Category Archives: reviews

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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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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I know, I know.

It’s been a while since I’ve just written anything. I know you don’t care, but I should be writing more, I suppose.

I went to Chuck Ragan’s Revival Tour show tonight at El Corazon instead of being all Halloweeny and it was amazing. I’ll be putting up a review tomorrow or the next day on the other site. But here’s some stuff that may or may not make it in that review.

A-ma-zing.

Audra Mae sang these wonderful heartfelt bluesy country songs. With her hand shaking a little on the most passionate one. It was really… amazing.

Austin Lucas was there with his dad and sister and he sang my favorite song, Go West, which I tried to cover but am horrible at. Voice lessons?

Austin and his dad, Bob, played this amazing song about a horse headed woman or something. The chord changes were extraordinary. I wish I could explain how wonderful it sounded.

Chuck was awesome and powerful all at once and though he didn’t sing Do What You Do or The Boat or any Hot Water Music songs, he got everyone to sing along.

Jim Ward sounded fantastic. I always liked his vocals in Sparta, so I picked up a Sleepercar CD which was the only Jim Ward thing there.

They all got together and did a cover of Rainbow Connection with Jim Ward on banjo and everyone singing.

After rainbow connection, or maybe before, a pretty drunk girl came over and yelled in my ear and spilled water on me. She wasn’t quite as forward as the girl that grinded up on me at the Vellela Vellela show, but it was pretty awesome to get drunk, off-balance danced on and smiled at. We chatted for a while and she told me she was a nurse, twice. She mentioned how her friend was hot for Austin Lucas and she was trying to help her meet him. I mentioned Austin was probably in the bar. She disappeared after that, and never returned. It’s cool, I’m already working on a few leads in that area. With some promising and possibly exciting results.

So essentially, things are awesome. Even the cold fall sky is ablaze with stars and a bright moon this morning. I have a whole weekend ahead of me still and plenty to get done. Life is good. Or, at least, good enough for me to ignore the bad parts. Perhaps this is all because of my volunteer work this morning. Some sort of karmic payoff. Well, thank you very much, karma.

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Mono, Maserati, Sleepy Eyes of Death – Neumo’s

There are not enough adjectives to describe the Mono, Maserati, Sleepy Eyes of Death show at Neumo’s. So, I present to you two short stories based on the Maserati and Mono sets. There’s no Sleepy Eyes of Death story because I was busy and missed their set. Kind of on purpose.

Maserati

I pressed the gleaming red button for the decoy flares. The button that represented the last hope I had before two guided rockets slammed into the back of my ship. The last hope we all had.

It was my mission to infiltrate the enemy base and take out the power core. I had all the training and confidence that any of our pilots possess, but I had something special. Talent.

I had the most confirmed kills in my squadron. The squadron that had the most confirmed kills in the whole of the rebellion forces. With hundreds of enemy fighters, several enemy capital ships and even a small moon base to our destructive credit, we undoubtedly were the most feared group of soldiers in the rebellion.

Which makes it extraordinarily strange that I’m failing so terribly right now.

The ambush was relatively simple. I appeared out of hyperspace in the midst of an attacking enemy force. Buzzers and klaxons erupted while a plethora of flashing lights blinded me from inside the cockpit and from the blasts of enemy fire. This was supposed to be a safe position. That’s what our information told us. Apparently, we were misinformed.

Evasive action. I slammed the stick straight forward, sending myself into a steep dive, avoiding the brunt of the ring of enemy ships. Two followed. Rolling and twisting, they chased me down. I banked left and their shots missed right. Rolled right and they missed left. Sometimes, this is too easy. I looked up from my rear facing screens to see two more fighters ahead of me.

A quick burst of energy from my blasters splits the team in front and they dive to the sides. I fly right between them and look back to see one of the front fighters just clip the wing of a rear pilot, spinning them both out of the chase. Only one to go.

You can tell by their commitment that they have been offered a great reward for my demise. Luckily the floating debris around the base I was supposed to destroy offers me some cover from the onslaught. It’s treacherous to fly through, but I can manage. If I can just make it a little farther, the magnetic interference might hide my signal from their sensors. Just a little…

Too late. A battle cruiser had been signaled by the fighter and intercepted my path. The father of these two baby rockets that are now screaming towards the tail end of this little freedom fighter. One of which just missed my decoy flares.

A horrible crunch and blinding light followed by static.

The battle cruiser calls in the kill. Returning triumphantly to the base, the commander takes a moment to gloat to his first officer. The squad will surely be rewarded.

However, this is war. Over the communications line, the Grand General informs them that the next task is to visit a small forest moon and decimate the rebel base there. The commander slams his fist on the “end communication” button as he relays the order to his first officer. They turn towards the moon.

The battle is short and relatively painless. A few small groups of rebels escaped into hyperspace, but they will be tracked down soon enough. The victory is now complete and celebrations can begin in earnest.

The warlords land on the moon and pile out of their ships into the ruined courtyards below. Looting and partying fill the streets of this once bustling rebellion town. The victors dance on the rooftops (the ones that are left, at least) and in the shells of now hollow buildings. Their chants and music rings through the forest, scattering the native creatures.

The victory is complete.

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.

I awoke seeing darkness. The beeping I heard was incessant and it took me ages to recognize the emergency life support system. It took me longer to realize I was still alive. The rocket that hit my ship completely destroyed one of my two engines, knocked me out, and pushed my craft into the debris ring around the enemy base. The explosion must have blocked the enemy’s view of my ship, or they would have come back for a killing blow.

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.

Now, what do I do? If I signal, the enemy will know. Can I fly on one engine? Can I escape from here? I’ve been lucky thus far, maybe I’ll just try it.

Power up sequence, nervous glance out the cockpit at the base, make some changes to the computer program to allow for one engine, nervous glance back at the engines, “come on baby, let’s do this”, press the button to start the engines.

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Roar.

It worked! I turn slowly to my exit vector and hit the hyperspace jump button. In the blink of an eye, I am safe.

Mono

The forest is sleepy this evening. Leaves have taken a break from dancing through sunbeams on their trip to the soft floor. The streams have slowed to a crawl and the crickets have momentarily ceased their twilight chatter. A gentle wind teases the golden wisps of hair that spring out of her helmet as she sits to rest and get her bearings. It’s been a long march.

The last battle wasn’t bad, just a small band of robbers at the side of the road. A swing of an axe or two and a well placed kick dispatched the trio of miscreants. Yet there is something sinister about the recent attacks, no matter how minor they may seem. Like a challenge. And even these minor battles seem so tiring. She hangs her head a bit at the thought of continuing like this. Alone and fighting everything.

Yet, there is nothing to be done except continue on. She returns her helmet to her head. A gift from the king, it has served her well. Hopefully it will continue to do so as she makes her way through the forest towards the city she calls home.

A half-mile down the road, the evening chill sets in and she draws her cloak tighter. These woods are relatively safe at night, but there’s always a chance. And that sinister feeling is still haunting her.

When the first wolf jumped out from the underbrush, she was a fraction of a second too slow to skewer it on the end of her short sword. As she turns to face the beast, the growls of three other wolves echo around her. Something has clearly possessed them, as their eyes glow an eerie green. A familiar color, but there is no time to think of where she’s seen it now. The beasts are sizing her up, looking for a weakness. She is crafting a battle plan as the rightmost wolf lunges at her legs.

That plan is quickly reformulated as a wolf pounces from her right, knocking her sword from her hand. As she scrambles on the ground to draw her axe, the other three wolves leap towards her. Quick as a flash, the axe swings out and scores a killing blow in the flank of the wolf on her right. It knocks the other two wolves off balance and far enough away for the warrior to get to her feet and regain the advantage. At this point, the first wolf has circled around and is preparing another assault. The warrior quickly counter attacks, charging the snarling wolf, axe gleaming and deadly behind her head. A powerful blow drives the axe through the top of the wolf’s skull, crushing it to the ground.

With half the pack dispatched, she focuses on the other two. Stepping back to retrieve her short sword, she wields both weapons with skill. As the two wolves begin to circle, she keeps a watchful eye on their position and tightens her grip. In an instant, she hurls the short sword end-over-end at the closest wolf, just missing. However, this caused enough of a distraction that she was able to lunge forward and attack. Her axe whistled through the air and down through the spine of one wolf as she kicked at the other wolf with spiked boots. This bought her enough time to extract her axe from it’s resting place and meet the attacker’s charge with it, ending the final wolf’s existence.

Breathing heavily, she inspected the grisly scene. The familiar pang of regret for killing another living thing sprung up inside her, but this time it was too much to bear. The thought of continuing this path for the rest of her life, the path her god had chosen for her, was too much. She vented her frustration by screaming towards the heavens, “Why? Why must I fight?”

As if in response, the first drop of rain landed at the ground in front of her. Followed quickly by blinding lightning and deafening thunder. Again, a battle. However, this was the time to change her own destiny. She turned toward the mountain in the east. The mountain where it is said that the gods reside.

After days of travel she found herself at the base of the mountain. Looking up, she saw the minions cascading down to greet her. This would be the final battle, then. So be it.

At her first step up the mountain, an arrow buzzed past her helmet. She drew her shield closer and held her trusty axe tighter as she steeled her resolve. The battle raged as she made her way up the mountain. A troll scored a hit on her shield arm, numbing it. He looked confused when the axe sliced open his gut, but soon he saw no more. She fought scores of beasts as she made her way up, using their downhill momentum against them at times, merely out maneuvering them at others. As the air got thinner, she never tired. It was as if she’d been preparing for this final battle the whole of her existence. And luck was still in her favor. She survived several near misses and easily defeated many foes. This was her chance and she was taking it.

When she reached the summit, a man in a deep green cloak was waiting. She finally recognized the green she had seen in the eyes of the wolves she fought a few nights ago. Her god had sent those wolves out to attack her. She didn’t speak. He already knew the question. She already knew the answer. She just exhaled and prepared herself, swapping her shield for her short sword.

Before his cloak hit the floor, she was running. Towards her god with axe raised high and sword poised to strike. Of course, he was ready. His broadsword absorbed both blows and rang with strength. She was quick, though. Spinning around his side she scored a glancing blow off his armor. His scowl changed to a knowing grin as she spun to face him.

Their eyes locked for a moment then she did the unthinkable. She bent to one knee and placed her weapons on the ground. This was not a battle she could win. Her whole life of fighting had to end now. She was done.

He took a step towards his servant and raised his sword. As he started to bring the weapon down in a killing blow, she lunged forward and picked up her sword, simultaneously thrusting upwards into the gap between the deity’s armor plates. The sword instantly melted in her hands, but his broadsword dropped harmlessly to the ground. Her god put his hand on the wound and brought it up to look at his own blood. He was grinning as he collapsed to the ground. He no longer had to fight either.

And in all her battles, this is the only one she did not regret. Until the end of her peaceful remaining days.

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