Déjà vu couldn’t even describe how I felt last weekend when I went to see the Builders and the Butchers at the Tractor Tavern. The last time I saw a show there I seemed to have thought the Builders and the Butchers headlining, but I was wrong. Turned out that they were opening for Murder by Death. Stupid me. But this time I made sure that Builders and the Butchers were the headliners – and I was in luck – in more ways that one. Local folk math rockers Ravenna Woods and another local band – Yuni in Taxco opened for Builders and the Butchers on this night for the Noise for the Needy festival.
The Noise for the Needy festival is Seattle’s premier benefit festival, with proceeds this year benefiting Real Change, a “reader-supported social enterprise” for Seattle’s low-income and homeless population. For more information, visit http://www.noisefortheneedy.org/.
But back to the music. Both Yuni in Taxco and Ravenna Woods were some of the few local bands I’d never seen live, and I’d been dying to see. Yuni in Taxco didn’t disappoint with their easy, beachy pop rock, and I’ll definitely try and catch them at either Bumbershoot or the Capitol Hill Block Party this summer. Their set was full of energy, however, it was apparent that they hadn’t been playing together as long as other local bands. With such an intimate venue, eye contact goes a long way. But I’ll be keeping my eye on the horizon for them to break through in 2012.
While you’re waiting, you can download their whole album for free from their bandcamp at http://yuni.bandcamp.com/. I just did.
After Yuni in Taxco left the stage, Ravenna Woods began to set up their equipment, and I must say that it was interesting setup. The drum kit consisted of a tom-tom, a bass drunk turned on its side with an egg carton below it to buff the sound, and a tambourine duct-taped to the top of a cymbal stand. And since one of the rubber foot covers was missing from the drum stand, a duct tape wallet sat beneath one of the legs to keep them all even.
Ravenna Woods MacGyver’d the crap out of that drum kit.
But I don’t see how it could have worked any other way, because they were amazing life. On their new record Valley of the Headless Men, the dark mathy rock is complex with a punk attitude, and it’s that much better live. With just the three members of the band, you see how much sound it created from Chris Cunningham’s precise acoustic guitar, Brantley Duke’s perfect harmonies, and Matt Badger’s frantic beating of his one-of-a-kind drum kit.
I’m so in love with this band’s live show, that there’s no other way to express how great it is than to show you. I captured a quick video with my new camera of the song “Tides” here, so you can see for yourself.
At this point, I would have been happy going home, but I was here to finally see Builders and the Butchers headline a show in Seattle. After seeing them three times before, once in Portland and twice in Seattle, I knew exactly what I would be getting. But like a great movie, even after watching it several times over, you often find new things to enjoy about it, and that’s what the Builders and the Butchers do.
The band broke into a plethora of new songs off their fantastic third album Dead Reckoning, and then several older ones for the quite crowded room. I wouldn’t say it was as crowded as the Murder By Death show back in February, but that show included a lot more alcohol from what I gathered, so personal space wasn’t really on anyone’s mind at that show. This was a little bit more subdued, but by no means subdued in a larger scheme of things.
Builders and the Butchers didn’t miss a beat, not even when banjo/mandolin/guitar player Harvey Tumbleson’s mandolin went out. He just kept playing, shoving the hollow of the mandolin up to the microphone so the audience could hear.
Ten years ago, if you would have told me that I would be rocking out to a band armed with a banjo, mandolin, acoustic guitar, a bass, and two drum kits, I would have scoffed at you and gone back to listening to Good Charlotte (yes I listened to Good Charlotte, I was 12, forgive me). But seeing the Builders and the Butchers live for the fourth time made me see how amazing the indie music scene is these days, especially up here in the good ol’ Pacific Northwest. I couldn’t be more thankful that I get to do this in such an innovative time for music, and in my eyes, the Builders and the Butchers is one of the bands leading the way.
I did take some video of Builders and the Butchers, but they were so loud that the sound got blown out and you can barely hear anything. Just take my word for it – they’re an amazing band.