Monday, April 14, 2008

The Valkyries Always Win (But Neon Nights Put Up a Good Fight)

On Saturday morning, I woke up because there was a water fight outside my window. It wasn’t the neighborhood kids. It was two bands from Seattle, who’d passed out late the night before on everything from couches to skateboards.

But by 8 am, they were drinking again and filling up water balloons. They are true rock stars.

Of course, I would have said the same based on their performances alone, but I would have meant it in a different way. Both the Valkyries and the Neon Nights cut their already small crowd of about 15 people in half with their volume. Those who forgot earplugs watched from my porch through the window as the Neon Nights’ rhythm section beat the shit out of “Purple Haze” and their guitarist, Lou, played a better solo with his teeth than most guitarists can with their fingers. The Valkyries new vocalist, Stevie, slammed vodka out of the bottle and gave a performance worthy of an arena, while the band played tight enough for a recording.

So all that was impressive. But the water fight was downright awe-inspiring because it really represented who these bands are. There are a lot of alcohol fueled bands out there, and a lot of negativity follows most of them. But this pack of Washingtonians is pure fun.

The Valkyries won the water fight with a bag and a bucket, reaffirming their motto and next album title, “The Valkyries always win.” Neon Nights set up their gear again and practiced for no other reason than that listening to Megadeth made them feel like practicing. They truly love this music.

The next night at Kelly’s Olympian was the same story—small crowd*, epic performance. During my metal Shakespeare company’s set, Lou suited up in renaissance garb for a guitar duel which he graciously threw (although apparently he was told by the bar staff that he couldn’t sleep there moments before it began). Stevie joined us for “Holy Diver” and I broke my voice trying to sing like her.

And of course, they slipped out before I even woke up.

* It was almost as if these shows were cursed. There were enough people for it to be fun (25 paid the second night), but I was sweating it. The local papers tend to write up shows I book because, honestly, I only book cool shows. But they’ve written up way less cool shows than this one. I hyped these bands to everyone in sight for weeks and they all said they were coming. Guess they got sunburned and lazy in the nice weather. This dude Bobcat, who dates the Valkyries guitarist, Alison, said, “I have 5000 MySpace friends in Portland and none of them are here!” That’s pretty much how I felt too. And the other bands I booked (not mentioned above but no less awesome: Cull, Hey Lover and the Vivian) must have been in the same boat too. God bless the hardcore Metal Shakespeare Co. supporters and the other bands and their friends, and White Lightning for giving what I think are two of the best bands in the Northwest a chance. But in a way, I’m kinda glad the shows were small because it can only get better next time those bands come down.

Above: Robin, Stevie and Ginnie of the Valkyries take aim. Below: Jeff and Lou of Neon Nights with Ginnie outside Kelly's.


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