The Andy Aupperlee Explosion 5000

Everyone I Know Is Listening to Crunk

by on Jun.23, 2008, under Capitol Hill, Music, Seattle

Dev Hynes of Lightspeed Champion.
Nikon D300. Nikon 50mm f/1.8 lens.
Aperture Priority. 1/30 sec @ f/1.8. ISO 1100.

Last Tuesday, Sharat and I ventured out to Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood to see Lightspeed Champion at Chop Suey. This was my first time at the Asian inspired club. Originally I became aware of this concert because The Explorers Club were supposed to be on the bill. The Explorers Club are band from Charleston, South Carolina that has been on my radar for a few years. Since they basically sound like Pet Sounds, I was very eager to hear them perform live. While checking MySpace at work (let’s say it was on my lunch break) I saw that the band posted a bulletin with some dire news.

So due to a collision with an unnaturally large deer, the Explorers Club missed their show in Seattle. Luckily, headliner Lightspeed Champion from England did not encounter a similar fate. Sharat saw them in New York recently and highly recommended their record to me. (Yes, Sharat used to live in Brooklyn and I used to live in Chicago. Between the two of us we can pretty much find a way to top your best story.) Although the Explorers Club absence was a disappointment, I had quickly become a fan of Lightspeed after downloading Falling Off the Lavender Bridge from iTunes the week before.

Lightspeed Champion at Chop Suey. June 17, 2008.
Nikon D300. Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens @ 11mm.
Program Exposure. 1/25 sec @ f/2.8. ISO 3200.

Lightspeed Champion opened with “Galaxy of the Lost.” The song begins with simple guitar chords and a duet between Dev and drummer Anna Prior. Violinist Mike Siddell gently weaves a melody into the polyphony before the band drops out and only Dev’s guitar can be heard gliding through a catchy riff. The moment the band came back in Lightspeed Champion had the attention of all 30 people in attendance. Unfortunately Lightspeed “they sold out the Bowery Ballroom when I lived in New York” Champion only attracted a handful of Seattleites to Chop Suey. Before the show began, Sharat expressed concern that they might just mail it in due to the size of the crowd. Fortunatley, Lightspeed Champion proved to be dedicated and enthusiastic musicians. Dev Hyne’s earnest and powerful performance belied any disappointment the band may have harbored. By the way, if you have not seen the video for “Galaxy of the Lost,” click the link and watch it. Very weird and highly entertaining.

Mike Siddell of Lightspeed Champion.
Nikon D300. Nikon 50mm f/1.8 lens.
Program Exposure. 1/30 sec @ f/1.8. ISO 1250.

After “Galaxy of the Lost” concluded, Dev addressed the crowd. He qualified his question by saying, “this might be severely offensive, but…” I immediately thought he was going to make a comment about the modest size of the crowd—how embarrassing for Seattle! Instead, he asked, in a British accent, if Seattle was indeed the place where Starbucks began. The crowd gave the typical Seattle-apathetic yesStarbuckswasbornhere response. I braced myself for an anti-corporate diatribe on the evils of the massive coffee retailer. Dev was actually delighted and asked where the first store is located. The crowd laughingly yelled “Pike’s Place.” He invited everyone to go down there the next day and get a cup of coffee with him while he worshiped the roots of his beloved SBUX. Who says Europeans don’t love America?!


Now I know what you’re thinking: How could Sharat be apart of the audience and stand next to me while simultaneously playing guitar, singing lead and conversing between songs in a convincing British accent? After a close examination and quickly glancing from Dev back to Sharat, I came to the following conclusion: Sharat and Dev are two different people. I’ll leave it up to you to determine who is who in the above photo, but trust me—those are two separate humans.

Nikon D300. Nikon 50mm f/1.8 lens.
Aperture Priority. 1/30 sec @ f/1.8. ISO 2000.

The above photo comes from the last song in the set, “Midnight Surprise.” The band began with their backs to the audience and playing the theme from Star Wars before launching into the multi-movement opus that is “Midnight Surprise.” Dev guided the four-piece ensemble through a wide range of dynamics and tempos.

Nikon D300. Nikon 50mm f/1.8 lens.
Aperture Priority. 1/20 sec @ f/1.8. ISO 3200.
At one point during “Midnight Surprise” Dev stepped behind the keyboard. The band actually shared instruments throughout the performance quite a bit, reminding me of an old The Andy Aupperlee Explosion 5000 practice session. We’d all play the instruments we brought for a little while. Eventually, I’d set down my guitar and get behind the drums or keyboard; drummer Andy Szumowski would pick up a guitar and Eric Lawrence would play just about anything (saxophone, drums, percussion, piano, etc…). Fongers always played bass though. I guess that’s what bass players do.

Anna Prior of Lightspeed Champion.
Nikon D300. Nikon 50mm f/1.8 lens.
Aperture Priority. 1/20 sec @ f/1.8. ISO 3200.

I particularly enjoyed Anna’s singing. She partnered with Dev on most the duets while still deftly handling the skins.

Nikon D300. Nikon 50mm f/1.8 lens.
Program Exposure. 1/30 sec @ f/1.8. ISO 800.

In addition to occasionally playing keyboard, I think Mike played every stringed instrument on the stage. His violin playing evoked the sound of a much larger orchestra.

Nikon D300. Nikon 50mm f/1.8 lens.
Aperture Priority. 1/30 sec @ f/1.8. ISO 1100.

Dev Hynes was born in Texas but grew up in England. I still think him and S. Reddy were separated at birth.

Nikon D300. Nikon 50mm f/1.8 lens.
Program Exposure. 1/30 sec @ f/1.8. ISO 500.

Before the set actually started the bass player dropped his instrument on the floor. It looked like it came unhooked from the strap and just plummeted to the ground. Everyone had a good laugh and after tuning it back up they were ready to go.

Nikon D300. Nikon 50mm f/1.8 lens.
Shutter Priority. 1/50 sec @ f/1.8. ISO 1600.

Even though only a sprinkling of Pacific Northwesterners were in attendance on this Tuesday night in Capitol Hill, Lightspeed Champion played an inspired set. Dev Hynes unleashed an emotional performance in between chatting with the audience about driving across the country on I-90 and watching Euro 2008. The rest of the band just seemed to have fun. If you cannot catch a live performance, I highly recommend their album, Falling Off the Lavender Bridge.

Here is Lightspeed Champion’s video for “Galaxy of the Lost.” Everyone loves videos with kitties/puppet monsters, right?

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1 comment for this entry:

  • Aaron

    He bro, nice pics. Dig the green/aqua lighting on Dev’s head and the full band shot with all the cords on the stage. Looks like they’re playing in a pit full of snakes. It might just be Seattle.

    A utility worker stopped me today while I was shooting some work going on by the high school. Wanted to know what I had heard about the D300. I wrote down your blog url and told him to check out what it can do at your site. maybe you’ll get some more SoCal traffic.

    later

    Aaron

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