Stevens Passages: Full Family Snowboarding

20130113_115919New Year’s Day, 2013 launched ski season here in the crooked little shack. The scene: Stevens Pass. Allow me to introduce the players.

The Daddy: Expert snowboarder. Enjoys the backside and the terrain park, and has different gear for each. Officially exempted from all household responsibilities on Sundays between late November and early April.

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The Mama: That’s me. Complete klutz failed to link turns for nearly a decade until the invention of the rocker board finally launched me onto the blue runs. I like a dusting of fresh snow over a groomed run, on a bluebird day when the temperature is over 20 and under 30 – otherwise, I like a beer in the lodge.

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The XX, age 8: Ski school graduate rocks the black diamonds with her daddy; building up to jumps in the park. Beginning snowboarder; after trying a couple days on the board last season, committed to multiweek board class this year. Never misses a Sunday.

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Little A, age 4: Went to ski school three times last season, and looks forward to graduating to the Magic Carpet.
The Daddy and XX have been going up together every Sunday in season for 4 years. I spent the winter of 2002 in south India and missed an epic season. It took a few years to get back up, and after only a couple of days on the mountain, “family-building” put a stop to extreme sports like snowboarding, kung fu, and leaving the house ever. Several years passed. Then, at the beginning of last season, The Daddy gave me a new board for my birthday; a rockered, freestyle twin Arbor with FSC-certified core and recycled metal edges and bioplastic topsheet over limited edition “Hummingbird” artwork by Kyle Caldabaugh.

O

Four days later, Little A turned three, and ski school became an option. Suddenly, skiing was an option for the whole family. We waited for perfect scheduling and snow conditions before bringing the whole family up for a snow day. Even with something like five years since my last day up, I was linking turns on my first run with the new board. Fact: rocker boards rule. Taking it slow and easy, we did three half days in 2012.

Stevens Pass opened November 19, 2012 with 25 inches of snow reported at the base, and 32 inches reported at the upper mountain weather station. With only a couple of lifts running and discounted rates for “early season conditions,” even The Daddy and XX held off until the first week in December. December saw a few mountain days for The Daddy and XX. Even Little A got up to the mountain once when XX was down with the flu. The Mama was so busy writing up Airwaves interviews she didn’t notice when everyone left for the mountain. But on New Year’s Day the outlook was good and the schedules were free. It was the perfect day to kick off the full-family season.

This year Stevens Pass celebrates its 75th birthday, but for us this is the base year.

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GOJIRA! GOJIRA DA YO! (at Studio Seven)

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Caressing strings

After (not) seeing Devin Townsend at Studio Seven, I knew that I couldn’t just listen to Gojira; I had to see the stage. I unloaded camera and coat on long-suffering spouse who camped against a pillar. It had been a long time since I worked my way through a crowd like that, so I was out of practice with the “This small girl pushing past you is so harmless you’ve already forgotten her,” mind trick. Plus, the Gojira fans were notably protective of their space. I made it as far as the next pillar before a group of very tall guys blocked my way. Currents of aggression swirled through the crowd.

When the music started, a shockwave pushed the crowd back from the stage like anime characters thrown from an explosion. (I love it when song names are meaningful.) As the crowd pulsed, I pressed forward with the crowd, held my ground when it pushed back. Eventually, I passed the breakers and found a clear view of bass player Jean-Michel Labadie. He was playing with the brightest, transcendent smile. Catching his joy, I had to laugh out loud when the press became so tight there wasn’t room to headbang.

The sightlines at Studio Seven suck, but the sound was really good, and Gojira live is as tight and precise as the album. Despite the angry persona Joe Duplantier assumes onstage, most of the aggression in the crowd had evaporated, replaced by mass euphoria. This was not the redneck crowd from Lamb of God anyway. These people smelled much better – fortunate, because the only time I’ve ever been packed tighter was the show Sausage played when three Navy ships were docked in Seattle.

O

Despite the general bonhomie, I was uncomfortably close to a guy who seemed to be at a different show from the rest of us, so I started sliding sideways through the crowd toward the center. One guy offered up a space in front of him. I squeezed in and found myself feet from Joe Duplantier, his arms spread wide as he announced the title track. The crowd surged back in, pressing my face into the shoulder blades of one of the largest men I’ve ever seen.

The next time I got a good look at the stage was one of those moments when a cliché becomes meaningful. Duplantier caresses the strings. His face is fierce but his hands are soft; they move smoothly along the neck of the guitar without ever lifting from the strings. The contrast between the image of his hands and the percussive sound would be worth the effort to get up close even if the pit wasn’t fun.

Extended drum solo

Extended drum solo

I was standing on the edge of the metal platform that holds the rail in place, with four or five people in front of me. I could only see the stage about half the time and I kept falling off the two inch tall platform. The giant in front of me lifted his arm, inviting me forward – it was like a gate opening and when I moved under, I found myself in a pen. His enormous arms encircled a herd of four women at the rail. It felt paternalistic, but I liked not falling off the platform, so I stayed there through Mario Duplantier’s extended drum solo. Eventually I tired of receiving a face full of hair from the woman in front of me (the smell of hair product in a mosh pit – how times have changed!) and moved to the side.

Now I could sometimes see Joe Duplantier to my left and Labadie, still smiling but now thrashing wildly, to my right. Once I looked up and thought, “Who’s that guy?” It was the first time I saw Christian Andrieu.

O

During my years away from metal I filled the heavy void with a lot of industrial music. Listening to Gojira, I always feel like they are a heavy metal band playing industrial music. The avoidance of melody, preference for pure, abrasive sound over musical notes, the mechanical cadence of industrial music are all there. But where bands like Ministry and Killing Joke use samples as an extra instrument to create this effect, and Einstürzende Neubauten use drills and anvils, Gojira stand on stage with traditional heavy metal instrumentation and accomplish the same thing.

After several “Thank you and goodnight, merci beaucoup,” the music really did stop. People started clearing out; just as I turned away, the band came out and started shaking hands with the front row. I turned back, and my pit-friend offered to lift me up. Clambering over shoulders, reaching out, oh so close… four pale-colored picks in Joe’s hand as he handed them to guys just in front of me. And then he was gone.

O

Comparing stories with my husband on the way out (it was like Airwaves where everyone asks, “How is your festival?”) we passed the Sea Shepherd table and, not for the first time that night, I thought of Guðmundur from Sólstafir. I was tempted to buy him a shirt.

The word count on this post belies my feeling of speechlessness after this show, but I’ve just been talking around the real story. I’ve forgotten the source, but in college my physics-major friends used to quote, “As soon as you put something in words, you’ve missed the point.”* The point (sorry) was that language is incapable of expressing certain fundamental facts of the universe. Words are a too-broad brush that can describe around the edges but never reach the heart of reality. They can only obscure the nature of light, for example, or the experience of hearing Gojira play their music live in a 700-person club in an industrial district two blocks from the sea.

O

*To which the response was always, “I think you’ve missed the point there.”

Note: If you want to read about this show in fewer words with more information about the music (plus better photos) check out Islander’s write-up over at No Clean Singing.

The Atlas Moth and Devin Townsend at Seattle’s Studio Seven

It seems like I’m always most interested in the opening bands. I flew to L.A. to see Amorphis open for Nightwish, I saw Epica because Insomnium was opening, and I bought tickets to see Lamb of God last summer because Gojira was on the bill. Then Randy Blythe spent the summer in Prague. I followed Blythe’s incarceration with bated breath, selfishly as concerned about my Gojira tickets as the Lamb of God front man’s future. In the process, I learned a lot more about Blythe, and by the time the show was cancelled I was a big fan of LoG, too. I got to see them in December, and it was a great show, even though a nanny bus fail made us miss the opening band, Sylosis, which was extremely disappointing.

Insomnium opening for Epica at El Corazon

Insomnium opening for Epica at El Corazon

Gojira played Seattle on January 20, now headlining a truly impressive bill. After a near disaster – yet another babysitter missed the bus, and The Daddy drove to pick her up rather than wait – we arrived before the opening band took the stage. We were still in line at the bar when they did, so we ended up watching half The Atlas Moth’s set on closed circuit TV. At least the sound was good.

With a line-up of this quality, I thought the openers deserved their own post.

The Atlas Moth

When I first got back into metal, The Atlas Moth popped up on several year-end best-of lists. I gave their album a listen; even though I could tell they were doing good stuff I didn’t really enjoy it. The black metal elements were a turn-off, and the music was just so dense I couldn’t penetrate it. My tastes have evolved quite a lot since then, so I was looking forward to finding out how they would sound to me now.

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The Atlas Moth at Studio Seven

Survey says – awesome!

Now that I can begin to penetrate the thicket into some of the myriad elements that make up their black-psychedelic-doom-sludge-post-everything awesomeness, the music is intriguing and captivating in a Neurosis/ Momentum/Hypno5e kind of way without actually sounding like any of those. But filtered through crowd noise standing in line at the bar is no way to delve into music this rich. I bought An Ache for the Distant the next morning, and expect to spend many hours of close listening to really wrap my head around it.

Devin Townsend

Another artist that I knew but not really. Metal bloggers go gooey over Townsend, so about a year ago I checked out one of his albums and thought, “Well, yes, obviously he’s a genius, but what he needs is four other guys with veto power; this is too self-indulgent.” Sometimes not having a sense of humor is such a handicap.

Townsend is indulgent, yes – but not of himself. I can’t recall the exact quote, but Townsend explained it himself, “I don’t care if you think I’m an idiot as long you have a good time tonight.”

Devin Townsend at Studio Seven

Devin Townsend at Studio Seven

Before the music even started, an animated video had the audience laughing out loud. I couldn’t see the screen at all, so I don’t know what the joke was. At one point the crowd parted and I caught a glimpse of an animated cow bobbing its head. Then some seriously heavy music started. And changed, and changed, and then it changed again.

Although the sound and genre are very different, Townsend’s music has the same WTF-ness as Apparat Organ Quartet. The stage show reminded me a little of an old local band called The Squirrels that paired Yankovic-inspired lyrics with almost random combinations of familiar music; and Cabbage Patch dolls.

O

Townsend announced that he had the smallest penis in the room. He was really adamant about it. He also warned the audience against eating Taco del Mar within hours of going on stage, which of course, locals already knew. As the music changed again, I made my way to the bench against the wall where women guarded by boyfriends were standing to see over the crowd. Pointing to the camera, I convinced a kind soul to give me a hand up so I could get a good look at the stage. I took a few shots and returned to my spot on the floor.

Townsend introduced some sampling with, “Cue the invisible choir,” and before the show was over he had everyone waving jazz hands (and a few stuffed animals) in the air. “If you don’t do this, it means you’re cool, and if you’re cool, you don’t belong here.”

Devin Townsend is more than just a consummate performer, he’s a performance artist; music is only a part of the show. Fortunately, it just happens to be complex, intelligent, sometimes thunderously heavy music that accompanies his interactive performance art. Next time, I will work harder to score a spot where I can see the stage.

Note: If you want to read about this show in fewer words with more information about the music (plus better photos) check out Islander’s write-up over at No Clean Singing.

Pollyblog: Maybe I Need a Book Group

tadpoleI tried starting a book group in grad school. Because we were all broke grad students, we decided not to require everyone to buy and read the same book each month. Instead, everyone brought one thing they read and liked, pitched it to the group, and loaned it to the person who was most interested. The money we saved on books was spent on wine. The down side to the system was that since we hadn’t all read the same book, there wasn’t much book conversation once the pitches were done. Much wine was consumed. Eventually we started meeting in bars, where they never ran out of wine. The books fell to the wayside.

This is kind of the story of my life. Even though I have family and friends who read as much as I do, I never seem to know people who have read the same books I have.

After spending an intoxicating two weeks in the heady atmosphere of Iceland Airwaves, where every conversation referenced books and music and was about matters of culture and spirit. I interviewed musicians who cited Elizabeth Gilbert and Tom Waits in the same paragraph. I had rational discussions of immigration policy with a Frenchwoman over breakfast. At a museum, when I bought a copy of a memoir by a Westmann Islander who had been captured by pirates in the 1600s, I expressed surprise that a survivor of that pirate raid had written a memoir, the woman working at the gift shop said haughtily, “We are a very literary people.” After that, it was hard coming down to the mundane world of day job particulars and school lunches.

TigerRag

I finished Halldór Laxness’ The Great Weaver from Kashmir, and desperately needed to dissect that one with others. A few Facebook comments and the Laxness in Translation web site (and thank god for that) were my only reference points. Then I read Neil Gaiman’s American Gods (much more on that one to follow). Several friends had already read it, and beyond a few “I told you you would like it,” comments, no one really wanted to talk about that one either. Now I’ve read Tiger Rag by Nicholas Christopher. It’s a preview copy for a review to post elsewhere, so of course I have no one else to bounce ideas off of before I write it.

So the other day my heart skipped a beat when a coworker said, “I’m reading the best book right now.” I almost held my breath while I waited to see if it was something I had read or an author I knew so that we could talk about it.

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Then she held up a copy of The Omega 3 Diet, and I spent the next 15 minutes learning about her sister’s weight loss and the connection between Omega 6 and joint pain with a frozen smile painted on my face.

Getting Giddy at Seattle Opera’s Cinderella

20130113_194828Age ain’t nothing but a number, and even numbers appear to be relative. My awareness of this concept is never as acute as when I’m writing about music. Last fall I interviewed Icelandic wunderkind Ásgeir Trausti on the day he opened a show at Neumos. Had he not been performing that day, Ásgeir Trausti would not have been allowed in to the 21+ show. The first time I saw a show at that venue, it was a new club called Moe’s Mo’ Rockin’ Cafe.

Underage artist at Neumos

Underage artist at Neumos

The next day, I attended the opening night performance of Seattle Opera’s Turandot as a member of the Bravo! Club for young people. This is my penultimate season as a Bravo! Club member, and although I wonder how I’ll afford full price tickets after I turn 40, I usually feel a bit of a fraud attending opera on a youth ticket.  But at Seattle Opera’s lighthearted La Cenerentola last weekend, I really did feel like a kid.

Turandot

Turandot

It helped that it was girls’ night out with my old opera partner from the days when student tickets were simply a matter of course. After ordering appetizers (gorgonzola samosas with a viognier for me – eye-rollingly delicious) we immaturely decided dessert and cocktails was as good as dinner. An hour later, buzzed and with a sugar high, the years of infrequent phone calls and toddler-supervising play dates had melted away and we were confessing embarrassing stories and telling secrets like old times, except with better liquor (10 Mercer’s rye Manhattan may have ruined the bourbon version for me).

I didn’t do my homework

At McCaw Hall, instead of reading our booklets about the opera, we kept gossiping until the seating bell rang. As the lights began to dim, we remembered our first time at the opera together – a marathon evening of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde that almost ended my nascent interest in the art form. (I’m still not a Wagner fan.) When Isolde finally, finally died, Tristan sang his grief above her corpse. Both performers conformed to the popular image of the Wagnerian singer’s body type. Tristan was to hold her lifeless hand to his heart, but her arm could barely reach past his prodigious belly. I’m sure it wasn’t really funny, but it was late and we were loopy, and the world-class performance by two top Wagner vocalists was lost on us. The sight of Tristan repeatedly yanking Isolde up from her bier gave us the giggles, and over a decade later, just as the lights dimmed for Cinderella, the memory was enough get us giggling again.

Fortunately, Rossini’s version of Cinderella is a much more appropriate story for giggling, and it’s easy to enjoy even if you haven’t done your homework. Over the next three hours we were hardly the only ones laughing out loud. Long after the alcohol wore off, we continued to snicker at the gags onstage. I might have laughed as much at Cosi fan tutti, but probably not. Cosi fan tutti was ironically funny, while Cinderella is guileless.

Curiously for bel canto, La Cenerentola is remarkably down to earth, despite its high spirits. Unlike opera’s many maudlin heroines, Cinderella herself (properly named Angelina) is clear-headed, virtuous, and strong-willed, within the limits of her station. La Cenerentola has no fairy godmother and no glass slipper. Instead of throwing a shoe like a thoroughbred, Angelina intentionally gives the prince a piece of jewelry, and challenges him to find her. She will marry him only when he takes the effort to discover who she really is.

Of course royals and servants switch places in Cinderella, giving rise to mistaken identities and double entendre – it is still opera after all. But one of my favorite things about Seattle Opera is the way that they take an art form that really doesn’t age well and make it relevant and current. Although the music is timeless, opera characters and storylines are too often shallow and support appallingly antiquated values. Seattle Opera makes the most of the source material, building credible characters out of a few notable lines, and inserting gestures and actions that speak volumes. They add depth to the story and humanity to the characters by working around what is actually there without destroying the original artwork.

The other thing I love about Seattle Opera is the sets. They never fail to impress, and often, as in La Cenerentola, become like characters themselves. A simple lighting change transforms Cinderella’s house into the royal palace. A piece of furniture serves as a carriage. Off-stage events are related by puppets and toys – manipulated by the mice. Oh, the mice! What a brilliant addition! Never making a sound, they in no way alter the notes Rossini wrote, but their actions add so much to the theatrical performance. Like the kuroko in kabuki theater, the mice negotiate many of the on-stage technicalities. Like real-life mice, they are sometimes invisible to the main players, and sometimes participate in the story. Cinderella talks to the mice as a lonely kitchen maid might; the prince’s valet is appalled by their presence.  Only the audience is always aware of the mice, and they are always delighted by them.

My only regret about Cinderella is that I can’t afford a second set of tickets to see the performance next weekend. Then I could bring my daughter and watch it again through the eyes of a real child.

A Second Serving – Interviews in Iceland

Far more interesting than my usual navel-gazing posts are the conversations I had with Icelandic musicians who are among the most intelligent, interesting, and entertaining people I have ever met. I left every interview with a better understanding of not only their music, but of music in general.

Back in December, I posted a list of these interviews. At the time I was still working on more, each of which, in one way or another, posed some kind of writerly challenge. Even though my mistakes are perhaps more apparent here than on the first batch, I hope you get more from these interviews than just my lessons-learned. There is some great music here.

O

Gone Postal

Gone Postal (with Svartidauði)

Gone Postal started out as teenagers who, by their own admission, played a bunch of riffs in a row and called it death metal. Over the years, they’ve grown as songwriters, adding post-rock and black metal influences. Their new blackened death sound is drenched in doomy atmosphere that I think a lot of people would like if the band ever gets around to putting out an album.

Since their guitar player is also part of Svartidauði, the gold standard of black metal in Iceland, I was also able to ask about that band. Svartidauði released a new album, Flesh Cathedral, only a couple weeks after this interview, and I can confirm their guitar player’s statement that it is “really trippy shit.”

TrippyShit

Svartidaudi

The interview itself was kind of a trip, too. Airwaves was already in full swing before I caught up with the band, and to top it off it was after their 2 am show – which means it was the middle of rúntur. Transcribing an interview with five subjects in a party setting was a professional challenge, to say the least. Read the interview here.

Kontinuum

Good thing I ran into Birgir Thorgeirsson at a show later in the week since I forgot to take pix at the interview.

Good thing I ran into Birgir Thorgeirsson (left) at a show later in the week since I forgot to take pix at the interview.

I requested an interview with Kontinuum before I even heard their music – I could tell from the review on Angry Metal Guy that it would be right up my alley. The recovering witchy goth-girl in me swoons for the moody atmosphere, but the black metal and especially the industrial elements are what keep me coming back for more. Killing Joke was the soundtrack to an entire phase of my life that I unfortunately don’t remember much about. So until it came up in the interview, I didn’t identify the tremendous impact of Killing Joke amidst the many other, sometimes unexpected, influences on this album. Also, great vocals; gloomy cleans that land somewhere between Peter Steele and Peter Murphy are supplemented with occasional spine-tingling lupine howls – but therein lay the problem.

Press photo taken by the other guy in the photo above.

Press photo taken by the other guy in the first photo.

No Clean Singing focuses on extreme metal. Three Imaginary Girls cover indie and punk bands that are just as heavy as Kontinuum, but they don’t cover metal. So I split the interview. Selective cutting, without rearranging or adding anything, resulted in two separate interviews; one focused on the band’s black metal history and the other on the album’s indie influences. It was a great writing exercise, and lots of fun. But my editors both got a piece that didn’t quite fit their websites, and I didn’t do the band any branding favors. Music Birgir mentioned in the interview led me to a whole subgenre of ambient black metal (which, it turns out, I like a lot better than other kinds). In retrospect, I should have kept the interview intact and found a single outlet for the piece. I could have used a broad platform site like CultureMob, or found a site whose readers would be interested in something labeled “ambient black metal.” Metal interview here. Indie interview here. Also, I forgot to take pictures.

Skálmöld

OI won’t talk about their music here, because I want you to read the interview, and the review I wrote of their album. For this post, I’ll just talk about what I learned.

It pains me to confess; after I boarded my plane in SeaTac, and before I inserted the sim card in my European smart phone, Skálmöld confirmed our interview the following Sunday. Somehow, I didn’t see the email until three weeks after I got home.

I only ended up getting an interview at all because the guys from Skálmöld are every bit as friendly and down-to-earth as everyone in Iceland told me they were, and granted an email interview. For about a week, in the most fun exchange I’ve ever had on email, I got to dig into the details of Icelandic poetry and music history with their bass player as my personal tutor.

Lessons learned: Check your spam folder every day. When checking email, always scroll all the way down to the old messages.

Sólstafir

OAlthough they are probably sick of hearing this, if Sigur Rós played heavy metal, they would be Sólstafir. And you all are probably sick of hearing about how much I love this band, how they are one of the reasons I went to Iceland in the first place, and how I will never be the same after hearing them play. Fortunately, I got to interview their drummer before that show, or I would never have had the nerve to do the interview.

Guðmundur was such a friendly and easy-going guy, though, that instead of being awestruck, I found myself asking for camera advice (he’s a trained photographer). But easy-going is not always easy interviewing, and from a professional standpoint, this one went a little sideways. Worse, it was a rant against vegetarians and in favor of eating whale meat! As a 20-year vegetarian environmentalist, I cringe to think that someone might eat whale because of something I wrote.

Hey kids, check it out! This super-cool rock star that thinks whale meat is awesome. He makes some pretty good points, too, and I’m not even going to argue because I’m trying be a neutral journalist who doesn’t piss off my interviews with off-topic arguments.

But you know – whatever. He was funny and interesting, and gave good answers about the band. He was whip smart and would have been tough to argue with if I had decided to engage on whaling. (I wouldn’t anyway, since I agree with him about not telling other people what to eat.)

O

Actually, I wouldn’t do anything differently about that interview. It was fun and I loved every minute of it. Lesson learned: Just roll with it.

Bringing Reykjavik! Home

OReykScreamNot the city, the band. They were one of the best surprises of my Airwaves. I took a break from metal night at Amsterdam to cross the street to Gamli Gaukurinn to check out Reykjavík! on the strength of their video “Hellbound Heart,” which documents the flight from Reykjavík to the band’s home town Ísafjörður. (Unsurprisingly, this is the work of Bowen Staines.)

I love that song, but it’s kind of misleading, the way that Greenday’s “Good Riddance” is misleading.

O Theirs (Reykjavík!, not Greenday) was the wildest show I’ve been to this century – no, honestly, I’m not sure I can remember ever being in a pit like that. I’ve felt the same mass euphoria joy at a Korn show, but Children of the Korn are much more concerned with safety than these kids were. I only survived because I was hanging on to rail – even that had its dangers as the singer often stood on the rail before hanging from the lights (Remember when Eddie Vedder used to do that? Those were the days.) or dropping into the crowd.

The last thing my camera saw before I stashed it behind the rail was the singer dropping from the ceiling.

The last thing my camera saw before I stashed it behind the rail was the singer dropping from the ceiling.

I quickly gave up on pictures and dropped my camera behind the rail for safekeeping. Well, it seemed like I gave up quickly, but I actually took almost 50 picture before giving up. Most of them are blurry enough to count as abstract art. These guys move around a lot – think fast like 311 on their first tour.

O

It was a pit full of love, though. Besides practically making out with the second singer on stage, their main frontman had sweaty hugs and sloppy kisses for everyone he could reach in the audience. I had to give up my modified boxer’s cover (in a pit, my face seems to be elbow high to most concert-goers) to maintain a steady rhythm elbowing the soft parts of the unbelievably tall Nordic men whose kind embraces were unwelcome despite the loving joy of the event. The seven-foot tall blue-haired frost giant was a particular threat, however affectionate he may have been. Even holding on at the front with the folks who were getting paid not to give up on photography, I still left the show with a six-inch rip in my jeans and bruises all over.

PowerChord

And of course, the band fucking rocked. I spent ages trying to figure out if they were punk or metal or what- especially since they reminded me of someone I couldn’t put my finger on – but finally gave up and decided the genre was “awesome.”

sweatyguys

Then, over the holiday, I spent some time ripping old CDs, and I found it. Anyone remember Black Happy? Another high energy band with metal roots, founded in a nowhere town with a wild energy that has to be heard to be believed. Reykjavík!’s first album,  Glacial Landscapes, Religion, Oppression and Alcohol, has more in common with Friendly Dog Salad than their new one does, but there are some real sonic similarities. Of course there are current bands that share more of their sound – Cloud Nothings come to mind – but the Black Happy connection is profound in the most significant measure that I use to understand music –

What does it feel like to listen to it?

Here is a rather subdued television performance from Reykjavík!

Here is Black Happy playing Greenstock in ’93. I wasn’t there because I was on crutches then, plus I didn’t have ID yet. But this is the song that most typifies that feeling that Black Happy and Reykjavík! share. If you want to actually hear what the song sounds like, you can listen to it here.

Here’s a video of Black Happy playing the Mural Ampitheater at Seattle Center about 6 weeks before I moved to this fair city, and at least a year before I got a chance to see them myself.