Junior called me up shortly after returning to Seattle to let me know that there was a concert at a "Punk House." Punk houses are just homes that host concerts, usually in basements. I never would have thought anyone could get away with that, especially on weeknights! I met Junior at Tangletown, which is a restaurant and brewery owned by the Elysian Brewing company... yes, this is where Brad got that sweatshirt with the AK-47 Ale on it. Junior works in the kitchen. I ate and had a couple of beers with Junior when he got off work, then we headed over to The Retirement Home, which is the name given to this particular punk house.
Punk houses are named so that addresses do not need to be given out, which keeps the possibility of getting shut down to a minimum. Word of mouth and a lot of text messaging keeps everyone informed of shows. We were there early, so I helped Graham from Cyanide Destrukt unload some of their gear. They were to be one of three bands to play that evening. Graham is the drummer, and Junior mentioned that Graham would hang with Brad when Brad was in town. I did like Graham, and hope to get to talk to him. I was asking about the drum tensioner, and he was kind enough to explain the process... and humble enough to say he wasn't really good at it!
As people started showing up, I sort of retreated. I've always been more of a people-watcher than a talker, but I was still reeling from Brad's death so I was more withdrawn than usual. Here I was, in the middle of Brad's scene, where I would feel like an imposter on a normal day. I mentioned to Junior's girlfriend that I had overcome a lot of my social anxieties after my first quarter at community college, but that I could tell that I had regressed quite a bit since Brad died. I figure I'll get some of my confidence back, but right now I have trouble looking people in the eye again. I was very nervous that Junior was going to feel like he had to keep me company, but he wisely did his own thing and did not babysit me.
Junior's band, Slightly Less Than Nothing, consists of Stace on vocals, Zu on guitar, Junior on bass, and Ryan on drums. They went first, and I honestly was not impressed. I did not understand a word Stace was saying, and everything just blended. I did like Junior's "voice," which is screaming since this is hard and fast punk music. The second band was Cyanide Destrukt, which are a bunch of older farts... they are pretty damn good. I like the singer, I thought their playing was sharp, and I liked what they had to say.
I feel like there were four bands, but I can't think of any others besides the last band. This last band was the travelling band, which were supposedly from some other country. Earlier, a hat had been passed around for donations to the band on the road. The guy holding the hat seemed shocked that I threw in $10 and didn't want change. I sort of felt like I was showing off, but I also felt that the idea was to give what you could afford. Do I cheat so I don't look like a showoff? I'm trying to do the right thing by the scene, not for my image, so I will continue to give what I can when at these events, regardless of how it makes me look. Nobody sees it but the guy holding the hat, anyway.
So, the band from Norway (I think)... turns out the singer just sings in some other language, and the band is actually from Arizona. The singer had been wasting no time getting blotto while the other bands played. While his band was setting up, he was barely able to keep upright in his seat, and was spouting off gibberish. I was not expecting much from these guys. From the start, though, they played clean and hard. I was impressed. The singer was terrible, and I don't think it had much to do with being drunk. The band even brought some entertainment with. There was a guy who put pins through his cheeks and other places during the show. He even let you staple money to his body. When the novelty wore off, he terrorized the singer and bass player with the staple gun. Speaking of the bass player...
Junior had showed me where he stands during concerts at the Retirement Home. Off to the side, you can kind of avoid the thrash pit and traffic of people coming in and out. He had a great spot, however there was something he hadn't figured on. I don't quite know how he managed it without being obvious, but somehow the bass player managed to get naked while he was playing, and he was about six feet away. Needless to say, as people started to realize, the camera phones were put to use.
The crowd throughout the evening was interesting to watch. I figure that less than half the people there came in the basement to see the bands. Many people just stayed in the backyard and socialized. Very nice bunch.
I won't go into as detailed of a description about the second show. This one was held at a bar in the U-District, and it was Junior's birthday. Another weeknight concert.... ugh. And FOUR bands were to play. The travelling band was from St. Louis, and one of the members used to play with Brad. His name was Pat, but I did not get to meet him.
Junior's band was much better than the first time I heard them, which was attributed to the fact that it wasn't in a basement. I really do enjoy the songs where Junior does some vocals. All told, I could pick out something from every single band that I enjoyed, and it wasn't because I was looking for something. Junior's band was just good all around. I really liked the second band's singer. The third band, the one from St. Louis, seemed very happy with the crowd, and the interaction was great. They also were a strong band in general. The last band was tough, because I knew I really shouldn't stay. They were good, and I especially liked how the guy singing backup would carry his screams out longer than the lead singer... it was a great effect.
What I do not care for with this thrash punk is the way everything blends. I have started producing some covers in my head and applying the thrash punk formula to them, and trying to come up with ways to allow the different instruments to shine through without losing the effect. Kind of like a Me First and the Gimme Gimme's effect, but less commercialized and much harder, even with covers of the strangest, most unlikely tunes.
Yet another thing I would like to dabble with.
Oh yeah, the third concert is tomorrow night... Friday the 13th. I'll report on it.