Live Review: The Gits, The Raveonettes, Black Lips, Ming City Rockers at Elysian’s 20th Anniversary 6/12/16

The Gits with Rachel Flotard // all photos by by Patrick Luhrs

Music and beer are a perfect pair. Add Seattle as a backdrop, and it gets even better. At Elysian’s 20th Anniversary event this past Saturday, fans of all three came together for a celebratory day at Seattle Center’s Fisher Pavilion. Festival attendees sipped Elysian brews to sets by Ming City Rockers, Black Lips, The Raveonettes, and The Gits, featuring Rachel Flotard, with the Space Needle towering overhead.

Hailing from the small town of Immingham in northern England, Ming City Rockers have a frenetic energy that puts them right at home in the Seattle music scene. The band, composed of Clancey Jones, Morley Adams, Ramona Rae, and Wan Marshall, kicked off the festival like a shot of espresso. Ming City Rockers exuded an ornery confidence fit for a dark, underground venue, as they delivered driving garage rock hooks full of raw energy. Each song hit the crowd with more burning momentum than the stage could hold, as the musicians’ uncompromising and gritty performance broke through the afternoon’s cloud cover.

Ming City Rockers

Ming City Rockers

Ming City Rockers

Black Lips took the stage next with waves of distorted guitar resolving into synchronized riffs. Although the band may never outgrow their bad-boy reputation, Saturday’s performance proved that a confident swagger and polished stage presence only adds to their allure, as they captivated an audience of charmed fans. The Atlanta band infused their a modern punk take on old-school garage rock with songs that delivered elements of Southern rock, 60’s psychedelic rock, and blues. The band adjusted their high-powered set for the casual daytime crowd, as people lounged on the Fisher Pavilion lawn in Adirondack chairs, eyes and ears magnetized to the musicians.

Black Lips

Black Lips

Black Lips

Between sets, attendees explored the festival grounds, choosing from dozens of Elysian beer taps, noshing on food truck snacks, and challenging friends to rounds of ladder ball and giant Connect Four. Whenever there was a slight lull in activity, the Chaotic Noise Marching Corps took the crowd by surprise, snaking across the lawn in outlandish outfits, with their erratic attention-getting tactics, and charmingly unpolished tunes. The group, “dedicated to keeping the tradition of music, performance, energy, havok, discipline and sheer stupid fun alive in Seattle’s streets,” performed several times throughout the day, and each time the members of the renegade marching band brought the party with them and caused more of a ruckus than the time before.

Chaotic Noise Marching Corps

Chaotic Noise Marching Corps

Chaotic Noise Marching Corps

The Raveonettes captured the crowd’s attention next with meandering instrumental grooves, fuzz guitar, and a distorted drumline. The three-piece, Danish, dream-pop band’s calm and collected, ethereal presence was enhanced by stage lights that cut through the languidly dispersing effect smoke. At times, the strings fell back leaving fans to focus on the rippling, synchronized, male-female vocals. Mid-set, the tempo picked up when the band performed “Killer in the Streets,” with a hypnotic groove reminiscent of The Velvet Underground. The dark lyrics and murky guitar persisted as they crooned, “They say you’re trouble / I say you’re fine / I always crossed that line.”

The Raveonettes

The Raveonettes

The Raveonettes

The headlining performance by The Gits was highly anticipated, to say the least. Fans of the legendary Seattle punk band cheered for Rachel Flotard, the band’s guest singer, with her gripping lyrical dexterity and charisma. Formed in 1986 and disbanded in 1993 after the murder of vocalist Mia Zapata, The Gits came together for only the second time since 1993 on Saturday night — for one of the few performances of the past twenty years. As the sun set, the band’s excitement was palpable and their set was inflated with pure adrenaline, as they jumped across the stage, arms in the air. With “Second Skin,” The Gits delivered the fast, tight, classic punk rock they are known for, as Flotard wailed, “I need a second skin, something to hold me up / Can’t seem to get out of this hole / I’ve dug myself right back in.” The Gits finished with a crazed rendition of Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation.” The song united festival fans of all ages and backgrounds, as beer flowed freely and the night culminated for satiated music lovers of Seattle in a sea of smiling faces.

The Gits with Rachel Flotard

The Gits

The Gits

The Gits

100% of proceeds from the Elysian 20th Anniversary event were donated to Seattle charities: The Team Red White and Blue, Bloodworks NW, Bailey-Boushay House, Obliteride, and the Friends of the VA Puget Sound Fisher House.

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