Three Imaginary Girls

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

As the lights dimmed a bit, my pal leaned over and whispered, "Marnie Stern taught herself how to play guitar." Marnie, blonde and having a refreshing unassuming air about her, greeted the audience and set to blistering our faces with her newfound guitar playing (i.e. finger tapping/shreddage).

Drummer Jim Sykes (Parts & Labor) is a rampaging manimal. I have never seen a drummer make his drums sway and quake the way his did. I forget how many drum sticks he killed during the set. What Marnie does to her guitar, Sykes seems to do to his drum kit, yet with even more fervor.

Rounding out the live version of the band was US Maple's Mark Shippy. Though not showy (in a way Stern & Sykes appear to do in an innately unassuming fashion), his board o' pedals and licks were impressive, not to mention the Bissell-esque height at which he held his guitar.

Thinking that the set would be good but easy to zone out if necessary (i.e. text, bathroom break, etc) the first song hit me like a wave of electricity. The second made me want to fight orcs and sail on a multi-colored sea. However, a lot of things can make me yearn to sword fight with Tolkien characters.

With Zach Hill on the drums in the studio, the Hella comparison is easy to make. I found that the sound was quite similar, yet Marnie Stern's is fuller, more melodic – even with the awesome cacophony assaulting your eardrums. As I look at my notes I see I jotted down: "awesome deafening crackle, speeding toward a brick wall at 100 mph and enjoying every second." Days later, I still agree with that assessment. My three favorites from that night: "Grapefruit" "Precious Metal" and "Prime".

Gang Gang Dance set up quietly, came out in not-so-dim light, and begin with no prayer just Liz Bougatsos saying something about everyone eating dinner while they played. The set began and I could feel the people seated in the Triple Door sit forward with anticipation. A soft whisper came in my ear, "She looks like a witch!"
I have been struggling with how to word my experience during Gang Gang Dance's set; Bougatsos' vocals tread far far into Bjork territory, her movements matching the feeling of the music, the songs evolve from seductive to erratic and then spiraling back down again. The band performed for almost an hour straight with few lulls and pauses. I was mesmerized by the songs, all melded and woven together to make one solid musical piece of art. The sound punished my ears; I could barely hear for a few hours after the show had ended.
It was much like witnessing ancient pagan rites being performed by minions of some entity out of Lovecraft. After the show was over, my chest ached a little from the amount of times I had held my breath in disbelief and wonder at the brilliance that is Gang Gang Dance live.