Three Imaginary Girls

Seattle's Indie-Pop Press – Music Reviews, Film Reviews, and Big Fun

I'm on crutches. I've spent my final days of 2006 and the first ones of 2007 hobbling about in a blissed-out haze following a mighty tumble I took on Crystal Mountain just before Xmas that totally torqued my hip. Yes, like a little grannie in a nursing home, I have a bum hip now. Crazy. The good news is, I've no permanent injuries… I've just been slowed down a smidge and homebound while I heal (and bliss out on Percocet. Mmmm, Percocet.).

But I had to rally because The Blakes had a show, as part of the January installation of the KEXP Audioasis showcases. Their awesome new CD has been sadly languishing in the This- Needs- To- Be- Reviewed- Right- Now imaginary pile during my recovery, so I figured I owed it to them to take my walking sticks out of the house and head to the Hive Dive for some rock and roll.

The rock roster included The Blakes, The Hopscotch Boys, The Vomiting Unicorns, Partman Parthorse, Spook the Horse…. and then an encore late night set with the Blakes. All proceeds for the show supported local charity Babes Network, a local non-profit "dedicated to building a community among women from all walks of life who are facing HIV and AIDS. BABES offers a women-centered environment and assures confidentiality." Zow. So that's like, a really really good cause.

Some might argue that an eight-hour rock show (6p to 2a) wasn't necessarily the best debut after two weeks of sofa surfing, but to them I say — pah! I had a blast, and luckily my trusty writer and photographer pal Ben Haley covered the second half of the show once I pooped out. And now— here's the show…

The Blakes. Photo by Kaley Davis.The Blakes are dreamy. No, not just dreamy, they're dreamboat dreeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaamy, in a draw- your- name- in- hearts- on- my- school- notebook sorta way. Seattle has a new triumvirate of heartthrobs (eat your heart out, Ben Lashes!), and the good news is, they play really great rock and roll too. Which only makes them dreeeeeeeeaaaamier. *sigh*

The Blakes played an incredibly tight set of garage-meets-indie-rock songs that not only knocked our early-bird socks off in a club, but also sounded great live on KEXP (according to my fella, listening from home). They're natural showmen, hamming it up for both the physical and virtual crowds. Frontman Garnet (Zow, he's even named for a semi-precious stone! *Swoon*) gave us girls in the front plenty of moves and pouts to dance and squeal about, while making bold proclamations to the radio audience: "You should see the scene in here! The crowd is packed out past the doors, the streets of Fremont are flooded with people, traffic is blocked. It's crazy!" (I paraphrase, but it was something to that effect.)

The Blakes have been getting loads of airplay on KEXP, and every millisecond is warranted. We're gonna get some more words about the record posted to TIG shortly, especially after their stellar live set. igDana hearts the Blakes!! TRUE LOVE ALWAYS!!

A Hopscotch Boy. Photo by Kaley Davis.Next up, The Hopscotch Boys. Well, the HSB (if I way acronym them) confused me. They had a voraciously vocal and animated singer who feel somewhere between death metal and P.I.L-era John Lydon, but a kinda G-Love-like rhythm section and then a vaguely barmitzah-band-esque keyboard player, what with his suit and his stoic detachment.

Were they good? I'm not sure. Were they loud and did they get my attention? Definitely. But as I said, they confused me. I blame Percocet. HSB, I owe you one. I'll have to try again when the pain meds aren't dulling my senses.

By the time the Vomiting Unicorns came on, I was nearly delirious from standing on the concrete floor for hours and the crowd had filled in to the point where negotiating my way to the (tragically ill-placed at the High Dive) restroom behind the stage became nigh impossible. I have to say though, you Seattle indie rockers are the most polite and considerate peeps I've known. People were so helpful and accommodating — not to mention encouraging. One nice girl actually called me "her hero" for showing up to a rockshow on crutches. Over the top with kindness, I tell ya.

The Vomiting Unicorns. Photo by Kaley Davis.But I digress. I've wanted to see the Vomiting Unicorns for ages because, well, they're called the Vomiting Unicorns, and it's not every city that can claim a band with a name like that. After my musical befuddlement during the Hopscotch Boys, I felt a sense of clarity with the Vomiting Unicorns — a straightforward, punk-flavored rock clarity that resonated well with my addled brain. My imaginary friend Robby commented that for a band with a crazy-ass quirky name like that, the band's stage show was surprisingly tame and decidedly not strange. But then again, maybe it was a Fremont thing? I'd definitely try to see them in a rowdier venue next time, like the Funhouse.

Incidental geeky editor comment: did you know "vomiting" can be spelled with one "T" or two? The band opts for one. So, now you know.

Once an imaginary girl starts discussing grammatical rules instead of rock music, she knows it's time to head on home. It was at this point that my photographer friend (and ride) Kaley and I took off, and the fabulous and talented Ben Haley stepped in with words and photos for the rest of the show.

Ben, take it away!

{Ben Haley writing}

Partman Parthorse. Photo by Ben Haley.Well, hello there!

Partman Parthorse had some fantastic young energy. I would love to see where these guys take it next. Early on, their lead singer lost his shirt and climbed up on the amp to deliver the song "People," to enthusiastic response. Soon after he waded into the crowd, high-fiving all in his sweaty path, and startling not a few of the more introverted young dudes. The band kept it tight, loosening the reins just enough to keep that playing-in-your-basement vibe going without being indulgent.

Spook the Horse. Photo by Ben Haley. When Spook the Horse first revved up, I half suspected they were going to belt out a CCR cover. Instead, these guys are solid, polished — but there's a passionate dirty country influence akin to the Pixies that kept me nodding happily (especially on "Walls").

They did an incredible rendition of "
Blasted Orchestra" that had everybody two feet in the air. It was a perfect ass-kicking of a closer — however, after a few moments of confusion onstage, they did two more songs, which left the otherwise flawless set feeling somewhat lopsided.

The Blakes. Photo by Ben Haley.The Blakes, part deux. Those guys are rockstars through and through. Their set was a raucous blur that had everyone dancing instantly; ten seconds in, I felt that same high I got when I first heard the White Stripes, or perhaps the Strokes (before we knew better). If you've heard their album, you owe it to yourself to see them live; their garage punk goodness isn't half as fun clean and sweat-free. They've got some serious head-twisting groupies as well, which made for some sweet lo-fi drama whenever the lead singer got within groping distance.

It was the perfect scream to wrap up the evening's revelries.

{/Ben Haley writing}

{imaginary editorial note: Thanks for having my back, Ben. You rock! And readers, if you want to see more photos from the night, check out Ben and Kaley's Flickr sites.}