The Sonics at the Paramount Theatre, Seattle | 31 October 2008
Halloween night is always a surreal experience, but add to it the fact that the Sonics are playing their first show in Seattle in more than 35 years and it gets a even a tad more surreal. The Paramount Theatre in downtown Seattle was packed with zombies (not the Zombies), devils, Egyptian queens, rock stars, aging punks and a whole lotta Sonics fans. Half of the people to whom I mentioned this show gave me a similar response saying they thought the team had left town for Oklahoma. There was no question as to who the real Sonics were to the nearly sold out Paramount. I mentioned earlier in the week, I wasn’t sure if I was going to the show because of ticket prices; well it must have been fate stepping in because I actually won a pair of tickets to the show from Seattle Sound magazine. They were good seats too, on the floor and in the 26th row.
The Sonics are godfathers of the NW music scene along with the Wailers, Paul Revere and Raiders and the Ventures. It seems funny now that this quintessential garage band used to be considered a teen dance band, but sure enough there were people dancing in the aisles this night. Speaking of godfathers, the band had Little Steven introduce them, and join them for Have Love Will Travel and the Witch. Little Steven is not only a fan but an aficionado of garage rock doing a weekly radio show called Little Steven’s Underground Garage . Adding to the show’s Rock and Roll hall of fame feel, the Wailers Buck Ormsby also came out to read a letter from Eddie Vedder about how great the Sonics are. I don’t really think anyone needed to hear from Eddie to convince them about the Sonics, we were all here after all. It was all fun though, kind of pumping up the crowd even more for the show.
I wasn’t sure how good these aging rockers would be some 40 years past their prime, but with the crowd’s enthusiasm as well as the band’s made sure this once in a lifetime event was going to be something special. The band played everything I wanted to hear, which was all the original classics penned by Gerry Roslie like Strychnine, Shot Down, Boss Hoss, and Psycho. Close your eyes and you could almost forget that it is 2008. The band were also joined by the Wailers’ Kent Morill for Dirty Robber and for the encore they were joined by original drummer Bob Bennet giving us a double drummer version of the band. My only complaint is that they could have done without some of the cover songs. Their cover of Werewolves of London was pretty pointless and cringe-worthy. Werewolves was soon forgotten when they kicked into Pshyco, Louie Louie and then ending it with their stone cold classic The Witch.
As we were hanging out in aisle waiting for the show to start, Mark Arm of Mudhoney passed by and sat a few seats over from us. Bringing things full circle for the night, my friend Bryan leaned over at the start of the Witch and said how he always thought how much that song influenced Mudhoney’s Touch Me I’m Sick. Mudhoney and a number of other bands in Seattle can trace their influences back to the Sonics. Friday Seattle was here to see its roots in the flesh. I can imagine that the Sonics this night were nearly as good as they were in 1965. The band may have aged but their music and influence is still very much alive. And From 26 rows back, far enough away from the stage to not see actually how old they are, the Sonics still rock!
Set List: He’s Waitin | (Money) That’s What I Want | Cinderella | Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark | Boss Hoss | Keep on Knockin | The Hustler | You’ve Got Your Head on Backwards | High Time |Have Love Will Travel | Werewolves of London | Strychnine | Lucille | Walkin’ the Dog | Don’t Believe in Christmas | (Night Time Is) The Right Time |Shot Down | Dirty Robber | Psycho | Louie Louie | The Witch
Here’s some video I shot for Have Love Will Travel, sound is decent, picture is not so good.