Music

The Physics

Taking you to school
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Last weekend, as I am wont to do during this time of year, I spent some time on the campus of Western Washington University watching the new and returning students move in. I do this because it is entertaining to watch all those half-excited, half-scared students start to get their bearings and settle into the place about which they have dreamed and where they will spend several years of their lives figuring out how to be fledgling adults: college.

I also do this because it serves to remind me of my own days as a college student, and because trying to view this part of the world through their wide eyes helps me to remember what Bellingham felt like when it was just a stop on my way somewhere else, before it simply became home.

When I first moved here, all those years ago, I knew I was coming to a place that had a rich music scene, one that was certainly helped by, but seemed to stand apart from the larger Seattle music scene to the south. Knowing that, and doing a big of figuring in which I considered that, as a college town, Bellingham has a significant population of underage kids, I naturally concluded that the all-ages music I sought (as an underage kid myself) would be, if not plentiful, at least in existence.

This was important to me because I grew up 20 minutes away from Seattle during the grunge explosion of the early ’90s—a musical movement that certainly changed my life, but one in which I could not fully partake due to my age and the strictures of Seattle’s draconian Teen Dance Ordinance.

But in Bellingham, things would be different. I would finally be able to see the live music my soul craved and, in doing so, I was pretty sure my life would be complete (keep in mind that I was still technically in my teens, so the completion of my life was a simpler undertaking than it is today).

Sadly, we all know how this story goes.

I quickly learned that, even when unfettered by city ordinance, all-ages music does not thrive here, for a variety of reasons both straightforward and confounding. Or, rather, the music itself thrives, but the venues in which it can be heard range from temporary and tentative to their current state of nearly nonexistent. It is still my fervent hope that, with time and effort, this sad state of affairs will be remedied.

In the meantime, if you happen to be a WWU student who loves music, it is likely that your only opportunities, at least in the near future, to find the live music you seek will come via WWU’s AS Pop Music and the Underground Coffeehouse. And, I’m happy to report that, thanks to some summertime effort on the part of AS Pop coordinators, Seattle hip-hop—in the form of the Physics, Grynch, and Fresh Espresso—will be coming right to your front door (or as close as the Viking Union Multipurpose Room is to your front door) at 8pm Sat., Sept. 28.

It goes without saying that Seattle hip-hop is having a huge moment right now, thanks in large part to the explosive success of Macklemore, but in no small part to artists such as the Physics, who embody the laid-back, everyman vibe of that city’s hip-hop sound. And while their growth has been more measured than that of some of Seattle’s other hip-hop luminaries—the trio of Thig Nat, Monk Wordsmith, and Justo has been making music together since 1998 but has released just three full-length albums (with a fourth to come in December)—their polish and professionalism, as well as the level of respect they’ve earned, is deep.

As well, the Physics aren’t exactly known for their relentless performing and touring schedule, preferring to play fewer shows of higher quality (the fact that they have the kind of real-life adult careers probably also serving to keep them from the stage). This has the effect of making any concert at which they perform more than just another show—it’s an event to remember.

It seems only fitting that a hip-hop group that doesn’t play nearly enough would schedule a show in a town that doesn’t have nearly enough all-ages music. If rarity drives up value, this show should have a ticket price that’s through the roof. But if you’re lucky enough to be a WWU student, this show won’t cost you a single penny. Some would refer to such entertainment as being “free,” but I prefer to think of it as “priceless.”

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