Not being content to be out checking on the local music scene just once this week, TCC ran out to the WoW Hall Saturday night to visit with Tacoma’s Zebrana Bastard (driver for The Athiarchists’ Music Adventure Stage) and experience The Procrastinators, who opened for this quadruple-billed show that saw The Athiarchists perform their (can you believe it?!!) 1,500th show (and here I thought it was only their 1,000th performance)…
First, I do have a few introductory comments -
We did not stay to see Explode-A-Tron who followed The Procrastinators, nor The Athiarchists who headlined this event, and that for a few reasons. Of course, we’ve seen and reviewed The Lowmen previously (see TCC’s column dated April 28, 2011), but primarily, the music style of the last two bands is not anything close to being TCC’s cup of tea (“thrash metal” being what I call by the lesser-loved term of “screamo”). As well, we all know (and either love or hate) The Athiarchists. They are absolute legends (and that not just in the local Eugene music scene), and while I may not personally like that particular type of music (“music” being a loosely-defined term), I definitely admire, respect, and am in awe of these two guys. No one under the age of 60 years old could have wracked up that many live performances (and these guys are barely that old, if you add both their ages together), and their traveling motorized stage (pictured here outside the WoW Hall on Saturday night before the show):
(street legal even!) is, as far as I know, unique to this band. Having personally experienced a “drive-by” (see TCC’s review dated May 6, 2011), I can tell you that it is something beyond the ability of this less-than-humble writer to adequately describe. Others who enjoy this genre are much better able to review their performances. I bow gracefully to their expertise.
Secondly, about The Procrastinators – I wanted to see these guys personally for several reasons. Bass player/vocalist Jeff Tunnell is father to The Athiarchists’ Aaron Tunnell – a claim to fame that couldn’t not be noticed by yours truly. In addition, guitarist/lead vocalist Kelly Asay is co-editor for the Eugene Daily News, which precludes him (and the band) from being reviewed (and subsequently published by that publication) by anyone even remotely attached to EDN. Seeing as how TCC is an entity separate from EDN, and the fact that Kelly is the editor who works his magic to make this column appear even more beautiful and polished when EDN co-publishes our reviews, I just had to be there! Not to mention, Kelly often describes the band with the phrase “a bunch of old guys,” and I had to see first-hand if there was any truth to those bald statements. But don’t let my opinion (as perfect as it is) sway you – let the actual events tell the story…
I had a chance to chat for a minute with Zebrana before she started her set, and got a bit of background info. While currently residing in Tacoma, Washington, Zebrana travels everywhere The Athiarchists do – literally. She is on their road crew, and is the driver when The Athiarchists hit the road in their mobile Music Adventure Stage. She describes her music style as “eclectic blues” and that’s as perfect a description as you can get if you attempt to put her tunes into words.
Hitting the stage solo for the first song, this young bassist/vocalist immediately took us by surprise. The first thing I thought when she started singing was “basso-perfecto!“ Her contra-alto vocal range is amazing, and we instantly fell in love with it. And truth to tell, I didn’t even realize she was playing a bass guitar during that first song – so rarely do you find a bassist that can make that instrument sound like a beautiful acoustic guitar. It wasn’t until she was joined by guitarist Lee Hundley (the rest of the band was unable to make it to the show) that I realized she was playing a bass guitar. Ooops – how embarassing! But what can I say? I was blinded by the utter beauty of her performance…
And you can definitely see the blues roots in her lyrics – no one so young should be writing songs so full of anger and angst… but within each song was a current of hope (or refusal to be beaten) that simply wouldn’t give up. It was an admirable performance by both guitarists – as I told Zebrana after the show, one of the challenges of performing what was basically an acoustic set (without the benefit of drums laying a foundation for the music) is keeping the energy flowing from the stage to the audience and back again. Not so here – the few kids who were in attendance (most were hanging about outside the Hall enjoying the beautiful early summer evening) were rapt, enthusiastically applauding as she finished each song. She sounded surprised initially by the response, and warmly thanked the audience before beginning each subsequent song. After this continued through the set, I think she realized that the audience’s approval was genuine – she stopped sounding surprised which only gave more energy to her performance.
We thoroughly enjoyed her performance. It’s too bad she is based out of Washington – I think this band would be an excellent candidate for a Eugene RAW event!!
You can find Zebrana and the Warpt Cocoon crew here: http://www.facebook.com/warptcocoon as well as a few youtube videos
Ok, so this trio is comprised of three “mature” musicians (a bunch of old guys, indeed!) – but that didn’t stop them from putting on one helluva show. They jumped and rocked like nobody’s business, and talk about a tight band – their set was seamless. You honestly could not tell this was only three musicians – Kelly Asay’s guitar work transitions without flaw between smooth rhythm chords and ripping lead guitar riffs, and Jeff Tunnell’s bass was perfect, synching with the most excellent drumming by Don Poole. And the vocals! While Kelly took lead for the most part, Jeff sang lead vocals on several songs. Both were awesome, and whoever wasn’t singing lead did amazing back-up vocals.
They opened with The Talking Heads’ “Take Me To The River,” which was followed by a mix of covers and original tunes. Just good old-school rock-n-roll that can never be anything but fun – my favorite song is their own “Man On Fire,” (here’s a video of a previous Goodfella’s performance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wi2iN7vBEj4) and we loved the closing cover of Credence’s “Fortunate Son.”
And by “we” I’m not referring to just TCC – but don’t take my word for it. The best (and only true) indicator of a band’s performance is the audience’s response. Here’s what really happened:
Remembering that most of the kids were outside basking in the sunshine when the set opened, there were perhaps a handful of folks in front of the stage during the first song, with several groups of youngins warming the side benches. That quickly changed, as kids left the sun and benches and joined the group on the floor, many of them dancing. The close of each song was met with cheers and applause… and the crowd kept getting bigger. By the end of the set, there were probably 50 people in front of the stage. With a few exceptions of folks who were most likely there just to see this group, they honestly were all teenagers.
So Kelly, shaddup already with the “old guys” crap – you guys rocked and you know it!!
You can find The Procrastinators on Facebook, Myspace, their personal webpage, and lots of youtube videos – check them out!