupting from King Youngblood in the wake of their breakthrough album Big Thank. And more music is coming in the fall as this band is as prolific in the studio as they are undeniably super charged on stage.

Explains Lavi-Jones, "A Thousand Songs is an acknowledgment of how far we've come, an acknowledgment of where we know we are going, and much bigger than that, an invitation for folks to join us along the way, cause, you know, it's all about this journey right?" Next up for music videos from Big Thank is Cried In My Cadillac which ties into the band's nonprofit Hold Your Crown where Cameron is singing the song as if he is explaining his life to his therapist - and yes we used a real therapist because as Cameron tells it "My therapist is DOPE!"

2021 was a resounding year for fan and artist development for King Youngblood despite the setbacks due to the pandemic. Following the high six-figure streaming success of singles "Yakubian Antics" and "Too Late Too Soon", the band was asked to perform at the pre-game Seattle Seahawks show at Lumen Field on October 7th. "Performing for 68,000 fans is no joke. Playing for our favorite football team and the 12th Man fans felt amazing," says Lavi-Jones.

Already championed by the likes of multiplatinum producer Phillip Peterson (A$AP Rocky, Portugal the Man, Pink), and London Bridge studio owner, PNW Grammy President and producer Eric Lilavois (Ayron Jones, My Chemical Romance, Macklemore, Death Cab for Cutie) King Youngblood has been leading the rising Pacific Northwest pack long before pop's biggest names started embracing cathartic rock music. The band's unstoppable live shows have earned them opening slots for the likes of Pearl Jam, Naked Giants, and rock chart-topping Ayron Jones.

King Youngblood has also enjoyed great success with their single from the BIG THANK, "Home Is Only A House", which is "a hard-hitting musical cavalcade about real-time processing the self-truth that you should never have to convince someone to be in their life" according to Lavi-Jones. "This is my third music video collaboration with King Youngblood and directing their music videos just keeps getting better and better," says Afropunk artist and filmmaker Danny Denial. "For this one, Cameron and I were both in a similar headspace of rebuilding and the idea of pushing forward against the roadblock's life throws at you. It wasn't so much about the story as it was the spirit of building (and rebuilding) your passion and your life to survive and live for self-expression through your art. Especially now, rebuilding is a powerful and positive sentiment I think a lot of people need to hear." An early single from Big Thank - Too Late Too Soon has enjoyed nearly 400,000 streams on Spotify and is still building with support from Pirate Radio promotion and organic fan support.

Lavi-Jones is also a second-generation Black/Jewish activist whose father, activist, and producer Maurice Jones Jr., was a member of the Black Panther Party and is the Program Manager at the community radio station, KVRU FM servicing South Seattle (the city's most diverse district). Lavi-Jones spent the 2020 Covid-Pandemic summer writing songs and actively protesting within his Black Lives Matter community. He staged an epic teach in called This Ain't No Picnic on the steps of the Seattle Police Department's 12th precinct and memorialized it with "Yakubian Antics" (which scored best song and video of 2020 by Afropunk magazine while Home Is Only A House scored best song in 2021.)

Beyond social justice activism, King Youngblood is openly and deeply involved with youth mental health issues having formed their own non-profit Hold Your Crown, in partnership with the King County Washington Mental Health Court and Pacific Northwest's SMASH, working to break the stigma around youth mental illness. This is from the same band, who in the fall of November 2018 and again in 2020, received grants from the League of Women Voters to perform at over 80 high schools, registering over 3,200 new voters in 2018 and reaching over 100,000 young voters via online shows and promotions in 2020. King Youngblood will do it again in the next election cycle.

Through the music of King Youngblood, Lavi-Jones and his compatriots have boldly declared that unironic, melodic rock'n'roll continues to stand tall as a vibrant medium of cathartic self- expression. Simply put, King Youngblood crafts beautifully crisp, deeply soulful, and elegantly strong songs. More please.


Down North

Down North

There are some performers who come to music later in life. Then, there are folks who you can just tell were voracious students and consumers of music since before they could talk. Seattle / Los Angeles / North Carolina based quartet Down North fall squarely into the latter group. Trying to pin genre tags onto their unique brand of psych-infused punk soul is an exercise in futility. These creatives pick and choose just-right bits and flavors drawn from the whole of modern western music like painters with unlimited palates.

Front man Anthony Briscoe, bassist Brandon Storms, guitarist Nick Quiller, and drummer Conrad Real (who also plays with Ayron Jones and icons Digable Planets) were on a roll following the release of the No Retreat Volume 1 EP (2018). The record had been well received by the press, and extensive touring plans were in place. Then, the global pandemic brought everything to a screeching halt.

When other artists might have succumbed to despair, Down North strives to live their motto: No Retreat, No Return, No Surrender. "We tried to see it as an opportunity" explains Briscoe. "We've been known as a great live band. This time we really wanted to show that we could capture that magic in our recorded music."

Thematically, the record deals with the timeless subject of love. Though, in this case, the focus tends toward how often it just doesn't go that well. For anybody. Ever. "My sister was a great songwriter and helped a lot" says Briscoe. "That was before she passed, a victim of domestic violence. She wrote the song "If I", which is actually about domestic violence, but told from the man's perspective." The track hits as hard emotionally as it does sonically.

Working with rising producer Noah Althoff, the band tracked the record at Kaleidoscope Recording Studio in Lancaster, PA. "No offense to any of the Seattle studios, but we didn't want to have the same sound as everybody else here" explains Briscoe. "A lot of the rooms in Seattle sound very similar, especially when it comes to drums." In addition to the core band, the record feature performances by mountain soul keyboardist Tuck Ryan. "This record is something I'm proud of" says Quiller. "That's never happened before. Boosh."

The music that Down North has laid to tape on No Restraint Volume 2 is driving, crisply executed, and tight as all get out. It is funky - but it would be wrong to call it funk. Strong pop melodicism anchors searing punk energy. Brash technical virtuosity nods to Alternative rock. Funky gospel metal, maybe? Regardless of what you call it, this record exudes its creators fierce focus and determination. It is powerful, defiantly celebratory, and downright captivating. No Retreat, No Return, No Surrender indeed.



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