with Shallow Wool and Tree
Showbox Theatre, Seattle, WA • March 3rd, 1999
In a town where “electronica” and “downbeat” are the new in words for the helplessly hip crowd, it’s refreshing to see a band take the stage with three guitars. I missed these guys last time they were in town, so this time I watched Tree, a bunch of boys from Alaska, twice as hard. Thanks to the trumpet player, I couldn’t shake the sound of Cake, but these boys make Cake look flat, and Tree have plenty mouthfuls more icing. There were some touches of that circular style Pond guitar rhythmic mayhem, but smoothed out by the vocals that hit like smashed pumpkins. They could have been a ska band, on this particular Friday night I was very pleased they weren’t. Unfortunately I completely missed their last song ’cause I was distracted by the arrival of a girl I longingly admire from afar, but due to the reaction of the crowd, it was a fine finish.
Local trio Shallow Wool slammed onto the stage and heaved powerful acid pop rock on to us all. Even through some technical difficulties, the bass player managed to shred my insides like a torn speaker. Raw layers of voice and guitar filled the room in a way that would make Doug Martsch split a wicked grin. Melodics careened around the room wild with glee. Anyone who says that there is no Seattle sound anymore should see Shallow Wool. Maybe it’s dead or dying, but these boys hold it tight between their teeth, shaking it around just for the hell of it, with the drummer throwing out some break neck beats in the process.
Then Shallow Wool disappears in a puff of smoke, presumably from the bass amp, setting the stage for the Bend Simple. After waiting for months to get a chance to see this new California buzz band, I was not let down. These four girls rise beautifully to the occasion. Bend Simple seduced the stage in some sly, sure of themselves style. They knew they were doing, and it worked. Maybe it’s my male bias, but I feel there is a certain poetry that women have when they take over the stage and rock. Volumes were written that night, and enlightenment can be found between the strings of a bass guitar. For the second night in a row, I found myself moved into that spiral mood rock that screams heavy trip and brings to mind something about the trees screaming. Bend Simple rocked dirty sexy smooth through their set, and I wandered home, smiling, and full of music.