Last Night The Surgeon General Is a Pussy
posted by July 15 at 21:23 PMon
Now that’s a warning label.
From a package of Hungarian Marlboro Lights, brandished by a member of Benni Hemm Hemm, the third-biggest band in Iceland, who played Seattle over the weekend.
The Icelanders, hanging out drinking Miller High Life at a cocktail party before their show, were equally frank. “This country is fucking scary,” said one, the guitarist. “The rest of the world is really worried for you. And not in a good way.”
The party, hosted by Stranger contributor Bart Cameron (who wrote about Benni Hemm Hemm in this week’s issue), was a gathering of most of the Icelandic ex-pat community in Seattle. Twenty-five or so folks, including the ten or so from the band, all drinking beers and an emerald green cocktail called the Austin Powers. Hanging out on the patio, surrounded by Icelanders, hearing them speak Icelandic, talking with them about European politics and attitudes, was supremely invigorating. These guys were shockingly articulate and aware of global issues, as so many Europeans are. For a minute, it felt like being in Europe. Then the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence strolled by below and brought us all back to Seattle.
As for the show.
First off, openers Kay Kay and his Weathered Underground deserve every bit of praise and hype and love they’ve been getting. Give props to the Arcade Fire for spawning a resurgence in big bands and baroque arrangements, but make sure you check out Kay Kay as well, dropping a punk-rock Vaudeville vibe into their swooning, sweetheart compositions. The band doesn’t seem like Seattle at all, and yet is totally Seattle, making them a treasure for this town and beyond. They’re playing Block Party and shouldn’t be missed.
Benni Hemm Hemm was more on the morose side, but being Icelandic and all, are still fucking adorable even when singing about parapalegic romance. That was the one English song of the night, and it stuck. Despite the language barrier, the way the band packed entire symphonies into three-and-a-half-minute pop numbers was truly astounding. Score two points for having two trombones, along with a french horn and trumpet. Score another point for having a full-time xylophone in the mix, too. Even with all the changes and movements, the songs never sounded cluttered or forced.
After the show, the band packed onto their mega-pimp huge-ass tour bus to head to Portland. A week or so ago, at the beginning of the tour, they had gotten ripped off for a pre-paid van that never materialized in New York, so this was their redemption and they were psyched. Yeah, they were scared of America, but they were loving it too. I think that’s the way it is all over these days.
UPDATE: Kirk “Kay Kay” Huffman was digging the dub tonite. Dude’s a long-time fan of the Super Ape and is also looking forward to the Sly & Robbie show coming up with singer Horace Andy. Great to see a little momentum built up on Seattle’s reggae front.