Live Report: Panabrite, Midday Veil and Master Musicians of Bukkake @ Chop Suey (7/18/13)

Posted by on July 24, 2013

The small bar/show space at Seattle’s Chop Suey played host to a trio of local artists, two of which were celebrating the release of their respective records. An eclectic lineup on paper, Midday Veil, Master Musicians of Bukkake, and Panabrite offered their own unique blends of experimental, ambient, and psychedelic music. The poster for the show, which featured Robert Beatty‘s artwork for the new Midday Veil record, The Current, was the catalyst for my interest in attending. As the show drew closer I checked out each artist to get a feel for what to expect, and it was only then that I realized that each act had home field advantage for the show. Members of the audience included musicians and fans I remember seeing at the recent Debacle Fest, which took place at a nearby venue. It was a testament to the camaraderie of the experimental music scene here, and the ensuing show included compelling performances from each group.

panabriteAs the crowd filed into the venue, Norm Chambers took to his array of synths and effects as Panabrite. On record, Panabrite’s sound, as far as I have heard, is mostly beat-free, but here he brought in prominent percussive elements, which gave his whirling ambience some extra muscle in a live setting. I’ve been a fan of his music since The Soft Terminal came out last year, and it was fun to see how he would reproduce those sounds in front of an audience. The set was brief, but the audience was appreciative, with one person shouting for more tunes.

Next up was Midday Veil, a project originally started between singer Emily Pothast and synth player David Golightly, which has expanded over the years to include Timm Mason (guitar), Jayson Kochan (bass), Sam Yoder (percussion), and Garrett Moore (drums). The set started with a few ominous, slow-burning numbers, but later locked into a rhythmic groove, upping the momentum and bringing their sound into full gear. When each element of the band (especially Golightly’s heavy analogue synth work) was playing at full force, Midday Veil proved themselves to be a strong live presence.

After a longer set break, Master Musicians of Bukkake closed out the night on an appropriately over-the-top, theatrical note. Supporting their new record, Far West, the band’s stage presence included face-covering robes, frequent use of a smoke machine, and the lead singer starting off the set wearing a deranged deer mask. It felt miles away from what the two previous sets had offered, but the epic, mysterious qualities of the songs were well-suited to this visual motif. The collective, headed by Randall Dunn (who has also worked with groups such as Boris, Secret Chiefs, and Sun City Girls),  performed a set of chaotic, primal sounds that felt like they originated in some faraway land — if only we all didn’t know they were based right here in Seattle. One thing that stuck out was that the costumes didn’t detract from the listening experience; rather, the wardrobe enhanced the dramatic impact of the music as each blast from the smoke machine made me feel engulfed in the band’s bizarre world. Going back outside after the show, I had to reorient myself to my surroundings, as Master Musicians of Bukkake effectively brought the audience into a strange, beautiful world with their music.

midday veil

Another surprise as I prepared for the show was learning that Randall Dunn produced Midday Veil’s new album, which is appropriate given his group’s leanings for the ominous, otherworldly sounds that Midday Veil also presented that night. All in all, this night was a really great showcase for great tunes coming out of Seattle’s experimental scene. These groups are all doing their thing, and when combined in a live setting, the audience was treated to a show that blended mellow ambience and intense theatrical bombast, all within the span of a few hours. The last I checked there were no future shows listed for either Midday Veil or Master Musicians of Bukkake, but hopefully they can each bring their powerful performances to fans outside of the Seattle area.