Last week, I went to see an in-store/record-release show by The Muffs at Amoeba. They played most of the great new LP and were as aweseome as ever–combining ultra-catchy girl group melodies with no-holds-barred punk rock attitude and out-of-this-world musicianship. So it was an honor to see one of my pictures printed full-bleed on the insert. Kim and Ronnie had asked me for the file but I wasn’t sure how it would be used or if it wound up on the cutting-room floor. My photography is far from great but the photo looks pretty damn good printed 12″ by 12″ and there is some poetry in the situation.
You might recall that Giant Robot mag was spawned in the era of punk rock zines. Before starting it, Eric Nakamura and I had both contributed to publications like Fear of Grown-Ups, Flipside, and Fiz, and he actually has had photos printed on Muffs 7″ singles. (So did early GR contributor Vicki Berndt.) The print version of GR has run its course but I still go to shows and take and share photos, so it’s very cool that one of them would be used by one of my favorite bands and I would join the esteemed ranks of Eric and Vicki. Thanks, Muffs!
I went to some other shows, too… I think it was Pabst that sponsored a night of heavy music at The Echoplex. Deep Six band To The Point opened, featuring members of Fetus Eaters and Spazz. I only caught a few songs but their powerful brand of hardcore was straight-up, filler-free, and a perfect way to fire up the evening.
Next up was one of my favorite bands and the new-school kings of skate rock, The Shrine. Does anyone rip harder or have more fun onstage than the trio from Venice? And are there nicer dudes anywhere? So what could be better than having the homies practically in my backyard at a six-dollar show. No, they didn’t play “Symptom of the Universe” (Sabbath, of course). Yes, they sang, “The Duke” (by friend and supporter Chuck Dukowski). Friends on the East Coast and in Japan, don’t miss them when they head your way.
I interviewed Thao Nguyen way back in Giant Robot 44, after she signed to Kill Rock Stars but before she released any albums on the fabled Olympia label. She had a cool story to tell, unabashedly citing the influence of the Lilith Fair movement to leave her family’s laundromat in Virginia, move to San Francisco, and make music to raise spirits, enlighten minds, and change the world–and maybe shake some asses in the process. Since then, she went on to form a band (The Get Down Stay Down), forge a fruitful partnership with Mirah, and tour with the Portland Cello Project. In the midst of all that, I somehow convinced her to contribute a series of articles to Giant Robot (issues 57-59 or so) and the coolness of that really hit me when I heard her on PRI this week.
So I was stoked to catch the record-release show for her newest release with The Get Down Stay Down at Fingerprints Music in Long Beach last week. We The Common seamlessly empowers her folkie roots with heavy production, at times with nearly hip-hop beats and keyboard flourishes, yet retains her natural and populist vibe perfectly. This was the first time for the group to play new songs such as “City” and “Age of Ice” and they sounded great. Even better was getting to introduce Eloise to Thao. I hope to catch up with her again when she hits the road for a proper string of shows in the spring. So should you.