How Does Puget Sound?Stale Urine at Aquatic Research Instruments, Seattle, Washington
Saturday, July 29, 1995
. . . Well, it sounded rather interesting Saturday night, with SU kickin' it live in a warehouse by the water.
Actually, it was a pretty weird party, because it started out pretty big, but the kegs ran out early, causing an exodus that started even before the supposed ``best'' band Bone Cellar took the stage. I missed the opening teenage act, but I heard they sucked (and their teenage friends were mostly responsible for sucking down all the beer, I guess). When I got to the venue, I asked who was on, and they said it was Beluga (``Nuke the Gay Whales''). As I usually do when Beluga is playing, I just stood outside for awhile.
Anyway, Transient Love, the darlings of the Bob Schmidt (party organizer) Club were next, and they pretty much rocked, although they exposed to me the suckiness of the room acoustics. Bone Cellar was next, and they played to a much-diminished crowd, but they were pretty tight, and I liked them, though they went on forever and ever, when I was waiting to see Stale Urine.
Anyway, after hanging out front on a couch and drinking some red wine and beer out of cans, I heard Bone Cellar finally stop after their overly long instrumental stuff, so I went in to see the SU-boys set up, which they took for-fricking-ever to do.
Anyway, the MC, Bob Schmidt, announced them as coming ``all the way from Caltech, from Pasadena, California, to play here tonight''. Then SU started up with Lobster.
(I should preface the rest of my comments by saying I had never seen SU live before.)
Lobster didn't have as big a sound as the other bands, but it rocked. They played it fast and furiously, and showed the crowd right away that they could match the intensity of the Seattle bands before them.
Wax Man sounded good, and the crowd didn't all leave--in fact, at this point, there was a bigger crowd for SU than there had been for Bone Cellar, about 20 people.
Next was Jail, and after that, after a bit of hemming and hawing, they started up with a cover of Spoonman. It was risky, I'll admit, and Benedetti's voice was so not up to it (but who can sing like Chris Cornell, anyway?), but the crowd was very, very pleased. It didn't even get old, as I saw that many people were smiling through the whole song. It was actually a good cover, adding enough SU originality so that it wasn't just Spoonman played on an accordion with a file cabinet as a bass drum. Even Villani's shaking-things-in-a-metal-bowl to try to sound like spoons being played was pretty good.
After Spoonman, SU unleashed easily their best song and best performance of a song that night--From the Air. It ruled, it sounded clear, and they even got the sound-man dancing! With the exception of 3R, which came later, this was definitely the highlight of the evening. Villani and Lange were excellent with the vocals, delivery the rap surprisingly well for two geek-boys.
Next was one of my fav SU numbas, Fish, followed by Bleed, which I hadn't heard before, and sounded really weird (too upbeat?) considering its subject matter. It sounded like some poppy 70s tune or something.
Untitled (a Sea Chanty) came out really well, and showed the audience that Benedetti could really sing, just maybe not like Chris Cornell. Aside from the false start because of a feedback burst, it sounded great, and the crowd, which had only diminished a little at this point, wasn't thrown by the stylistic change-up at all.
Next was Moon, which was well, Moon, but featured a temporarily insane Benedetti, who looked very crazed bouncing and roiling around the room with his paper moon (The best part was when he ``bashed'' the moon against the stage, as if it were a solid object he was trying to break in half). It must have been the rush from Untitled . . .
Then there was a pretty good version of Horse, and I remember that as Benedetti was talking all that ``Have you ever felt . . .'' stuff, some guy walked up in front of him and held his hands up in a double flip-off during the whole monologue. I think that was a major sign of respect from this guy, and validated the band as the kind of band that, to paraphrase Radford, would kick ass.
The climax of the show came with THE THIRD RAIL, which as a song, was pretty good, but ended in an awesome industrial showcase featuring mucho drill-guitar, and the sawing of a guitar in half with a circular saw (although, as if to prove without a doubt that these boys were from Caltech, before the sawing started, the guitar strings were dutifully cut with wire cutters to ensure safety--at that point, I wouldn't have been surprised at all if they had donned safety goggles) and throwing the pieces in the middle of the floor.
The band's encore was La Donna e Mobile, which I understand is Italian for ``that chick drives a Ferrari'' or something. This operatic piece, placed counterpoint to the preceding mayhem, cracked the remaining crowd up, and at least one person sang along.
I also overheard at least two people comment during the show that they loved SU's unique percussion sound.
In the end, it was a superb show, and people actually liked the band. Maybe now they'll be inspired to make some good quality recordings . . .
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