Friday, July 24, 2009

Seattle, your punk rock weekend!

This weekend the Capitol Hill Block Party is going on. I'm sure you know about it and who's playing, so I don't really need to cover it, all the details are over here. I'm not a big festival fan, especially in 80-90 degree weather and with lotsa Seattle music scene amateurs, so I think I'm skipping it, even though I'd love to see Book of Black Earth, The Jesus Lizard, The Gossip and Sonic Youth. I think I can hold out for a few months for a full Jesus Lizard reunion tour and see them properly in a dark and dirty club, their proper stomping grounds. Besides the CHBP, Seattle, there is tons more going on...

Like this dude tonight:

Chris Crusher
is playing solo opening up for Premise Beach, Touch Me Satan and The Damage Done (who I wrote about a few entries ago) at The Barnhouse in the U-District (5034 15th NE, starts around 7ish).

Also tonight is my favorite surf band in the world... and luckily they just live in Portland. Satan's Pilgrims will be headlining at the Tractor in Ballard, it's the release party for their new CD. The Ghastly Ones and Sugarsmacks promise to get you dancin' and rockin' before the mighty Pilgrims take the stage.

For a louder non-Capitol Hill show Saturday night, let me suggest the metal meets punk extravaganza going down at The Bit in Ballard. It's Neon Nights CD release show with w/The Valkyries, Rat City Ruckus, Mike Moen, and Church for Sinners.

All weekend long, you're encouraged to "Get your Viking on" at the 35th Annual Ballard Seafood Festival. While the 18 year old hipsters will be rockin' the streets of Capitol Hill drunk in tight pants with flat-ironed hair, the aging hipsters of Ballard will be drinking and eatin' it up alongside their retired Scandinavian neighbors. There's also music, which is all free. Highlights include the always entertaining El Vez, the spazzy Rob Morgan fronted Squirrels, and the Dudley Manlove Quartet. There will be a lutefisk eating contest, for god sake's that's gross! For all the details, check here.

Talk about Hardcore Sundays, this Sunday at the King Cat Theater (has this place even hosted a punk show in the last decade?) will be the Seattle stop for the pretty insane 10 Bands for $10 Tour. Headliners include Bane, Terror, Death by Stereo and Poison the Well. I'm sure this will be off the walls, here is the lineup of bands and set times:

Open Fire 4:00-4:25pm
The Ghost Inside 4:40-5:05pm
Trapped Under Ice 5:20-5:45pm
Death Before Dishonor 6:00-6:25pm
This is Hell 6:40-7:05pm
War of Ages 7:20-7:50pm
Death by Stereo 8:05-8:35pm
Terror 8:50-9:20pm
Poison the Well 9:35-10:15pm
Bane 10:30-11:10pm

And in case you are more into the '70s side of punk than the hardcore side, but still looking for action on Sunday, there is a killer show at The Bit in Ballard with The Cute Lepers and The Girls!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Dark Sounds of The Prids from Portland

I flirted with goth culture back in the '80s, from the dyed black teased out hair and make-up, to dancing at Seattle's notorious club the Monastery, to going to Skinny Puppy and Siouxsie concerts. It was the first alternative subculture I dove into at 16 when I knew I didn't fit in with all the mainstream kids. It was fun to dress up, rock out, and be embraced in a community for being a weirdo. It worked quite well for me until I began to seek out more aggressive and political music and moved more towards the punk rock scene. I'm always slightly amazed that goth survived the '80s, as well as the grunge/alternative rock explosion of the '90s, but I guess I could say the same thing about punk rock. Subcultures never seem to die, they just go through phases of popularity and decline.

Portland band The Prids also flirt with goth... from the dark themes and musical style. And certainly when you see The Prids live, you can't help but notice their fans are dressed in a lot more higher end black clothes than at your average rock or punk show. But, the band also adds in elements of pop, art rock and post-punk, resulting in an alluring blend of dark indie rock. There is an intensity to their slow building tunes, songs layered within their songs, and melodies and bursts of energy lurking around the corner, seemingly ready to jump out. I can't say they blew me away live when I saw them last month in Portland, they did some back turning and looking down instead of at the audience, rather than fully embracing their role as our entertainment for the night. But I think that's part of their style--reluctant, holding something back, letting the energy build, but never quite releasing it and letting loose.

The band began as a two-piece back in the '90s and were performing live and releasing material as a duo until adding a drummer in 2005, then a keyboardist in 2007, when things really started to click. A year ago this month they were in a pretty awful van wreck on tour, you may remember me reporting about it here, but thankfully all survived and have recovered to continue to rock. The Prids have a pile of releases out and earlier this year, there was even a Prids tribute album. The band is currently playing out in the Northwest and working on material for a new album this fall. Check out their website for more info:

Band members: Mistina Keith on vocals and bass, David Frederickson on guitar and vocals, Maile Tarries on keyboards and Joey Maas on drums

  • 2000, Duracraft CD
  • 2002, Glide, Screamer CD/EP
  • 2003, Love Zero CD/LP
  • 2004, Shadow And Shadow 7"
  • 2004, Let It Go 7"
  • 2006, Until the World Is Beautiful CD
  • 2007, Something Difficult CD

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


I can't believe I spent so much time talking about Born Anchors in my Anchor Down intro. Obviously I had a built up rant in me ready to bust out, but I could have just called them a boring beard band and left it at that.

Anchor Down

Seattle's Born Anchors seem to be getting a lot of hype these days. When you write about music you can tell what bands are getting THE PUSH by the amount of mail and email you get from labels and promotional companies about a band. From a music fan's perspective, most of you miss this entire aspect of behind the scenes promotion, from the phone calls and press packs, to the constant nagging from PR companies. I think the PR firm barrage often pays off and might be worth it for a band trying to break bigger when they release an album, but there is also something sorta false about it. Because the reason why a band is getting a lot of press attention isn't necessarily because of how good their music or live performance is.

With Born Anchors, it's gotten them on KNDD and KEXP and great press in local publications, including Megan Seling from The Stranger saying “Born Anchors are the most exciting rock band in Seattle right now…” That kind of promo blitz tends to actually work the opposite of how it's supposed to with people like me. When a band is getting too much hype, I ignore them, or at least I realize they sure don't need me to cover them, the mainstream local press is already doing that quite well. So if you want to see what the hype is about, you can check out Born Anchors at the Capitol Hill Block Party... and try not to fall asleep during their set.

My "job," and that of the underground press, is hopefully at least occasionally focusing your attention on the things not getting written about in the mainstream. It's about giving press to less touched-on subjects. In my case, that means pulling together histories and photos of Northwest bands, labels and places that are somewhat or fully forgotten. There is a lot of Northwest and punk rock history that isn't well documented on the Web that's still important, even if just to me. I also try to shine the spotlight on what I see as brilliant, but often press-neglected bands, currently rocking local stages and basements. So, instead of following the hype, I want to focus your attention on another Northwest "Anchor" band...

Anchor Down from Portland, Oregon:

Anchor Down have been labeled entirely too much with the "pop punk" tag, which I find even lazier than my music writing. Their sound is more melodic punk with balls. They kind of have a Monsula crossed with Bouncing Souls feel to them, with sometimes gruff vocals, layered melodic guitars, super catchy songs and occasional sing-a-long choruses. This is comfort food for people like me that grew up listening to '90s melodic punk. They have a new 6-song EP out entitled "Steel to Dust" I picked up when I saw them a few weeks ago. It's excellent, plus they sold me the CD and a t-shirt for $10, pretty much unheard of low prices in today's world. You can catch a few of their songs over here.

Anchor Down is currently on tour, they will be playing Seattle next August 26th at The Morgue with locals Success and Texas bands The Anchor and O Pioneers. Two Anchor bands for the price of one!

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Damage Done

It happens too infrequently to me these days. Those times where you show up to the show early enough to catch one of the opening bands you've never heard of and they totally blow you away. Or you go to a house show to see a touring band and a local band you haven't seen before just ignites the crowd and has kids bouncing off the walls singing along. The rarer those moments are, the more magical they are. Especially when you're an old and jaded punk rocker that's seen thousands of bands over the years.

I had one of those moments the first time I caught The Damage Done. Within the first song, I was wondering why these guys weren't huge yet. And I think a lot of it has to do with the band's attitude. They don't really seem to give a shit about kissing up to the clubs and promoters to make things happen, they're moving at their own pace and genuinely seem to favor house shows over the punk bars and clubs I tend to frequent a lot of the time.

From The Damage Done website:
The house show, #1. An art perfected by hardcore heroes of the past. When combined with enough beer, the loudest PA possible, and a basement or living room packed with far too many sweaty, singing, dancing friends, the house show is guaranteed to provide the touring band with a great time and enough gas money to make it to the next town. In a time when the community is oversaturated with egotistical bands, all-ages venues that last six months at the most, and nation-wide conglomerate booking agencies specializing in pay-to-play shows, the house show is one of the last free and humble bastions of awesome ear-splitting rock.

I love that. I love bringing it back to where it all started -- DIY punk values and having fun.

Musically The Damage Done can have the intensity of hardcore one song and then a melodic group sing-a-long the next, the constant in the mix is an energy, positive and pumped up, that gives the band a little something extra that a lot of bands lack these days. They have one EP out, a few comp cuts, and have recorded an album that is yet to be released. You can hear a few songs over here, but this is really the kind of band you want to catch live. Upcoming Seattle shows include:

July 19th at The Bit Saloon w/ In The Red, Bastards of Young, & Poverty Bay Saints
Jul 24th at the Barnhouse w/ the Pillowfights & Chris Crusher solo
Aug 7 2009 at The Bit Saloon w/ Heroes Amongst Thieves & Random Orbits
Aug 16 2009 at Studio 7 w/ Cobra Skulls & the Copyrights

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Seattle rocks!

You know, sometimes living in a big city, you get just get stuck hanging out in the same neighborhoods, same insular scenes, same favorite bars and restaurants... and your start to forget that you live in a massive thriving metropolis. Last week I took a ferry over to Bremerton. When trying to find a decent place to eat in a town that mostly has chain stores and restaurants, I was totally disappointed. I started thinking about how fortunate I am to live where I do. And when heading back into Seattle gazing upon downtown, I was marveling at how awesome and beautiful our downtown really is. I do love Seattle, and with all my traveling this Summer--I've been out of town almost every weekend--it only cements the deal for me each time I come home how much Seattle rocks.

Bomb the Music Industry!

It's pretty infrequent when I go to punk house shows these days. It's now to the point where I'm twice the age of many of the kids there, which weirds me out, so I'm more into seeing bands in bars or small clubs. But I've been to a couple shows at a house in the U-District that's been doing shows regularly this Spring/Summer and they've all been excellent. Fun crowd and great energy, something about a house show always brings it out of the band and fans. Last night I finally got to see Anchor Down from Portland, who I'd been meaning to see for a while. They were excellent. Headlining was Bomb the Music Industry! who I'd been listening this past week a bunch. Damn did they put on a show packed with energy that got everyone dancing and singing along!

Bomb the Music Industry! is all over the place musically--from ska and pop punk to hardcore. I love that on their MySpace page, they really only feature bad reviews from music websites and fans, they have a healthy sense of humor about what they are doing that permeates through their lyrics, music and live performances. In the end though, they wear their hearts on their sleeves. Last night lead singer Jeff Rosenstock asked over the mic for donations for the show, thanked the kids putting on the show for letting the band into the house at 5am and letting crash on the floor, and repeatedly asked the crowd to respect the house and help pick up garbage after the show. That positive attitude is a way of life for Bomb the Music Industry!, who only play all-ages shows and offer all of their albums humbly just asking for donations. Fugazi-eque? The new Against Me!? Not really, Bomb the Music Industry! is really their own unique deal and they've been around since 2004.

Towards the end of the night, Rosenstock asked the band members to all play their favorite Seattle band song at once. It was complete noise. But out of it he lifted Harvey Danger's "Flagpole Sitta" and Nirvana's "Territorial Pissings," the band immediately launched into covers of both. I had to wonder if it was all planned out or completely impromptu, because both covers were pretty decent. Do they do that in other towns? Great show, you should definitely check these guys out if they play live in your town.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Cellophane Square, R.I.P.

When I was in highschool in the mid-'80s and starting to delve into alternative culture, I kept hearing about this place called Cellophane Square in the University District. It was supposed to have punk and goth band t-shirts, records and tapes, all kinds of underground merchandise and was where you'd buy tickets to punk shows. Having grown up on the Eastside, hanging out at Bellevue Square as a kid, I pictured Cellophane Square as a punk rock mall. Imagine my surprise when I finally turned 16 and could drive to Seattle and found out Cellophane Square was a tiny, packed record store just off the Ave on 42nd (now the home of a Taco Del Mar).

Tiny though it may have been, Cellophane Square was thee place to go for vinyl back then. The store had actually been around since the early '70s and in the '80s was part of string of record stores around the U-District that I'd shop a couple times a week for the latest finds. When I moved to the U-District in 1986, Cellophane and the comic book store next to it became pretty much a daily ritual. Go to classes at the UW, then get stoned, go record and comic book shopping, then play video games at Space Port or Arnolds. Ah... those were the days.

When I heard Cellophane Square was abandoning it's spot on 42nd to move to a larger high profile spot further up The Ave in the mid '90s, I was pissed! Until I heard they were going to mostly ditch their vinyl and were going to sell it on Saturday for 50% off. I saved up $100, which for me was a lot back then, picked out the records I would buy off the wall, and was waiting to grab them when they opened the doors at 8am. Crazy too, a few years ago I sold most of those records on Ebay and got over $600 for them thanks to old punk vinyl being so sought after.

The bigger, newer location of Cellophane was never quite the same for me. They focused on CDs for a long time, only bringing back vinyl in a bigger way in the last 5 or 6 years. And the selection and prices weren't totally awesome. Still, I usually sold my used CDs there and got a great value in trade for new stuff. And I'd still hit it once or twice a month just to browse the vinyl and used CDs.

This past month Cellophane Square shut it's doors for good. And I kinda feel all Michael Jackson about it. I was sad when I heard Michael Jackson died because even though I haven't paid attention to him in almost twenty years, when I was a kid and Thriller came out, my brother and I probably listened to that record every day for six months. It was a big part of my life a long time ago, so hearing of Jackson's passing made me feel a little bit of my past die away. I have a similar feeling about Cellophane. In the past ten years it was a shell of it's former self, but for me in the late '80s, it was like home, it was my favorite record store I visited all the time. I knew and talked to most of the people that worked there, I knew which records in the bins were new that week, and I feel like much of what I learned in my formative years of being a punk rock music fan came from those record bins. So do I care that the store closed now? Not really, but I do feel like another piece of my past just slipped away. And that, my friends, gives me pause to stop, think, remember fondly, and feel just a bit of sadness.

Community World Theater

While I went to punk shows on and off for a few years, it wasn't until 1987 or so when I regularly started going to punk shows all the time. At the time, in Seattle, the Teen Dance Ordinance made it hard to put on all-ages shows, so venues in nearby towns like Tacoma and Bremerton had success in drawing a lot of us from the city to shows. In Tacoma the primary all-ages punk venue was the Community World Theater, an old movie theater turned punk venue that hosted about three dozen shows in 1987 and 1988.

Mike Ziegler has put together a great history of the venue here that I implore you to check out. He's cataloged flyers, shows, and photos, a great little Washington punk rock history archive, totally the kind of thing I'm into. There's also a MySpace page that includes the music from some of the bands that used to play Community World here.

The shows I remember most seeing at Community World were Fugazi's first tour, the Circle Jerks and 7 Seconds, and The Vandals. This is also where bands like Nirvana and Melvins played some of their earliest shows before they got well known. Along with the big name touring bands, there were also tons of smaller local band shows. Here's a semi-complete list of the bands that played courtesy of the Ziegler's MySpace page:

7 Seconds • 64 Spiders • Abolishment • Accused • Act Of Sabotage • Action Buddy • Agent 86 • Alphabets Swill • Amorous • A.M.Q.A. • Angry Samoans • Animal Clinic • Applied Science • Armoros • Attitude • Attitude Adjustment • Beat Happening • Big Idea • Big Tube Squeezer • Bitter End • Blast • Bleeder • Blood Circus • Blood Sucking Freaks • Bomb • Bosch Society • Brain Dead • Brigade • Brotherhood • Bundle Of Hiss • Burial Benefits • Cactus Love • Camper Van Beethoven • Cannibal • Cat Butt • Catalyst • Chemistry Set • Child Support • Christ On Parade • Circle Jerks • Clown Alley • Coffin Break • Comatose • Cool Runnings • Coven • Crash Bang Crunch Pop • Crisis Party • Dag Nasty • Danger Bunny • Danger Mouse • Dayglo Abortions • Dead Silence • Death Midget • Death Squad • Dehumanizers • Dekay • Derelicts • Desperate Minds • Diddly Squat • Diseased • Disgusting Youth • Dissent • D.O.A. • Doll Squad • Doris • Doughboys • Dr. Know • Dr. Seuss • Duracell • Eastern Star • Edge • Eleven Phantoms • Errant Souls • False Prophets • Family Circus • Fang • fIREHOSE • Flipper • Fluid • Forced Entry • Fred’s Crash Shop • Frightwig • Fugazi • Gary Allen May • Gary Jam • GBH • Girl Trouble • Go Team • G.O.D. • Gods Of Junk • Green Eggs and Ham • Green Pajamas • Green River • Green Suit • H-Hour • Hair Farmers • Half Life • Hateful Youth • Heliotroupe • Hell's Kitchen • Herd Of Turtles • Hester Pryne • Hickoids • Hodads • Holy Sisters Of The Gaga Dada • Housecoat Project • Inner Strength • Inspector Luv And The Ride Me Babies • Jesters Of Chaos • Jim Jones and the Kool-Aid Kids • Kil D'Kor • Killdozer • Killer Bees • King Krab • Lansdat Blister • Lawndale • Lethal Dose • Little Stranger • Lush • Malfunkshun • Mecca Normal • Melvins • Mentors • Melting Fish • Millions Of Dead Leninz • Mind Over Four • M.I.A. • M.I.S. • Moral Crux • Morpheus • Muck • My Name • Neurosis • Nirvana • Nisqually Delta Podunk Nightmare • No Cash Value • No Problem • NOFX • Noise For Nothing • NoMeansNo • Non-Oxynel 9 • Obituaries • Outrage • Pale Ryder • Panic • Pen Cap Chew • Poison Idea • Pop Defect • Positive Outlook • Primitives • Prudence Dredge • Purdins • Pure Joy • Really Rottens • Really Soon • Ride Me Babies • Ringling Sisters • R.K.L. • Room Nine • Sabre • Sacrament • Sacrilege B.C. • Scream • Screamin' Sirens • Screaming Trees • Sea Hags • S.G.M. • Shiva Dancing • Short Dogs Grow • Silent Treatment • Skid Row • Skin Yard • Slack • Slaughter Haus 5 • Slovenly • Snakepit • SNFU • Some Velvet Sidewalk • S.O.S.A. • Soundgarden • Soylent Green • Special Force • s • Spot 1019 Squirrels • State Of Confusion • Steel Pole Bath Tub • Strypes • Subculture • SubVert • Sustained Agony • SX7 • Systems Collapse • Ted Ed Fred • Ten Foot Faces • Thrash Forward • Totally Fucking Lit • Toxic Slaughter • U-Men • Undead • Undercurrent • Underdog • Urinal Disaster • Vampire Lezbos • Vandals • Variant Cause • Verbal Assault • Vomit Launch • Wankster Flu • Wehrmacht • Whipping Boy • White Zombie • Wicked Babe • Witnesses • Yellow Snow • Youth Of Today • Zamo

The photos I included were shot by Darcy Rant. Many thanks to Darcy for letting me put them up! In talking about the shows it sounds like she and I were at many of the same ones, but it was a couple years before I started photographing at shows and writing about music. I absolutely love the one with the skinhead speaker diving and his arms spread out like a bird above the crowd... it's amazing she captured that moment, and I think that dude landed right on me if it was during the Circle Jerks.