Made up of a giant man who plays a tiny drum set, a tall man who plucks a massive stand-up bass, and a perfectly proportioned guitarist, Sycophant turns every show into an event. In a way, the three musicians have all the ingredients of greatness: They won't settle for anything less than world domination, they avoid anything that stands in their way, and they're rumored to break up every three months or so. But what makes them most impressive is the sense of humor and stage presence they possess as a band. In Seattle, such talents are at a premium; I see more guys on stage playing emotional powerhouse ballads about how their father died in a terrible accident, then their girlfriend broke up with them, then a pack of rabid dogs slaughtered their village. When the song ends, they ask for more vocals in the monitors and then try to joke with the audience about how empty the club is, the whole time wearing stupid shoes and rock-star leather pants that don't match anything else they're wearing. Sycophant ignores the stereotypes, thumbs its nose at any kind of conventional sound, and plays straight-ahead folk/rock that's almost impossible to mention to some indie-rock snob like myself. It's the only band you will see these days that actually makes you want to dance like some Grateful Dead jackass. To experience this without choking on smoke or getting knocked down by some idiot who can't really dance unless he has a couple of six-packs in him, look for the new self-released CD, Sycophant Live at the Sit & Spin. Oh, and get it now, because I heard they may be breaking up.
Listen to John dance weekday mornings from 6-10am on 90.3 FM and live on the Web at www.kcmu.org