! = recommended
* = all-ages
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To music geeks everywhere, the power of The List is an awesome thing to behold and is to be deeply revered. The List is all things to all people- it is a tally sheet, a to-do / wish list, a way to impress friends, lovers, and co-workers, and is often a thing of fantasy (ahem-Pulp reunion-ahem). There is a certain self-congratulatory sense of satisfaction in crossing a band off The List. The allure of saying "I saw [insert band name here] last night" is seductive and the recounting of stage banter, inadvertent devil horning of hands, and simply groaning "Aaaagh! It was so BAD ASS!" is inevitable. Though this is often eye-roll inducing or shrug worthy to the "You shoulda been there," recipient, the feeling of a List victory can't be suppressed. There is often also an Auxiliary List, a list of bands that one guards the faintest hope of seeing, but knows deep down will probably never see live. An Auxiliary List victory is an even finer prize- the opportunities for points for obscurity, scarcity of tickets (due to a tiny venue, rapid sellouts, etc), etc gives the Listmaker an even greater sense of accomplishment, despite having done absolutely nothing to earn it other than drinking a few beers and screaming out song lyrics.
The Buzzcocks are a glorious Auxiliary List victory indeed. The Another...Bites tour has thus far featured their first two albums Another Music in Another Kitchen and Love Bites in its entirety along with promises of "other hits." They delivered on this promise in true punk rock fashion. Lead singer Pete Shelley, decked in a shirt that Garth Brooks wants back looked less a punk rock legend and more appropriately staged feeding pigeons in the park or poring over a stamp collection. He was definitely squeeworthy, as short, stout little old men often are to young women, and it was nearly impossible not to exclaim how "cute" he was or want to hug or pinch him. Guitarist Steve Diggle still has a certain air of youthful rock-n-roll naughtiness, and his addresses to the crowd in his thick accent were more often than not almost unintelligible, but made the audience roar with pleasure anyway. Drummer Danny Farrant was barely visible with the exception of a whisper of bleached blond hair and the tips of his drumsticks. Tall drink of water bassist Tony Barber appeared aloof but charged by the enthusiasm of the crowd. Visually, they are an interesting, almost confusing hodgepodge of people, but there was no mistaking who they were, nor what they came to do once the first riff had rung through El Corazon.
One of the greatest things about punk rock is that more often than not, if a song is really terrible, it's over in two minutes. On the other side of the coin, that means blink and you miss it. If there is a polite way to "Wham, bam, thank you Ma'am" an audience, The Buzzcocks most successfully did so. With very little fanfare, they came onto the stage with no introduction or greeting and ripped into hit after hit like a pitbull on a two year old holding a hot dog. They did not address the audience until the introduction of Autonomy, which they dedicated to Kurt Cobain, when Diggle commanded everyone to "get their fucking hands up." Besides that, the only other words spoken besides "Thank you, Seattle," were song titles- 26 of them, in fact, in rapid fire succession. What made the performance the most interesting, however, was how jammy it was for the Buzzcocks. About halfway through their set, they played a several minute instrumental piece, a both unexpected and pleasant surprise. They also extended some of their trademark short tracks to further show off their chops. Their departure from the stage was abrupt, upon completing their set, leaving drummer Farrant to play wildly for a few minutes alone before returning for an encore with the aforementioned other hits. The Buzzcocks know their audience well- they delivered on several favorites which sent the crowd into another uproar of glee, including "Harmony in my Head," "Promises," "What Do I Get?," and "Orgasm Addict," complete with Shelley's feigned and shrill orgasmic moan. The set ended with Farrant throwing his sticks over his shoulder into the crowd nonchalantly. In their final moments on stage, the Buzzcocks proved themselves consummate polite Englishmen, shaking hands, high-fiving, and appearing touched by the love the fans gave them.
It's often been said that music is a great uniter and that it straddles every culture and type of person. No truer words were spoken for the crowd that attended the show. It was a genuinely mind-blowing mélange of authentic, true fans from their earliest inception, second wavers, and teenagers. 50-something fathers brought sons and mirrored their enthusiasm, going back to a pubescent heyday in their minds. The requisite “guy with green Mohawk” and DRI patch on his jacket made a surly appearance. Nice, respectable accountant types high-fived each other and screamed “Fuck yeah!” upon the opening riffs of a favorite song. Busty young ladies in sparkly tube tops were smashed in next to the “5-feet of black dreads guy” and were in glad company. Though it was a punk show, true to Seattle fashion, the crowd was surprisingly subdued, politely bobbing their heads with minimal slam dancing or pogoing. Some showed their Anglophilic stripes by flashing the finger, but for the most part, the crowd, perhaps due to the humid, sardine can conditions, was stoic in its appreciation. It became a bit more reactive once the encore started, and some true favorites started to play, as those who wanted to make good an early escape left and more room was available to move. By the end of the show, as people slowly filtered out, shouting their delight over their tinnitus, an air of satisfaction hung heavy over them- the deep satisfaction a Listmaker feels when a quarry has finally been captured.