REVERBfest at The Sunset Tavern

Sage, Team Gina, Thee Sgt. Major III ...

12:30 a.m.The MoondoggiesA friend of mine recently barked, "Who the fuck are the Moondoggies?!? They came outta nowhere!" Well, sort of. They actually came from Everett (yeah!), and have been wooing bar crowds with their country-rock musings for more than a year now. Picked up by Hardly Art, the band just released its debut Don't Be a Stranger, causing nostalgia-minded critics and fans to salivate and compare them to The Band, the Flying Burrito Brothers, and the Dead. Though they channel that late-'60s-early-'70s roots vibe, I don't hear those bands (which were, after all, quite quirky) so much as I hear traces of Little Feat, Linda Ronstadt's Heart Like a Wheel, Running on Empty–era Jackson Browne, the Eagles' better moments (they had a few), Gillian Welch, and even a little Meat Puppets. Their layered harmonies evoke warm breezes, and when they swing into sweat-on-the-beer-can Southern-romp territory, it's a reminder of how much fun the '70s must have been. This is music tailor-made for road-tripping to eastern Washington in an old Chevy truck with a case of Rainier at your feet, a good woman in the passenger seat, and a friendly dog in between. Marijuana is also highly, highly recommended. BRIAN J. BARR11:30 p.m.GrayskulThe infamous "they"—critics, blabbermouths, etc.—called Grayskul's sound "goth-hop," as though the songs wore mascara and affected jaded ennui. Not so. Sure, Onry Ozzborn and JFK's brand of hip-hop featured on their album Bloody Radio is laced with cocaine nightmares and poisonous flows so lethal your veins curl up. But there's a comic undertone to their style, of the type you won't hear on a Marilyn Manson album. The slippery drug anthem "Dope" pays homage not to hustlers but to "hustling-type ninjas," and the clap-happy "Scarecrow" makes "Old McDonald Had a Farm" listenable for the first time since you last wet your bed. While Grayskul's recently released music video for "Missing"—a lament for Onry and JFK's misspent youths—takes place among shadows, their live shows are so fun the darkness always gives way to exuberance. KEVIN CAPP10:30 p.m.MadrasoSo, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth do have a rival for heaviest band at REVERBfest, after all. OK, if not the heaviest, then maybe the loudest. Taking cues from the brutal chaos of icons like Jesus Lizard and Shellac, Madraso is the kind of band that's few and far between these days, I'm afraid. Unafraid to abuse their instruments, the trio creates a Melvins-esque rumble that will make your eardrums wish they could run for cover. It's a relentless, sludgy-yet-wired mess underscored by a love of classic '80s metal. You won't hear properly for days. BJB9:30 p.m.Team GinaHistory (more accurately, cable television) likes to make it seem as though grunge ruled the late '80s and early '90s. It didn't. The charts were positively inundated with polished turds like Debbie Gibson, Bel Biv Devoe, Ace of Base, and Milli Vanilli. Though most of us are afraid to admit it, we bought those artists' tape cassettes and can still recite their lyrics when we hear snippets of them on an infomercial for some compilation of "yesterday's favorites." Team Gina takes this same nostalgia for heavily processed dance-pop and channels it through the pro-women electronica of Le Tigre. With high-school-style raps about lesbian subject matter (see "Butch/Femme"), Team Gina discusses same-sex issues while steering clear of evangelism (something Le Tigre did not do). Though some would call their blatant nostalgia for cheese-pop ironic, it doesn't take much to realize there's a difference between hipster irony and just plain having fun. BJB8 p.m.Police TeethHere's what Police Teeth claim: If you're over 25, they sound like the Wipers and Superchunk; if you're under, they sound like the Thermals and Hot Snakes. Here's what I say: If you're under 25 and don't know the Wipers, go buy Is This Real? right now! But I digress. Police Teeth are all about crunchy chords and catchy rhythms. They certainly reach back to the days of grimy Northwest punk, but also carry a heavy dose of punk-inspired '70s rock and '80s and '90s indie rock (this is where the Superchunk reference factors in). It's often fast and noisy, which is something Seattleites crave deep down despite their safe-as-milk indie-pop tendencies. BJB6:30 p.m.Brothers of the Sonic ClothSee feature.5 p.m.SageFormed in the '90s and back after a long hiatus, local rockers Sage practically connected the dots between Middle Eastern and psychedelic-American twang. Guitarist and vocalist Marc Olsen has a voice like an echo buried in sand, and his guitar work is an elusive blend of precise plucking, liquidy jazz excursions, and grim, desert acid-rock. Guy Davis' bass work is dry and rubbery (not unlike Mike Watt's), while drummer Mike Williamson drives the band like he's aboard a rollicking gypsy caravan, erupting now and then with sharp, punky jabs. They have a funkiness about them that for better or worse has earned them comparisons to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. But that's hardly accurate. Instead, imagine the Minutemen playing in an opium den. BJB4 p.m.Blood Red DancersAs Hannah Levin reported a few weeks ago, Seattle musicians might have their hearts set on Los Angeles, but L.A. musicians like Blood Red Dancers prove that Seattle is still seen as a fertile musical training ground. These dudes moved here not long ago and have already established themselves in the local scene with their weird brand of dark blues, psych-outs, whack-jazz, and fire-and-brimstone gospel-rock. Singer Kevin R. Lord sounds like Jim Morrison (or rather, like Iggy Pop when he aped Morrison on the Stooges' first record). With a heavy layer of organ and the occasional harmonica, their songs evoke images of fiery confession and brooding obsession and guilt. Imagine 16 Horsepower writing the soundtrack to Elvis' private, pill-addled moments. BJB3 p.m.Thee Sgt. Major IIISomeone once told me they thought Kurt Bloch had the only good idea anyone's ever had in rock music: Write awesome songs and get really cool ladies to sing 'em. Bloch did exactly that for decades with the legendary Fastbacks. With Thee Sgt. Major III, Bloch continues that tradition with Cantona vocalist Leslie Beattie, but throws a little testosterone in the mix by adding Bill Coury of Visqueen. Like all Bloch's best work, the songs are filled with a teenage-like giddiness for pop-punk hooks. Songs like "Break It All" and "Battery Operated" jump up and down as if riding a pogo stick. It's the perfect choice for delivering Bloch's songs, which are sweet, but not so sweet they make your teeth hurt. BJB

 
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