Live Review: The Spits with Wimps and Gazebos at Chop Suey 7/16/15



All photos by Victoria Holt

A full bill of local punk rocked Chop Suey Thursday night in a debaucherous whirlwind of moshing bodies. Presented by Sonic Reducer, KEXP’s Saturday night punk and hardcore show, the evening was sure to exhibit all the gems Brian Foss brings to any event: great music, great people, and great attitudes. An expert curator, Foss has owned the Funhouse in South Lake Union for years, and after the original location was closed in 2012, was able to strike a deal with El Corazon to reopen in their lounge this year. The Funhouse is back in action, and Foss’s undeniable influence on the music scene rages onward. Sonic Reducer has brought Seattle yet another legendary show with The Spits, this time dubbed the “First Annual AJ Pero Memorial Summer Time Jam Fest Blow Out”. Their short Pacific Northwest tour has been in memory of late drummer AJ Pero (also of Twisted Sister), who died of a heart attack this past March. Joining them for this epic event: Seattle bands Wimps and Gazebos.



Old-time Seattle punks (by way of Kalamazoo, Michigan), The Spits have a strong reputation. A fun blend of Ramones and Devo (with their electronic additions to garage punk), they are widely regarded as one of the best live punk shows today. They’re known for donning a variety of costumes, and crowd members lose themselves in the swell, stage diving and thrashing around. Ask any fan about the Spits, and they’ll get that wistful look in their eye, ready to tell you all about the kinds of injuries they’ve sustained dancing to their music. Thursday evening’s Facebook event promised great music, free champagne and pizza (hyperbole, in retrospect), and “Hot Chicks and Hunky jean vest wearing dudes. WHAT MORE CAN YOU ASK FOR????? oh show your Amazon ID and get a free Twisted Sister Tattoo…. A PUNCH IN THE FACE!!!! [sic]” It was clear from the description that this would be one of the best shows of 2015, even if the free pizza was a lie.

The Spits were in fine form, dressed in denim vests, with skull-like makeup on one side of their faces. As they started their first track, “Let Us Play Your Party,” the drummer Wayne Draves’ snare and cymbals went up in flames. The well-known stunt they’re known for kicked the show off to a wild start. They plowed through a set of solid punk songs from brothers Sean and Erin Wood’s 15+ year career, with classics like “19 Million,” “Die Die Die,” and “Witch Hunt,” pausing only to take beer breaks or return wayward shoes to the audience. Apparently it’s an old school mosh pit joke to steal crowd surfers’ shoes and throw them willy-nilly. After awhile, so many shoes had made their way on stage, the band just had to toss them aside. Here and there, a lucky owner would find one, slip it back on furtively, and dive headfirst off the stage. At one point, the sea of bodies was so ferocious, the line where the stage ended and the audience began had become completely blurred. What once was an audience had become a churning milieu of feet, elbows, knees, and heads. The force pushing forward was so great that those braving the front row were bent double, hands slipping on the beer soaked stage for support. One brave woman stage dove in a dress, giving the drummer an unexpected show when he realized she was going commando! It was an epic time, and dancers hobbled away after, broken but satiated. Keep an eye out for a new record later this year, rumored to be in the works, and if you haven’t seen them live, it’s a must.

Rachel Ratner, Matt Nyce, and Dave Ramm are local punks Wimps, and it’s an exciting time for them. They just announced that they are signing to Kill Rock Stars, and will be releasing their next EP, Super Me, on August 7th. They’re also planning a small West Coast tour with fellow Seattle band Pony Time. Thursday night at Chop Suey they played a cynical song about Capitol Hill and the changes under foot, part of a compilation called #LOVETHEHILL. The song is even more sarcastic and cynical than their usual sense of humor, dripping with loathing for the new changes to the area. The melancholic tune plods along, as Nyce laments, “Used to be The Comet, now it’s just ‘The Comet.’ Used to be Dick’s, now it’s all dicks.” It’s slower and sadder than most of their songs, but it’s an important comment on the way many local bands feel about the changing landscape.

Chop Suey has been able to continue throwing local punk shows, but they were lucky that new ownership were interested in continuing with long-term booking agent Jodi Ecklund. Other clubs won’t be so lucky, and many wonder whether the music community will be able to find a hold elsewhere. In the meantime, catch Wimps’ DJ set in The Den at Chop Suey next Wednesday, July 22nd. If Capitol Hill is doomed, we might as well enjoy it while we can.

Self-proclaimed “Whoa-Pop,” Gazebos pack a powerful punch with singer Shannon Perry’s infectious coos and yips. Their track “Ere Specka” features her voice mimicking the pop and crackle of the drums and guitar, and it’s a real earworm. Perry, owner of Valentine’s Tattoo and covered in a striking array of small drawings herself, jumps around wafting her beautiful curly mane and yelling into the mic. Bassist Shane Herrell and guitarist TV Coahran bop alongside her, smiling and facing one another, or playfully leaning back on her as she sings. Drummer Jordan T. Adams is a hoot, grinning ear to ear as he rocks out, the classic party drummer, pointing his sticks at audience members and standing up to hold his arms out triumphantly. The band performed a fantastic cover of Rizzo’s song from the Grease soundtrack, “There Are Worse Things I Could Do.” To introduce it, Perry said cheekily, “This song is about being a slut. Just kidding. Having sex is fun.” In a space overwhelmed with precocious beer-soaked dudes, it was nice that the bill included multiple punk voices. Gazebos are just getting started, but are well on their way to being a fixture on local music bills.

Check out the full gallery here.

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