Rocky Votolato, Palodine – Seattle Center’s Mural Amphitheatre Free Concert on the Lawn by KEXP something or other

Free show!  Yes!

I think the last free show I saw at the Mural Amphitheatre was Seaweed and some other band i can’t even remember the name of. In the 90’s. That’s how old I am.

Tonight’s show was pretty glorious. The sun just setting behind the trees placed the lawn in the shade but kept the outdoor stage well lit. The crowd was mostly all-ages, it appeared, as the beer garden was sparsely attended. The sickly sweet smell of cotton candy, or perhaps orange julius, or maybe just the perpetual assortment of state fair food that resides in the seattle center “center house” and the “fun forest”, wafted past our unwilling nostrils as we all sat on the lawn and listened to the bands. It was a wonderful evening to cap off a few days of relaxing and avoiding the heat up at the lake.

Palodine
I arrived a song or two into the first band’s set. Late as usual. Palodine is a two-piece band, guitar and drums. But not the indie-rock two piece like the white stripes or a pop two piece like mates of state, Palodine is a grunge-ish two-piece. I know that grunge contains this negative connotation, but get over it. It’s what they are. And Mudhoney just played a while back so you shouldn’t feel bad about admitting that you liked grunge back in the day and can still kind of understand why you did. At any rate, their sound is quite dark. The guitarist guy does well at filling up the available space with lots of effects pedals and what not. The singer/drummer plays a floor tom, snare and crash cymbal with mallets, sticks and brushes for various effects and does so while standing up. Her voice is very mid-90’s female rocker a la Tori Amos + Carrie Akre, etc. In all the package is interesting and works pretty well. If it was 1993, they would be blowing up and a major label would be jetting them around the world.

Speaking of interesting, I’m glad somebody invited “Dave” to the show. He was rocking totally and completely out. Jumping up and down, falling down, making the rock symbol, playing air guitar, motioning us all up towards the stage, attempting to sing along, pointing at random people in the crowd and generally enjoying himself. Sometimes I wish I was mentally unstable enough to rock out like that at all the wrong times when absolutely no one else is even thinking about it.

I also appreciated DJ Shannon during the break between bands.  She was playing some songs on two CD turntables and she was also rocking out a bit.  Singing along with the last song (to herself, thinking we didn’t notice) was quite precious.  Plus, she’s kind of a cutie.

Rocky Votolato
It sounded like Mr. Votolato’s voice has mostly healed from tour. It still faded out near the end and he was having troubles blasting out the highest notes (so modified the melodies to be lower in his range), but for the first few songs it seemed like all was well. This set contained more new songs than his Neumo’s set, but that was okay, since there were very few people singing along anyways. Just me and some indie high schooler, plus a smattering of other folks on a few songs (like “the light and the sound”). I hate sitting down during shows, but I wasn’t brave enough to stand in the middle of the crowd at the amphitheatre. Sorry, Mr. Votolato. The amphitheatre made Rocky seem small against the colored stone mural from 1962. But a guitar and a classic vocal sound is all it takes to fill me with awe verging on fanaticism. And singing along from the grass is really no different than singing from a crowd, except everyone else is much less participatory. I wish he would have encouraged us to sing along like he did at Neumo’s. I feel like all these people are missing something even more wonderful by just sitting there and watching. To each their own, I guess. Mr. Votolato was also more talkative during this set, explaining a couple songs. While some people don’t like all the talking, I’m very appreciative of it, because it shows how much passion he has for these songs when he can’t find the right words to describe them and just gives up and plays them instead. Like he remembered that he said all he needed to in the song. In all it was a pretty great set, though I liked the one at Neumo’s better. He still ended with possibly my favorite Votolato song (of the solo stuff, never mind the Waxwing stuff), “suicide medicine.” And as I was hanging out for an hour or so chatting with Maya and her friend Mike (I think), Rocky was there with his wife and talking to all the people that came out. I think he made a lot of new fans that day, so I’m happy for him and happy that he’s a good person. I’ll continue to go to the shows as long as he’s able to sing.

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