Three Imaginary Girls

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

More Sub Pop Parts Per Million!

igLiz and igDana celebrate at the 15th Sub Pop anniversary show, which featured… 

James Mercer"
{imaginary} girl inform me all my senses warn me"

Hey, it's James Mercer, frontman for the Shins, whose last album Oh – Inverted World stormed the indie-world with pop sensibilities brilliant enough to raise even a Davies' eyebrow.

We loved the Shins at Bumbershoot last year, I rang in an exuberant Graceland New Year with them in 2002, and we were delighted with this stripped down solo performance as it, once again, displayed James' core songwriting skills and his genuine vocal prowess. He offered a too short but fine start for a night chock full 'o {sub}pop-stars.

Rosie Thomas

"A ceiling made of stars"

Rosie Thomas, photo by Ryan Schierling.Rosie Thomas positively charmed the savage crowd with her elegant style, her nearly-unspeakably serene voice, and her zippy wit. Her voice, soothing like a lullaby, purred with a contentment that could lull angry kittens. However — over the pop of the crowd, it was nearly impossible to hear her, what with the roar of the minglers and the clink of the glasses. Sooo… we're going to really write about Rosie when we see her play somewhere that better suits her subtlety.

Sam Beam / Iron and Wine

"Promising light on the sidewalk {imaginary} girls"

Sam Beam = Iron and Wine, photo by Ryan Schierling.Sam Beam — aka Iron and Wine — continued the opening trilogy of sultry-singer-songwriters. He crooned with the incredibly gentle elegance he uniquely posseses; he dazzled, he left the crowd spellbound… and then he covered the Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated." Man, that was cool….

The Constantines

"Nighttime, anytime, it's alright"

The Constantines. Photo by Ryan Schierling. Up until this point, the evening had consisted of TIG-known talents… but it was the Constantines portion that would offer us a chance to finally hear what all the hubbub was about. We'd heard stories/myths/legends about how much they tear it up live.

With such rumors {and the fact that the Thermals were up after the Constantines}, we secured our front row spot to experience the magic up-close.

By the second song, we were convinced. Just as with the recent wave of Sub Pop bands, they are most appreciated after one sees them perform live (a la the Thermals and Hot Hot Heat)… which, if you're my kind of person, you agree that is just how it's supposed to be.

In their own cutely-unpolished Canadian way, this 5-piece got the crowd all sweaty with their quintessential indie-rock songs and Mary Lou Retton-like dance moves, in addition to being able to entertain us in between songs with banter topics ranging from SARS (they came from Toronto) to the fact that they had to practice being cool enough for this party. For all of this, they get a six-faceted mathematical equation to describe their sound:

Pinback + Rapture x loonies & toonies + gymnastics class / tulip festival + Dismemberment Plan = The Constantines

The positive indie-rock vibe lasted the entire set, hitting its apex with the chorus "Nighttime, anytime, it's alright!" The drummer passed various percussion instruments out to the front row (maracas, tambourines and the sort) while the audience jumped, and bobbed, and sang along to the band that doesn't even have an album released on Sub Pop yet.

The Thermals
"My God, the sin…"

The Thermals. Photo by Ryan Schierling."I'll screw anyone for $20," proclaimed Hutch Harris, frontman for our favorite imaginary band of the past several moments, lo-fi indie rock star and all-around teenage heartthrob.

Now you kids know we've been to Thermals shows and Thermals shows… and Thermals shows.

But you know what we've never seen before? We've never seen the Thermals get naked for money. That's right. LIVE NUDE THERMALS (okay, half nude…. and sorry boys, Kathy remained clothed). But still… zowie. That was something special.

It all started when one of Kathy's bass strings broke. Whilst she was fixing said string, Hutch began to lightly banter with the audience… when out of nowhere, someone in the audience yelled, "Drop Trou!"

Hutch explained that he doesn't take off his shirt for less than $5. 2.78 seconds later, a fiver was passed onto the stage, Hutch's shirt came off and the mesmeric, tantilizing scene unfolded.

The Thermals. Photo by Ryan Schierling. Two $1 bills made their way to the stage and the remaining boy Thermals' shirts made their way to the floor. Strange but true. Tonight it only cost $1 each to see both Ben and Jordan sans shirt. I'm sure that as these pictures of the incredible value we got for those $1 bills get around, supply
and demand will surely drive their asking price sky high.

Sure, once again, we were knocked speechless by the music, as they tore through the songs on their first {and breathtakingly brilliant} More Parts Per Million. Hutch jumped and flailed while remaining pitch-perfect.

But, thanks to a broken bass string, we also saw Hutch, Jordan and Ben half-naked by the end of the set.

Good music, shirtless Thermals. I knew this night was going to be magical.


"The part that goes do-do-do-do-do-do-DUN-DUN-DUN-do"

With no imaginary boy Michael X at the show, we're not sure we even can review Kinski. We're pretty sure he has an imaginary exclusive on covering this densely atmospheric, Mogwai-esque explosion of a band.

I think that's true. If you write another adjective to describe them, you'll have to pay Michael X royalties.


Hmm. That won't do. I believe Michael would be proud if I said they were "incendiary"… and I believe he'd want me to ask everyone that, "if Kinski were to unleash the full force of their loud, we would all be killed instantly, and then who would buy their records?"

And after a night like tonight, what a tragedy that would be…