Yin and Yang

I guess you could say I had a real yin yang weekend. I put in full workdays both Saturday and Sunday, getting WFRP ready for version 6 of its playtest rules. Then each night I went into town to catch a punk rock show. So while I did get quite a bit done, it still felt like a weekend because I was out until 2 am each night enjoying some punk rock fury.

Saturday’s was a No Vote Left Behind show. Pansy Division kicked it off and they were great. When they stated to play, I joked to Nik, “Gee, think they’re going to play any songs about gay sex?” And how. While songs like Cocksucker Club, Political Asshole, and the new Alpine Skiing (introduced briskly as “a song about jerking off two guys at once”) are hardly subtle, Pansy Division was one of the first bands (punk or otherwise) to get out there are sing about such things. And while singing about sex could be seen as simply crass, the thing about Pansy Division is that each song is a political statement, a giant “fuck you” to the bigots that can’t seem to deal with homosexuality. As they say, “It seems so strange that they should care, if you stick a dick up there.”

Kinski, a local band, played next. I had seen them open for Mission of Burma a couple of months back and had inadvertently met the drummer when I thought he was an old friend of mine from NY (he wasn’t, they just look remarkably alike). They are mostly an instrumental band, doing the art punk noise thing. Pretty decent overall and they closed with a couple of Ramones songs in honor of Johnny’s passing.

Next up was my main event: the Avengers. Or to be more precise, half the original Avengers and a new rhythm section. But hey, whatever. The point is that they did indeed rock. Penelope’s voice is still terrific and band generally performed well (except a big fuck up during I Want In). She seemed almost shy up on stage. You can tell it’s been awhile since she fronted a punk band. They played a long set with most everything I wanted to hear, kicking it off with We Are the One (which qualifies, btw, as a fucking anthem). I was mildly perplexed that they played so much of their later era material but didn’t play I Believe in Me or Fuck You. That’s just quibbling though. They did a killer version of Car Crash, played the obscure comp track Cheap Tragedies, and then closed with the classic Open Your Eyes. All in all, quite satisfying, though the crowd was a bit weak. I expect a sea of mad pogoing but I had to actually migrate from center stage over to the left to get to other folks who were as excited as I was.

Our show ended in the midst of David Cross’s funny but scattered stand up set. He was jumping from one thing to another and admitted that he hadn’t worked on new material in three months. Even improvving new bits that guy is still funny though. Too bad we missed the end of his set (and Mudhoney entirely) because the Seattle bus system fucking sucks. We caught literally the last bus home, as it wasn’t going to worth a $20 cab ride to confirm that I only really like two Mudhoney songs (and one of them is a cover).

Alrighty, this entry is getting way too long, so I’ll skip the blow by blow on the Ex show Sunday night and note that it was amazing. Interestingly, the Ex were contemporaries of the Avengers (starting in 1979 in Amsterdam) but they have stayed together all these years. Surprisingly, they have actually gotten better over time, not worse like most bands. They are incredibly creative, insanely dedicated, and just plain brilliant. And they don’t live in the past. I have at least eight records by the Ex but last night they didn’t play one song I recognized. It was all about moving forward. They have a new double LP (which I must get) and a new bass player (who uses a stand-up) and they showed off exactly what they had been up to for the past few years. They build layers of sound, using elements that should in no way fit together. On first blush it seems like it’s going to be an atonal mess, nothing but noise for the sake of noise. Somehow though, it all works, and those layers build into a roar as everything clicks. And you find yourself entranced by the grandeur and the power of the whole thing and you wonder what kind of mad geniuses these Dutchmen are.

Then you find that they are the middle of their second encore and you once again have to leave to catch the last bus home. And you curse Seattle for its shit public transportation system and go home, so you can wake up time for the transatlantic conference call in the morning.

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