Emerging from the murk of the Seattle summer, the Gnome slunk into the Crocodile for many a debauched evening over the past week. The much-rescheduled Los Lobos show kicked off the festivities last Monday. After scarfing down sparkling wine and fried sage leaves at Marco's Supper Club, your knobby correspondent progressed even deeper into Belltown, where his sweaty, testosterone-filled brethren welcomed Los Lobos with open arms. Slicked-back hair and loud, patterned shirts were the order of the day—in the audience at least. The East LA rockers got off to a sloppy start, jamming into a cover of a Moby Grape song that had the masses hootin' and hollerin' like cowboys in a cattle stampede.
Eventually the Lobos finished their Phish impersonation and rocked like a band that's been together 20 years. Verbena, playing on the same stage a few nights later, should learn such lessons about longevity. The Birmingham, Ala., band kicked out their bassist two years ago, and now lead singer Scott Bondy has ditched his musical (and sometimes romantic) partner Anne Marie Griffin. Not only did Griffin add a tough-chick presence, she sang essential backing parts. So Verbena at the Croc consisted of a trio of guys playing melodic punk, which would make them just another testosterone-driven band except that Bondy looks, sounds, and plays guitar like a certain deceased lead singer of a certain defunct melodic punk trio (whose drummer, by the way, produced Verbena's latest disc). The Gnome's always in favor of cutting to the chase: The show may has well have been billed as Nirvanamania. Doh!
For those who still like the real thing, Dreamworks will release a double-disc collection of Saturday Night Live music performances on September 21, including the N-band's "Rape Me." Pearl Jam got shafted—apparently climbing the stage scaffolding, as Eddie Vedder did so memorably, is a big no-no. But I digress.
The Gnome slithered back into the Croc one last time on Sunday for the ultra-sold-out Gillian Welch and David Rawlings show. If it sounds odd that an acoustic duo playing traditional country-ish tunes should grace a rock club, well, it was. But the packed, sweaty, non-patterned-shirt-wearing crowd was quieter than a bunch of mutes at an Elliott Smith gig, and by night's end the Gnome and everyone else had their pants charmed off. Spectacular. Too bad Welch recently had to suffer the indignity of making Talk magazine's totally uncool "Hip List." Any press is good press, unless it's in a hoity-toity cultcha magazine. You betcha!*
You can reach the Metro Gnome at firstname.lastname@example.org.