Tag Archives: Earth-Shattering Experiences

Gonna Take a Stab at This

In the midst of rewriting an essay on Arthurian romance and staring down a pile of books on African cinema… I return to this.

My offerings are measly, but I figure it is the attempt that counts.

In any case, the best thing that has happened in these first few months of my sophomore year of college (excluding of course, friends, going on zoo dates with an adorable boy, eating a lot of indian food, watching movies in various dorm rooms, red licorice, fancy ice cream, fancy cup cakes, etc etc etc) was seeing Grizzly Bear in the middle of October.

They played the beautiful Moore Theatre, beset by a stage full of upturned mason jars filled with Christmas lights that danced around them to the music. They sounded beautiful, looked wonderful and even talked to us after the show.

Things are well in Seattle.

(And there are other things to share…)

“Ready, Able”, among the many Grizzly Bear related things that almost make me cry:

Back to “Sir Gawain”, though I intend to return to this soon.


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.

Brush the Cobwebs Out of the Sky

I leave for Buenos Aires in less than 24 hours. We will fly for over 22 hours (not even including the time spent dinking around in airports in Dallis and Santiago.)

For the occasion, I created an iPod playlist that will last me a solid 12.1 hours.

Including Sigur Ros, Death Cab, the Velvet Teen, Broken Social Scene, Radiohead, Mozart, the Smiths and all other music that is appropriate for flying over clouds.

I am more excited than I have been in my life.

(I traveled on a plane for the first time in my life tonight. The trip from Yakima to Seattle felt like it lasted 5 minutes. I have never felt so enthralled.)


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.