First off, I should have assumed writing about a figure as prominent as Bruce Springsteen would prompt an avalanche of reader mail, but it was still surprising to see how many people responded to last week's column, both to compliment me and to point out one key error. I stated that Springsteen hadn't been to Seattle in seven years, when I should have made it clear I was referring to Springsteen with the E Street Band. He's made a couple of stops here as a solo artist, so I stand corrected. But I do maintain that we deserve the whole package, so the plea is still relevant.
It's an indisputable fact that record-store employees and musicians know how to coordinate a killer Halloween bash. In sorting through the 9 zillion house-party options floating around this past weekend, I made sure to hit the North End one hosted by a group of Sonic Boom Records employees, with help from local bands the Unnatural Helpers and PartMan PartHorse. The highlights were multiple, from the costumes (a beguiling sushi roll was only narrowly bested by a boisterous collective dressed as Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation dance crew) to our own Travis Ritter working the decks while policing the basement dance floor. (At one point he cleverly punished some dumb ass who knocked over the turntable by playing the Butthole Surfers' "Creep in the Cellar" immediately after.)
Even with guitarist Chris Martin absent (he and his other band, Kinski, were playing Denver that night), the Unnatural Helpers remained furious and flailing. I'm all for discipline and studied musicianship when it's called for, but the fact that band "leader" Dean Whitmore takes none of this rock stuff seriously is what makes the Unnatural Helpers so enjoyable to watch. The same goes for PartMan PartHorse, who have evolved from their mostly unlistenable, unfocused origins into a bright swirl of charismatic chaos. Frontman Gary Smith managed to gesticulate like an oversexed praying mantis while encased in a self-made tomb costume. Major props, dude, literally and figuratively. You can catch PartMan PartHorse with Clipd Beaks and Casey and Brian at the Comet this Saturday, Nov. 3.
If the unstructured underground is your passion, you might want to swing by the Funhouse on Friday, Nov. 2, when local filmmaker Dave Alexander debuts his documentary about the Northwest punk scene, succinctly titled NWPUNKROCK. The self-described "geek with a camera and love for music" has spent the past two years chronicling the ethos and energy of bands from B.C. to Portland, including D.O.A., Toe Tag, the Furies, Zipgun, the Fartz, the Dishrags, Subhumans, Portrait of Poverty, Fitz of Depression, and key scene figures like all-ages champion Kate Becker. The movie is screening at 8 p.m., and several of the bands from the film will be playing live afterward, including the Furies, the not-to-be-missed iconic act from Vancouver, B.C.
On the less celebratory side of things, the trial of local DJ Toby "DV One" Campbell came to its conclusion last week, ending in a conviction for felony assault on law enforcement that dismayed many but shocked few of Campbell's supporters, who believe the charges leveled against him were prompted more by covert racism than outright culpability. In a statement to SW freelancer Sam Chesneau, Campbell's public defender, Lisa Daugaard, said, "This is awful. There are no words for how horrible [the defense team] and I feel about what happened." One bright spot, however, is Daugaard's prediction that Campbell will receive a lenient sentence, thanks to the large outpouring of support, both from the music community and from jury members themselves. "Virtually the entire jury offered to come to sentencing and support Toby," she continued. "They said, 'We felt we were legally required to come to this decision, but we do not believe it is a just outcome.'" For updates, including announcement of the sentencing date, go to www.myspace.com/supportdvone.