Three Imaginary Girls

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

The entire weekend flew past in a blur of sunscreen, fish 'n chips, and rock and roll. A few imaginary highlights, in order of appearance…

  • tart
  • Argo
  • Silver Surfer
  • The Senate Arcade
  • Ms. Led
  • NuSol Tribe
  • Cee-lo
  • The Ruby Doe
  • The Lawnmowers
  • The Fading Collection
  • From the Icy Coast
  • Downpilot


"It's time to hear what the girls have to say!"

Friday evening was chock full of good music. Post-Stardom Depression, Pris and tart were a few noteworthy groups I had the pleasure of seeing.

It was entirely too precious to be with the almost all sister group, tart, when their mother came backstage to wish the girls good luck. As I was shaking mother tart's hand I asked her if she would adopt me.

She laughed.

I wasn't kidding.

Anna {bass player} had an imaginary shirt on and it looked adorable on her. If only I had remembered my camera. The girls singing voices are so similar that their three-tiered harmonies almost sounded like studio multi-tracked vocals as opposed to three separate live performers.

There wasn't an overabundance of stage banter — they relayed their message lyricly instead. "I am a happy camper. There's nothing wrong with this world. I am the status quo girl." This song was my favorite. I dug the delivery of the harmonies, which mimicked methodical, army-like chanting — which sounded amazing and was very relevant to the flavor of the song. All three sisters spent equal amounts of time on the mics. No sibling rivalry here!

Another song incorporated breathing and screaming in the background vocals. There's something delectably disconcerting about girls dressed librarian-style playing rock and roll guitar and screaming. My whole definition of right and wrong has been disheveled. And I like it.


"All you say and all you do"

Local cutie-pies Argo provided great wake- up- and- let- the- sun- roll- out- from- behind- the- clouds music. Their smooth indie-rock sound turned heads young and old from on their Saturday sidewalk stroll, curious for a peek at the band. They just sounded so good to the scent of salt water, combining mellow feel-good rock and kick-start pop as seamlessly as they switched instruments {which they did throughout the set — with every member but the bass player playing everyone of the other instruments, including the mic. Yow!}.

I liked that none of the band members were trying to "outrock" each other. They took turns, like good little boys. They reminded me of Ben Folds Five, with great volume changes in each song and nice variety. And pretty guitars.

I can't wait for their CD release party October 29th at the Crocodile.

Silver Surfer

"Got a crush on you {what am I to do?}"

"This stage kicks ass. It's a trampoline!" proclaimed Silver Surfer, bouncing up and down on the stage to kick off their amazingly-energetically-pop-tacular set of wah-wah-peppy supersongs. Their bright melodic pop in the breezey sunshine was creamy like an avocado — soft but substantial, hearty and moist, and it doesn't taste quite like anything else. Plus, it's all kindsa good for you!

Silver Surfer's name obviously evokes the beach, and their live sound (as their Seattle Alki Music Festival bio suggested) was reminiscent of Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys — only minus the gloom and Brian Wilson nutterness. These guys sounded clean, pure, and happy, without simpering. They're sterling {ouchie, bad pun}.

For another orally-fixated metaphor: sounded like bubblegum, only minty-flavored, not pink — they're clean and crisp, and make your whole mouth feel fresh, without the obnoxious gum-smacking bubble-cracking nonsense.


The Senate Arcade

"Do you think you can touch me, over and over?"

The Senate Arcade. Photo by Ryan Schierling.The first time I saw the Senate Arcaders in action was in a confined space where ear plugs accompanied each beverage purchase. It was a traditional rock venue, but made it difficult to sift through and process the multi-levels that make up the Senate Arcade.

I actually could hear their lyrics and harmonies. Those boys can sing! They played chunky alt-metal without the annoying masturbatory lead guitar known to that genre.

Yeah, I felt like I could hear them better here, outside, then I'd ever been able to hear them in a club. It's like there was finally room for their sound to stretch out. Their sound was reminiscent of At the Drive In, only with harmonies. Todd Schlosser's earnest piercing vocals soared over waves, and they made a whole lotta good noise for a trio {must be the bass playing lead vocalist}. I liked their anthemic rock lyrics ("I need to reconstruct"), all oh-so-serious like trio Rush before them. And they have a song featured on an up-coming Xbox game. Neat-o!

Most importantly, these boys have a new CD called Vitamins Taste Like Dying. If any of this trivia sounds intriguing to you, I'd advise you go buy it! I sure like it.

Ms. Led

"Because I said so"

Ms. Led — Strong Enough for the Man, but Made for All Women.

Damn, I wish I had written that {it's the title page of the band's web site}. Damn damn damn. Bear with me; I fear my imaginary words might not prove adequate to describe this band, this fantastically bad-ass 75% girl band that rocked my mid-afternoon {and my world} with their questionably punk-rock but definitely blazing rock set.

Singer/guitarist/diva Lesli "Roxy" Wood gyrated and tossed her hair, making the gesture one of fierce femininity and power. Ms. Led were like that — females who could be sexy and gorgeous because they just are, without pretense or loss of credibility. They're not Miss Led, they're Ms.Led {and trust me, if you get it wrong, they're gonna let you know!}.

The band featured Roxy's clean husky voice and two lead guitars for a densely rich indie-rock drive, with enough pop-sensibilities to smile along. They didn't squeak like some grrl rock bands — they're wiser (wyser?) than that. In fact, they didn't sound particularly like a girl band, and I found it hard to pinpoint exactly who they sounded like. While PJ Harvey was an obvious comparison, Patty Smith might be closer approximation of the flavor. And yes, like Sleater Kinney (but doesn't every girl rock band get compared to them?), down several octaves. They had incr
edible show(wo)manship, in an understated, no nonsense way. This band simply soared through their set with grace and confidence.

I love it when the only guy in the band plays bass. And I liked the double meaning in the band name. Woman take the foreground, bass player meekly in the background, for a total gender stereotypical flip.

Ms. Led have something to say and they were onstage saying it. One question though: when does she breathe? It takes a lot of energy to strum like that and scream and not breathe…

NuSol Tribe

NuSol Tribe. Photo by Ryan Schierling. I arrived to Alki Beach to the first song of the NuSol Tribe set.

It was the perfect way to start out the festival. Their- one- love- magic- of- the- mother- earth- father- sky- outdoor- groove- love- got- me- in- the- mood- for- my- full- day- of- outdoor- activities. Their sound is in the vibe of the goodness of one groove under the sparkle un sol.

And me without my boa!

Um, right. What Liz said. They certainly earned the "tribe" status portion of their nomenclature, as the stage was suddenly a-flutter with sunshiny hippie-groove-worldbeat-ness sounds and 10-plus members ensconsed as they were in boas and glitter and feathers. It was zany and weird and wacky, like Burning Man came to life on Alki beach, and the crowd went wild. Or that is, we thought the crowd went wild. We hadn't seen the wild to come, what with the arrival of the next artist, Cee-Lo


"Closet Freak"

Cee-lo. Photo by Ryan Schierling. When we first saw Cee-Lo was on the bill I did a double take. Cee-Lo? The guy from Goodie Mob who sold over a million records? The Atlanta hip hop sensation with the tattoos who is like, famous on MTV and stuff? The crowd reacted accordingly, shifting from cute little indie-day at the beach to an NBA-sponsored hip-hop fest as fast as igDana could say, "Who's Cee-Lo?" The beach swelled with folks standing on garbage cans and blocking walkways to get a piece of the hip-hop action.

But that's where our knowledge of Cee-Lo ends and our last minute Cee-Lo-fact-gathering begins. Here's what we know:

  • The sorta-Seattle-based TV show Dark Angel featured a Cee-Lo single, "Closet Freak" back in April. Isn't that nice?
  • According to the official Cee-Lo web site, Cee-Lo will be airing some original poetry on HBO's Def Poetry Jam. As the site says, "It's all original Cee-Lo poetics, and as any fan of the man will tell you, he always comes with some next level ish! Don't miss this one, for real!" So… that's good!
  • He has a tattoos of his son on his right arm and "REVOLUTION" in old-English text across his back, among others.
  • He is a Gemini.

And igDana interviewed him. She's the one who asked to see his tattoos. Go imaginary journalism! But seriously, if you want to read a real interview of Cee-Lo from the event, check out this one from our new friends at

The Ruby Doe

The Ruby Doe. Photo by Ryan Schierling.It takes a special kinda indie-rock band to follow-up the Cee-lo mayhem and our pre-set imaginary onstage banter while filling the minutes before the set {How many pirate jokes can one expectant crowd take? Ugh, we don't wanna talk about it…}. The ever-sonorous Ruby Doe had the dubious distinction of "sharpest- transition- of- musical- styles- of- the- weekend" and pulled it off with great aplomb.

The Ruby Doe pummeled us with their "Helmet-ized" no-nonsense rock for a good 50 minutes without pausing for a breath of air between songs. They seamlessly glided from one dense rock song to the next — with an effortless melding of harmony and testosterone, they nailed all the high hit points from their Dream Engine Blue release (hint: all the points are high ones on this release!). They ended the set with their immaculate signature cover of Motorhead's "Ace of Spades."

I am ashamed to admit, The Ruby Doe had me singing the "Ace of Spades" for the remainder of the day. I finally stopped fighting it, gave in and proceeded to pull everyone down with me by getting it stuck in their heads too. In fact, as I'm typing this, it's reinfecting my head.

The Lawnmowers

"I'm not the idiot who takes photos of the clouds."

The Lawnmowers. Photo by Ryan Schierling. For some time now I've had "Catch a Lawnmowers show" and "Purchase the Lawnmowers CD" on my list of to-dos. Their songs are just so catchy and charming and smart and clean.

And now to see them live… I experienced their one-of-a-kind blending of their spiffy Value Village fashion sense with their sensible smart melodies that gave the Model Rockets a run for their money. It was a fitting end to a sunshine-clad and exhausting day. They were as comforting as my favorite black hoodie.

The Lawnmowers. Photo by Ryan Schierling. Frontman Andy Davenhall seemed at once part Robyn Hitchcock, and part Philip Seymour Hoffman — Robyn for the gifted story-teller songwriting and enunciation (tho sans the accent, of course), and Phillip for the quirky wit, the coloring, and the offbeat vintage sportscoat.

The Lawnmowers are a superband if Seattle ever had one, boasting members from Sister Psychic, Dodi, and Sycophant. The band formed to fulfill the dying wish of Andy's friend and former Sister Psychic drummer, Ryan Vego, who left songs for Andy to record in his suicide note. Strange that a band that originated from such heavy circumstances could sound so poppy and uplifting. Strange in a "I really really REALLY like this band" kinda way.

I thought it was interesting that yes, they are quirky and upbeat, but their songs also have a sense of maturity and comisseration of the everday. If you could date a band, these are the guys that I would want to take home to meet my parents. They would easily impress my mom with their knowledge of state tax laws and then chat with my stepdad about their latest Home Depot projects. They are cute and witty and smart and, I bet, know how to start a barbeque.

And even though the
y had already one me over, they solified their place in my heart with the line, "Texas has the biggest bugs / the cheapest beers, and the strongest drugs."

They also executed the best whistling harmonies I've heard since the theme of the Andy Griffith show. They were so comfortable onstage they could make you forget that some folks need to depend on image.

With their dual front man stage bantering and slap stick lyrics, I was getting a TenaciousD flavor from these boys. But they were a little more mature than TenaciousD. They're TenaciousD for my parents. And they write catchy songs for smart people.

The Fading Collection

The Fading Collection brought a new bouquet to Sunday's lineup. With their eerie vocals, they added a surreal mysticism to the beach. Their sound is borderline Tricky with a smidge of Supreme Beings of Leisure. This trip hop duo {with special reappearing guests} was formed by Sarah McCulloch and Matt Frickelton. A little seagull told me that Sarah and Matt are engaged.but that is, of couse, hearsay.

://">Downpilot From the Icy Coast

While watching From the Icy Coast load their equipment on stage, I was intrigued. Their bio listed Prodigy as their musical flavor, but their attire screamed Marilyn Manson. 30 seconds into their first song I was getting definite Gravity Kills vibes. Their slower songs {I use slower very freely here} were reminiscent of Depeche Mode. Who says the beach has to be bright and happy? Come on, we live in Seattle. Bring on the dark!


Oh, sweet Downpilot! What can I say about you that I haven't said before? Your use of violin is tasty, your melodies are smooth like butter on hot bread {can you tell it's approaching lunchtime?} and you fill my soul with chocolate. Um, I mean, longing.

{you can eat… I mean, read more Downpilot here.}