! = recommended
* = all-ages
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I remember the first time I saw Pretty Girls Make Graves live. It was one of the most memorable shows I've ever been to and it certainly changed my life.
No. The band wasn't that good - it was the opening act the first time I saw Sleater-Kinney live. I remember a few sound issues in the packed Showbox and at one point lead singer Andrea Zollo was forced to nervously tell bad jokes to kill time until the sound problems could be resolved.
Since then, PGMG has put out three full-length records that range in quality from very solid to great. My favorite is Good Health, the first LP (which was released in 2002 on Lookout! Records). "Do you remember when you could not put it away? Do you remember what the music meant?" Zollo asks repeatedly throughout "Speakers Push the Air", the immediate and urgent anthem that kicks off the record.
After that LP, the band quickly signed to Matador, which put out its final two records, The New Romance and last year's Elan Vital.Both were also well-received and fine rock and roll records. Yet the band's greatness comes mostly from its live shows - which are consistently intense and emotional experiences. Each show I've seen of PGMG (and it's probably close to a dozen times), its shows have gotten better and better.
Sadly, tonight will be the final time this great and beloved Northwest band will take the stage. Fortunately, most of the members are involved with other projects. For example, drummer Nick DeWitt is in the country-ish Night Canopy and bassist Derek Fudesco is now in the Cave Singers. Unlike many band break-ups, there's many reasons to be optimistic for the future.