The Gnome is dead. In his place is a gossip posse of normal height and width, bringing show reviews, local music news, rock star sightings, and unsubstantiated rumors every week.
Spring is in the air (somewhere, we're sure), and summertime bookings are rolling in. The biggest news? Area One, the brainchild of that born-again bald leprechaun known as Moby, is the new millennium's answer to Lollapalooza, supposedly. We would scoff, but the lineup so far beats the n-metal shite and twirly world beat that have passed for festival fare the last few years. We've got the exact lineup: Stage one features the Roots, New Order, OutKast, and Moby; Stage two offers Rinocerose, Timo Maas, the Orb, and Paul Oakenfold. That's August 3, and yes, it's at the Gorge, but probably worth the trip if you don't choke on the $60 price tag . . . and (collective hipster gasp of joy) Icelandic hotshots-of-the-moment Sigur Ros are tentatively slated to play Seattle in late July/early August . . . The release of K's Sad, Sappy Sucker and Friday's Modest Mouse show—along with Isaac's appearance at Nation for the after-party, dressed in the same beige leisure suit he wore at his last local solo appearance—has fans gossiping about Ugly Cassanova. Y'all know that Brock's always been loud and proud about his affinity for the Shins; we conveyed his accolades for the Albuquerque band over a year ago. Add to the mix that Shins frontman James Mercer was in the area for a week or so after Sub Pop's big anniversary bash—reportedly spending most of his time in Cottage Grove, Oregon—and it looks like we've got our first clue. Can't say exactly what Mercer and Brock were up to down there, but we're looking forward to hearing it . . . What's up with Peter Blecha leaving his post as senior curator at Experience Music Project? It's a big loss for the museum, which benefited from his unparalleled knowledge of Northwest music history. An EMP spokesperson says Blecha's leaving to pursue freelance writing opportunities; he's been contributing
insightful essays to the site History Link (historylink.org). He may continue working with EMP on an advisory basis . . . As one half of the Corn Sisters with Neko Case, Carolyn Mark has received attention from major publications such as Rolling Stone, but her Saturday night appearance at the Sunset Tavern was a decidedly low-key affair. The British Columbia chanteuse brought her guitar and her comedic presence to Ballard in a rare stateside appearance that attracted only about a dozen in-the-know alt-country fans. Nevertheless, Mark charmed the crowd, playing her offbeat tunes accompanied by a drummer and guitarist . . . Last Thursday's Toadies show at the Crocodile featured the usual assortment of End-listening, unpleasant fans. Openers Enon could scarcely get through a song without some jackass screaming for headliners the Toadies, auteurs of the 1995 hit "Possum Kingdom." Enon frontman John Schmersal, ex of Brainiac, tried gamely to play off the hecklers, who were too stoopid to realize that they were witnessing a group of indie-rock vets in the midst of a fab set of new wave-y pop (the band also features former members of Skeleton Key and Blonde Redhead). The Toadies enjoyed a much more positive reception, and thanked the crowd with an encore of the Pixies' "Where Is My Mind?" . . . Hazel's reunion show at Sit & Spin a couple weeks back featured a bizarre baring of baseball-loving souls. Bassist Brady Smith altered his mostly instrumental homage to Baltimore Orioles first baseman Boog Powell to feature a mininarrative about the Mariners' new star Ichiro Suzuki, and used the song's big break as an opportunity to shout "Ichiro." The obliging crowd joined him. In other baseball-related rock news, former Major League pitching star Jack McDowell (of the Angels, White Sox, Yankees, and Indians)—who now fronts a rock band— was spotted at the Showbox
last week. Sources say he was scouting the joint for a summer benefit concert . . . On their records, Chicks on Speed have demonstrated an ability to alternately thrill and annoy like few bands on the planet. In person they did a bit of both at the Croc last week, but—thankfully—their more appealing tendencies won out. Armed with an array of electronic noisemakers ("We don't play guitars!" they chanted with glee), a film presentation, a giant multibreasted blowup doll, and those silly outfits, the Chicks' multimedia assault was a hoot . . . Friday's much-anticipated Rocket From the Crypt/(International) Noise Conspiracy show at Graceland delivered. Halfway through RFTC's dance party, someone bleated "I love you!" to frontman/heartthrob Speedo. "Thank you," he replied, not missing a beat. "I love your money." It was the only cynical (but not the only goddamn hilarious) moment in an extremely crowd-friendly evening. The headliners subsequently inspired mass shoulder massages, then invited folks onstage to "do the jerk" during encore "When in Rome." ("Just don't unplug my guitar or I'll start slashing faces," Speedo warned.) ... Reminiscing over those old ARO.space Saturday nights (come back to Capitol Hill, Alex & Jared!), we peeked inside the new Paradise Garage to see if there were any hot rods inside. Our own engine started sputtering when we saw the new layout. Keep those stiletto heels at home, girlfriends: To get to the dance floor, you've got to schlep that booty upstairs, past the chill-out room/ oxygen bar (!) to the balcony (which smelled faintly sex-club-ish; is that what ARO.afterhours was all about?), and downstairs again. We won't dismiss PG yet, considering that it's housed inside the best space on the Hill. If mgmt. adds a screen for visuals, damn-good DJs, and some individualistic style, our engines will be purring. . . .
Contributors this week: Andrew Bonazelli, Paul Fontana, Laura Learmonth, Richard A. Martin, David Massengill.
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