From the Sonics to Sun Hands

Making music at WWU


Let’s face it: finding things to do in a small town when you’re a college kid who either isn’t old enough or doesn’t want to hit the bars can be a little rough. There’s only so many movies you can watch, burritos you can eat, walks you can take and coffeehouses you can visit. Which is why, when big, back-to-back, music-related events take place on the campus of Western Washington University, it can be a godsend for otherwise entertainment-deprived students.

And, of course, we non-student types also desiring entertainment are free to benefit from this bounty as well.

The first event of this musical windfall is both dirt cheap and super-sporty. It’s called Sonics All Day, and is a rally to support the Seattle Sonics’ (or the Sacramento Kings, as they are currently known) potential return to Seattle to satiate the appetites of hoops-hungry but currently bereft fans.

Why does Bellingham, and Western Washington University, need a big Sonics rally? They don’t. Indeed, much like many others, I’m perplexed as to how this event came about and why it’s happening. But I learned long ago not to analyze these strange and random musical happenings too closely lest it impede my enjoyment of them.

The cornerstone of Sonics All Day is, of course, the basketball team, and Save Our Sonics founder Steven Pyeatt will be on hand to rally the assembled masses into a frenzy (rumor has it some kind of decision with regard to the team could be made public on Fri., April 27, which could potentially make for an interesting event indeed). Former Sonic superstar Shawn Kemp will also make an appearance, and if he doesn’t dunk over at least one person in the crowd, I will be mightily disappointed.

Of course, music is part of all this hoops-related hoopla, and it will come in the form of the Blue Scholars, who will play a set of their homegrown hip-hop in support of the Save Our Sonics effort. Best of all, the whole shebang is a mere $3 for students and $5 for general admission. I’m sure there was once a time when it was possible to see the Blue Scholars play an all-ages show for three bucks, but that time has come and gone—until Sonics All Day, that is.

But the music doesn’t stop when all signs of green-and-gold are eradicated from Carver Gym Saturday night. The next day, at the PAC Mainstage, California band Local Natives will take over. The band’s Bellingham show comes on the heels of their appearance at Coachella, and is sandwiched between two sold-out Seattle shows. In case you need me to translate the significance of those things, they mean this band is hot shit right now.

Part of the reason Local Natives have tapped into the zeitgeist of the current music listener is because they’re riding the same neo-folk wave of Mumford & Sons, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes (who they’ve toured with), etc. But instead of focusing on the more homespun elements of that genre, Local Natives have chosen to go in a direction that’s a little more mathy, a little afropoppy in a way that have seen them draw more comparisons to the likes of Arcade Fire and Vampire Weekend. Think more Grizzly Bear than the Lumineers, and you’ll pretty much be in the ballpark.

Regardless of the comparisons drawn of the buzz surrounding this band, the fact remains that after playing the sunset slot at Coachella, and one of the two aforementioned Seattle shows, Local Natives will no doubt be in a position to put on one helluva show by the time they hit Bellingham. Get ready to put your “Sun Hands” in the air, people.

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