Tag Archives: chop suey

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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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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Earth, Joy Wants Eternity, Corespondents, This is a Process of a Still Life, Perish the Island – Cumulus Festival Day 1: Chop Suey

I have been looking forward to the Cumulus Festival ever since I discovered it on Bronze Fawn’s upcoming show list. Almost all instrumental “post-rock” series of shows? Yes, please! I bought a pass, even.

Day 1 was at Chop Suey. The venue was moderately full, not sold out, but not empty as I feared it might have been. I hope the organizers are making a decent profit so that the festival can continue next year. Maybe I should have donated more by buying individual tickets instead. Maybe they should sell the posters… At any rate, the last show I attended at Chop Suey started one hour after doors opened. Making the assumption that things would be the same this time, I showed up too late to catch Perish the Island. Maybe I shouldn’t have taken a shower. I only talked to two random dudes anyways…

This is a Process of a Still Life
Have you ever been driving the long way through Kansas on a rainy and lonely night and needed a soundtrack? TiaPoaSL could replace the sound of the rain against the thin roof of your old car harmonizing with the thrum of the engines and the roar of the grooves in your tires as the travel through the darkness. Occasionally you pass some city and the lights provide a respite from the grey and black that surround the pale yellow of your headlights against the road and the prairie grasses. Every so often, songs wander in and out of the white noise like matching headlights that appear in the distance and grow larger and brighter but after a red flash in your mirror they are replaced once again with the soothing hiss and hum of the sounds of going somewhere in a place that seems like it is full of nowhere. Five-person This is a Process of a Still Life have mastered all the possible dynamics: from whisper quiet to deafeningly loud. They do so with a plethora of instruments: drums, tambourine, sleigh bells, up to three guitars, bass, sampler, drum machine, two keyboards, pedal steel, and the requisite visual accompaniment of the night. TiaPoaSL were a great way to start the first night!

The thing about good festivals is that you get to listen to a bunch of stuff you normally wouldn’t seek out. You get to watch them play for 30-45 minutes and then, at the end, say “Well, that was interesting.” The award for strangest instrumentation of the night goes to three-piece Corespondents: acoustic guitar, up to 2 electric guitars, snare drum, high hat with attached cowbell, bell and splash mounted upside down together, tambourines and t-shirt that reads something like “Do you have tickets to the gun show?” for damping, some sort of electrified one-stringed eastern instrument, some sort of midi drums, and a lute, I think. Take all of these instruments and the only thing you can possibly create with them is an electrified take on middle eastern folk music. I felt a little like I should be in Krygyztan or something. The bearded gentleman in front of me called them “Post-Polka,” which I thought was pretty fitting. Their chosen visualization for the evening was a sped up conglomeration of Yoga, Tai-Chi and other eastern exercise videos. They were pretty hilarious, actually. In the midst of one of their songs, a couple started waltzing. Another of their songs sounded strangely like a Beatles cover, but not enough that I could wrap my mind around which song it might be. Well, that was interesting

Joy Wants Eternity
The five gentlemen from Joy Wants Eternity were the crowd favorite of the evening, clearly. They also won the award for bring the most guitar pedals. Too many for me to count, even. They employ drums, three guitars, glockenspiel and a Rhodes electric awesomeness. Naturally my inclination was to intently watch the Rhodes player for some sort of education. However, he was situated so that I couldn’t see his hands. He was playing a MkII with the flat top and had shiny legs for the piano and had a tall milk crate as a seat. That was about all I could learn from the night. Maybe a couple ideas about style. He also had an overdrive or distortion pedal that I couldn’t read the name of. However, it solidified my idea that distorted Rhodes sounds awesome. Okay, enough geeking out over the instrument I want to learn. Joy Wants Eternity is built entirely out of feedback and delays and loops and effects. They sound a bit like what I imagine being haunted by a ghost would be like. A ghost that you can’t decide whether to get angry at, dance with, or simply marvel the beauty of it’s wispy, ectoplasmic form. They include ethereal beauty (Rhodes) over a wailing stampede of feedback and noise over some solid rock rhythms. I feel like the drums were included to give Joy Wants Eternity a way to reach out to people. Everybody likes rock drums. If the drummer did more rolls and arrhythmic stuff, people would have nothing to grasp on to. If I ran JWE, my drummer would be just as feedback-laden as everyone else. Noise and sounds, not so much rhythms. But JWE is a fine band nonetheless.

At this point, I was starting to get tired. This is only show 3 of my 5 show marathon, but I’m old. Earth went on at about 1 AM. The four piece abuses drums, bass, guitar, and an Wurlitzer electric pretty awesome piano + effects pedals. When I say abuse, I mean they conjure out the loudest, yet slowest, possible sound from their poor instruments. Like BLLLLLLLAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRR! Earth is a very appropriate name. Their songs work on geologic time. Painfully slow repetitions of the same theme with minor variations for what seems like millennia. Intense pressures, unimaginable except at the core of the Earth, paired with seemingly infinite patience combine to form these huge sounds that I could hear about two blocks away as I was walking to my car in a half-asleep daze despite the near-freezing temperature. As I sped home, I imagined that the vibrations of the band’s immense sound were shaking the very foundations of the Ship Canal Bridge and at any moment or perhaps in a million years, it would crumble to dust. I hope the Chop Suey survived the onslaught. I think I sustained some hearing damage even with my earplugs in…

It is unfortunate that I only got about 5 hours of sleep, because I’m ready to go to King Cobra tonight and watch day 2! Yeah!

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Secret Highways, Bird Show of North America, Crown Aruba – Chop Suey

Bird Show of North America sent me a myspace message about their show tonight.  I’ve been thinking about getting some art for my room, so I thought I’d go.  If that doesn’t make any sense to you, read on!

The first show I saw at The Break Room (um, Chop Suey) was Easy Big Fella.  So, I’ve been going there for about ten years.  However, I go very rarely.  The best show I saw there was a free show starring Don Caballero!  At any rate, I think I like how it’s set up these days.  Plus, even though they “upgraded” to LED stage lighting, they have air conditioning!  The crowd tonight was pretty limited, but not ridiculously so.  It was a good scene and not full of pretentious jerks.  Bonus!

Crown Aruba
I must apologize.  I was screwing around making a weird synthesizer song with flute lead lines and didn’t leave until well after I wanted to. Also, I thought the rocking would start at 9 since doors were at 8. So, I only got to see about 30 seconds of Crown Aruba. The crowd was appreciative of that last thirty seconds. And they seemed like a fun band in all their sporting attire. I thought they were a new band by the way they were slowly getting off stage (taking cymbals off stands instead of taking the whole stands, for example), but it turns out they’ve been around at least four years. That’s what I get for making assumptions. And for showing up late.

Bird Show of North America
Listening to the music of BSoNA, you might not think it very special. It sounds great, has fantastic melodies, excellent tempo/dynamic/rhythmic changes, interesting composition and is generally pretty awesome. It’s clearly only drums and guitar, though. But why are there three names on their myspace page? And what is this “paints” instrument? OH! There’s painting involved! And, my friends, that’s what elevates this trio from pretty good to wow. BSoNA is the only band anywhere that can exchange the word “song” for the word “bird.” As in, “the next bird is the Scarlet Ibis.” All of their songs are about birds. While the guitarist and drummer craft lovely audio interpretations of the lives of these birds, a painter provides an actual visual interpretation of the bird. Difficult to do in just the few minutes of the song. I find myself wondering if he paints certain parts of the bird first because of the song or because of the necessity of how painting works. At any rate, after the set, all of the paintings, finished or not, go up for sale. $20 gets you a painting and a CD. $20 got me a sort-of-finished Chihuahuan Raven. I bought it because I liked how it wasn’t done yet. And it looks mean. And it’s probably my favorite Bird Show of North America song. The Snowy Egret is pretty good too, but the bird doesn’t look as badass as a Chihuahuan Raven. Folks, if you haven’t been to one of these shows, or if you just need a cool picture of a bird to hang on your wall and a story to tell your friends, go. They’re playing in Burien on September 6th at the art walk and in White Center on September 26th at Full Tilt Pinball and Ice Cream. You’ll thank me later.

Secret Highways
I’m getting real tired so I’m going to just stream of consciousness this one out.  delays, echoes, all the high notes, weird tunings, the guitar amp also broadcasts the radio but not on purpose, michael stipe on drums, the quietest girl vocals ever (but kind of like the vocalist from the fastbacks!), a clarinet hanging out on stage, sounds like three people playing three separate songs at the same time or maybe the people in separate rooms trying to guess what the other is playing but can only get the rhythm right because there is windows that allow them to see each other.  the songs were slow and layered and intricate and weird.  i wanted to stay and hear the clarinet.  i wanted to figure out what the heck was going on. but i was incapable.  i took my Chihuahuan Raven and left.

i put on some American Football and smiled a little on the drive home.

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