Author Archives: don

Tacocat, Slutever, (Pony Time) – Chop Suey

Man, I haven’t been to a show in a long time. I haven’t reviewed a show in an even longer time. I’m letting this oldness get the best of me, I guess. Well, I’ll try harder. Maybe.

Pony Time is a two-piece that is fun and stuff. Okay, I missed them because we were lazy getting out of the house. Oldness.

Slutever is another two-piece. This band apparently moved here from Philadelphia and I was real stoked to see what was happening in that punk hotspot. They seem to have a good message, and, given my background in punk, I should really like them. However, the out of tune vocals, sloppy drumming, and one not-particularly-well-played guitar wasn’t really doing it for me last night. There were a section of folks up front that were stoked and Tacocat said Slutever was one of their favorite bands, so they have some sway with the youth of today I guess. This old fart will just go listen to some Bikini Kill or Spitboy something.

Man, I was just thinking that I could do my little part to smash the patriarchy by describing bands full of dudes as dude bands to balance out how many times I mention a lady band is fully of ladies. Sorry, I digress. By the way, these are all lady bands, pretty much.

Tacocat was having their record release party last night. They threw a bunch of candy out and smashed two piñatas. They ended the night by inviting every woman on stage who was experiencing their lady time to dance along and celebrate their lady-ness. The crowd on the dance floor was particularly lovey-dovey, even for Valentine’s Day. Yet, at the back, the old folks were standing around and started trickling out early so they could open the store in the morning. Look, I wasn’t dancing, but I wasn’t unimpressed enough to leave early. Tacocat have a lot of fun with their 60’s pop boom-chk-chk-boom-chk drum beats, solid melodies and tambourine. Recordings remind me a bit of Kamala and The Karnivores or a number of other early 90’s Lookout Records pop-punk bands (dare I say it? The Donnas? [NOOOOO!]), but last night’s show was definitely more polished than the sound I remember. The vocals were solid,  the band itself was pretty tight, and it was easy to feel the love in the room and have fun. If you’re not a thousand-year old grump like me. Anyways, I’m glad I got off the couch to check out some new bands for once. I’m sure I’ll see Tacocat again in the future.

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Lake Serene 1/2/14

I offered my sister three choices of hikes, so it’s not my fault. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.

Her options were Wallace Falls (5.5 miles, 1200 feet up), Lake Serene (7.2 miles, 2000 feet) or Beckler Peak (7.4 miles, 2263 feet). I described these as “Easy,” “Medium” and “A Challenge.” I guess I should have said “I don’t know,” “Really hard,” and “Probably too snowy.” When I hiked to Lake Serene in April last year, it didn’t seem too bad…

I'm not sure about this.

As you can see from my sister’s face, she was not too certain about her life choices after about an hour of hiking. Nonetheless, we opted to skip the Bridal Veil Falls spur and go for the lake. Up, up, and up we climbed. We started with pleasant conversation and slightly damp weather, but by the top it was colder and quieter. We took a leisurely pace and plenty of rests, but the climb is a brutal one for the inexperienced and tough for experienced hikers, as my calf muscles are reminding me today.

Damn you stairs!!!

To be honest, it’s really these damn stairs that are the problem. I understand they’re there to prevent erosion, but they are clearly made for giants and us short people are forced to take huge steps up where smaller steps would probably be just as excellent. Nonetheless, we weren’t raised to be quitters so we climbed all the damn stairs despite the strain of every leg muscle and made it to the lake in a little over four hours. The first log we saw provided respite for our weary legs and I unpacked the PB&J’s and oranges and we drank in the spoils of our stubbornness.

This is not in black and white

 

As with every hike, what goes up must come down. Light was of a premium, so we agreed to hurry a bit on the way down. That was an agreement that didn’t really pan out as we were still pretty beat from the ascent. So, as the kids who passed us on the way up also passed us on the way down, we made our way carefully down the ice at the top and the giant stairs the rest of the way. The last mile or so of our adventure was completed in the dwindling twilight and the sight of my sister’s monster truck and the promise of a sturdy heater was a welcome shadow, indeed. In the hopes that she’d hike with me again, I bought her some pizza. I doubt that will be enough, but at least she can say she’s been to Lake Serene in the winter, when it is most beautiful!

More Pictures

GPS Track

Waxwing, Nazca Lines – The Vera Project

Waxwing has always been a bit of a legend to me. I was away for college during their formative years and somehow missed buying any records or seeing them live for a long time. I guess I just had bad luck. While on a roadtrip in 2000, I remember sitting in a Minneapolis restaurant looking for something to do for the evening. As my girlfriend and I looked through the paper, we ran across their name and I said “I think I’ve heard of them.” However, instead of attending the show, we decided to walk around the city and explore, instead. Quite likely the wrong choice. I didn’t see the band until their “final” show at the Redmond Fire House in 2005. I didn’t buy any records until well after that. However, when I heard the band was reuniting, I bought tickets immediately and started counting down the days.

As the day approached, I found myself searching for someone, anyone, to take my extra ticket. My housemate also bought four tickets and ended up having some strangers use the other three. I was worried that no one remembered this band and the Vera Project show would be just a handful of 30-ish year olds being nostalgic together. Judging by the stage banter, the band was slightly worried about this as well (or just being modest). Our shared fears went unrealized as the room filled up for the headliners. Though there wasn’t as much singing along as I’d imagined, the old folks had a good time.

Waxwing sounded tight, accurate, and enthusiastic. In my relatively short experience with them, I place them as a sort of NW Hot Water Music. That emotional post-hardcore/emo edge is more melodic up here, undoubtedly inspired by emo pioneers Sunny Day Real Estate. Waxwing’s sound is characterized by dramatic dynamic changes and heartfelt lyrics on the edge vocal capabilities. Though I stayed up front, out of the range of the main PA, the band sounded great. They are all talented musicians, of course, who have continued to play in other projects after the end of Waxwing. They’ve honed their skills and really nailed it last night.

It’s no secret I’ve been a fan of Rocky Votolato’s work. It probably helps that Rocky is about a month younger than I am. I admire his idealism and his honesty. I shy away from the sort of X-tian overtones, of course, but the message in his songs are usually ones I can identify with. Waxwing songs have that same inspiration. That feeling of meaning, like the songs speak about your own experiences instead of the experiences of the songwriter. Phrases like “It seems each new day has a job to do, to take its days worth of pain out of me and you” or “All of my prophets are singers of sad songs” make you feel like life is more of a shared joy than a solitary march through time. These sad songs give guys like me some hope, I suppose.

In recent years, my own disillusionment with the music that is being produced has grown. It seems that honesty, idealism, and songs from the heart are on the decline. Yet last night at the Vera Project, an old band brought out the old crowd and showed us that this thing we love will only die if we let it. And now that Waxwing is back together, we just might be able to show the world that music still matters. I’m looking forward to the continuation of the legend.

Singing along with the people singing along.
Motion.
Waxwing
Waxwing setlist
Nazca Lines

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The Bouncing Souls, The Menzingers, Luther, The Hollowpoints – Chop Suey

Forget about
The things I said
I make no
Excuse for them
I want to start again
I want to start again

I’m old. I hate the Capitol Hill Block Party because all the bands suck with their stupid 80’s fashions and face paint. I try to keep an open mind, but popular music these days just seems so 80’s and I pretty much hate the 80’s. I like punk, with it’s raw emotion and raucous sing alongs. More often than not, it says what I’m thinking. Instead of “let’s go hang out on the beach and smoke pot” it says “man, this is screwed up, let’s do something about it.”

At any rate, I missed The Hollowpoints. I saw Luther, but was kind of bored. Not because they were bad, but because they also seemed a little bored. The drummer didn’t do anything exciting and everything was a little too compressed. They seem like nice guys and I just read somewhere that their hometown of Philadelphia is the next new hot spot for good music, so I’m sure they’ll do alright for themselves.

A few kids up front were stoked on The Menzingers. These dudes are from Philly as well and were more exciting. They have a little of that Gaslight Anthem, Broadways, orgcore sound (gruff vocals and driving anthems) and I was surprised to see people get real stoked on it. People were requesting songs and everything. I mean, I love that stuff, but I didn’t think anyone else did.

This blog post is turning out pretty terrible. I was hoping to re-inspire myself to become a good reviewer and have some sort of post-teaching fallback to fall back on, but this isn’t like riding a bicycle, apparently. Particularly since I never could ride this metaphoric bicycle all that well. But I used to enjoy it, why did I stop?

In 1996, I saw The Bouncing Souls in Santa Cruz, California in a former restaurant or house or something called The Red Room. Because it was red. I was impressed by the singer’s characteristic laid back style and bought every record up to “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” and loved every one of them. Early records were somewhat silly, positive punk songs and they matured into big, hopeful, sing along anthems on Summer Vacation. As a 35 year old has been who never was, I was ready to leave this show feeling 19 again.

I spent the set in and around the pit. I figured most of the amateurs would be down the street at the CHBP and was mostly right about that. We couldn’t manage a good circle pit and no one could stage dive worth a damn, but everyone picked each other up and held shoes in the air like pros. I went in positive and stayed positive for the whole set. I pointed in the air and sang along and smiled a little bit. I think one guy even gave me a little bro side hug. I used to love this kind of thing, why did I stop?

Throughout the set, The Souls were doing what they do. The last time I saw them, it was pretty much the same. They have fun up there and make sure everyone else does too. I heard most of the songs I wanted to, got a taste of the new records, and got super sweaty. Even as an old guy, I wasn’t let down. And that shows some hope for the future, right?

We live our life in our own way,
Never really listened to what they say,
The kind of faith that doesn’t fade away
We are the true believers
We are the true believers

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2012 Adventure: Mountain Climbing

I’ve decided to climb that mountain that haunts me every morning on my way to work. I’ve been up it a ways before, but let’s just go up to the top this year, shall we?

Here’s my mountain climbing training plan. It’s pretty ambitious.

2/18: rattlesnake ledge, 1160 feet, 4 miles, 580 ft/mi up
2/24: pony bridge, 900 feet, 5 miles, 360 ft/mi up
3/31: Tiger Mountain Trail North, 1100 feet, 5 miles, 440 ft/mi up
4/7: alger alp, 1000 feet, 4 miles, 500 ft/mi up
4/13: poo poo point, 1650 feet, 7.4 miles, 445 ft/mi up
4/21: Mt. Washington, 1600 ft, 4 miles, 800 ft/mi up
4/28: Pyramid Lake, 1500 ft, 4.5 miles, 666 ft/mi up
5/12: Oyster Dome, 1900 feet, 6.5 miles, 584 ft/mi up
5/19: mt. si, 3150 feet, 8 miles, 787 ft/mi up
5/26: mt. pilchuck, 2200 ft, 5.4 miles, 814 ft/mi up
6/2: bandera mountain, 3000 ft, 7.6 miles, 789 ft/mi up
6/16: mt. higgins. 3400 ft, 9 miles, 756 ft/mi up
6/25: granite mountain, 3800 feet, 8 miles, 950 ft/mi up
7/2: sourdough peak, 5085 feet, 11 miles, 924 ft/mi up
7/11-12: st. helens, 4500 feet, 10 miles, 900 ft/mi up
7/17: beckler peak, 2263 feet, 7.4 miles, 611 ft/mi up
7/19: mailbox peak, 4100 ft, 6 miles, 1366 ft/mi up
7/24: putrid pete’s peak (P3), 3000 ft, 6 miles, 1000 ft/mi up
7/31: mount teneriffe, 3800 ft, 6.5 miles, 1169 ft/mi up
8/2-3: Camp muir, 4600 feet, 10 miles, 920 ft/mi up  then Glacier Basin, 1600 feet, 6 miles, 533 ft/mi up
8/7: rooster mountain, 4100 ft, 8 miles, 1025 ft/mi up
8/9-10: camp muir twice, 4600 feet x2, 10 miles x2, 920 ft/mi up x2
8/15: sulphur mountain, 4200 ft, 10 miles, 840 ft/mi up
8/17: crystal peak, 3100 ft, 8 miles, 775 ft/mi up
8/21-24: Mt. Rainier climb, training for two days, then 920 ft/mi up, then 1571 ft/mi up

Luck be with me!