Key: (JG: Jeff Greenback)(RK: Rich Kroneiss)

Minds/Marked Men/Electric Eye/Short Eyes @ The Twilight, Portland, OR – 7/16/04
Showed up to the Twilight tired and hot from a hellishly slow drive down from Vancouver. Pounded some food, then had a little TB belly bump as the Short Eyes crew appeared with roadie Mitch and roadie-for-the-day Jesse in tow. A few tallboys later Short Eyes exploded onto an unsuspecting Portland crowd with frontman Icki leading the way. He seemed to have a serious dislike for standing still and spent more time rolling on the floor and jumping up onto anything that would support him. People seemed to react strongly to his presence, probably due to the fact that his board-stiff shirt smelled of the worst B.O. imaginable. Musically, Short Eyes are tough to describe. Hardcore meets KBD with some arty flairs? That’s about as good as I can do. Their high energy set was a real boot to the ass and I’m anxiously awaiting the improved mix of their tour CD when it comes out on vinyl.
Spent the Electric Eye set nowhere near the stage, but they sounded OK as background music. The Marked Men were next and were fantastic as expected. I had never seen them before, nor the Reds, so I was a bit worried that all the hype surrounding their live show would result in my extremely high expectations not being met, but thankfully they were. Their set consisted of songs mostly off of “On the Outside” with a few from their debut all of which practically hypnotized me. One of the best shows I’ve seen this year, for sure. After gushing about how great their set was to Mitch, he grimaced and shrugged his shoulders. I briefly considered challenging him to a duel, but soon reconsidered, realizing that he could crush me with one fist.
I was getting a bit stumbly by this point and could only maintain balance for the first few songs of the Minds who sounded good. “Rip Out Your Eyes” was a hit, but having just seen them a few months prior, I made my way to the back of the club to grab a seat. Things were kind of a blur from here on in, but I do remember Icki trying to get Sarah from the Hunches to punch Bean, the Short Eyes guitarist, in the face, but she wasn’t having any of it. After saying our goodbyes, we stumbled back to our hotel and I’m told that I spent the rest of the night extolling the virtues of the rhythm method, in graphic detail. Yes!!! (JG)

A Frames/Pyramids @ The Brown Lantern, Anacortes, WA – 7/17/04
Anacortes, Washington. Not the first place that comes to mind when talking punk rock, but once a year it’s home to Heck Fest, a quiet little festival featuring an eclectic mix of independent music at various venues throughout the sleepy burg. Tonight’s venue was a quaint sports bar (?!?), filled with blue-collar locals who began to make a hasty retreat out the door as the Pyramids began. Right from the start it was clear that this Seattle two-piece grew up with all of the Fall records on heavy rotation. They seemed to have two types of songs – note songs, where the guitarist would freak out note by note way up on the neck of his guitar, and chord songs where he’d freak out three strings at a time lower down. Couple this with some off kilter drumming on a bare bones kit and some tortured yelps and screams into a Dictaphone mic, all of which brought to mind aspects of the Coachwhips, and it’s clear that the Pyramids fit right in with the Dragnet sound (and if we all ask Min nicely we might be lucky enough to see a Pyramids record someday).
The A Frames followed and played a laid back set to a small crowd made up mostly of friends and a few interested locals. The standout tracks were once again the new songs, especially the hypnotic “Black Forest”, the title track to their forthcoming LP. I feel like a broken record here, but the A Frames can do no wrong. All those in attendance seemed to agree – hell, even Calvin Johnson was there busting out some of the craziest robotic dance moves I’ve seen since ’82. And the various tourists dressed in Tommy Hilfiger sweatsuits walking by outside, stopping and gawking, trying to make sense of the aural destruction they were witnessing seemed enthralled as well. (JG)

Lost Sounds @ The Bug Jar, Rochester, NY -8/22/04 and @ The Silver Dollar Room, Toronto, ON -8/24/04
Yes, I drove about five total hours to two different venues in two different countries Deadhead-style to see the Lost Sounds twice in a three day span. I'm that dedicated. Actually, with the extreme lack of good shows in Buffahole these days, your only option is drive over an hour to Rochester or Toronto to see good touring bands. When these instances come up, I have a decidion to make. Drive to see some live music or stay home and actually get some sleep before work. The criteria I've come up with for these moments is thus; "Will I be really pissed off if the band playing breaks up tomorrow and I didn't bother to go see them?" The answer has been no quite a bit lately, but when I realized I could see the Lost Sounds for the sixth or seventh time in my life, the answer was a definite yes. Besides being an amazing band on record, they are a live juggernaut as well, as I've witnessed quite a few times. The Rochester show went down at the Bug Jar, a nice artst little venue downtown. They ususally have local art on display, there is a closed-circiut TV over the bar showing the stage, and the live room actually has a complete living room set brilliantly installed on the ceiling. Yes, the ceiling. I've seen quite a few good shows there, but the Rochester scene is weird. Usually it's all Gearhead styled garage-greaser mooks, with three foot chain wallets and gas-station attendant shirts. Or the stoner rock/crust punk crowd. Strangely, neither was in evidence this evening. The audience of about twenty consisted of me and about six other people from Buffalo, a few locals, an old couple at least in their fifties(?), and a kid in Young Identities t-shirt(!) and his buddy from Ithaca. And that was it. The band was tired and hungover from the previous night, but they still put out live. But first, a completely terrible acoustic folk act opened, complete with a girl playing the saw. Yes, she played a SAW. Fuck. What, there isn't an actual "rock" band of some sorts in Rochester they could've put on the bill? Damn. Anyway, this was the first time I've seen the Lost Sounds with new bass player Patrick, who looks eighteen or so (but is actually nineteen), and holds his own very well. Jay started out on guitar, and they opened with the first two tracks off the "Future Touch" EP, and the songs sounded killer live. They played just about everything off the EP (except "Black Flowers"), mixed in some oldies ("Plastic Skin", "Black Coats, White Fear", and more), and were great. They always seem to add something a little different to the songs live, especially the older stuff, that makes it all that more interesting. A little shorter than I'm used to seeing from them, but it was well worth it. A better crowd would've helped, I'm sure, but the old couple seemed to dig it. Crazy. Immediately after the show I made up my mind to see them in Toronto with a better crowd.
So, two days later I'm driving up to the "T-Dot", as the kids call it, to the "legendary" Silver Dollar Room. Got there early and hung out with Rich pre-show, who told me about the crackhead fight that occured outside the bar earlier that resulted in bloodshed and police. Nice. Also of note, is the promoter for this show was none other than the "legendary" Dan Burke, former booker at the "legendary" El Mocambo (everything in Toronto is legendary), and all around tweaker. You may recall a story floating around a while ago about the Hospitals kicking this dudes ass at a show he promoted for them. Absolutely true. And hilariously, the guy had a stack of about 30 Hospitals LP's they must have left behind, and he was selling them! And, supposedly autographing them: "This band kicked my ass! -Dan Burke" or something equally hilaroius. Oh, Toronto. Sooo, the place starts filling up with the Toronto hipsters, and some good looking chicks, and two local bands opened. Bad local bands from what I saw, indie-noise-nonense or something. This prompted Jay to declare it "The Lost Sounds Completely Inappropriate Opening Bands Tour 2004" or something along those lines. Anyway, the house was pretty packed, probably around fifty or so people, maybe a little more. First time in Toronto for the band, and they ripped it wide open. Less stuff from "Future Touch" and more classics: "Tronic Graveyard", "Rat's Brains...", one completely new one I think, and more. The great thing about the Lost Sounds live is seeing them attack it. Jay is one of the most electric performers I've ever seen live, Alicja has the ability to get the crowd in the palm of her hand and then totally rip their faces off, and I constantly notice Rich's hands moving so fast you can't even see them anymore. Even with new boy Patrick they were completely dialed in, the sound was great, tight as hell, and totally enthralling. They brought it all crashing down with a great versioin of "Total Destruction". All in all, well worth the drive time. If I'm making this kind of effort to see them, you know I obviously think they're REALLY good. I would follow suit if I were you. (RK)

Short Eyes pic by Caleb Bouey
A-Frames pic by Constance
Lost Sounds pic by Dale Nixon