Jenn from Council of Lions was Soul Ponies’ eyes and ears this weekend at the NW QUEERCORE 2010 show in Seattle, WA. She wrote in with a most excellent account of what sounds like an evening of gayhem. Read on…
Okay, I’m gonna be honest: I didn’t realize that there was even a current queercore movement happening in the Northwest. I thought that the posters for the show that were declaring “NW QUEERCORE 2010” were a little premature. It wasn’t until I looked behind me during Agatha’s set, saw a roomful of punk dykes with fists in the air, that I realized how prescient the show fliers really were.
Clyde Petersen put the show together, part of Hollow Earth Radio’s third-annual Magma Fest in Seattle. Clyde is best known for his solo performances as Your Heart Breaks, playing gangly homo-pop and Garth Brooks covers since the dark days of the early 2000’s. Clyde’s newest project, Cold Lake, is a thrashy nod to Karp and the NW punk jams of years past; and they themselves have a punk pedigree at least a mile long, with members from USS Horsewhip, Camarojuana, Triumph of Lethargy, Police Teeth… point being, the dudes have cred. Cold Lake is heavy on the distortion, threats coming in riff-form, doing a Need cover to make clear the links between latter day/former day queercore. Half the band wears Buddy Holly-style glasses.
My band plays second (this is the full-disclosure part). There are three of us, we are called Council of Lions, and we’re from Bellingham, WA. We play weird damp-basement-style jams, and have been around for about a year. We’ve gotten used to playing with all-dude bands of varying degrees of wankiness, so playing a show like this- where no one questions our right to be on stage, our ability to play our instruments, or offers backhanded compliments about girl bands- is us finding oxygen after months of gasping. When I step up to the mike to sing, I am looking at a room filled with queer punks.
It takes a while for the adrenaline to wear off, but the euphoria stays all night.
And now we need to address something, before I talk about the next band. There is something awkward about queercore in its current definition: as long as someone in the band is some kind of gay, genre is largely irrelevant. This brings us to Emeralds– not the J-pop band The Emeralds, nor the ambient Emeralds; this is a sludgy Seattle five-piece. Leather and mid-period Keith Richards hair, these dudes are HELLA metal. Sharing the same stage would’ve been unlikely if things had been organized by anything other than our united queerness. I end up outside, listening to a 17-year-old sing an a capella version of “Womanizer” with altered gay lyrics.
I come back inside when I heard My Parade using a Gravy Train!!!! song for their warm-up. Their myspace describes them as “All POC Dance Punk Party,” but that is just the barest of bare-bones descriptions. Benji Rouse (formerly of beloved Seattle emo band Bow + Arrow) knits together off-kilter drum beats that could hit the Richter scale. The bass riffs are unstoppably no-wave, and their guitarist plays her Silvertone like she’s been studying at Carrie Brownstein’s feet since Dig Me Out. If you’re not dancing you don’t have a beating heart. (West Coast tour with Agatha begins on March 24th, don’t miss it.)
Elissa Ball reads some poetry to a room still twitching from My Parade’s set- and when I say “poetry,” of course I am meaning something more compelling and less cynical than your hipster friends’ understanding of Poetry Night at the coffeehouse. She’s got drums backing her words, and when she tells us, “THESE are my power chords,” she points to her larynx and everyone loses their shit.
Yeah yeah yeah.
The show is happening in a little punk bike shop called 20/20 Cycle, and as the evening goes on, the audience is shifting gayer and gayer; teenage punk queers twirling each other around in the front row, with more fags and trans kids and all sorts of homos filling up the space. As Agatha takes the stage, there are dykes to my left and dykes to my right: is this what heaven looks like? This feels like a celebration, a huge fucking kick-off for a new scene. Maybe it was a stretch to dub this “NW QUEERCORE 2010,” but maybe it was also a leap of faith- the hope that, if you put all of these bands and queers in one space, a chemical reaction will occur and that naming it will make it more real, make it easier to see.
And this is the room Agatha steps into, facing a sweaty and eager crowd. I’ve been waiting months to see them, heard that Agatha includes former members of Hannah Blilie’s old band Stiletto- and fuck, they were worth the wait. Their last song starts with a swarm of distortion that breaks open into chant: “not gay as in happy, but queer as in FUCK YOU!” All around me, everyone is shouting this, screaming this- because queer has never been polite, and punk has always been for the weirdos, and we’ve been waiting all our lives to say this out loud.
Welcome to Northwest Queercore 2010.