Seattle Rock n Roll Weekend: Day One

Posted: November 22, 2012 in My Seattle-Related Concert Experiences

(Given it’s Thankgiving and I feel like crap sitting in my hotel room…I figured I’d make myself useful and post something about last weekend.)

Now that my book has been out for over a year, I admitted to my wife that I would find other excuses to visit Seattle. So when I found out my friend Rob Morgan (Pudz/Squirrels) had formed a new band along with Rod Moody (Swallow, also was in Deranged Diction with Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament) and Damon Titus (the Enemy), I knew I had my excuse. Calling themselves the GUM, Rob’s band would debut on Saturday, November 17 at Darrell’s Tavern in Shoreline, WA. This collective would cross the early Seattle punksters with the later grunge kids. And, since Rob would front the GUM, I knew they would place fun at a premium. As an added bonus, Tom Price’s (U-Men) Desert Classic would play the same bill.

My plane touched down late Saturday morning, after a six hour flight from Philly. I love Seattle, but this is what you get here in November: rain, cold, followed by more rain…and chill. After picking up my bag and rental car, I headed to Belltown to meet up with fellow writer Dave O’Leary at the legendary Two Bells Bar & Grill. Dave wrote a semi-autobiographical novel called Horse Bite. Told in the first person, Dave’s book takes the reader on a life-discovering journey, with Seattle’s bars and coffee houses serving as backdrops. In any event, Dave’s friend and editor Clint Brownlee joined us for a few beers.

After Clint left, Dave and I ordered up some awesome burgers at Two Bells and continued to talk…and the beers kept coming. (Memo to self: you are now old. You cannot drink more than a couple of beers in the middle of the day—especially after a cross-country flight on little sleep—and expect to function later. Repeat. You are now old.) Dave is working on a new novel, as am I (a non-fiction-fiction tale about a fictional band.) I said farewell to Dave, then headed back to my hotel in the University District.

My head hit the pillow around 3. I think I woke up at 7…I’m not sure. Ever sleep too long during the day and wake up not having any idea where or when you are? After shaking the cobwebs and realizing I was not in nineteenth-century Stockholm, I headed up to the gig at Darrell’s, located about 15 minutes north of the hotel.

Every time I head to Seattle, I have to check in with a few people. Rob makes one, and I would soon say hi to him. Then I located number two sitting at the bar: one Leighton Beezer. Leighton, like Rob, has his place within Seattle music mythology. His Thrown Ups helped define the essence of grunge with free improvisation mixed in with sludgy, loud guitars. That band also, at times, featured Mudhoney’s Mark Arm and Steve Turner. In any event, Leighton and I chatted as we waited for the bands to start.

After the opening act, a sort of artsy post-punk band called Aaiiee, the GUM took the stage. Now if you know Rob, his band will play covers, and you also know he will entertain you…that is, if you let him. Don’t expect cool Soundgarden songs. He will play stuff that hipsters would sneer at…the Monkees, Shaun Cassidy, whatever. His Squirrels would mash up “Silent Night” with Black Sabbath’s “Black Sabbath,” for example. So, everything’s fair game…make sure to bring your sense of humor and leave your pretense at the door.

Wearing a bright red Monkees shirt (of course), Rob bounced around as the GUM began to rock out. I started bopping up and down as I scanned the crowd. Smiles all around.

(From left: Rob, guitarist Damon Titus, drummer Vic Hart, bassist Casey Allen, guitarist Rod Moody.)

During the set, my third Seattle contact, Jack Endino, came over and said hello. Then, I turned next to me and said hi to Lee Lumsden. Don’t know Lee? Read my fucking book, please. Lee, along with Rob, Jim Basnight, Neil Hubbard, and a few others, essentially created Seattle’s punk rock scene back in the ’70s. As we chatted, Kyle Nixon of Solger stopped by. I was not prepared for what would happen next.

At first, Kyle talked about wanting to blow off some steam given a family member’s serious health issues. Then, he kissed Lee on the cheek. Then he kissed me on the cheek. Okay, no big deal. Then, came the unexpected. He grabbed my head and planted one on me…apparently that’s what Kyle does. I had no idea. I felt like Jerry Seinfeld, after he had just been kissed by Kramer. (So, I kissed a guy. And it sucked. After I complained about it on Facebook, Jack Endino commented: “Getting kissed by Kyle Nixon is part of the deal, Steve. You gotta suck it up.”) See my list below of things I would rather do than kiss Kyle Nixon.

After filing sexual harassment charges online, I proceeded to enjoy the rest of the GUM’s set. This band…we found ourselves singing along to tunes like Frankie Avalon’s “Muscle Beach Party,” (watching Rod Moody play and sing that was priceless…reminded me of Richard Gere singing while dancing down stairs in Chicago.) and the Bay City Rollers’ “Saturday Night.” Trust me, only a band with Rob in it can pull this off. Mr. (no longer Captain) Morgan jumped around the stage, then ventured out into the crowd as he sang. Rob was clearly in his element.

(Rob Morgan directs the GUM in front of the stage while Damon plays guitar.)

(Rod travels to another dimension during the GUM’s finale.)

The audience, consisting mostly of middle aged punk rockers, showed its appreciation for the GUM with rousing applause. One more band to go. Nobody could possibly follow that, right? No band could, unless it happens to be the Tom Price Desert Classic. Playing a bluesy version of Sonics-inspired garage rock, the Desert Classic flat out rocked.

(Ladies and Gentlemen: the Tom Price Desert Classic)

After saying good-bye to everyone, and picking up my spiffy GUM shirt, I headed back to the hotel and hit the sack around 3 am. Day One…a success.

10 Things I’d Rather Do Than Kiss Kyle Nixon

1)      Watch the Disney Channel for 24 hours straight, having my eyes propped open with toothpicks.

2)      Go to a One Direction concert.

3)      Use an airplane bathroom after a heavyset man emerges, when he had previously consumed an egg salad sandwich and bean burrito.

4)      Go to Disney World.

5)      Root for the Dallas Cowboys…no scratch that, I’d rather kiss Kyle Nixon.

6)      Grade papers.

7)      Watch any of the Twilight movies.

8)      Eat vegan.

9)      Eat a hot dog with ketchup on it.

10)  Sing Christmas carols.

11)  Fondle Richard Nixon.

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