2014/12/19

Really really happy

Should have got even closer!
When I learned that the Muffs were touring in support of Whoop Dee Doo, their first album since Really Really Happy was released in 2004, I got very excited. During those years, the band would play occasional shows in California (where they are based) and at Maxwells in Hoboken, NJ, but never close enough for me to get to. With the new tour, of course I hoped they would make it to Vancouver. 'Twas not to be. But they were doing a show in Seattle. There are some bands for which I will take a day off, drive to Seattle, and stay overnight. The Muffs are one of those bands. I was not going to miss this chance.

Sweetie and I took off around 3. By the time we hit Seattle the evening rush hour(s) traffic had eased up a bit. We arrived at our hotel with just a little time to rest, get ready, and then head to dinner. The show was at the Crocodile in Belltown, so I had Google Mapped it and looked for little knife-and-fork symbols nearby. And it was thus that I found La Fontana Siciliana. What a find! A Sicilian restaurant with a beautiful courtyard (for summer dining) only half a block from the club. Our server Fabio took excellent care of us. The food and wine were superb. In fact, we demolished an entire bottle of wine with dinner, something we don't often do. But there would be no driving required.

We walked over to the club shortly after 9. The Suicide Notes from Portland had just started their set. The band consists of three female singers backed up by drums, bass, and guitar. Their Bandcamp site provides a pretty accurate description: like the Shangri-Las doing it with the Ramones in the back of a hearse. The singers sang together and sometimes traded lead vocals. The music was fun and energetic. We enjoyed their set very much.

No flash, moving band
The second band was the Tripwires from Ballard, a neighbourhood in the northwest of Seattle. Four not-so-young guys playing straight up rock with a flare of Americana. The set was quite listenable, but it didn't get us off like the Suicide Notes. Still, two decent opening bands is almost unheard of.

It didn't take long before the Muffs hit the stage. I have to admit that I didn't realize they would set up their own equipment, and that was pretty cool. After the setup, guitarist and singer Kim Shattuck came out in a black Wednesday Addams dress with over-the-knee stockings, while tall, thin bassist Ronnie wore a white pullover sweater with a bow tie, evoking local science guy Bill Nye. (Roy, being the drummer, gets to dress however he wants to.) The band ripped into their set of material from the new album and quite a lot of older material--older, I think, than the two albums and one compilation that I have. It didn't matter whether I was familiar with a song or not. I loved every minute of it!

Ronnie and a borrowed bass
This is what I call a rock and roll band. When they were playing, they were tight while looking like they were having fun. These are musicians who have been playing together for a long time--Kim and Ronnie since the beginning in 1991 and Roy since 1994. And between songs, there was often some fun chatter. Ronnie told how he was almost eaten by an escalator at SeaTac Airport when his shoelace got caught. Kim gave him no end of shit about this, but Ronnie came back with the best line: "At least I didn't get booted out of the Pixies." Zing! It was all in good fun.

This set was nothing if not fun. Toward the end, the bass amp—apparently belonging to the Tripwires bass player--cut out. In trying to get it repaired, Ronnie dropped his bass and broke one of the tuning pegs, which he promptly handed to an audience member. Then, while a tech and the Tripwires bass player were working on the amp, Kim played a song by herself, with a bit of help from Roy, while Ronnie went crowd surfing! After a few minutes, the amp was working again. Ronnie borrowed a bass from the Tripwires, with which he finished the set. They played for more than an hour, and then came back for a three-song encore! Really, it could not have been more satisfying. The sound at the Crocodile was very good. The crowd was enthusiastic.

I was tearing up even before we caught a cab back to our hotel, and I really was crying during the ride. I wasn't sad. I was emotionally overcome. Sure, there was some alcohol involved, but by that time I was mostly sober. It was mostly that I had finally seen one of my idols play. Kim Shattuck is a 51-year-old woman who has earned her slot of indie stardom by doing it her way. She did what I wish I had done and, even at 10 years older than Kim, still dream of doing.

4 comments:

Coline said...

I really get the tearing up. It is great to finally be ourselves but those occasional moments when the reality of how much we have missed hits us churns the gut and opens floodgates for tears.

It was the reason I blogged, to persuade others not to live in the shadows but go for it while they still have time to enjoy...

Véronique said...

I was crying because the show was so great, Kim is one of my idols, and music is what I should have been doing all my life. That's why.

Coline said...

So glad that your tears were of joy and none of regret.

Véronique said...

Both. "She did what I wish I had done and still, even at 10 years older than Kim, still dream of doing." All about playing music, which is the thing that matters most to me.