Galactic @ The Showbox - 6/04/99
Garage Shock, Day 1 @ 3B Tavern- 5/29/99
Garage Shock, Day 2 @ 3B Tavern - 5/30/99
Garage Shock, Day 3 @ 3B Tavern - 5/31/99
Girl Trouble / Woggles / Accel 4 @ The Breakroom - 5/22/99
Neotropic / Pole @ - 6/12/99
Rammstein / Soulfly @ The Paramount Theatre - 6/17/99

[ galactic w/ skerik - photo by robert zverina ]
photo by robert zverina

The Showbox
June 4, 1999
Seattle, WA


Some shows inhabit a magical place in memory, seeming to shimmer like a desert highway mirage that you can approach but never quite reach. This can happen for a number of reasons--a virtuoso performance, a totally stoked crowd, tunes that get you dancing with happy abandon. In the case of Galactic's sold-out Showbox appearance it was combination of all three. And then of course there were the drugs.

It was a question of timing, really. The Showbox performance came on the heels of the Mountain Air festival, a Dionyssian revel held outside of San Francisco where Galactic continued to win over rabid new fans through their genre-bending brand of New Orleans groove-y funk jazz acid blues--or whatever you want to call the Brownian (as in James) high-energy hoodoo they make. Displaying the dogged loyalty and nomadic tendencies of Phish and Dead fans, many from Seattle had gone down to see them play two full gigs on the same day, and many from the Bay Area now had come north to see Galactic jam with local legendary punk sax dynamo Skerik (of Sadhappy, Critters Buggin' and Tuatara fame). So a festival vibe was in full effect as a ton of shake left over from the big weekend sweetened the air and kept security busy confiscating joints and bowls.

They played two marathon sets, starting a little after ten and finishing just ahead of Seattle's too-early 2 o'clock last call. Jeff had said it was music for your feet and the crowd, which included everyone from underage trustafarians to hipster jazz aficionados, was kept in constant motion, driven by the relentless stream of white hot energy emitted by the dual sax attack of Ben Ellman and Skerik. The unforgettable performance wrapped up with Skerik turning jazz inside out with a seemingly interminable free riff as a possessed Stanton Moore beat the shit out of his skins. Skerik's homepage quotes him: "The music I play is my life; it's 24 hours of immersing myself in reality and taking everything with it, beauty and ugliness, good and bad things." It's this all or nothing enthusiasm that burned through the humid air of the Showbox and set a new standard for unbridled musical joy and showmanship.

-Robert Zverina
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[ the coyote men - photo by steve weatherholt ]
photo by steve weatherholt

Garage Shock
3B Tavern
May 29, 1999
Bellingham, WA

Man or Astroman?
Von Zippers
Zen Guerrilla
Coyote Men
The Monkeywrench

Garage Shock is nearly a yearly event that is sponsored by Estrus Records for its bands. For three days the small town of Bellingham, Washington is invaded by hooligans (not the football ones--well, maybe a couple) of all sorts. Ya got your retro, greaser, thick-rimmed glasses, a few leather jackets, and vintage cars, mixed in with tons of beer, a small cozy tavern, and very loud trashy rock 'n' roll. This will either get you heading for the ibuprofen or get your blood screaming through your veins. I have been to about 4 or 5 of them, but never for the entire weekend. My Danish guest, Peter "the King of Scandinavian Rock" Markham, was in town to celebrate his turning 30 (poor old man).

This year was going to be the blowout of all mother blowouts! Bands came in from all over the world to take part in this great weekend of debauchery, which was highlighted by the almost exclusively Scandinavian lineup on Saturday. Our festivities began early Friday morning after a great Hellacopters show Thursday night in Seattle. The real work was getting my Danish pal, Peter "Dozens of Bowling Shirts" Markham, out of bed and into the car. We had promised two Swedes that we would pick them up an we had to get up to B-ham before the tickets went on sale at 11:00 am. The tickets could only be purchased the day of show, with each person allowed to purchase two tickets the day of show for $25. This format seemed a little insane, but hey, who was going to argue with tons of beer and loud rock 'n' roll! Anyway, having gathered up the Swedes we drove the 1.5 hours to our Promised Land of cheap motels, cheap beer, and cheap eats. With tickets in hand it was time to locate our affordable place of rest. After dropping off the Swedes at the Motel 6, food was in order, with Peter pleading to get some.

Peter--who wanted to test out all forms of American culture--chose the local International House of Pancakes for our eating "pleasure" (a dirty word for our impending lower G-I tract disturbances and deadly hydrogen sulfide gases!). IHOP, being next to the bottom on an increasing quality of national food chains, wasn't on my list of better food establishments to experiment with. I tried talking him out of it to save my own G-I tract the abuse that this place would inflict, but Peter would have none of this. He wanted his American cultural experience. Peter, let me know how your stomach feels in a few hours? After eating, we arrived at our grand motel of choice, the Val-U-Inn, our cheap accommodations for the weekend. We had several hours to kill before tonight's drunken fest. I chose to channel surf and Peter snuck in a few z's.

After some TV and shuteye, we needed to explore the local record stores. Peter, how is your lower G-I tract feeling? He swore that we would never eat at IHOP again. The downtown section of B-ham isn't that big, so everything is in close proximity. After checking out a few shops Having exhausted his search for records in Seattle, Peter wanted some more food. We were directed to this local Mexican shop. As we were standing in line Peter says this will not do and turns and leaves. Outside he says it's too dirty in there and was worried. I'm thinking, "Jesus man you ate mystery meat at the shit-hop. How could this be any worse? Danes sure can be picky I guess!" The only place that seemed appetizing was this pizza shop. Great, we can load up on carbos before the beer swilling.

Tonight's lineup featured Thundercrack, The Von Zippers, The Coyote Men, Monkey Wrench, Zen Guerrilla, and Man or Astro Man. Each band was given 40 minutes to give to us. The 3B Tavern has the capacity to hold 187 persons, with 15-20 micro brews on tap, and most of America's beer-colored water in cans for your cheap pleasures or nasty hangover. Hanging from the ceiling was leftover colored vinyl from Estrus records. Also present were a few pinball games [south park! --ed.], a video machine and two pool tables covered with plywood for their protection. With adequate stage and decent size floor space, this was the home of Garage Shock.

Right on time (well, 15 minutes late), Thundercrack from Nancy, France opened Garage Shock '99 with a bang. This three-piece--two guitars and a drummer (no bass player)--started the explosives by playing frenzied thrashy rock with a bit of Thee Headcoats thrown in. Their style of French thrash forced you to not miss the thumping of the bass. They put on a good show with lots of enthusiasm.

Peter, being the King of Scandinavian rock, was schmoozing with his industry friends and taking in the pleasures of his first G-Shock as one only can--with a beer in hand. Next, The Von Zippers from Calgary, Canada, being one of the highlights of the night, stormed on sans WWI helmets and tore up the stage. Slamming us with their '60s punk 'n' roll from Hell with enough hooks to outfit a tackle shop. You should pick up The Von Zippers latest cd. The Coyote Men all the way from Newcastle, England, sporting Mexican Wrestling masks (I'm sure to conceal their drunken identities) came out spitting another brand of thrashy rock 'n' roll. They may not drink the Newcastle beer served in the States, but almost anything else will do. Next was Monkey Wrench, an all-star band of sorts from Seattle, reformed after 7 years and practiced only once before tonight. They came out to the roar of the crowd. They played faster live then their record. The crowd was really into them, spitting beer on them and one crazed drunken fan on his knees begged them not to leave and to play more. He went so far as grabbing a band member's leg and would not let go. Pleading with them to play more! Man rock 'n' roll must go on.

Up next, Zen Guerrilla from San Francisco took the stage and kicked out some frantic sonic soul with way too much delay in the vocals. That is how it was meant to sound? Their singer is one very tall white guy sporting a very "Bad Afro." Their bass player was superb! The band that kept coming to mind for me as they played was Chrome. Where that came from I don't know. Anyhow, for me Zen Guerrilla are best taken in little doses and from a distance. I overheard one drunk spouting "Zen Guerrilla, who likes them? I'm from San Francisco. I don't know anybody who likes them. How did they get on the bill?" [erm... because somebody likes them? --ed.]

The last band up tonight was Man or Astro Man from Atlanta, Georgia. This was my first time catching them live. Think of the quirkiness of Devo playing methamphetamine-fueled double-time surf. Men in red jump suits, a theremin, and the best Mac keyboard playing you can find... Err, well the only Mac keyboard player there is. This was surely another high light of the night for me.

Chaos and drunkenness went hand-in-hand until the bar closed. After Man or Astro Man, I needed to relieve my swollen bladder of the many beers. I'm at the urinal doing my thing and this guy walks in and starts his thing in the other urinal. He spouts that they pulled out all the stops for this show. They didn't hold anything back. Yeah, sure, is he talking about the last band? Having never seen Man or Astro Man, I didn't know if they played an extra special set tonight or not. He says, "It sure smells like ambrosia in here." Now my head is spinning trying to figure out what the fuck he is talking about. "What?" He pointed at the urinal. They pulled all the stops on the deodorant hockey pucks in the urinals make it smell like ambrosia in here! They placed four deodorant bars in all the urinals. It makes perfect sense now, I guess! I hook up with Peter and he wants more food. Sure, if anything is open this late. Peter's American cultural experience continues with the all-night diner, complete with the heavy pouring lounge and ex-drinkers sitting on bar stools smoking and drinking coffee just like the old days. We order more gut-wrenching food and 1.5 hours later we finally get our "delicious" entrees. With the night winding down we make our way back to the car and the Val-U-Inn.

...Saturday morning and I'm not feeling too bad. Last night's Physical depth charge is seeping back into this new day's reality. I need coffee in the worst way to help clear the pipes of all the fucked-up food I abused myself with! [thanks for the visual steve! ugh... --ed.] I vow never to let Peter pick the eating establishment again! I can only dream of the incredible deluxe shrimp enchilada from Jalisco, on 15th! That will have to wait. We are treated to the Continental Breakfast at the spectacular Val-U-Inn: muffins and coffee. The first order of business is to get in line for tickets. Tonight's show is expected to sell out fast. I must get two extra tickets for Craig and Jay, who are coming up later today. When we arrive at the 3-B Tavern, the line is longer than yesterday and I'm a little worried that I will not be able to get extra tickets. Made it, we got 'em. Time to find food and this time Peter is not having any choice in the matter. We run into Jack from Lance Rock and Mike Gearhead. They invite us to join them and The Nomads for brunch at the Old Town Café. The Nomads were pleasant and really cool people. I didn't have a whole lot to talk about with them. I'm kinda shy around strangers so I mainly drank coffee and listened, speaking up once in awhile. One of the Nomads' comments was how far along the Flaming Sideburns have come along. He said they are getting better with each show. There wasn't enough room at the table, so Peter, Mike and his wife sat at another table. Peter, Jack and I head out and run into a couple of the Von Zipper guys and are talked into going to the all-night diner's "altra"-lounge for drinks. Peter decides to have electric ice teas at two in the afternoon and gets a little loopy off the two he has. Peter and I need to get going to hook up with Craig and Jay for tonight's activities. We head out looking for a store to grab some food and beer. We run across a sale on cheap plastic refrigerator magnets and Peter just has to have some. Can't leave America without 'em. In his groggy ice tea'd mind he gets two of them only to have regretted buying them later. Cheap pieces of plastic that they are, I don't blame him.

-Steve Weatherholt
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[ nomads - all hail the kings!  photo by steve weatherholt ]
photo by steve weatherholt

Garage Shock
3B Tavern
May 29, 1999
Bellingham, WA

Sugar Shack
Flaming Sideburns

After a bit of a detour through Arlington, Washington ("Where bowling is the number 1 family sport"), Jay "Day of the Jackal" Pachl and myself arrive relatively unharmed at Garage Shock ground zero for day two. Checking into our motel room, we check in with Stevie Ramone and his Danish counterpart, Peter "7-10 split" Markham (by the way, Peter: How many bowling shirts do you own?!). Steve has busied himself flipping through channel after useless channel on the television, while our dear friend Peter "That's 'Mr. Moshable' to you" Markaham is bravely trying to sleep off the ill effects of his previous night's IHOP experience (which included a menu item he could only later describe as "four different kinds of meat"), and several Long Island Iced Teas (which he was forced to consume earlier in the day with The Flaming Sideburns in order to get himself placed on the guest list for the coming night's festivities). Poor Peter. Their bathtub is filled with ice and a plentiful array of beer, so Jay and I grab a drink and spend the afternoon strolling the streets of Bellingham, generally being a menace to all those we encounter (must be our charming smiles).

The four of us reconnoiter for a dinner of questionable Mexican food (is there any other kind?) and margaritas before heading off to the 3B Tavern (South Park pinball!) and Garage Shock, where, for good or ill, they are selling Schlitz at a buck a can. We immediately saddle up to the bar and order four cans; the first of many a round and not a good sign. Promptly at eight, Finland's Flaming Sideburns take the stage and rev up the amps for the first sounds of the night. Two guitars, bass, drums, and a singer dressed in platform shoes and sporting white leopard skin pants and hat, these boys have attitude and aren't afraid to show it. For forty minutes they swagger sexily through their own brand of garage rockabilly music, leaving no disbelievers. Peter "Four Different Kinds of Meat" Markham and Stevie were right, these boys are best heard live. At one point singer Speedo Martinez climbed atop one of the PA platforms, singing as his perch swayed precariously above the crowd, not caring if he and several hundred pounds of speaker go crashing onto the heads of their fans. Near the end of their set they have the whole crowd on their knees, praying and giving thanks for that mighty, mighty rock 'n' roll sound.

Next up were Sweden's Sewergrooves. I was hoping for a lot out of this trio, as their drummer is none other than Robert Hellacopter. Well, I got a lot out of Robert's playing, but that was about it. Indeed, a tough job following the Sideburns, but they just didn't hit the mark, or even leave one for that matter. With several cans of Schlitz foaming precariously atop my rice and beans, I stepped outside for some fresh air and somehow got swept down river and around the corner to another bar for a gin and tonic. Inside I found myself trying to carry on a conversation with a lady whose mouth did not move when she spoke. Usually, when the cacophony of loud music and chatter makes it impossible to follow a conversation, I can watch someone's lips and follow the gist of the conversation, throwing in the obligatory "yeah, right, really" comments on cue. However, when she spoke, her mouth did not move in the least. At first I thought it was me, then I blamed it on the liquor, then I started thinking maybe she wasn't human at all, but an alien dressed up in human form. Whatever the reason was, I kept finding myself going "What...? Huh...?" enough times to make it annoying for the both of us. Realizing that I was missing the Insomniacs set to sit here and talk to someone whose mouth did not move, and suddenly focusing in on the juke box enough to figure out that it was playing Men Without Hats' "Safety Dance," was a big enough kick in the ass to get me back out the door and to the safe confines of the 3B (and more Schlitz).

Saddened at having missed the Insomniacs, and now wondering where Jay had disappeared to, I popped the top off another can of Schlitz and fell in step to the garage punk groove of Texas' Sugar Shack. Their singer wasn't wearing leopard skin pants, heels or hat, and neither of the guitarists snarled and barked at the crowd in some phlegm-driven dialect, but these guys hit hard! With a female drummer using tree stumps to propel the rhythm section, Sugar Shack kicked ass and hit every pleasure point in my blackened and shriveled little rock 'n' roll heart. Hoppin', boppin' and droppin' big, crunchy guitar sounds, I thought I was going to be thrown out of the 3B for smiling so brightly. What a treat!

Next up were Sweden's The Nomads. All hail the Kings of Rock! Seeing The Nomads play is one of those rare treats one is afforded in life. Last time for me (with the exception of their show two days previous at the Showbox) was several years ago at the Crocodile with the Lazy Cowgirls. And what a show! These guys have been doing it for more than a generation now, and you can't name a garage rock band who won't cite them as an influence. Introduced by Dave "The Man" Crider, who thanked The Nomads for "changing my life, saving my life," the band dropped the clutch and utterly blew away the crowd with their sonic garage rock boom. These guys were in their groove tonight and everyone inside the bar was under the influence of their sound. The only words to describe them is jaw droppin', head boppin', feet rockin'--fuck yeah! All hail the Kings!

Floating down off my Schlitz-and Nomads-induced cloud of bliss, I didn't think the night could get any better. Oh, wait...The Hellacopters have yet to play! All the shop talk for the last year has been about these boys from Stockholm. And guess what? It's all true! These boys are the heirs to the crown, and they have the goods to prove it. Obviously thrilled with playing Garage Shock with so many friends and contemporaries, The Hellacopters came barreling down the tracks like a locomotive and didn't let up. Spinning and intermixing a punk crunch with Motor City flash and swagger, they brought the house down and left no disbelievers in the crowd. Having only 40 minutes to leave their mark, they cut down on the guitar histrionics (a good thing) and just laid down some loud, gritty garage punk. Joined onstage at points by members of The Nomads, The Quadrajets and Scott Morgan (who also joined them at their Showbox show), the only one to leave the stage before it was all over was bassist Kenny Hellacopter, who accidentally took one step too many backwards and came falling down into the arms of the crowd on the side of the stage, who kindly enough deposited him back up where he belonged.

All said and done, a fantastic night! My ears are ringing, all the Schlitz has done some funny things to my equilibrium, and Peter's Danish is suddenly starting to make sense. As we stumbled out of the 3B I had to drag Stevie away from The Flaming Sideburns (no Steve, you can't take them home--even if you house train them). Back at the Motel 6, Peter "America, we love it!" Markham opens up a bottle of bourbon before promptly passing out on the bed in one of his many bowling shirts. Steve and I are hankering for a cheese pizza, and we actually find a place that would deliver at three in the morning. It should sit nicely with all the Schlitz. At long last, around four, the ringing in my ears lulls me into a peaceful sleep and dreams of dancing Schlitz cans.

Contents of the bathtub in Val U Motel room 317, 3:30 a.m., Sunday, May 30th:
5 Guinness, bottles
1 Jack Daniels, ~750mL
1 Starbucks Frappucino, bottle
1 two-gallon jug of water
1 package, Fred Meyer individually wrapped Swiss cheese singles, opened

-Craig Young
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[ quadrajets - photo by jeff greenwood ]
photo by jeff greenwood

Garage Shock
3B Tavern
May 31, 1999
Bellingham, WA

Lord High Fixers
Fireballs of Freedom
Estrella 20/20

Ah, day three and surprisingly I don't have a hangover. Maybe it was all the water and pizza we had at 3:30 am last night that saved me. I had gotten a little too drunk. At least I didn't damage anybody or anything. We missed the wonderful Continental Breakfast and just made it out by checkout time to join Craig and Jay for the best meal of the trip at the Old Town Café. My stomach had recovered and needed the great food. We all must have had a fair amount to drink last night as evidenced by the 13 types of beverages us four were drinking. A little dehydrated maybe. Craig and Jay have to return to Seattle now and we part ways. With no place to go or do, Peter would like to try out his other passion, which is bowling. At least he can do something that will go along with his nice bowling shirt. I'm not much of a bowler, no skill just throw the ball as hard as I can. I usually end up damaging something though, namely broken bloody fingernails. My competitiveness will make me try as hard as I can. I suck, but manage to steal one game from him. Peter looked so nice in his stylish bowling shirt. He fit in so well with the other two people there.

The downtown sector is completely deserted. Only a few Garage Shockers are to be found. Just about everything is closed up and with this street fair the day before it is pretty quiet. I don't want to start drinking this early because I have to drive us back to Seattle tonight. We wander around checking out a couple of the shops that are open. We head out in search of food, but end up driving around B-ham for a couple of hours. We do find a Chinese restaurant which is a bit scary looking in the sense that the food might not really be food. We venture in and order something to eat. Well, we are served something that I'm not quite sure if it can be classified on the food pyramid chart. It tastes okay, but looks like mystery food to me. We could not figure out the waitress because we could not get more than two little tiny bowls of rice from. Was she running low in her 50-cup rice cooker? Peter felt like a king in there because he could light up a smoke at the table. It's getting close to starting time. So we head back to the 3-B.

We are hanging out waiting for the 3V record shop to open up across the street before the show starts. I want to try to talk the owner into selling me his North Carolina license plate inscribed with "JOY DVISN". Chuck would not even look at my money. He said that he is not ready to part with it yet, but took my card and would let me be first to know when he would.

Tonight's music is just about ready to start. The past three days' activities seemed to be taking a toll on the partygoers. Everybody seemed tired, worn out and already (or still) drunk. Al Von Zipper looked like he hadn't slept and spent all his time at the lounge. First up are locally owned Watts with Dave "Bad Hair" Crider from the legendary Mono Men on guitar. Sounds a lot like the Mono Men only with more guitar leads. Guitar leads must be coming back in style, because this weekend has been filled with them. Next on are Estrella 20/20 from Shizuoka, Japan. They put on a good show of their soul-shaking rock, barring minor technical difficulties (thanks to Tim Kerr for helping out). I must have been getting burned out because with each ensuing band I took fewer and fewer notes. At least the chaotic level tonight was picking up speed and momentum at a faster pace than the last couple of nights. From Seattle were the Gimmicks. I have no notes for them, but having seen them a few days ago and was not overly impressed by their uninspired dirty booze rock. Fireballs of Freedom from Portland, Oregon played a very good set of rabid rock 'n' roll to the stage divers and the beer throwers.

This night was headed for a crazy hectic affair. The musical quality was slipping fast. Extra people coming on stage to part take in the beer-soaked orgy. The bar had run out of all that cheap canned beer last night and only tap beer was left. I have to give a hand to the bartenders this weekend doing an excellent job, plus dealing with all the drunkenness. That didn't matter because the keg on the side of the stage that was for the bands was getting passed out to all that appeared. Having seen the Quadrajets from Opelika, Alambama the other night two questions came to mind. One, would all of their equipment fit on the small stage? Two, how drunk would they be? The amps just made it on the stage and they were plastered! I don't think they completed one song without the help of other fellow musicians. I don't think it was great rock 'n' roll because too many people were helping fuck it up. Beer and sweat coated stage with people rolling all around, cords coming unplugged, symbols getting knocked over, band members in the crowd and the crowd on stage! At one point Nicke Hellacopter went whizzing by passed out in the arms of some friends. A little too much, eh Nicke? Would things be any better for the Lord High Fixers from Austin, Texas? Well, not really. Musical quality was not on the bill this late into the night. Way too many drunks were helping out. I give much credit to the Fixers' drummer who played most of the set without cymbals; they got knocked over by the drunken mess in front of her. She was one hell of a drummer, playing through hell or drunken chaos.

After the show had ended with many drunks talking about, Peter, myself and others echoed that this year's Garage Shock was a great kick off for the next century of rock 'n' roll! Garage Shock '99 was an incredible weekend of fine music and drunkenness. It's late and I need coffee to keep awake for the drive home. Peter did a great job of keeping the conversation going and me only half-asleep during the drive. I would like to thank Estrus, all the bands, people I met and especially Peter Markham for the awesome weekend!

-Steve Weatherholt
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[ accel 4 at the breakroom - photo by peter markham ]
photo by peter markham

Girl Trouble / Woggles / Accel 4
The Breakroom
May 22, 1999
Seattle, WA

Girl Trouble

Accel 4 from Japan has Saji's (Guitar Wolf) brother on guitar. Trying to be like big brother, their stage outfits consisted of full leather. Complete with collars turned up, driving gloves and shades, Accel 4 has very choreographed jumping and hand-raising movements. Accel 4's set was made up of many covers from New York Dolls, Stooges, MC5 and the most fucked up cover of The Troggs' "Wild Thing." I don't understand how anyone could fuck that song up, but Accel 4 did a great job of this. I have heard that The Cramps had said that these guys were great musicians, but this was very hard to justify by their performance this night.

The Woggles came on next, all the way from Athens, Georgia, to treat us to another one of their great shows. My guest, Peter Markham, from Moshable magazine, finally got to see the band of his dreams live. I was going to ask him if that was spilt beer on his jeans or was that an accident? Peter just turned 30 years old and did not get a chance to see The Wailers or The Sonics, but he says The Woggles are a modern day version of them only better, maybe. If you like anything about garage punk 'n' roll, nobody does it better than The Woggles. They proceeded to rip up the stage and the dance floor at the same time. The Woggles spent more time playing in the crowd than playing on stage. A very top-notch live performance band and a must-see if they come to your town.

Girl Trouble is the long-time local favorites. I have never seen a bad performance by them out of the 40-50 shows I have seen. Tonight was not going to be their first bad show, either. Girl Trouble are one of those bands that don't really care if you like them or not. We have the utmost respect for them because they could have made it on any label that deals with garage music, but have steered their own course. They gave Estrus the thumbs down over cover art and put it out themselves for their latest album, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.

The essence of the Girl Trouble machine is to check out their live performances. The fun and humor that is put into each show is above and beyond what most bands would like to accomplish. Starting with the lanky singer and saxophonist, K. R. Kendall, giving you the antics, jokes and the best beach blanket dance routines you'll ever see from a guy. Each show is filled to capacity with some of the best garage music around, some sort of Halloween treats, and contests for prizes. Tonight was a dance contest for the Girl Trouble/Woggles commemorative handcrafted ceramic platter. Three contestants were chosen from the crowd to dance on stage and crowd appreciation determined the winner of this fabulous prize. All in all, Girl Trouble¹s live performances is something not to miss. You will definitely be in for a real treat.

-Steve Weatherholt
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[ riz maslen ]
Neotropic / Pole
June 12, 1999
Seattle, WA


Since the weather was actually decent (read overcast but not raining) in Seattle, the early show at was competing with the natural human inclination to seek sunlight. Which meant more space indoors for the thick sound to rattle around with the deadening impact of human flesh. And tonight's show was an exercise in thick, deep beats.

Riz Maslen, aka Neotropic, is touring in support of Mr. Brubaker's Strawberry Alarm Clock, a Ninja Tune release replete with savaged rhythms, the electronic reverberation of spatial sounds and thick beats, and the mandatory presence of lost vocal samples like voices out of fog. What sets Ms. Maslen apart for the rest of the crowd is her ability to turn on the rhythmic dime, switching her direction and pace mid-phrase while never losing your place in the enveloping whole. She opens her show with the title track of her new album and, when coupled with the visuals playing on the large screen behind her, you can see just how much of an homage this track is to the atmosphere of Blade Runner. Not to mention a better soundtrack than the quasi-orchestral tonality strung up by Vangelis. She doesn't stray much from the studio sound, but the near physical impact of her beats makes you want to run home after and listen to the album again, though with solid headphones that'll handle something higher than "4" from your receiver.

One downside: track four on the album, "Insane Moon," is this out-of-place vocal excursion that comes off like an overly earnest middle-aged Welshman trying to connect to a new generation with his "Love via the Lounge" routine. It is scary to hear on the disc and thoroughly terrifying to witness live. Ms. Maslen has mentioned in a recent interview that she was placing more of an emphasis on vocals during the latter half of her set, and I really hope this emphasis is just a passing fancy. Otherwise, I'll show up late and have a couple in the bar next time. From the bar, the vocals are swallowed up by the architecture and all you can hear is the snap of her sonic accompaniment.

Stefan Betke's day job is the removal of the hiss and crackle from master tapes; his night job as Pole is the resurrection of those same pops and burbles into a thriving rhythmic entity. Mr. Betke came armed with his PowerBook of Tricks, a keyboard tuned to the warped side of an ancient, wheezing hurdy-gurdy, and a bass sound so thick and rich that it rattled more than one beer bottle on the shelf at my elbow. This is the sound that we all wished we could get out of our speakers when the guy next door would not stop playing Loverboy's "When It's Over."

Employing the first law of theater (leave them wanting more), Mr. Betke Slammed the audience with a thick thirty-minute set of material from his two albums (1 and 2) before waving his hands and flashing a grin as he danced off the stage. We all stood in shock. Our bones continued to resonate a long time after he had left the building and the slack grins on our faces were born of pleased incredulity. He hadn't made static danceable, but certainly gave it back some pop and crackle that will make it impossible for us not to hear every day the glimmer of the music that he is able to coax out of common noise.

-Mark Teppo
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[ rammstein ]
Rammstein / Soulfly
The Paramount Theater
June 17, 1999
Seattle, WA


A few words about the openers. Mindless Self Indulgence: the self-indulgent part was my stopping at Vons (the "best" martini in Seattle) and just not getting to the Paramount in time. The mindless part was not actually ordering a martini, but getting Jack and Coke. Hey, I was trying to make new friends. Soulfly: kept tight by a rhythm section which sported clean-shaven chin/spiraled twisty hair and clean pate/Russian Tsarist bristle goatee combinations, this was Brazilian hardcore which had a chorus of "no bullshit, no horseshit" as its anthem. No kidding. And if anyone comes at you with odds on the bass player's fretwork, head-banging, or ability to terrify your grandmother, don't take 'em. Sucker bet.

A few words about Rammstein: three minutes of sustained white homage to the Scorpions' twin guitar attack...the German fascination with automation...Wagnerian entrance theatrics...Jesus Christ? No, just the bass player..."frickin' laser beams on their heads"...keyboardist demonstrating just how much attention he needs to pay to the pre-recorded sequences in his again...lead singer goose-stepping around with spark-spewing booties...misplaced power ballad salvaged by the keyboardist's journey around the audience in a rubber raft...more fire...more sparks...more fire...keyboardist again, though his rubber accessory this time around is a ball gag...simulated anal sex with ball-gagged keyboardist...prosthetic penis that shoots sperm longer than Kenny G can sustain a single with again...Pod People impersonations...chain link coat on fire...spark-shooting drum sticks...pyrotechnics (different from just fire)...flaming microphones...flaming keyboard stands...flaming cage...virginal maid in said flaming cage...FLAMETHROWER!

Okay, now that was entertainment.

-Mark Teppo
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