At the beginning of the year, it was announced that UK electronic wunderkind, James Blake would be embarking on a US tour and that it would include a stop performing at the Tractor Tavern in Seattle. Blake began releasing a handful 12″ singles and EPs over the last couple of years, and his patented blend of dub-step flavored minimalist soul jams became an instant hit with the UK tastemakers and radio DJs. At only 22 years old, his eponymous full-length debut found it’s UK release date on Feb. 7 of this year, while the young composer was preparing to set out on his first headlining tour in the states. Sure, he had been gaining somewhat of a buzz overseas and in particular circles among music nerds and publications like XLR8R, who tend to have their finger on the electronic pulse of the music industry, but, otherwise, the kid still seemed relatively unknown among the US masses. The Tractor Tavern show wasn’t scheduled until May 19th and, with tickets going on sale a full two months prior to the show date, I figured that it would be easy enough to grab a couple of $12 tickets without issue. Although I wasn’t concerned about them selling out immediately, I happened to be at home and online when the sale date hit and, recognizing that they’d become available just a couple of hours earlier, I figured that I might as well pick some up while it was fresh on my mind. They were sold out. Not only were they sold out, but there were already tickets being listed for $60. Amateur scalpers swooped everything up and, for the weeks up until the show, there were multiple Craigslist posts with people trying to figure out how to sell tickets that were essentially only available for Will-Call pick up. “I bought the 10 ticket limit and want to sell them for $45 a piece. The problem is that I would have to change the name on the list and you -a complete stranger- will have to trust me that I’ve done that. It’s a good deal if you have 10 friends that are willing to meet you out front, all at the exact same time. Then they’d only cost you 3 times the original price each. It’s a deal!“ Clearly, booking a venue with a capacity limited to 360 might have been an oversight, but something had definitely changed in that time frame between the album release and the ticket sale date just one month later. Some have suggested that it had to do with a stop showcasing his skills at the infamous SXSW music festival in Austin, TX.
Almost immediately after that first tour, an additional US tour was announced for later in the year, and this time it was in slightly larger venues. Blake’s stock has continued to rise greatly over the months since SXSW and has found him playing slots at high profile festivals like Glastonbury and the Pitchfork Music Festival. Now in the middle of that follow up US tour, James is working his way up the West Coast and will be landing in Seattle again in a few days from now (Sept. 24th), before knocking out one Canadian date and then heading out East. Last Friday (Sept. 16th) , Blake also returned to Austin to play the Austin City Limits Festival, one of only 1 million and six different music-centric festivals that the town now seems to throw each year. Those who would still like a chance to catch him live on the current US tour can peep out the dates at the bottom of this post. Fortunately, whether you are able to make it to one of the shows or not, and whether you were able to catch the ACL Fest performance or not, the entire set that he played at the festival had been streamed live and the stripped video is available to view below. “But it’s still not the same!” you might be thinking. To that I can’t argue, because you’d, more or less, be correct. There is, however, plenty of footage of some dipshit unnecessarily swinging a branch of bamboo right in the line of one of the camera shots and it keeps blocking the goddam view. See? It’s almost just like you’re really there in person. Read the rest of this entry →