Red Dress, Part V (one more after this, I think)

Posted: August 9, 2011 in Red Dress

Red Dress reflected the eclecticism that was Seattle’s early punk scene.  They were certainly not punk rock, or rock at all for that matter, but they played on the same bills with those bands.  Early Red Dress performances were almost vaudevillian, featuring unusual opening acts such as a magician, belly dancers accompanied by a man and his python, and a hula dancer. “That was crazy,” guitarist John Olufs remembers, referring to the hula dancer.  “She did these dances and didn’t even sing.  It was all to a playback.  And hula dancing (laughs)–it’s not like there’s a lot of variety in that.  She did like a 20-minute set of hula dancing (laughs).”

These exhibitions eventually came to an end, when the band realized it could not get regular club gigs with that format.  Unlike some of their punk friends who had day jobs, Red Dress represented a living, and they found out clubs would book them if they became more of a straight-ahead dance band.

Ultimately, though, it was about the songs, and those songs always entertained the crowd…with titles like “Pterodactyl Teenagers,” “Symphony of Sex,” “I Like to Eat My Mousies Raw,” and “The Story of Tucson Shorty.”  Minkler-penned tunes, such as “Bob Is a Robot,” sometimes threw audiences for a bit of a loop with their abrupt tempo and mood changes.  “Bob,” a story about…(ah, I’m not going to attempt to articulate it, Gary can explain it better) exemplifies the band’s rhythmic dynamic.  “Bob” grooves along, with that wonderful Olufs/Pete Pendras guitar interplay, for about a minute and a half.  Suddenly it slows to a crawl, when–in the song–Minkler catches his girlfriend Jane in bed with Bob.  Minkler bemoans the situation, and then screams, “And I said, ‘Jane…'” The band pauses.  Minkler then screams “‘Bob is a robot!’” and the tune hurtles back into its earlier groove.  This oddball stop/start dynamic could perhaps destroy a song, but with Red Dress it works.  “Inserts,” says Minkler.  “I’m big on inserts. (laughs)

“It’s kinda cool,” Minkler continues, “because it stops the groove thing and adds a focus.  So it gives a different [aspect] to the song and it can be seen as a hook.”

Back in January, Seattle Channel aired a wonderful Red Dress reunion show/documentary that you can stream online at http://www.seattlechannel.org/videos/video.asp?ID=6011016.  The band leads off their show with “Bob,” so you can experience Minkler’s inserts right away.

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