Rocky Votolato, Slender Means, Nazca Lines – UW HUB
Published 11-08-2008 on my old wordpress blog.

What a strange evening! By far the weirdest venue to watch a show in ever. But it was a glorious adventure.

I arrived about an hour early, in my teacher uniform. Got a decent parking spot and went to Aladdin’s and got the tastiest falafel in the U-district. Great start!

Post-falafel, I was still early, so I went to 2nd Time Around and browsed their selection of punk and indie records. 2nd Time Around is where I bought a substantial amount of my records in the early days of my record collecting (92-95). These days, they are running at a fraction of their former glory. About 1/3 would be the right fraction. I picked up a $1 Nuzzle record for $0.86 including tax. Yay!

I made my way back to my car to find that the people who I had parked a litttle close to had spit on it several times. But they spit on the windows, so who cares? I put the record away and made my way to the HUB.

On the way I saw a former student and said hi. I thought that might happen. I got some concrete directions to the venue out of the deal, at least. And it was a good student, not one that I wouldn’t want to chat with.

The HUB is the weirdest place I have ever seen a show, and I saw a show in the middle of a swamp once. It’s clearly a college lecture hall. I walked through the mall-like, marble-coated hallway towards the auditorium and through the doors to find that I was supposed to buy a ticket. So I walked about 100 feet back and picked up a ticket. Then I walked back to the entrance and gave the college kid my $12 slip of paper. For an environmental group, they didn’t think too much about the environmental impact of tickets…

Did I mention that this show was a benefit for some group that takes care of the Puget Sound for us? Well, it was. And you didn’t go donate. So you’re a jerk. But I did, so I’m awesome.

Nazca Lines
I walked in just as Nazca Lines started a song and found my seat in the lecture hall. Did I mention that this is a weird “venue?” Think of a movie theater with old style seats that have little fold-down desks for taking notes on as some wise sage imparts knowledge to you from a stand at the front of the room. Then think of the wise sage replaced with a hardcore/indiepunk band blasting away at full volume. The audience thought it was just a lecture still, as I bobbed my head to the hardcore beat. I was laughing out loud like a crazy person at the ridiculousness of it all. Perhaps this lecture is on Metaphysical Differential Equations As They Relate To String Theory And Quantum Mechanics, because no one gets it. They’re woefully unprepared for this. Maybe Nazca Lines needs an acoustic set. HA! I like Nazca Lines. They remind me of Chain of Strength. Except not as straight edge. And about 20 years later.

Slender Means
Well, it was 2/5ths of Slender Means: Sonny and Josh. Both wearing stocking caps. I haven’t had any luck at really liking Slender Means yet. I’d like to, but there’s something that just doesn’t work for me. Tonight, as a two-person acoustic/electric act, I enjoyed them a bit better. They’re not so smoothed out with just two guitars. They’re clearly talented musicians and their vocal harmonies are excellent. However, their radio-friendly mix of Coldplay and the nicest Radiohead songs rubs me the wrong way. The kids were into it, and I’m okay with it, though. This is like one of those Business Communication classes, or whatever, that you take to pad your GPA. So safe and unchallenging. The opposite of what college is supposed to be.

Apparently, I sat in front of my least favorite people in the entire world: christian frat/sorority d-bags. Thanks for reminding me why I didn’t renew my lease in the U-District, fratties.

Rocky Votolato
During Rocky’s set, they turned off all the lights. From the first instant, you want to sing along. This is that class, that lecture, that finally shows you exactly who you are, or who you were searching for. The one that fills you with hope and understanding and light and fulfills your reasons for 30-year, $100,000 student loans and miles from home and the newness and change and growing pains. This is everything. Messing up the first song is perfectly okay, Rocky, because we want you to be just like us. Not infallible. Just a voice. Just our voice externalized. This is the type of class where you applaud at the end. The kind of class that you might not find in a lecture hall, but on the streets outside the college or in a punk house just before you drop out or in the eyes of the woman you’re going to marry. Though it was hard to sing along when no one else was, this is the best Rocky Votolato show I’ve ever seen. Better than the final Waxwing show. Better than when I saw him in San Diego, or at the Mural, or at Neumo’s. His voice was strong and the sound was awesome. Sonny Votolato came up to help out with “White Daisy Passing.” He took requests (He must not have heard me yell out “All My Prophets”) for the last couple songs. He played some of my favorites (Mixtapes/Cellmates, Suicide Medicine, that one about sparklers (so awesome), Goldfield, Alabaster, etc…), though I wanted to hear Montana and I’ll Catch You as well. And then, near the end, he told us he was going on a “long break” while he recorded a new record. He’s going to spend time with his family. This was his “last show for a long time,” he claimed. I understand this. But I also know how this need for expression in a public place eats at you when you can’t perform. It’s okay, Rocky, take a break. You do deserve it. Just let us know when the record is out and when you’re coming back. Because we miss you already.

On the way home, I walked past the place where the former UW employee set himself on fire. On the steps of the Suzallo Library, mere feet away from the site, the Husky Marching Band was entertaining a group of college kids. College is definitely the home of conflicting emotions.

I walked through the slight drizzle to my car smiling about how messed up this whole place is. Not just our corporate University, but the whole world. How nothing is right. How it is not supposed to be. How it never will be. How comforting that is.

** Old Wordpress comments **

dave says:
November 28, 2008 at 2:47 pm
Have you ever seen Slender Means live or listened to their record? May that will change your mind, mayber not. They have a new record coming out in a few months, and I hear it’s a lot different than the first one. Josh’s lyrics are awesome by the way!!

don says:
November 28, 2008 at 3:47 pm
I saw them live at the Georgetown Music Festival. I guess the simple explanation for my not loving them is that they don’t rock out enough. They’re just too Seattle-nice. No edge to it. Seemingly passion-less. But, it’s just my perception. I’ll probably keep giving them a chance whenever they’re at a show with a band I already like.

dave says:
December 2, 2008 at 6:51 pm
Yeah hear you, I was at that Georgetown show, not the best place to see them. It’s best to see them at club. And I’ve seen them “rock out” quite a bit. I saw them at Neumos and the singer jumped of the bass drum and landed on the other guitar player. I feel the passion. Sorry, ther’re friends of mine so I’m biased.

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Keywords: adventure, rocky votolato, show, weird

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