Naked Giants | Saturday, February 18
It’s awfully hard to give a much better first impression than Naked Giants did with “Dead/Alien,” the opening track on their 2018 debut LP SLUFF. A flurry of dissonance eases you into what turns out to be a brashly infectious blend of surfy punk, strangely melodic noise, and the kind of unbridled enthusiasm that can’t be manufactured. When they burst on the scene, Naked Giants’ triumvirate of merrymakers – Grant Mullen, Gianni Aiello, Henry LaVallee – were yet another group of fresh-faced, high school grads, bringing their energy and ambition with them, in all its’ bottled-up glory. In 2023, Naked Giants have established themselves as one of the more surprising entrants in the Pacific Northwest’s crowded field of melodic indie punk.
2020’s The Shadow finds them flexing more of what they can do, like on the slinky, New Wave bounce of “Take A Chance”; the utterly unexpected, swooningly U2-esque “Turn Blue”; and the further exploration of psych-rock on the title track. Rock critics tend to use the word “mature” to describe a band’s growth and development, and unfortunately, it’s hard not to associate that word with a band becoming boring, staid, and safe. In the case of Naked Giants, their maturation has only made them more thrilling to hear – now that we know what they were able to toss off as teenagers, and we’ve heard what they can deliver as a diverse and anticipated follow-up, the sky’s the limit for just what Naked Giants are capable of.
More from Almanac
The Grand Cinema - The People’s Popcorn
There’s almost too many good things to say about the Grand Cinema in Tacoma. At its core function, it stands for art with a hyper focus on cinema in the best way. It’s a nonprofit, providing a pathway to pop culture while keeping its doors and programming open to local and international film enthusiast, supporters, directors, and film industry professionals. All of that speaks to and sticks to the heritage that began at the Grand Cinema, once the Grand Theatre, in 1997. Two years prior in 1995 the cinema was closed after being freshly built, but was saved and turned into a nonprofit by to Tacoman film enthusiasts. Since then it’s functioned well, and only continues to stay head of the curve culturally while doing its civic duty, provide entertainment and service, at a high-level.
Umi’s Corner Tacoma: ORCHESTRATING CHANGE
NW SINFONIETTAThe Northwest Sinfonietta is the premier chamber orchestra in the Puget Sound and has been blazed a trail that helps them lead the charge in a way most wouldn’t expect. It began in 1991 and has received international nods for not only high level performance but also unique community efforts to be inclusive. It’s a mission they continue to make their main focus, partnering with local arts community advocates and businesses to evolve their audience. It’s not a secret that the world of classical music is still very White and a lot of that has to do with enough exposure to the art form for it resonate not only with the ears but the feelings and cultures of other backgrounds, races and ethnicities. Traditionally the areas, venues, composers and even orchestra members are predominantly White, but that isn’t to say that people from other backgrounds haven’t contributed to the art form since it’s beginnings. But like many other arts their contributions have been hidden, forgotten or undocumented altogether. NW Sinfonietta is doing the work to rediscover, uncover and introduce works from composers and musicians of other races and places. The Artistic Partner model they adopted in 2015 is keeping a rotation of different ethnic backgrounds involved, at the selection of the NW Sinfonietta, and allowing more input for the musicians themselves. Karen Choo is a large part of why the connections are being made here in Tacoma for discovery and changing of the old guard. She helped to onboard Tacoma artist and arts advocate Neon Dion with the help of Spaceworks Tacoma. Their work together on the NW Sinfonietta’s premiere of Grammy nominated Black composer Carlos Simon’s Graffiti saw the Pantages theater lobby and seats filled by a very diverse and excited audience. That was a win in the right direction for the NW Sinfonietta and they plan to double down on their results. They recently began collaborative work with Tacoma Urban Performing Arts Center, T.U.P.A.C. is a Black lead ballet group. In addition, the NW Sinfonietta have been offering discount codes to their performances sometimes making tickets as low as $10, as well as, connecting with small businesses to do ticket giveaways. In Tacoma, the NW Sinfonietta wants to remove the invisible barrier to entry for spaces like the Rialto and Pantages Theater where many non-whites have felt as though the space is not for them and does not cater to their culture or community identity in any way. We recommend keeping your eye on their website for what’s next to come but if they keep making the right connections and pushing for change the chances are you won’t have to go looking for it anymore. Tickets for This Land f/ T.UP.A.C. May 20th & 21stnwsinfonietta.orginstagram253-383-5344
Make It To The Show: Gungor
Gungor | Wednesday, April 12The field of progressive and indie rock has long had a complicated relationship with spirituality. Pink Floyd, for instance, had a shared disdain of organized religion thanks to their experiences in the school system. The Flaming Lips found inspiration in the cosmic chaos and beauty of everything, reveled in Jesus imagery, and narrowed their religious focus a bit more on In a Priest Driven Ambulance. In the modern age, the most openly Christian artist accepted into the folds of alt-folk-rock royalty is Sufjan Stevens, who managed to bring in fans of all stripes thanks to his playfully inventive and plaintively emotional music.Gungor – a music collective led by the husband-and-wife team of Michael and Lisa Gungor – has its roots in the early music of Michael Gungor’s, which tended toward the contemporary Christian rock genre. As time went on, the duo’s interest in exploring different avenues of music seemed to intensify, as did their desire to explore spirituality of types. Now, around 10 years into this transformation, they’ve become a band that happily blends not only genres – including bedroom pop, indie folk, trip hop, swelling balladry, electronica, psychedelia, and more – but dogmas as well, always searching for that ineffable connection with the world, wherever that may be.For those who still might be nervous about seeing what they think of as a “christian rock” performance, consider that their latest album, Love Song to Life, features songs that recall early ‘00s Radiohead, Carrie and Lowell-era Sufjan Stevens, the gauzy indie disco-pop of the 2010s, and Arcade Fire at their most bombastic. Regardless of where you sit on the spectrum of belief, there is something that will find you connected to Gungor, which what we hope to experience from both concerts and those little interactions we have everyday with one another.
Outpost Sandwiches - Secret Sandwich Society
I have always said that Tacoma is a sandwich town but when the owners of the outpost, originally Outpost Kitchen now Outpost Sandwiches, first moved to downtown Tacoma they were right options for a unprocessed sandwich were dismal and unexciting. Tacoma is fortunate they decided to do something about it. Since their opening Outpost continues to grow as a staple in the downtown Tacoma lunch service. It was interesting to see the growth in real time. It felt as though it was all word-of-mouth. Someone would leave the office on a lunch adventure and return to the office with a sandwich sleeved in parchment paper and I’m sure the questions arose. “Oh, that’s smells good, oh where did you find that? Oh, how much was it? Oh, how long have they been around?” Eventually, the questions stopped and the praise began, local clothier and community business eTc Tacoma has collaborated with their downtown neighbor Outpost in the past as well. Outpost has also done community outreach and given back through portions of proceeds going to feeding kids for the Summer via specialty lunch meals, put together for Daz Deal community programming another downtown activation. The owners are a handsome couple and one treat of the experience is seeing how in unison they are preparing lunch orders, call-in orders and moving seamlessly together. The food is so good they’ve even had IG accounts start their content rollout with just their sandwich offering. There’s a lot of reasons to love this business if you can find it.