Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Marnie Stern, Tera Melos, Kinski and Dog Shredder at the Vera Project 3-15-11

I steered the Marnie Stern, Tera Melos, Kinski and Dog Shredder show at the Vera Project and got to see an excellent lineup with a good crowd on a weekday night.

I was a little worried when only 2 volunteers had shown up on schedule at 6:30. We delayed the meeting until 6:50, and by then we were up to 3 with another couple showing up a few minutes later. A little thin, but presales were mild so it didn't look like the crowd would be all that big, which was unfortunate since we had a great lineup. Luckily the walk-up business was brisk and we ended up with a good crowd for a weekday show.

Dog Shredder (cool name!) led things off. I was stuck at lead front door (selling tickets, since we were thin on volunteers) so I was unable to get video of their performance, which was too bad. They had a tough distorted/feedback sound with two guitars, bass and drums, or occasionally 1 guitar and keyboards. Fun loud metallish sound, made me want to bounce around up close - but I had to stay out by the front desk in case any customers came in. Dang! I did take a couple of pictures from a distance, nothing too special but you can kinda see the band:
Marnie Stern
I think the guy on the left is playing a bass but you can't tell from the photo. I was able to hear them, but not watch for the most part. Oh well, the price paid for volunteering and seeing it free is that you don't always actually get to see it. As Joe Walsh said, I can't complain (free music!) but sometimes I still do.

Next up was Kinski. I saw them a couple years ago at Bumbershoot in the Sky Church and enjoyed it, so I knew they'd be fun to listen to. I was able to get Chris to cover for me for a few minutes so I made it into the venue and got some pictures.
Marnie Stern

I got some video of one song, typical shakey video - in this case the shaking is mostly in time to the beat, which means they had me rocking out a bit and it made me unable to hold the camera still - not the worst problem to have, I suppose. I should remember to bring my tripod, then it can hold things steady while I rock out!

I like the musical approach, a good double guitar attack with an interesting melodic sound, mildly distorted but not too heavy. Good reasonably fast beat, not a lot of tempo variations, easy to move to. Fun rock music, if I hadn't had to work I'd have been down in front working up a sweat bouncing up and down to the beat - one of my favorite places to be - but we were a little too shorthanded so I had to go back out and sell tickets.

People kept trickling in and the crowd kept swelling. Quite a few customers did a double take when they realized that Kinski was playing, apparently they knew Marnie Stern and Tera Malos (the national acts) were playing; a quality local act (not to mention Dog Shredder, a less well known yet still interesting local (I think) act) on the bill was a bonus. After Kinski finished we got a few "Man, we missed Kinski? Shit, I didn't know they were playing!" reactions too.

Next up was Tera Melos, the joint headliners. (Hmm, I mean they shared the headline role with Marni Stern, it's not a drug reference, sounds kind of funny).
Marnie Stern
When my daughter saw the picture she laughed and said "plaid, hoodies, knit caps - what a typically Seattle crowd!" and she's right, although I'm so used to it I didn't even notice it at the time.

I only got a short window to record them, so I used my other hand to take some photos while I was at it, and as a result the video really sucks, sorry about that. The song I recorded had a fairly slow beat and took it's time getting started; by the time we get to the end of the 90 seconds allowed by flickr they were finally moving more into a groove, but still at a pretty slow beat. Different approach, not unusual - it was pretty well done but less likely to induce a crowd frenzy.

Tera Melos overall took a different approach, more odd sounds and a slower pace, less emphasis on the rhythm and more on the sound. Nice strange and spacey stuff going into the sound, definitely some interesting use of keyboards. My video for them is pretty crappy, sorry about that, but you can sort of hear what they are up to. Once again I was only able to see and record a little bit, I had to get back out and sell tickets. Their sound was consistently creative and imaginative, even if I could only listen to most of it. Cool stuff, I'll have to watch for another chance to catch them when I can actually focus on the band for the whole set.

Next up was Marni Stern, the other co-headlining act.
Marnie Stern
She has a reputation for doing some creative guitar work, including lots of right hand fretboard work that was made famous by Eddie Van Halen. She alternated the two hand work with more conventional runs, often doubled with the bass hitting the major notes at the same time, giving them a deep sound that was pretty cool.

In this video she's doing the traditional left hand fretting:

They had some challenges with one of the microphones (Rowdy the sound guy ended up catching quite a bit of heck, I don't think he deserved it since it all worked fine during the sound check; sometimes cables just fail). After using the bass player's mic for a song Rowdy got the second mic back up and running and the show continued with only a minor hitch. Marnie and the bass player used the pause to engage in some funny banter, but it was definitely the typical rock band Not Safe for Work stuff that I can't bring myself to repeat; sorry, you just had to be there for it!
Marnie Stern
I noticed that in both of these photos Marnie is dong the two handed fretboard technique, that overstates things a bit. I think she probably played more songs using a traditional left handed fret board technique, but those photos were fun so I used them.

So I ended up getting to see more guitar rock variants than I had expected, each a bit different in it's own way, and each totally worth checking out. Having to work for most of the sets limited what I was able to see, but it sure whetted my appetite for more from any of these acts - I already knew I wanted to see more Kinski, now I can add Dog Shredder, Tera Melos and Marnie Stern to the list.

I also have to give props to the volunteers, they all stayed late and helped clean up, mostly staying util close to midnight making sure the venue was cleaned up and ready for the next night's show - The Ex! But that's a subject for another blog post.

Naomi (front door assistant) in particular went above and beyond, having to clean up broken glass and mop up spilled beer from some loser in the women's room who couldn't handle her beer. I wish people were a little more considerate, but at least it wasn't a violent incident, just obnoxious.

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