Danzig @ Moore Theatre - 12/04/99
Jane Siberry @ The Century Ballroom - 12/08/99
Me'Shell Ndegeocello @ The Showbox 12/11/99
S.O.D. / Crowbar / Skinlab @ The Station - 10/30/99
Supersuckers / The Hellacopters / Zen Guerilla @ Graceland - 12/08/99
Theory of Ruin @ Gibson's - 12/18/99



[ danzig ]
Danzig / Samhain
@
The Moore Theater
Seattle, WA
December 4, 1999

Links:
Danzig

I used to work with a Danzig fan. She was very unassuming, quiet, and gently expressive. You had no idea that her house was a "Danzig Zone" (that's all Danzig; all day, all night) until she rolled up her sleeves and gave you an eyeful of her Danzig tattoos. I, the ever inquisitive fellow, pointed at the skullhead icon one day and asked, "What's that?" Ah, the litany that followed.

That's my exposure, coupled with a keen eye that can trace the history of the Devil Lock across twenty-plus years of album covers. So, I could talk the talk if necessary, but did I have any familiarity with his music? Could I tell the difference between a Misfits song, a Samhain song, and a Danzig song? No chance. (I do own his solo album, Black Aria, which puts me one up on Steve, but barely. He can still crush me with the sheer weight of his Misfits albums.)

Then why am I writing this review and not Stevie Ramone? Well, because knowledge beyond mine was not required for this evening. We'll save Steve's extensive history with Samhain until such time that it'll actually be used. Steve and I load-up about 7pm and head downtown. Destination: across the Seattle warzone to the Moore Theater. [Click here to read an eP editorial on the WTO protests. --ed.] Nestled on the far side of the immediate riot action that's been all that you can find on the local new stations for the last week, the Moore Theater graced the background of more than one news report these last few days. Though you probably couldn't see it through the tear gas.

Not that we needed masks this evening. Or even our "Don't hurt us: we're white and we're going to a concert" shirts. Not a protester in sight. We even drove past the Westin Hotel twice on the off chance that they were circling the block (as the riot police had discovered they were wont to do). Nada. Nothing on the streets but holiday shoppers. Now that the WTO was gone (barely twenty-four hours after the conference had finished), it was no longer fashionable to do sit-ins at the intersection of 4th and Pine. It was fashionable to clutch your Nordstrom's and Coldwater Creek parcels tightly and wait for the lights to change before you walked across the well-swept streets.

Danzig, however, was still feeling the WTO blues. Bleakly enough that he cancelled the show. All there was: a couple of stragglers hanging out in front of the steel bars across the entrance to the Moore Theater. (This is a common sight and shouldn't be confused as the early beginnings of a protest against Danzig's no-show.) So, in a moment of solidarity, we stood around with them and commiserated. And, for a brief minute, we were part of the gatherings of angry young people who made their pilgrimages to downtown Seattle this week. And, if you can believe what was captured by the news cameras this last week, we had just as much a rationale for rising up against The Man as some of those idiots who stayed up late to get a mouthful of tear gas, a rubber bullet or two, and a kick in the crotch.

But we could still hit The Man where it hurts. Ticketmaster owed us money. We had a picture of Grant between the two of us that Paul Allen was going to have to cough back. Besides, the CD stores were still open.

The best part of this Saturday night? The two song cassette sampler from Methods of Mayhem out of the free box at Cellophane Square. Heavy beat hip hop with enough industrial/electro goodness that we called Jeff Ashley and played it into his answering machine. Our own little "Ruckus."

Mark Teppo
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[ jane siberry - photo by mark teppo ]
photo by mark teppo

Jane Siberry
@
The Century Ballroom
December 8, 1999
Seattle, WA

Links:
Jane Siberry

I missed dinner before the show. For the truly faithful, there was an hour or two of fabulous food and drink in the ballroom before Jane came onto the stage. I don't know if this is standard at the Century Ballroom, but the audience for a Jane Siberry show is evidently the type who will enjoy an excellent, relaxing meal before an equally relaxing and lush show. I--fool that I am--showed up at the time on the poster and got turned away for an hour because I didn't have dinner reservations. That'll teach me.

Unlike most Seattle club audiences who seem incapable of closing their yappers long enough to even hear who is playing, the Century Ballroom audience was rapt as Jane entered and started her song with a brief monologue on the nature of pilgrimages. Their attentiveness remained steadfast for the following two hours as Jane took us on a historical journey through her music, each song a unique lyrical story crafted for us. A consummate performer, Jane would turn elements of the audience to her advantage. The intrusive ringing of a cell phone became punctuation marks around a chorus of one song; the labored knock of the old pipes in the building a rhythmic accompaniment to another (though how she managed to get them to stop pinging just as she finished is a mystery better left unexamined). The narrative voices of "Mimi Speaks," "When Last I Was a Fisherman" and "Goodbye Sweet Pumkinhead" were given such expressive life as to leave indelible marks on us as if we had met, loved, and lived with the voices populating these songs.

The Pilgrim Solo Tour was a celebratory journey following the release of Jane's New York Trilogy box set on her own independent label and was an all-too-brief window into the life of a fiercely passionate artist who paddled her canoe down a very divergent channel years ago in an effort to make music on her own terms without the leaden weight of the label hierarchy and influence. You can hear her passion for independence and her desire to simply make music on the New York Trilogy, but you have to see her live to fully understand the courage and resoluteness of spirit that fills her.

-Mark Teppo
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[ me'shell ndegeocello ]
Me'Shell Ndegeocello
@
The Showbox
Seattle, WA
December 11, 1999

Links:
Me'Shell Ndegeocello

"Are you aware of all the beauty you have here?" the bespectacled and understated Me'Shell Ndegeocello addressed the crowd tonight at the Showbox in the wake of the WTO. She reported her afternoon trip downtown where she witnessed the most beautiful thing of the various protests going on: religious demonstrations and the cops not overreacting as they did the week before. Though she's very much in tune with demonstrating peace and love, Ndegeocello still holds her own when it comes to her racial politics and her beliefs. That balance she maintains is what's refreshing about this type of artist. It's not about the Benjamins and the designer labels; it's about the music, a universal understanding for humanity. Starting the set off with a couple of songs from her current release, Bitter, "Faithful" had the crowd sing along to the languorous and moody song. "Outside Your Door" was a surprise treat for those wanting to hear material off her debut Plantation Lullabies. Although she didn't do "Souls on Ice," she funked up the mellowness with "Diggin' You Like an Old Soul Record" where the chorus starts off as "back in the day" and which she improvised various endings such as "when being a thug was a bad thing'" to "black folks read." Obviously a nod against the MTV babies. A nice touch was the jazzy swing version of "Shootin' Up and Gettin' High" which was as trenchant as something from the revolutionary Gil Scott-Heron.

"I'm epileptic and those flashes trip me out though I think it's nice you want to take my pictures," Me'shell Ndegeocello said to the audience at The Showbox, several songs after the emcee announced that no flashes were to be used during the musician's performance tonight. Still, there had to be the ones who continued to shoot away which drove the diminutive Ndegeocello to turn her back to the crowd as she continued to sing. Eventually the flashes did cease and the show continued on beautifully with "Deuteronomy," from Peace Beyond Passion. Along with her excellent band, her bass playing was supremely tight and funkified. There's so much to be said about Ndegeocello. But to be succinct, her performance was sublime and had the crowd wanting more.

-Hope Lopez
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[ stormtroopers of death ]
S.O.D. / Crowbar / Skinlab
@
The Station
October 30, 1999
Orlando, Florida

Links:
Stormtroopers of Death

Venues were changed in the last few days for the big Stormtroopers of Death show, which scared us that attendance might be low, but it was jam-packed, even sporting such local dignitaries as Pain Principle (whose cd-release party we woefully missed the next week). Skinlab were up first and received a surprisingly warm reception from the audience, several members of which were singing along with the band and grooving on their ultra-hip industrial alterna-metal. Crowbar dropped some creepy-slow, deep badass doom metal on the appreciative crowd. I loved Crowbar and even though the picture didn't turn out great, the memory did--they loved posing for cameras. Very paparazzi friendly. My husband liked the music, but thought they were too slow.

S.O.D.'s Danny Lilker wandered through the crowd and was exceptionally cool--kind to everyone. He posed for pictures, signed autographs, mugged with chicks and was the prototypical ultra-cool grind dude in a band. He definitely won points with the crowd, as did Skinlab. All the guys stopped and talked to everyone. These were all great bands.

S.O.D. played all the crowd favorites and cut loose Billy Milano to talk it up like the Yorker he is. He talks a lot in shows, but at least you can laugh at the sight of it all. The boys tore it up and played with extreme professionalism and power. It was more fun the closer you got to the stage because the sound in the club flattened out or deadened by the time it got to the back of the club. The acoustics are pretty bad at the Station, but the choice of entertainment was excellent. Some of the pit kind of got excited when Milano let them up on stage, but he got a little pissed when they planted a foot through a monitor. Pits are like that, you can't really let them get onstage because it's usually trouble...Only Pennywise had good luck asking pits onstage...for fun. Even Biohazard can't be that nice in Florida. Dude, sorry about the speaker, but boys will be boys.

And they did calm down a little after that. The crowd seemed to love S.O.D. and it was cool to see how happy everyone was to hear the songs they love so much performed live. It was late by then so we cut out a few songs short of the last song, which we heard from the parking lot. It must be a sign of age when you care more about beating traffic than hearing the whole show. I remember those days, but believe me, so does S.O.D. and I know they would understand. Viva la S.O.D.!

[If you want to check out the live version of this review, go to http://www.usgigtv.net/ for a streaming broadcast of the concert and many others. Check it out.]

-Sabrina Wade-Haines
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[ supersuckers - photo by craig young ]
photo by craig young

Supersuckers / Hellacopters / Zen Guerrilla
@
Graceland
December 8, 1999
Seattle, WA

Links:
Supersuckers
The Hellacopters
Zen Guerrilla

Ahh... The evil powers of rock 'n' roll were in full force tonight at Seattle's Graceland, and not even a wet, wet Wednesday night could dampen the noise. Formerly the infamous Off Ramp, nothing but the name has changed for the newly christened Graceland. The club still sports the same posters on the wall, the same stickers on the urinal, the same strong 'n' greasy drinks, and the same kind of fuck-all rock and noise that it became well-known for back in the day. And apparently not yet having had their fill of Seattle, the Hellacopters were back in town for the fourth time, along with Zen Guerilla (whom they've toured with previously) and local hometown heroes the Supersuckers, to dust off Graceland's cobwebs and bring a long, loud and painful death to those who disagreed that rock is dead. It was a full-on night of testosterone-filled rock, and Lord have mercy...it was baptism by fire!

First up: the two-ton frenetic punk-gospel sounds of San Francisco's Zen Guerilla. Between the lost-in-ecstasy spastic head shaking of guitarist Rich Millman and the three-foot Afro and Jackie O' sunglasses sported by ten-foot tall (Afro not included) singer Marcus Durant, these boys looked like they had just thrown a sink through the window of a mental ward and escaped on a mission to convert the masses to their delta-blues-by-way-of-Converse-shoes sound. Loud, fast and in constant danger of Durant's hair catching fire from being so close to the stage lights, Zen Guerilla left the packed crowd both mesmerized and mystified with their set. Durant even knocked his head up through the ceiling at the end to give us a couple of jumping scissor kicks at the end. Now that's what I call a revival!

Next came Sweden's heir to the garage rock throne, The Hellacopters. Not even Graceland's small stage, ill-placed support poles, the aforementioned ceiling damage, or the smell of burnt hair could dissuade them from their rock histrionics. Bassist Kenny Hellacopter jumped and gyrated like the Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz, Boba Fett looked dazed and confused as he slammed the keys of his piano, drummer Robert's arms were a blur as he exorcised demons from his kit, and guitarists Nicke and Robert strutted, splayed and paraded every rock clich in the book as the band proudly (and loudly) shook and shimmied Graceland to unapologetic rock bliss. The outtros were often longer than the songs themselves, there were arm windmills, Nicke and Robert leaned against each others' backs with guitars held high in an orgiastic display la Ted Nugent...it was perfect! The Hellacopters make no bones about the music they love, and it's nice to see a band who can live up to both the image and the sound. The loss of founding guitarist Dregen hasn't damaged their drive, ambition...and most importantly, their music.

Last up to bat in this power troika of cock rock revelry were locals the Supersuckers, out in support of their excellent new release, The Evil Powers of Rock 'n' Roll. Sporting a Zen Guerilla t-shirt, black cowboy hat and dark sunglasses, frontman Eddie Spaghetti and bandmates opened with the album's title song and proceeded to tear through love affairs both old and new; finishing what Zen Guerilla and The Hellacopters had begun. Devil signs and beers held high, Dan "Thunder" Bolton and Rontrose Heathen unabashedly rocked the crowd with their high-octane guitar playing, while Spaghetti--striding defiantly in the middle of the sonic melee and wearing a devilish smirk--crooned about liquor, women, drugs and killing...all the finer things in life. Ears ringing, neck hurting from banging my head, hand cramped from holding beers aloft, it was a perfect end to a fine evening of fuck-all rock and noise. Long live rock.

[Click here to read eP's interview with The Hellacopters.
Click here to read eP's coverage of Zen Guerilla and The Hellacopters at Garage Shock '99.]

-Craig Young
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[ theory of ruin - photo by craig young ]
photo by craig young

Theory of Ruin
@
Gibson's
December 18, 1999

Links:
Alex Newport
Elastic Records

Uncompromising--the only word with which to describe Alex Newport and his music. Whether it be Fudge Tunnel, Nailbomb (his collaboration with ex-Sepultura guitarist, Max Cavalera) or his current noise outfit, Theory of Ruin. After having hid himself behind the recording console of a studio for the past several years working with the likes of the Melvins, godheadSilo and At the Drive In, Alex has finally grown tired of the meager offerings of what we refer to as "heavy" these days and has put together a new trio of grating, relentless, and for those lacking sufficient stamina, annoying noise mongers. On a very short west coast tour (two shows in two days), Theory of Ruin stopped by Gibon's in Seattle to unleash their infernal offerings onto the drunk punks crowding the bar.

Masterful. The night was a well practiced execution in tension and release--the subtle touch of someone who knows how to squeeze gold from lead. Like getting your head dunked in a tank of water then yanked up briefly for that reflexive inhale of air before being plunged back under again, Newport has lost none of his masterful touch. Crouched over his guitar while drummer Ches Smith and bassist Ian Billet cranked away on the heavy machinery's low-end, Alex's vocals slowly turned the screws tighter and tighter; raising the music's tension and crowd's discomfort until his guitar would finally explode in a fit of fury, an exorcism in beauty and terror. The band's set came and went in a hurried blur and as quickly and quietly as they had entered, the band disappeared. That's the one thing I've always loved about Newport: seemingly mild-mannered and unassuming until he smashes your skull open with his guitar.

Theory of Ruin have a 7" out on Elastic Records. Check it out and look for a full length sometime later in the year. In the meantime write the band and tell them to get the fuck out and play more often. And don't forget your earplugs!

[Click here to read eP's exclusive interview with Alex Newport.]

-Craig Young
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