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Concert for Edmond Lapine

K Records artists come together to honor a lost friend

Tender Forever is just one of the unmissable acts playing at this Saturday’s benefit show. Photo credit: Julien Perez

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At its best, music possesses this uncanny ability to unite people. Whether it's in the unconscious desire to move, or in a coordinated effort to affect change, or in the riling up of people with designs on blowing off steam, music works its magic to imbue our bones with action. When it comes to tragedies, music is uniquely qualified to participate in the healing and rebuilding, which is why benefit shows like the one happening this Saturday at Obsidian are such a necessary part of the membrane of humanity: when our loved ones suffer, we step up to help ease the pain.

In December of last year, a fire tore through a warehouse in Oakland. That space, which had been utilized as a venue known as Ghost Ship, was destroyed, taking the lives of 36 people in the process. This was the deadliest fire in the history of Oakland, California, and the deadliest building fire in the U.S. since 2003. What was already a devastating event became even more heartbreaking due to the number of creative, vibrant people that were lost.

A number of benefit shows have since been held, with the most recent one happening this weekend in Olympia. This particular show is in honor of Edmond Lapine, an Evergreen State College graduate and a former intern for K Records. Lapine was 34 when he passed in that fire, and his passing is being commemorated with a show that will find proceeds going to a scholarship in his name. Appropriately, K Records will be providing a number of alumni to this show, packing it out with a murderer's row of bands and artists that rarely play around town these days, if at all.

If I were to advise anyone of anything, it would be to watch Tender Forever in a live setting. Tender Forever, AKA Mélanie Valera, is the Northwest's preeminent master of humanistic electro-pop. Her complex beats and compelling melodies are enough to recommend her, but her way of turning a concert into something of a performance art piece, complete with Powerpoint presentations and communing with the audience makes her an unmissable experience. Her performance at this show is a rare one in Olympia, these days, so it's worth getting excited.

One of the bands playing Saturday, essentially coming out of retirement, is the Maxines. The duo, consisting of Kelly Norman and Matt Murillo, was a beloved Olympia garage-rock staple that had an overflow of attitude and hooks, regularly creating two-minute numbers that draw you in before quickly moving along. It's a sign of how much Lapine made an impression on those in his life that the Maxines were so readily willing to get back in practice and perform again in his name.

It wouldn't really be a K Records event if Calvin Johnson weren't involved. The K Records figurehead and Olympia music iconoclast will be performing under his dance party moniker Selector Dub Narcotic. Johnson's trademark baritone deadpan mixes oddly well with more boisterous music, considering how he made his mark with the ultra lo-fi indie rock of Beat Happening. The show will be filled out by DJ sets by Dance!! Attack!!, Rap Class and Chet Cobra.

With a night so thoroughly full of life-affirming, silly, unapologetically awesome music, there will hopefully be a fair amount of money going toward Edmond Lapine's scholarship. Nothing can reverse the hurt caused by that awful fire in Oakland, but music has its duty to try. If ever there comes a time when music loses its capacity to place a salve on what's ailing us, I'd say that we've reached the end of what humanity's got to offer.

Edmond Lapine Benefit Show, w/ Tender Forever, the Maxines, Selector Dub Narcotic, Dance!! Attack!!, Rap Class, Chet Cobra, 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 19, all ages, cover TBA, Obsidian, 414 4th Ave. E., Olympia, 360.890.4425,

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