The reports started yesterday from Portland. "Hot Snakes more or less destroyed everyone and everything," said Red Fang fifth man Chris Coyle on Facebook. I'd been peeing my pants about this show for months years, and I'm glad to say Hot Snakes delivered last night in spades.
God knows how scalpers get word that a Hot Snakes show is sold out, but they did, and two or three of them were out in force. I missed Spider Fever due to a work-related meeting, but they sounded promising from the line outside. Just inside Moe Bar were the absolutely converse machinations of Moe Bar Mondays, a long-running night scored by commercial hip hop and twentysomethings. After the line was the showroom, where the Bangs (yes, that the Bangs) were on. Their set built energy head-on toward the end, but the crowd wasn't responding well. Maybe the fan bases don't mix, but either way, most of the crowd didn't appear to know how rare an occasion it was to see the storied Olympia rock trio. "We're almost done," said the frontwoman (I don't know which one.), almost sheepishly. "Hot Snakes are on next. This microphone smells terrible."
Hot Snakes start with "I Hate the Kids." Then they rip through Suicide Invoice like it'd just been released. The crowd quickly simmered into a boil. By "Who Died," beer cans and bodies were flying. "It sounds exactly like the album," yelled my giant Samoan companion, who'd never seen them live before. Jason Kourkounis is on drums for all of this, but when they switch to songs from Audit in Progress, Mario Rubalcaba comes out. Both drummers crush it, and when those breakdowns with Gar Wood's low-note bass lines come in, I'm shouting and pumping my fists like a sports maniac, like I haven't done in years. John Reis is hunched over his guitar, slashing at it with a fever, Rick Froberg and Wood more laid-back, and it's that dichotomy that creates the inexplicable magic of those melodies.
A few songs in, I can no longer contain myself in Neumos's Sound Sweetspot™, that area just mid-back of the center of the room where everything sounds balanced, but god damnit, it's just not loud enough. I surge into the pit like a kid. Yos-Wa from Monogamy party is somewhere in there. A guy in a red shirt is literally picking up his friends and carrying them into the fray. At some point, I get knocked so hard my glasses go flying. This is the same thing that happened at King Khan & the Shrines, but this time the outcome is downright touching. Immediately, two or three people have their cell phones out and are scanning the ground. A security guard with a flash light appears like a giant hairy angel. Then Kristen Naranjo is suddenly there and handing my specs back to me. I thank everyone profusely and move back out of the chaos. Hot Snakes do an encore with some covers and end with "Plenty for All." I'd go on, but I already have for too long. Words can't do justice, but, you know, it's my job to try. I'm still glowing.