Rocky Votolato, Owen, Nazca Lines – Neumo’s
Published 08-02-2008 on my old wordpress blog.

let me tell you about blueberry pie. blueberry pie is delicious. my friend tessa and i had a pie-making adventure this afternoon. no, this doesn’t have anything to do with the show i’m “reviewing.” i don’t care what you want to read about, i’ll type whatever i darn well please. this particular blueberry pie was comprised of farmer’s market blueberries, a tiny lemon from madison market, some sugar and potato starch and, after a relentless quest for a plant, some basil. that’s right, a basil and blueberry pie. just a couple leaves of basil. you could hardly taste it, but it made the pie special. and the crust was delectable too, but i had no part in that adventure. making the insides is easy so i volunteered for that job. mmm, pie.

wait, maybe blueberry and basil pie does have something to do with the show i saw this evening. let’s find out together.

neumo’s is pretty sucky. not el corazon or studio 7 sucky, but “hey we’re a fancy rock venue with 40 bars and a million security guards and flashy lights but we can’t afford to turn some fans on so its not a million degrees in here” kind of sucky. like searching for a basil plant at a farmer’s market and four different stores only to have to buy one at trader joe’s (which i dislike). but in the end, the venue did it’s job: put on a show.

nazca lines
i saw nazca lines at the georgetown music festival. and they were okay in the front stage at jules maes. they were definitely better at neumo’s which i found strange since i imagined they’d be better in a basement somewhere. turns out that they’ll be playing some basements at the carousel festival at the end of august. maybe i’ll go check them out there too and let you know if i’m right. nazca lines is doing an excellent job of keeping hardcore alive. i’ve met cory, the singer/guitarist a couple times, and i’m sure you’ve seen him around as he is a staple of seattle rock shows. he also sounds somewhat like ian mckaye in the minor threat years. however, combine that east coast hardcore sound with some of the fine west coast stuff and this combination packs a pretty good punch. at times, nazca lines reminded me of the early HIMSA days. i could also hear a little TRIAL (all hardcore bands deserve all caps, of course) in there, but that’s just because i really want to say that they’re following the great tradition of big northwest hardcore bands. i’d mention UNDERTOW, but that’s pushing it, since i haven’t heard any UNDERTOW since i was in high school and bill quimby was trying to sell me excursion records for $8 a pop. at any rate, nazca lines are the lemon zest and lemon juice in this pie. a little sour and out of place, but that’s why you like it.

mike kinsella calls his solo project owen. i bought an owen cd some time ago and listened to it several times. i really wanted to like it, but nothing ever convinced me that it was genius. his live show, however, only took about half a song. i understood that the guitar playing was excellent. i know that his voice is quirky yet listenable. what i didn’t know is that the songs are amazing. these plaintive calls to lost loves or maybe somebody in the room. if jen wood had been opening this show, i might have been balling on the floor by the end of mr. kinsella’s set. there’s only so much of this honest yet sad music that one can take. there’s also only so much stupid crowd banter that you can take. mr. kinsella dealt with it professionally, calling out the stupidest one, asking him why he was wearing a suit, commenting that belle and sebastian was probably on his ipod, etc. when the stupid suited film school jackass yelled out his phone number and asked mr. kinsella to call him because he was single, it was all i could do to not yell out “i wonder why.” or some similar thing. at any rate, kinsella turned out to be a genius. only a crazy genius would say “you guys should have come to my wedding, it was awesome.” to a crowd of a couple hundred folks he’s never met. and only mike kinsella can sound sincere when he does it. at the end of his set, after many jackasses had yelled out random songs, he entertained the crowd with metallica covers he worked out seemingly on the spot. the 21+ crowd up above, who had ceaselessly discused whatever it was that was more important than the genius on stage, was even more lost as he floundered around with metallica do they decided to talk louder. man the crowd made me a little angry this evening. but mr. kinsella was the basil in our metaphorical pie. a little unexpected, but really, really good.

rocky votolato
mr. votolato is a legacy in his own right. from his tenure in waxwing to the present, mr. votolato has always been destined for greatness. as regular readers of this site know, i lived an extraordinarily sheltered childhood. one of my many regrets has always been the time when i was on a roadtrip and in minneapolis and i did not go see waxwing but instead walked around the city aimlessly. i didn’t see rocky votolato until last summer, actually. when i was in san diego for some teacher training, i took the light rail to go see him for the first time. frankly, i wasn’t that impressed that time. he had a band and the opening act was terrible and it just wasn’t what i was expecting after listening to his recorded work. tonight was a different story. tonight was awesome. in my opinion, the best shows are the ones where you can’t help but sing along. sometimes even to the songs where you don’t know the words. like you’re a part of something that can never be repeated. tonight, i sang along with almost every song. it was glorious. he did a waxwing song and all the ones i like from his records. the thing i like about mr. votolato is that he is the northwest’s folk hero. when he started singing, even the 21+ crowd in the bar stopped talking. it’s easy to see what’s awesome about him because it’s all presented to you at once. there are no secrets on stage. fantastic. and when everyone sings along it’s like we’re all sharing some big truth with the world and, though they should have known it all along, we realize it’s doing some good. however, mr. votolato’s voice is getting tired. maybe it’s just the end of a tour, but he’s been singing for a long time. perhaps his sacrifice is just for all of us. the price he pays to make his voice sound just how we need it to sound. rough around the edges, but really holding nothing back. because that’s how we should all be, holding nothing back even if it does sacrifice something. oh, i forgot about the pie metaphor. let’s say rocky is the blueberries. that fundamental ingredient that makes a bluberry and basil pie actually taste like it should.

well, that’s about it for the show. i think i saw a student there, but i successfully avoided them so they couldn’t make fun of my singing along. also, i had to buy a t-shirt and cd from mr. votolato since i know he has a family to support with this stuff. and speaking of t-shirts, tonight i think i saw the guy who was wearing the harkonen shirt at the jen wood show at the tractor. and this time he was wearing a texas is the reason shirt. i might have to high five that guy some time.

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Keywords: nazca lines, owen, rocky votolato, show

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