Ernest Jasmin
The Sonics

Pantages Theater, Tacoma

Friday, July 27

By Ernest Jasmin

Tacoma, this is why you can't have nice things.

You gripe about


Tacoma Lets Down the Sonics, Friday at the Pantages

Ernest Jasmin
The Sonics

Pantages Theater, Tacoma

Friday, July 27

By Ernest Jasmin

Tacoma, this is why you can't have nice things.

You gripe about Seattle stealing your rock n' roll thunder. Then what do you do Friday night when homegrown garage-rock icons, the Sonics, play their first Tacoma show in more than 45 years? You leave roughly half the seats in the venerable, 1,100-capacity Pantages Theater empty. Lame, to the third power.

At least the diehards had more room to get loose. Many upgraded themselves to pricier seats down front or shook their moneymakers in the aisles as T-town's mightiest rock band kicked out the jams.

Singer-keyboardist Jerry Roslie, sax player Rob Lind and guitarist Larry Parypa remain from the classic lineup that rocked the Red Carpet club and Tacoma Armory in the mid-'60s. Spitfire singer-bassist Freddie Dennis and veteran drummer Ricky Lynn Johnson form the new rhythm section. And while the Sonics might not be young any more, they proved they are still quite savage.

"He's Waiting" set the tone, Parypa's sinister licks driving home Roslie's frenzied warning about the man below. "It's too late, you lied, now you will fry ... He's waitin', he's waitin' for you. Yowwwww!"

The years have taken his manic howl down a notch or two, but he still delivered with gusto. Dennis was there to do some of the heavier lifting, taking over on wilder cuts, like "Cinderella." Lind did most of the talking, and even he took his turn as front man, singing lead and blowing a mean harp on the bluesy, underrated "You Got Your Head On Backwards."

As much as the Sonics have left their mark on decades of garage bands, much of their set was dedicated to their own R & B influences. Early on, they paid homage to the late, great Kent Morrill of the Fabulous Wailers who died last year after a long battle with cancer. Dennis sang "Dirty Robber," the first song Morrill wrote for the Wailers, declaring it "one of the greatest rock n' roll songs ever written."

And of course there were the Richards, the guys who laid the template for the original Northwest sound. Richard Berry wrote the doo-wop versions of "Louie Louie" and "Have Love Will Travel," and the Sonics rawhide tough remakes were crowd favorites. Dennis did a convincing Little Richard impression, even as the band winged it with an unscheduled final encore of "Long Tall Sally" and "Jenny, Jenny."

The show was magic despite the occasional miscue and sound issues that had Roslie darting between mikes during "Strychnine." "Thank you, you've just been to a Sonics rehearsal," joked Lind as his band made its final exit.

But make no mistake: The Sonics still sound fierce and they deserve all the kudos and crowds they've been drawing overseas since they broke from their 40-year hiatus in 2007. Now, if only they could get a little more love in their own hometown.

Set list:

He's Waiting

Money (That's What I Want) (Barrett Strong)


Shot Down

Dirty Robber (The Fabulous Wailers)

Have Love Will Travel (Richard Berry)

Vampire Kiss

Keep A-Knockin' (Little Richard)

Cheap Shades

You Got Your Head On Backwards

Boss Hoss

I Don't Need No Doctor (Ray Charles)


Lucille (Little Richard)


Louie Louie (Richard Berry/Fabulous Wailers)

Bad Attitude

The Witch

Long Tall Sally (Little Richard)

Jenny, Jenny (Little Richard)

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