what we watch
Joshua Lee, Writer (@theleejosh)
Almost a year ago to the day I ventured into Neptune Music Co. and found a DVD copy of “Where the Light Is: John Mayer Live in Los Angeles”, undoubtedly one of my favorite live albums, but an even more expansive and impressive album. film-concert.
Documenting John Mayer’s December 2007 performance at the Nokia Theatre, the show is divided into three acts: an acoustic set, a hard blues set (performing as the John Mayer Trio) and finally, a full pop-band set. rock.
I could go on at length about the music – it’s a two-hour album filled with all the guitar theatrics one would expect from Mayer. Instead, I’m going to focus on the video element of the film – it is, after all, “What We Watch”, not “What We Listen”.
“Where the Light Is” is set at an interesting time in Mayer’s career. Following the release of “Continuum” in 2006 and touring with the John Mayer Trio, Mayer was beginning to shed the soft-spoken singer-songwriter persona of the early 2000s that had shaped earlier hits like “Your Body Is in Wonderland”.
This more cavalier blues rock aesthetic shines through in the show. Older acoustic hits like “Why Georgia” and “Daughters” are eclipsed by explosive Jimi Hendrix covers, with all of the John Mayer Trio dressed in matching black suits. There are times when it seems Mayer is completely absorbed in the music, most notably in the performance of “Gravity” near the end of the film. In it, Mayer wraps up the song, then launches into a nearly four-minute outro solo that features “behind the nut” bends, insane tremolo picking, and beautiful volume swells.
The DVD might be a little hard to find these days, but “Where the Light Is” remains an incredible showcase of the raw guitar virtuosity of a young John Mayer. If you can’t get your hands on it, just find clips on YouTube. The aforementioned performance of “Gravity”, as well as this rendition of “Belief”, might be my favorite versions of these songs anywhere.
What we listen to
Miki Kusunose, copy editor (@miki_kusunose)
For the past two months, I’ve had my fair share of wasted time commuting by bus to downtown Seattle for work. To avoid back pain during the ensuing vehicular earthquake crossing the bumpy bridge to Mercer Island, I had one of my favorite tracks exploding in my earbuds: the Piano Concerto n ° 2 by Sergei Rachmaninoff.
If classical music has never touched you, don’t go overboard just yet. If you know what to listen to, anyone can enjoy Concerto No. 2 for the masterpiece it is: a musical odyssey as grand as it is melancholy — appropriate, since Rachmaninoff made his debut with this piece in 1901 after three years of depression, marking his triumphant return to composition.
The first of the three movements opens with the piano and its sinister series of linked chords, before giving way to the melody of the orchestra. And as the intensity increases, the pianist and the orchestra transmit the melody to each other in a game of symphonic tango.
The real genius of Rachmaninoff, however, lies in the melody itself. In the softer sections of the first and second movements, listen to how Rachmaninoff stretches the melody using the tension and release of repeated musical phrases, like rolling waves slowly pushing you out to sea.
The third movement is a shameless showcase of the pianist’s virtuosity. With slow passages that let the pianist frame the melodies as they see fit and frantic runs across the keyboard where the fingers reach supersonic speeds, the final movement lets the player flex their muscles while affirming that the piano is one rare instruments capable of going hand in hand. -toe with a full symphony orchestra.
Although I still have a lot to say, the best thing to do is listen to the concerto. For starters, I recommend Krystian Zimerman’s 2003 recording. If you find yourself amazed like me, be sure to mark January 26 on your calendar, because that’s when piano phenom Nobuyuki Tsujii will be coming to Seattle to perform the concerto with the Seattle Symphony. I know I will be there.
What we read
Natalie Roy, General Features Editor (@nataliedroy)
This is my first summer living in Seattle, and while I’m always thrilled to look out the window and see the city’s iconic skyline, I’m still adjusting to the summer heat. Living on the top floor of my apartment complex has been great until the past few weeks occasional 90 degree temperatures made it unlivable.
In a stroke of genius, my housemates and I have taken to hanging out in Odegaard during the peak temperatures of the day. The aggressively air-conditioned library with its fast Wi-Fi makes for a decent sanctuary from the scorching nightmare my apartment has become in, and with the proper snacks, it’s an easy place to spend most of your day.
After a few days of emailing and watching YouTube in the library, I got a little bored and decided to try something new. Browsing through the library staff picks, I came across a graphic novel that piqued my curiosity.
“The Sea Girl” by Molly Knox Ostertag is a queer coming-of-age story about a summertime romance between two girls. Protagonist Morgan Kwon is a 15-year-old lesbian struggling with her parents’ divorce and her sexuality in a small island town, dreaming of the day when she can walk away and truly be herself. When a girl named Keltie saves her from drowning one day, the two form an instant bond.
Keltie, Morgan soon learns, is a selkie – a Celtic and Norse mythological creature that can transform between human and seal. She and Morgan quickly fall in love with each other, which in turn complicates Morgan’s relationship with her family and friends. She struggles, as many teenagers do, to balance her identity and the potential ramifications of coming out in her community.
The novel is a great summer read, with a bittersweet ending that I still find myself pondering from time to time. This is the kind of book I wish I had when I was 15 and also struggling with my identity in a small town. I have no doubt that this book changes the lives of young gay readers for the better.
It’s also an incredibly short read – I finished it in almost an hour, sitting just a few feet away from the display of library staff picks. If Ostertag ever decides to do a sequel, I’ll definitely get my hands on a copy.
What we do
Samantha Ahlhorn, Writer (@samahlhorn)
In bustling Capitol Hill, between bars and rainbow crosswalks, is a local bookstore full of surprises. Elliott Bay Book Company has been in Seattle since 1973 and has become well known for its extensive collection, as well as free book and poetry readings.
The store hosts these readings in a cozy room in the basement three to five times a week, every week. Guests range from lesser-known local poets to celebrated novelists. Plus, many of the readings are also streamed on Zoom, so they can be accessible to everyone.
The first reading I attended was Vauhini Vara talking about his recent novel, “The Immortal King Rao”. The novel is a mix of science fiction and literary fiction, and commentary on the immigrant experience, as well as the relationship of human nature with technology.
The read, despite being around an hour and a half long, was engaging the entire time. Vara was interviewed by her husband about the meaning of the novel, the writing process, her childhood, and more. The audience was large enough not to feel awkward, but small enough to feel intimate.
After reading, I wandered around the bookstore and immediately found several books that I found interesting. Their collection is diverse and unique, containing many different authors and poets from many different genres.
Last time I went to Elliott Bay Book Company my roommate and I made a day out of it. We went to the Glossier store, which is, coincidentally, just across the street, then we had a coffee at Little Oddfellows, the little cafe in Elliott Bay. We walked around sipping our coffee.
If you’re looking for a relaxing day to stroll and shop in Seattle, or perhaps read a book before hitting the bars, add Elliott Bay Book Company to your list.
Contact writer Joshua Lee, copy editor Miki Kusunose, general sections editor Natalie Roy and writer Samantha Ahlhorn at [email protected]
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