Metal! RAHHH! Sort of.

Welcome to the 3rd edition of Music Vigilante! One point I have to get across, based on the feedback I’ve been receiving. My reviews are not meant to view a band’s entire body of work. They are merely based on one show I saw that particular night and my reaction. That being said let’s get down to business.

Last night I found myself at the 2 Bit Saloon (4818 17th Ave NW - Ballard). This is a club I’ve been to in the past and I usually have a pretty good time there. The bar staff has always been on the ball and fairly nice. It has a weird layout, but it somehow works. The show room is pretty small, but bands can be heard from every corner of the place, including the smoking patio out back. I do like the half pipe right at the front of the stage. That did get used once briefly by a guy that I’m assuming works there. As it turned out, also, last night was a benefit show for the victims of the Cafe Racer shooting.

Again with no research on what I was getting myself into, I found myself at what was, for the most part, a metal show. I do enjoy metal music. I grew up on it. It’s a style I’ve always enjoyed.

Last night’s line up was Metameric, White City Graves, Shiplosion and Thou Shall Not Kill. There was a pretty good crowd on hand. It wasn’t packed, but there was a fair amount of people.

Metameric being up first. They took the stage with a large array of gear. Foot pedals as far as the eye could see. Even the bassist had quite a few, which seems to me, is pretty rare. The guys in the band, outside of their drummer, did not look like what you would imagine a metal band to look like. Their lead singer/bassist looked as if he were a member of 30 Seconds To Mars. The other two guitarists looked like they could fit squarely in an emo band. As they started I notice that they were all extraordinarily talented. These were the guys in high school who would lock themselves in their basement and practice relentlessly because they had nothing else better to do. Their music hinged more on the lines of progressive metal or even math rock at times. They had a heavy sound, but their singer was trying to be a little more melodic with his style. Which unfortunately, at the 2 Bit with their sort of muffled sounding PA, the melody often sounds a bit disjointed. I think he would benefit with one more pedal to get some reverb on the vocals. He did bust into his “metal voice” from time to time and I’ll admit I liked them more when he was doing that. The down side of all of this is that you can have all the talent in the world, but if your songs aren’t all that compelling it makes for a lack luster set. Outside of one song they had about airport security, I didn’t find much in their set to cling on to. There was one point in their set I thought was strange. They all swapped out guitars at the same time. I don’t know if this was a move that was just plain out pretentious or if they just had a different tuning. I didn’t think about the tuning portion of it until they swapped back. But in true metal form they were all tuned to drop D and they loved the other standard metal thing. One foot on the speaker monitor in front of them. The part when they seemed to really win the crowd over is when they did a cover of the Beastie Boys’ Sabotage.

So would I spent another 5 bucks on a Metmeric show? Probably not. Talented, yes. Compelling, not really.

Next up was White City Graves. These were definitely the kids that were doing their own thing. They weren’t a very good match for the night as a whole. They’re not really a metal band. Sure they’re heavy at times, but it seemed to lean more toward the punk vein than the metal vein. They were also darker and slower than the other bands of the evening. Their singer/guitarist dawning an outfit of entirely black, including a black beanie which kept slipping over his eyes, but he somehow found the mic when he needed without the use of sight. The other guys looked like rock guys dawning rock t shirts and such. Although their bassist was wearing a White City Graves t shirt which I thought was kind of funny. They started into their set and their music was simple in comparison to the band before them. But unlike the band before them all their songs were compelling and not over complicated. Sure they had their solos here and there, but nobody was the super shredder guy. They seemed to be marred with technical difficulties though. During one song they had, one of their guitars cut out and as the guitarist frantically tried to figure out his dilemma the rest of the band covered with an extended jazz-funk extended jam. It was kind of cool in a way, unfortunately it lasted quite a long time. But once he swapped out his guitar and got everything back in working order they drove back in and picked up the song really well.

White City Graves also came in complete with their own lighting, which was another little cool nuance to a good band. Unfortunately this lead to a few miscues and a couple of time gaffes.

So would I go pay top check out White City Graves again? Definitely. Good band and outside of some technical problems and a couple timing flubs they were a lot of fun to watch live.

The third band of the night had a bizarre name. Shiplosion. And after looking into it a bit this morning, is a combination of shit and explosion. The banner displayed above their drums had their name on it in a kind comic book like style of lettering. The guys themselves were all over the map. Their guitarist wearing this sweater thing that I can only describe as something out of the middle east or something a Sherpa would wear. The bassist had on a Hawaiian shirt and was sporting sort of a mohawk. At one point I heard him say it was Miami Vice metal. They started into their set and I was instantly taken back to the old days of thrash metal. The days when Anthrax was big on the scene and not taking themselves to seriously. I later overheard someone compare them to DRI. I would have to agree with them, that’s a spot on comparison. The guitarist and bassist shared singing duties. The bassist with the cleaner voice and the guitarist following up with the raspy scream. They put on a good show playing well and contorting facial antics. It was a heavy fast sound, but not so super complex that it was alienating.

So would I see Shiplosion again? Sure. They were a fun solid band.

The headliner Thou Shall Not Kill. At least I think that’s their name. The guitarist said that they were changing their name to that for that night for the victims of the Cafe Racer. Anyway, these guys were the epitome of metal. Bullet belts, leather spiked arm bands and one guy in a leather armor, samurai thing. Although, their bassist was just not fitting the image. He wasn’t all leathered up like the rest of his band. I watched as their guitarist set up his full stack amp. A little overkill for the 2 Bit I think. I’m not kidding, it was at least 7 to 8 feet tall. It was huge. Then busts out his BC Rich guitars and they hang a flag, screen printed with a pentagram, over the guitar speakers. As they did this I notice the guitarist jump off the stage to pet a pug puppy that someone had brought in. I found it to be an amusing little contrast. We love Satan and pugs! Anyway, the launch into their set. They too, were unfortunately marred by technical issues with the guitar cutting out all over the place. They had their particular brand death metal. Guttural vocals and all. I thought it was really funny that in between songs they even maintained the guttural vocal thing while speaking to the crowd. I did instantly think to myself that these guys probably watched Lord of The Rings a few too many times. They blasted into songs that I really couldn’t tell you what they’re about. But I think some of it was middle earth inspired. The double bass drum pounding away and full range head banging ensuing. This one is a judgement calls. I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of the death metal genre. So I can’t say that I have a lot to compare them to. They seemed very talented and for what they were doing, they’re good at it.

So would I pay $5 to see them again? Probably not. And this time it’s not because they’re bad. This is more just not my cup of tea.

There you have it. Shiplosion and White City Graves the highlights of the evening. But all things considered. None of the bands sucked. Just some were more enjoyable to watch than others.

That concludes this edition of Music Vigilante! Now get out there and go see a show! Support your scene!

Sin A. sisM

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Good & Evil

Welcome to the second edition of Music Vigilante! As I explained yesterday this is a blog dedicated to the Seattle music scene and providing an honest review of the live shows there in.

Since there is only me and my partner in crime, Skittish, working on this it won’t be a daily updated blog. Because well, we have to work during the week. So what we’ll do is attend shows on Fridays and Saturdays as often as possible and keep you posted with our findings.

Last night, in our usual fashion, we found ourselves walking into a club with no knowledge of the bands that were to being playing that night. Our adventures led us to The Mix (6006 12th Ave S – Georgetown).

I had never been to this club before. I had, in the past, heard of how they do business. Requiring bands to pre-sell tickets and such. I’m not sure if they still do that, but I did note that they weren’t providing the bands free beer like most clubs. They gave them a dollar off. Oooh how nice, instead of $3 for a PBR it’s $2. So generous.  Neither one of these practices go over real well with me. Especially the pre-sale ticket thing. Any club that requires that of bands that play there is kind of an asshole. But on the flip side of the coin I can understand The Mix’s point of view. They’re in Georgetown. Tough to get people down to that neighborhood.

Anyway, I digress. It’s a pretty cool club. Nothing overly special. The faux stone bar is falling apart showing the styrofoam that was used to fashion it. The bartender was on point, but not overly enthused about being there. It has kind of cool balcony with couches and such up there.  Some vintage video games and pinball machines scattered about. I did notice Moon Patrol there, wish I had some quarters on me.

We look over to the stage area before the bands started and notice a stand up bass laying there. We knew we were in for a night of button down plaid shirts, cuffed jeans, hollow body guitars and slicked back hair… Yes it was Rock-a-billy night at The Mix.

I like to go see a good rock-a-billy band from time to time. It’s always been a music style I’ve respected. Good roots style rock. I like it in all it’s forms, from straight Americana style rock-a-billy, psychobilly and punk-a-billy. It’s always made for a fun night out.

The crowd was pretty sparse, but it was getting a little more attendance as the night wore on. But it was still fairly thin.

The first band up was a trio called Kory & The Katfish. They started into their set and they all looked bored. Like they all had better places to be. Not the best impressions right out of the gate. Their bassist was obviously very talented, but seemed to be hindered by the rest of his band. Kory, I’m assuming is their singer/guitarist, was trying to muster up some excitement about being there. He seemed to be a talented guitarist. Busting out with quite few cool licks and such. Vocally, however, he was often flat. There were couple songs in his wheel house, but it was as if he was trying to force himself out of his comfortable and natural range. Sometimes that can work for a singer. It didn’t this time. That brings us to their drummer. This guy was messing up left and right. His tempo was all over the place. He started out with an apathetic look on his face, but as the set went on it was obvious he was in the deep end of the pool without water wings. Once he lost it, his gaze never veered from Kory to attempt to keep it together.

Musically, they were a very average rock-a-billy band. Sure they had their chops, but it seemed they needed a lot more practice. They weren’t a fluid band by any means. The third or fourth song into their set Kory mentioned that it was like band practice since the crowd was so small. So they decide to do a cover. Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues. Now I will give them credit for making it their own, but all that credit is lost with the hack job they did to it. They had one other cover in their set (at least from what I can tell), Mose Allison’s My Brain. If you haven’t ever heard it, look it up, a great little jazz tune. The Katfish version was far less than great. As a matter of fact I believe if Mose were there he would have become violent. Even at the age 84.

So in the end would I pay $5 again to go see Kory & The Katfish? I wouldn’t go see them again for free. Don’t phone it in even when the crowd is small. You never know who’s going to be there.

The headlining act of the evening was Billy Dwayne & The Creepers. I had high hopes for them because of the fiasco that preceded them. This band did not disappoint. They are the embodiment of all that is good about rock-a-billy. Billy, again I’m assuming is the lead singer and guitarist, has a great silky style voice that you couldn’t imagine him singing any other style. Genetically bred to sing for a rock-a-billy band.  As for his guitar playing skills, he’s what I deem as an economical player. Now, don’t get me wrong, this is a great compliment. A guitarist that has the skills, but doesn’t need to be overly flashy because what he’s doing is best for the song. Flashiness would ruin the song. He holds back when he needs to. He steps up to the plate with a great little solo when it’s called for. Something some of those metal guys should pay attention to.

Everyone in this band was very good at what they did. They had the freedom with in the music to flex their musical muscles. But there wasn’t the ”Hey look at me” guy in the band. They were a cohesive unit. With the exception of one timing gaffe and a little bit of tangled finger syndrome on a solo they were spot on.

They played 2 sets. Both of them outstanding. People swing dancing in the small crowd. Everyone was responding really well to their music. The covers they did do were made to sound like them, but still giving up respect to the original musicians.

So for my money, would I go see them again? Wholeheartedly yes. If you’re a fan of rock-a-billy go see Billy Dwayne & The Creepers. They are the real deal.

That concludes the second edition of Music Vigilante. We’ll be back next week with an all new batch of hits or misses. Letting you know which bands are worth your five bucks and those you are better off skipping to hit the jukebox at your local watering hole.

Sin A. sisM

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

The time has come…

Welcome one and all to the new Music Vigilante blog. The purpose of us is quite simple. After years of working in the Seattle music scene and hearing, literally, thousands of bands, I think it’s time someone stepped up to the plate and gave an honest opinion of these live performances.

The simple fact is most clubs charge you a cover to get in. You don’t want to waste your money on a shitty band. So that’s where I come in. I’ll be roving around town checking out random acts and letting you know if they are worth the 5 bucks they’re charging at the door.

I know it’s tough out there for bands as well. The clubs trying to screw you one way or another. It’s tough to get people out to your shows if you’re a nobody. It’s especially tough if you suck. And if you do suck then by all means no one should have to pay to watch you.

Why the anonymity? I’m still a working musician (and no I will not review my own band just for raves) and this is, in some cases, would piss off bands that we may have to play with or clubs that we may play at. I have no desire to be black listed. Think of us as the magician that gives away the tricks.

I won’t be the only one writing in this either. My partner in crime will often point and counterpoint my opinions so we can keep a somewhat unbiased approach.

This will be primarily rock and punk bands reviewed here. Just simply because that’s what dominates the underground scene. We may come across other acts because we are not doing any research other than looking in the Stranger to see where things are going on. We aren’t listening to the bands prior so we may think we’re going to a rock show and find out it’s gangster rap. Who knows? We won’t be hitting the bigger clubs either. So we probably won’t be coming across national acts to often. We are basically in search  of those hidden gems within the sea of Seattle music. We won’t make ourselves known at the shows either. The bands will have no idea we were ever there until they read about it. We are the vigilant justice of the Seattle music scene.

To those who think this is counterproductive to the over-saturated, struggling scene. I disagree. We have been bombarded with bad bands for many years and at this point everyone and their brother is in a band. You can’t throw a rock in this town without hitting someone who plays in a band. The reality is most of these bands can’t book a show to save their lives, but some do. I mean really, as I write this, on reverbnation.com, in the Seattle charts, there are 1833 different bands! Holy shit! I’ll bet that maybe 10% are worth paying a cover to go see.

With all that being said, might as well put my money where my mouth is…

THE FIRST REVIEW!

Last night, Friday, June 1st 2012 – The Kraken (5257 University Way NE, U-District)

The line up: Violent Expulsion, Kramer and The Triple Sixes

To start, the club is small and formerly the Galaway Arms. It has sort of a weird pirate theme to it. Seating is pretty limited, but the beer is cheap. The bartender had no issues keeping up with the small crowd, even with the hang over he repeatedly told everyone he had.

It took quite a while for things to get rolling. Violent Expulsion took an awfully long time to start. They seemed to be having technical issues, which is strange because they were an acoustic act. The Kraken is obviously not set up, technically speaking, to deal with hooking this band’s acoustic electric guitars to the PA system. So they had to put a mic on both guitars and share a vocal mic. The bass was oddly able to run through the PA though. Once they had everything sorted out on that front one of their guitarist/singers had issues unlatching himself from his girlfriend. Now that their disturbing display of public affection was over they finally all took the stage.

They broke into their first song and right off the bat they reminded me of an acoustic version of Rancid. It did kind of seem as if you were out camping and hanging out with your punk buddies around the fire. The song that they opened with was some sort of stereotypical punk, anti-government song. My first impression was that they had pretty good guitar chops, though difficult to hear over the banter of the crowd. I also noticed that the guy in the middle, which I’ll just deem as their lead singer, had a really good voice. The other singer, although not quite as good as his lead counterpart, was a great complimentary voice. Most of the songs in their set were about drinking, being drunk or hanging out with the guy that is drunk.

The bass in all of this was relatively inconsequential because it was so quiet it was barely audible. What he was doing with his fingers made it seem he knew what he was doing and was pretty deft at his instrument, but I couldn’t tell.

They’re stage performance is nonexistent. They just sit on stools like Simon and Garfunkle. It makes for an odd contrast to the aggression and angst they are trying to portray.

The bottom line? Would I pay to see them again? I would. If they were in another hole in the wall club that is. I don’t think they’re at all suited for a big venue. All things considered, these boys out of White Center were good at what they did.

The second act, a band out of Tacoma called Kramer. They took their sweet ass time setting up. Also strange because the band prior to them being acoustic had no gear, per se, to load off the stage and most of Kramer’s gear was already on stage. There was no sense of urgency to keep things moving. I watched as all the fans out from White Center for Vile Expulsion streamed out (A particular pet peeve of mine within the Seattle scene.)

Finally set to go and the guitar was LOUD! Painfully loud. It was drowning out the drums. Two words of advise… Stage volume! You have to mind your stage volume. They brake into their first song and stop 10 seconds in to tune the bass. Great first impression… Guitar too loud, bass out of tune and stopping the song to tune it. Well, it’s not like any of us could hear the bass anyway.

All their songs were short. Their guitarist is obviously very talented, but as a vocalist. I really couldn’t tell you. his fucking guitar was so loud I couldn’t hear a word. Musically they reminded me of something along the lines of The Cramps or The Mummies.  No hooks to speak of, nothing to cling on to in their short songs.

Would I pay to see Kramer again? Nope. Not a dime. I actually think they owe me after last night’s performance.

The headliner of the night was The Triple Sixes. By looking at them I couldn’t get a read of what kind of music they would be. Their gear was all top of the line. Very expensive stuff. Their lead singer, he looked as if he were fronting a rock-a-billy band. Sporting his pompadour style hair cut, zipped up leather biker jacket and a mechanics rag hanging out of his back pocket. Their other guitarist looking like a glam rock guy with his black leather button down shirt and healed, androgynistic boots. They did seem, however, professional. They set up quickly and got started straight away.

As they started the PA was feeding back brutally. They didn’t fix this problem for the first 3 or 4 songs. It was painful to listen to. They trudged through their set of fairly generic punk rock with little highlights. Their theme song, I guess you would call it, “Triple Sixes” was really the only song in their set that I found to have any promise. It had hints of Oi! punk to it. What remained was, to put it bluntly, forgettable.

Would I pay to see The Triple Sixes again? No. They’re a band that can play, but they have nothing new to bring to the table. It’s something I’ve seen too many times before. And no demon tiki strategically placed on the drums is going to fix that.

There you have it, an interesting evening. The highlight being an acoustic punk trio out of White Center… Who would’ve thunk it.

And that concludes the first edition of Music Vigilante. More to come!

Sin A. sisM

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off