review by Jason Kinnard
photos by Alex Crick
Sunday night was a great night out for an All Ages show at the Vera Project. I had finished all my Father’s Day activities earlier in the day and noticed the nice line-up; it was a perfect night to check out the new location and listen to a few bands. Noticeably absent from the initial bill was Viva Voce, who were just wrapping up a tour, their spot being replaced by one of my favorite local bands Thee Emergency. I was already excited to see Kiwi rockers Cut Off Your Hands again (we reviewed their first show back in February) so this new addition to the line-up was just icing on the cake.
Little did I realize just how much the kids must love their fathers — the place was absolutely dead for a Sunday Night. Dead enough that you start actually feeling bad for the bands. In fact, with a few other photogs and writers in attendance this may have been one of the most well documented small shows in Seattle history. Based on the lineup alone, the low turnout was surprising. When the local opener went on, there were fewer than ten people on the dance floor — myself and a couple photogs included. The band managed a quick set of poppy tunes that wasn’t incredibly memorable (what was this band’s name again?), but not incredibly horrible either. What was funny is just how young they looked as they finished their set and took the front of the stage to watch veteran local soul rockers Thee Emergency. I had previously only seen Thee Emergency at bigger local 21+ venues where their throwback rock seemed to enhance heavy drinking; the kind of raucous band made for partying. It was going to be fun watching how frontwoman Dita Vox was going to handle the all-ages crowd. When the band started, I wasn’t exactly sure if Dita was pissed off or if this was her normal demeanor. Then I saw what caught her eye; it was the opening band busily munching away on a bag of Dick’s fries at the front of the stage. This elicited her first warning to the youngsters; “If you don’t put that bag of food down…” or something to that effect. Flash forward a few songs later and Dita had moved a couple of stage monitors out of the way so she could get closer to the crowd. This is when things started to get interesting. I noticed that the bag of food in question was now at the feet of the teen bandmembers yet they still continue to reach down and grab the occasional fry. Without skipping a beat, Dita reached down, grabbed the bag and launched it all the way across the venue: fries everywhere. In her own little way, she was saying this is what rock & roll is all about. She then did a great job of slinking through the crowd and making some of the kids uncomfortable, dancing on tables and singing dangerously close to some people. Most everyone smiled but a few kids looked like deer caught in headlights. For them, it was probably their first close encounter experience with a band as explosive as Thee Emergency. The intimate performance was over before we knew it and the band hurriedly exited the stage, leaving an incredibly raw and wonderful set in their wake.
Next up were New Zealand headliners Cut Off Your Hands . I’d seen them earlier in the year and wanted to see how they had progressed; plus they were a fun live band to watch. Alex had seen them play the previous night in Portland, so it would be interesting to hear his comparisons. I loved how they started too. Quick soundcheck, no warning. They immediately ripped into their set before anyone even had a chance to react. The floor was completely empty until they started playing, so it was funny to see everyone scramble. They played a near non-stop set of what you might call pop/punk with a dance twist. I thought it sounded much crisper than their earlier appearance, and Alex said it sounded even better than the previous night as well. Gone were all the thrashing stage antics from before; they seemed much more focused on sounding good than anything else. Nothing wrong with that; they sounded fantastic.
Despite the small size of the crowd, both bands gave incredible performances and taught the kids of Vera a valuable lesson. Always give it your best, even when it seems nobody’s watching. If you’ve never been to the Vera Project or don’t know what they’re all about, give them another look.