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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Fleet Foxes, Mudhoney, The Duchess & The Duke @ the Sunset

posted by on May 15 at 15:10 PM

Sub Pop throws a damn good party. Last night, at the Sunset celebrated the upcoming May 20th deluxe rerelease of Mudhoney’s Superfuzz Bigmuff as well as the label’s 20 odd years of going out of business. Much loved deluxe lunch cart Skillet was serving burgers and other items out back. Above their menu was written, “Happy Wednesday, Sub Pop,” and I couldn’t decide if it was more that the label hardly needs an excuse to celebrate or that they’re powerful enough now to own entire days of the week. Van Halen’s Diver Down rested on an unplugged turntable downstairs (have at me, Paulus).

“Our record’s better than we are live, I promise,” said The Duchess & The Duke’s Duke, Jesse Lortz after their first couple songs. But they were just fine live, a cheap-beer soaked basement blues group, part garage psych, part dispirited folk, all glum and Seattle gray. Duchess Kimberly Morrison shared vocal and guitar duties with Lortz, and the band was rounded out by Ruben Mendez (Coconut Coolouts) and a drummer who mostly played tambourine and shakers. Their upcoming record, She’s the Duchess, He’s the Duke, due out July 8th, is just a little more flatteringly mixed than their live set was, that’s all. Either way, their songs are subtly insistent enough to at least half remember hungover.

I spent much of last night trying to remember when was the last time I saw Mudhoney. Maybe I was still just a teenager? I know the last time I missed seeing them was while visiting an ex in San Francisco—she was meeting a new guy at their show; I did something else that night, probably involving drinking. In any case, Mudhoney were always a kind of background band for me, coming up as I did in the mid/late ’90s. They were around, and I knew a couple of their songs, but they weren’t really on my regular concert itinerary. I think I would have (and quite possible have, while under the influence) liked their shows a lot when I was a kid, though. Even at this late stage in the band’s career, they play with a game, easy energy. Mark Arm lunges forward on one leg, classic hardcore singer style, mic in both hands, howling or stalks around the stage, lanky and mean. The bassist pounded out grooves and pulled the occasional goofy smile to friends in the crowd. The drummer and guitarist were invisible from my vantage point, but they were definitely audible; the band’s volume and feedback remains undiminished by age. They didn’t play “Touch Me I’m Sick.”

Fleet Foxes headlined, following Mudhoney’s well-worn ruckus with tender four-part harmonies and woodland reverie. It could only have been higher contrast if they’d followed, say, Wolf Eyes. But the band—new flash—really does sound gorgeous, pulling off the whole rustic, wide-eyed, back-to-the-land hymnals thing with easy musicianship and able choruses. It was a treat getting to hear them in a room small and quiet enough to really allow for their dynamics. That damn (delicious) Skillet burger (not to mention the PBR and today’s deadlines) got the best of me, though, and I missed the latter half of their set. I hope they didn’t play “Touch Me I’m Sick.” I would hate to have missed that. Seriously.

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What a non-review. Next time post it in the food section.

Who would have thought that I would start to pine for the "objective" Kathleen Wilson era of Stranger music journalism. At least she had some grasp of music beyond her first boyfriends cassette collection.

Posted by Get Your Shine Box | May 16, 2008 10:06 AM

It was actually less of a "party" and more a part of a "conference", but whatevs.

Posted by Grandy's The Restaurant | May 16, 2008 11:35 AM

It was a cocktail party. Conferences have booths.

Posted by Eric Grandy | May 16, 2008 12:28 PM

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