Monolith Agency celebrates its first year with 2 days of music and 10 bands

Matt Sullivan

The Monolith Agency began a year ago as part publicist and part booking agent. In the past 12 months, the group has specialized in bringing a twangy, Americana strain of indie rock to Alaska, including artists like Tumbledown House, the Devil Whale, Quiet Life and Bonnie Whitmore, among others.

The agency was started by Evan Philips, Marc Bourdon and Martin Severin, musicians who have long been embedded in Anchorage's music scene.

"Evan and I kept running into each other, and we were both trying to figure out what our next step in music was," Bourdon said. The two decided to combine their experiences from booking and promoting their own bands (Philips plays in the Whipsaws; Bourdon plays in Turquoise Boy and Historian).

"As the months went on we realized we needed some help in the legal, accounting and business management aspect," Bourdon said. "We brought Marty in for that."

The agency is celebrating its first birthday with the inaugural Monolith Showcase. The two-night, 10-act bill at Tap Root features popular up-and-comers from around the state.

"We wanted to focus on some of Alaska's fresh sounds," said Bourdon. "Out of the 10 bands that are playing, five of them are new to the Anchorage scene."

Stylistically, folk songstresses Meg Mackey and Emma Hill -- who will be moving back to Alaska after living the past few years in Portland, Ore. -- sit on one side of the spectrum, while electro-popsters Charts Over Hearts and DJ Alex the Lion occupy the other.

In between stands the ragtag, front-porch folk of Fairbanks' Feeding Frenzy and gravel-voiced Anchorage troubadour Orion Donicht. Indie-pop rules the rest of the lineup.

Turquoise Boy and Lavoy close out tonight's bill. The former turned heads opening for St. Vincent at the Wendy Williams Auditorium earlier this year, while Lavoy was a big opening draw at a Bear Tooth First Tap last year with Cold War Kids.

The second night features even more recent newcomers. The Sweeteners formed only a few months ago, but the trio is comprised of old high school friends originally from Aberdeen, Wash. The legacy of that city's most famous former resident -- Nirvana's Kurt Cobain -- plays an obvious role in the Sweeteners' fuzzed-out rock, but the group melds that sound with blues licks of its own.

Also indebted to the '90s is Ghost Hands, with a guitar-centered attack that sometimes dabbles in shoegaze and sometimes stretches those into Smashing Pumpkins-loving anthems.

Tickets are $10 for each night or $15 for the both, available at Tap Root, or by calling 263-ARTS.

By Matt Sullivan
Anchorage Daily News