Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Nevermind benefit for Susie Tennant

I was unable to get tickets for the Nirvana tribute/benefit for Susie Tenant show at the EMP, too bad, I would've enjoyed it. Then I noticed a post somebody linked to, apparently it's being streamed live. Cool!

So I got to see the Fastbacks kick it off by covering "Smells Like Teen Spirit." I always liked the Fastbacks, an iconic Seattle band since way back when. Kim Warnick on bass also sang leads, what a great song! Production is quite good, almost too good. The original was a little muddier, over-amplified and distorted, which suits the song pretty well. This version is clearer, you can make out all of the lyrics. Good start to the show. One and done, now on to the next band.

Hmm, using 2 stages might work better, so 1 band can setup while the other is performing - but the EMP isn't set up for that. They have a second stage, but it's up 3 flights of stairs. I could do without the closeup of the guitarist tuning his guitar, but I guess there isn't much to show while the band is getting ready to play.

Next up is an assortment of ex-members of old SubPop bands called Vaporland doing "In Bloom." Tempo's a little ragged as they get going and the mix starts with the bass a little loud and the guitars a little quiet but it improves as they continue. Drummer is working to repro all of the odd fills and minor temp variations, and the vocals are different but I'm enjoying it. Wish the solo was mixed a little louder - heck, I wish I had my old college stereo so I could crank it up louder, this music really needs to be loud enough to distort your hearing.

Valis (?) doing "Come as You Are" - the solo was a bit ragged but the songs are so familiar I can fill in the missing notes from my memory, so I suspect it sounds better to me than it would to someone who is unfamiliar with Nirvana. Add on the fact that it's a benefit, so the bands are doing it for free and it's helping a beloved local music scene regular - you'd have to be pretty much a curmudgeon to get down on the show. Of course many of the remote viewers have no problem being curmudgeons on the chat...

They are following the song order off of Nevermind, so "Breed" should be next. Next band looks like a power trio, turns out it's Ravenna Woods - I've seen them before, good band. Nice punk thrashy sound, probably my favorite cover so far. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was probably the better song but I think that's largely because it's such an awesome song in the first place. This is the first really punk sounding cover and I love punk music, so it's my personal favorite so far.

Dude taling between songs asked if anyone knew the next song and someone in the audience instantly answered "Lithium" - the crowd knows it's Nevermind! I like Lithium, I wonder who's going to cover it? An interesting local band called TacocaT (love the palindrome name) is on the bill somewhere, I wonder what they'll cover?

"I'm so happy, that today I've found my friend..." hey, isn't that Duff McKagan of Loaded giving Susie Tenant a shout-out, pointing out Krist Novoselic and throwing a few f-bombs around? First act to try to get the audience going a bit, good call. Good cover of the song, they need 2 guitars to do it right. Good job with the quiet/loud dynamics, critical in this song.

Campfire OK is next with "Polly," one of my least favorite songs off of the album. It's not a bad song, just not as good as most of the rest. I recently saw Campfire OK at the Capitol Hill Block Party and enjoyed them, it'll be interesting to see how they handle covering Nirvana. Funny bit about following Duff & Loaded, then into the song.

Moody and quiet, good choice for this band. Different sounding than Nirvana's version but quite recognizable. I like this version, a little stripped down and simple, much easier to make out the lyrics. A banjo works surprisingly well on this one, too bad about the 30 kid chorus not making it though (reference to a joke the vocalist made).

"Territorial Pissings" is next by Visqueen.

They still use an electric cello, I like the bottom end sound they get. Quick video by Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters (ex Nirvana drummer) and Rachel Flotard of Visqueen starts in. The intro (reference to "Come on people..." which is sung in a parody in the original is now done straight with backing vocals, even. Then into the song, nice driving version, keeps a fast tempo and grinding guitar from the original, nice. Not quite as "screamy" as Cobain's version, I suspect that's because it's comfortably in Rachel Flotard's range, rather than almost out of Kurt's. Oh - got a little screamy towards the end.

"Drain You" - hint at more instruments, possibly? The 3-5 minute pauses to change bands are kicking my butt, making it hard to stay focused on the show. It's easier than actually being at the show, I suppose, but I like the live experience so I wish I was there. Next band is Champagne Champagne, a great local hip-hop outfit. Their Bumbershoot show was fun.

Intro was awkward, but they got back on track. Now they're off onto a custom rap, definitely taking the most liberties with the material so far. With a taste of lemon, huh. They definitely are making this their own, interesting result. Now they're moving back to "Drain You" for the last verse. Odd take, but the most creative work so far tonight.

Next is "Lounge Act" by - hey, that's TacocaT! A couple of them have "Citizen Dick" t-shirts, I think Citizen Dick was the made up band in the movie "Singles" that played "Touch Me I'm Dick" which was a parody of "Touch Me I'm Sick" by Mudhoney, although I think Pearl Jam had tour t-shirts with a reference to Citizen Dick as well. These didn't look like Pearl Jam tour shirts, though. Not bad, pretty fast and rude which works.

Next up is Vendetta Red doing "Stay Away." I saw them 6 or 8 years ago, then they broke up for a while and just got back together & I saw their set at Bumbershoot early this month. Doing a pretty credible job, sticking to the fast tempo and ragged punk sound. Pretty much a power trio lineup & I'm enjoying the vocal/guitar call and response, plus the whacked out screamed indecipherable vocals on occasion are a nice touch. I could swear the drummer is sucking on a tootsie pop too. Definitely the most screamed take on Nirvana so far. Good messed up noisy ending too!

Next up is The Presidents of the USA plus Krist Novoselic doing "On a Plane." Krist did a nice shout out to Kurt Cobain. Chris Ballew is just doing vocals with Krist playing bass. As soon as the song starts Ballew dives into the crowd and sings while crowd surfing - definitely has the crowd going! In the intro they (PUSA, Chris actually) mentioned playing this song with Krist at a fair in SW Washington, which is where Krist lives now, I believe. After a verse or two Chris is crowd surfing again, looks tricky with the long mic cable. Might be better if he had a wireless setup, but he made it work.

Next up is the Long Winters doing "Blew." Some technical issues getting worked out, cables fiddled and they start. Nice quiet take on the opening of the song.

It's interesting live blogging, I get to react to each song. I often notice interesting things at shows that I forget about by the time I get around to blogging about it in a day or two, that doesn't happen with live blogging. On the other hand not everything I think of is worth writing down...

Back to the Long Winters, more emotional take, slow with a cello too. Very nice.

The other issue with live blogging a remote view is that I don't have any pictures or video of the event to post.

After getting distracted by one of my kids (OK, remote viewing from home has its downsides too) I didn;t catch who's up next, and I may have missed an act. Three dudes, 2 with keyboards and one on a mic, lots of effects and sequencing. I enjoy the way the percussion box (a little device with maybe 16 touch sensitive pads on it) bounces around on one dudes keyboard when he plays chords. Hmm, now the vocalist is removing clothes and at least simulating masturbation. Different take on Nirvana, fer sure! Then he smashed a guitar (I don't think it was his) and went back into the crotch of his pants. Classic last line from the band: "That's how Nirvana would've done it, motherf***er!" They repeated the band name but I didn't catch it and didn;t recognize it, sorry.

So that finishes Nevermind, but they plan on doing some more Nirvana songs. I wonder what's next?

Now they've got Nirvana unplugged on the PA - Plateau. I'd think you'd want to avoid that sort of thing.

Seacats doing "Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle." Seacats were my teenage son's first local band crush so I'll always have a soft spot for them; they were also one of the first bands to give me an interview. Good job covering this tune, it's not one I'm all that familiar with. I didn't follow Nirvana much after Nevermind, I suppose it's the indy-rock Pete thing again; I often don't like bands as much when they get successful. I sort of feel like they don't need my attention or affection much so I move on to other bands that aren't that successful yet.

Pigeon Head is next, wonder what they'll play? The band called itself County Giraffes and Kim Warnick (of Fastbacks who played earlier) is playing bass and singing on "You Know You're Right." It gets more interesting when they have multiple vocals kind of yelling/wailing with an interesting synthesizer backing the notes too. Turns out Pigeon Head is coming next.
Pigeon Head is a dude playing acoustic guitar and singing with a keyboard /synth player. Nice cover, sounds quiet and builds pretty well, not as loud as the Nirvana version - acoustic guitars just don't get as loud, but it gets the dynamic about right.

Fifteen bands and fifteen songs, time to pack it in (I have to work tomorrow morning), I hope I don't miss anything too interesting.

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