Tag Archives: Concerts

Count Two Two Three

My little brother and sister came up a week ago. I am trying to work up a tradition of taking the two of them to shows with me (Starfucker in ’09, Pains of Being Pure at Heart ’10) so we went to see the Thermals. It was my third outing and Grace’s second. Solomon was new to them completely.

What a treat.

Openers White Fang were off the wall, hilarious and fantastic. Their tall and chubby bassist came out with the set-list written in marker over his shirtless belly. He promptly took off his pants. There was intense metal shredding from a long-haired redhead who looked better suited to being in a basement playing D and D (which is not an insult.) Their drummer looked like Bill Haverchuck from Freaks and Geeks and their singer wore a tweety shirt. They sang songs about getting stoned and hating Portland and sang perched atop each other’s shoulders. I was smitten.

The second opener was Unnatural Helpers, a local band that I will be certain to check out again in the future. Very short punk songs about girls played by adorable hipsters. With a drummer singer! My favorite. You can’t really go wrong. Particularly when your bond is chock-full of really, really cute guys. I turned to my siblings at one point to point out the cute derriere of the guitarist. They beat me to it.

And then there was the main act. The crowd rushed in a while before they started and my sister and I were separated a few feet apart in the front row. My brother, however, was nowhere to be found. They started, and The Thermals bassist Kathy was right in front of us (I have had the biggest lady crush on her for the longest time).

This time, I convinced my boyfriend to come out with us, so I finally had the opportunity to serenade him at a show. Singing bits of “How We Know”, “Stare Like Yours” and “Never Listen to Me” made it all the sweeter.

A few songs in, I looked behind me to see my six-foot-tall baby brother dancing and swinging around in the small, but enthusiastic, mosh pit. He looked exhausted, but once I caught his eye, he gave me the biggest grin I’d ever seen on his face. He later confessed to throwing some guy’s hat onto the stage. I asked him why and he told me “He was being a jerk. What did he expect in the mosh pit.” Fantastic.

The Seattle crowd loves this band like none other and it was nice to be surrounded by people who clearly dig this band as much as I do.

(I love them forever not just because of their music but because my review for their second album “F****** A” was the first thing I ever had published in “Unleashed”. Whoo!)

Towards the end, I was shouting the words to “A Pillar of Salt” into the air and opened my eyes (because of course I had my eyes closed) to see a video camera in my face. I really hope that moment does not come back to haunt me.

All in all, though, it was one of the better shows I’d been to elevated by the gleefully grinning faces of my siblings. Not to mention the hairdye that had melted onto my brother’s now-purpleblue face by the end of the show. The Thermals never, ever dissapoint.


There’s a Place and Time for Everything I Know

Oh. Yes.

Recently purchased tickets for Grizzly Bear playing the Moore Theatre in Seattle on October 16th.

All the more reason to look forward to being the hell back in Seattle.

Grizzly Bear:

Grizzly Bear. Like Professors.

Grizzly Bear. Like Professors.

This makes me extra excited:

Also, we have amazingly good seats.

October cannot come soon enough.

Remember Today

We were born to sin
We don’t think we’re special, sir
We know everybody is
We built too many walls
Yeah, we built too many walls
And now we gotta run
A giant fist is out to crush us

We don’t want to die
Or apologize
For our dirty god
Our dirty bodies

-“A Pillar of Salt”

I have liked the Thermals since 8th grade, when my first official published CD review was for their 2004 raucous sophomore release of Fuckin A. I have loved them since I bought the totally amazing The Body, the Blood, the Machine following their awesome concert at Bumbershoot in 2006.

The Thermals are fun, thoughtful, and a totally good time at any time.

So, yesterday I decided to skip all family-related Easter activities in Yakima and stay in Seattle to watch them play at Neumo’s.

Excellent decision.

They had a fabulous opener (also from Portland) called Parenthical Girls. Their singer was a spritely young man in a knit sweater that proclaimed “Butterflies are Free.” The music started and he immediately jumped into the crowd, dancing and singing like a pied piper of sorts. One of the girls I was there with leaned over to me and said, “Man, it totally feels like spring now.” And it totally did. They were wonderful and weird and exhibited an amazing dramatic flair, from dress to sound to the uneven wavering voice of their beautifully-featured woodland creature of a singer. For their last song, every member of the band left their regular post and started wailing in unison on the same drum kit. Wonderfully weird.

The second band,Panther (also from Portland), was expected to be goofy and fun. But just ended up being sloppy and hard to listen to. Between their guitarist losing three strings after the second song and the vocals being impossible to hear, it is pretty much not worth mentioning.

But the Thermals are.

I managed to struggle into a space front row, grasping the stage and speakers to keep my place, right in front of the stripey shirt of singer Hutch Harris. It was my first time to be legitimately and indisputably in front at a show.

They played songs that spanned all four of their albums, going back the six years of their highly-DIY, bike-rider politics of their cute-punk career.

They are a band that were clearly beloved by their audience. And I was apparently not the only one with a giant ladycrush on bassist Kathy Foster. Said one bearded man in the front, “Hottest bass player in the world guys! In the world!” She smiled sheepishly and politely. And cutely.

They are also a band that also takes clear delight in their audience. After playing the stand-out “At the Bottom of the Sea” from their new (excellent, but lower-key) album, Kathy leaned into her mic and noted, “It felt like we were all totally slow-dancing together.”

The Thermals have always wowed me with their lyrics, especially when delving into the politics of religion as the did on TBTBTM. I took great delight in screaming them back at Hutch throughout the night.

Hitched to the Sun

My roommate and I went to a delightful concert last week that, between procrastination and perfectly valid attacks of homework, I have not had a chance to write about.

We somehow got into free at this show at Chop Suey because my roommate knew the keyboardist/tuba player/backup dancer for the Mumlers, this adorable band from California that was opening.

I loved them. Their singer looked like Wiley Wiggins from “Dazed and Confused”, bad silk shirt and everything. It was like classic soul renderings of the less crunchy of Devendra Banhart’s discography. They were adorable and the standing section did their best of swaying their hips for an unknown opener. It was the first time I ever bought a CD at a concert.

Second band. This time legitimately cute boys that made me and my roommate think we were feeling what girls at Strokes concerts in 2000 must have been feeling. Love. Good tunes but even better blazers. The Morning Benders, words coming soon to the screaming mouth. of your little sister.

The headliners were this band I had never heard of called the Submarines. They are a cute boy-girl act, with a drummer, who covered the stage and instruments with fake white flowers. Too cutesy? Not enough for these guys. The girl played the first song without plugging in her guitar and announced the fact with breathy laughter. She was the cutest things I had ever seen. Turns out I had heard these guys before, they play them every hour, on the hour, on 88.5 in Yakima.

You have heard this song before. It’s adorable. They are. Also, playlist “Brighter Discontent”, it’s the cutest break-up song I have ever heard.

Official word of last Tuesday: Cute.

Pitter Patter Goes My Heart

Went to the Broken Social Scene show on Thursday night.

Some of Broken Social Scene. Some not.

Some of Broken Social Scene. Some not.

They were absolutely fabulous.

I was a little bit hesitant about the show, not in any way a reflection upon their beautiful music, because of the fact that I had never gone to a show for a band that was so experimentally easy. They have a quiet, soaring sound that I was not entirely sure would translate well to a live show.

We lucked out though. They were perfect.

Immediately, the multiple member band (I think there were at least 7 people on stage for most of the night) led into some material from You Forgot It In People, the preferred album of both me and my concert buddy Bryan. Their second song of the night is one of the songs that has made me cry more than any other, “Shampoo Suicide.” You may also know it as the song from the most affecting scene from the excellent “Half Nelson” (rent it now.) Bryan and I swayed in time and I cried a bit, and I think he did too.

Broken Social Scene is composed of a number of facial-haired, middle-aged music nerds with glasses. They’re all very cute in that way. Their guitarist likes to talk a lot, about inane things. He attributed this trait to some pre-show Tequila.

The rest of the band is pretty quiet, but when they did talk they were straightforward, happy to be there, happy that we all seemed to like them.

Also, as a bunch of Canadians, they were happy that “Mr. Bush” was out of office. Band leader Kevin Drew (furry cute), pondered what their future would be like in a post-Bush world after eight years of largely reactionary work. He figured that maybe they’d have to put out an Obama-friendly funk album next.

Listening to Broken Social Scene albums (and Kevin Drew’s own Broken Socia Scene supported solo album, funny they’d put a different name on it anyway) has always inspired thought in me. They’re a perfect walking band. For most of the show I was doing some jerky dancing with my eyes closed, I allowed them the opportunity to take me over.

They were perfect. Even if they didn’t perform “Lover’s Spit.”

Here’s “Fire Eye’d Boy” instead.


Touched eugene.
Had eugene put mic to my mouth.
Ran to the bathroom.
Fell in love with them.

-Text message sent to my mother at 12:16 a.m. October 10th

I have seen Gogol Bordello before. Last year, Bumbershoot, on the lawn. I danced, screamed, sang, was kicked in the face by a crowd surfer, had a practical out of body experience, left, and then became profoundly sick on the ride home. The show was beautiful. The after wasn’t pretty, at all.

When I went to see them Thursday night at Seattle’s Showbox, I made sure to only eat a small breakfast of things that wouldn’t look too ugly when they came back up later (not that it really helped at all.)

I packed minimalist. I wore jeans and a spaghetti strap shirt under the cardigan that I later tied around my waist.

I made friends in the line. We talked about gypsy folk and gypsy punk alike. I was between one girl learning banjo and another learning accordion. The girl at my side had learned a phrase in Ukrainian to scream at the Eugene I texted my mother about. It was something along the lines of “I love you. You’re sexy. Hello.”

We all had similar sentiments about Gogol Bordello’s unconventionally attractive lead singer. We all girls rushed to the front of the stage.

Opening band Kal was fun and sounded like punk mariachi at moments. I developed a crush on the accordionist.

There was an inebriated dude behind me who kept using my back as a headrest. I wanted to punch him, but his girlfriend looked too scary.

Gogol Bordello took the stage.

I screamed. I danced. I danced. I danced. They played Ultimate and Sally. I screamed at the top of my lungs when they played Not a Crime. Eugene looked at me. I was front and center. He looked at me and smiled. I screamed. I thrust my fist hard into the air and felt completely outside of my body.

They began to play I Would Never Want to Be Young Again.

Eugene leapt off the stage and near the barrier. We touched him, hands scrambling for purchase, security guards looking uneasy. He was sweaty and bare-chested and disgusting. We touched him.

He looked at me. He pointed at me. He screamed “You!”, barely audible but I’d be damned if I didn’t hear it.

He put the microphone to my mouth.

I screamed. I screamed. I screamed.

Someone nudged the mic away and took away my ending.

I teared up, pushed at all sides by a pulsing crowd, my mouth dry and raw, me entire body covered in sweat, my bangs falling wetly over my eyes. I started to cry.

Songs passed. We danced.

Short interlude for me to run away and get sick, surreally listening to Alcohol while hunched over in the ladies’ disgusting bathroom.

I danced on the sidelines, I watched a crowd of people that swayed with joy. I listened to the rousing chorus of hundreds of people screaming Start Wearing Purple in unison. I laughed and smiled because this was a proper family of people joined together by one man and his technicolor band, running around in circles and creating chaos in their wake. A devastated economy and a pile of crap else to sift through in the morning newspaper. Student loans and babysitters. Divorces and random violence.

Our violence created out of joy in a petri dish of a club where evaporated sweat dripped down from the rafters.

It was escapism to the greatest degree. Even the men sitting in their seats, far to the back of the bar, swayed their hips and shouted the words.

We are joined by this band. We’ve lived them and we’ve breathed them and we know more of the world for them.


Softly Open Our Mouths in the Cold

It’s been a few weeks and I’m still sitting staring into space at odd moments, eyes fixed on objects that aren’t of any consequence. I’m just still trying to find the words.

I don’t know where I’m supposed to find them. The phrases and sentences, the arrangement of syllables, to describe Radiohead in an amphitheatres, playing to thousands, standing shoulder to shoulder, yet still feeling completely alone, all probably thinking the same very thing.

I’m not here and this isn’t happening.

Because when a band transcends the things that a critic might throw at them (but not anymore) and even the biggest of names shrugs their shoulders and concedes that one band is truly the best band in the world, there reaches a point where any words a person can conjure really doesn’t make anything of an impact.

I could write things like beautiful and lovely and perfect and amazing. And they would all be completely appropriate. But they’d be lacking in conveying that feeling of standing, shivering, hair soaked from the rain, with every bit of myself buzzing with excitement and a sensation of total peace.

I could explain that listening to the song Nude made my chest clench. That How to Disappear Completely left tears in my eyes. That by the time they played Street Spirit, I felt like I couldn’t breathe.

I could do these things and maybe they would begin to cover it, but really, no one would ever have any idea.

It’s Radiohead. And maybe I should just leave it at that.