CLOUDLESS – Mahogany Visit The Color Awesome In The Emerald City

It’s been said, “never meet your heroes.”  But what about “kill your idols?”  I obviously don’t believe in the latter, but meeting them, I highly recommend.  I’ve met just about every pop musician I ever have cared to.  I’ve had meals, stayed in hotels or flew on planes with the likes of R.E.M., New Order, Lloyd Cole, My Bloody Valentine, Boo Radleys, The Sundays – it keeps going.  I’m usually reserved when I meet new people, so it’s surprising how well I get on with my pop idols so easily; or maybe not so surprising because I was already friends with them by way of their talent.  Maybe because I know I’ll have limited time with them, I let down my guard and am just myself, which is basically a teenage girl.  You can see why I’d be embarrassed by it.  And maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, people seem to like me just fine that way.

This anomaly, if you will, was on full throttle when after months of planning, Mahogany stepped off the train from the Windy City, onto the brick streets of the Emerald City (Chicago/Seattle, for those not following along).  Within just a few hours, we felt immediately comfortable and mutually impressed by our shared interests.  Mahogany saw that my apartment (aka their accommodations for their time in town),  wasn’t a total dump – and that I was a pretty nice guy.  We spent the first afternoon of their visit talking about New Order, looking through records for their DJ gig the following night, eating Vietnamese Pho (a Seattle dietary staple), and gearing up for their performance that evening on Seattle’s  KEXP 90.3, which can be found here.

We bonded further after the session when the band suggested that maybe, perhaps, but upon listening, did not freeze up during their on-air opportunity at KEXP.  I imagine most bands who come out of that sweatbox and have to come up with answers to questions from the on-air host are a little flustered, especially not being able to hear a playback immediately.  It was like, “Thanks!  See you later!”  When they were able to take a breath outside of the performance space, the lovely and affable Morgen Schuler asked the band if they could pose for a few shots.  Those photos, probably the last thing any of the band wanted to do at the time, actually turned out pretty darn good, they can be found here.  I’d like to thank DJ El Toro for being the on-air host for their session as well!  After a couple of cocktails with our friend and festival mate, Erik Blood, we went back to my pad to listen to the broadcast of the performance.  It was great to sit and hear it, even sing along with the band, who were sitting on my couch!  That evening, we took in a little Seattle nightlife at the city’s newest club, Barboza, with a memorable, and emotional, set from Julia Holter; I think everyone who was in attendance that evening would HIGHLY recommend her, by the way.  After a poor dinner of street pizza, it was off to bed.  I can’t imagine they made it as long as they did after traveling for two days on the train to get here!

The next day was day one of CLOUDLESS, and a chance for the band to run through their set at Erik’s practice space.  It was one of those dream come true moments when they asked if I wanted to come along to hear the rehearsal.  I’m kicking myself now, but I wanted the time to be for them, and I wanted to be surprised the next night when they finally unveiled their set, which was filled with eleven songs, including old favorites and several new stunners.  Seeming not too offended that I declined to join in the practice session, I finished up some video I was working on for that night and making sure Adé and Glitterbang were properly sound checked at the venue.  Evening one was well attended and I think both Adé and Glitterbang made a few, new, unexpected fans!  I, my pal Jess and Mahogany’s Wesley Holmes DJ’d most of the evening, and Erik even got a few songs in after Glitterbang’s set.  We afterpartied at my place a little, but called it early enough that we could get some sleep.  The next day was Mahogany’s first ever West Coast performance, we needed our rest!

Day of show was finally here, and Paige came up to photograph the occasion.  Mahogany, Paige, our friend (and now Neon Sigh label master!) Chris Bendix, and I went out for a long walk which included a trip to the 73rd story of the Columbia Tower in downtown Seattle.  Who needs the Space Needle when you can go four or five times higher for half the price?  After a little relaxing at home which entailed swapping music and dissecting BROTHERHOOD by New Order, it was time to load in.  I won’t go into some of the last minute snafus which were thrown at me, but I would like it known that my “cool as a cucumber” veneer was a total front.  Maybe I can remain calm in a crisis; you know, not turn into a teenage girl…

That evening’s performances from USF (listen here.  No really, listen.  FREE = no brainer!), Erik Blood, and of course, Mahogany left everyone in attendance grinning stupidly from molar to molar.  It’s rare to have an event with so many different technical elements go as planned.  The “plan,” by the way was to bring lightness to those in attendance by creating a cloudless atmosphere, a few hours where joy, hope and music filled the room.  I was unable to socialize as much as I would have liked, but I did have time to stop for hugs, a shot of whisky, and some conversation; it seemed like everyone was having a great time.  I couldn’t have been happier.  I can say it now, because it has passed, but it was my birthday the week of the festival.  I wanted to keep it under wraps, but the performers felt compelled to mention it from the stage, so the secret was out; good thing none of them gave my age away!  It sounds pretentious, and maybe it is – I don’t care – I didn’t want our festival to be my birthday party.  Our wish was for the festival to be a gift to those who attended, especially those who backed us via Kickstarter.  I’m glad everyone had fun, and hopefully you’ll want to do it again next year!

A final thanks to our readers, Kickstarter backers, and all the performers for participating in the first ever CLOUDLESS festival.  By the way, Seattle was as cloudless as it could possibly be for mid-May and we were rain-free.  Maybe we can predict the weather at The Color Awesome, too!

Here are photos from Paige K. Parsons, and Brian O’Shea.  You’ll be able to match some of my words from above with the shots from the gallery!  Thanks to both of you for taking such great shots!  By the way, any of Paige’s shots are for purchase, if you are interested at Paige K. Parsons Photography.