On my way into Black Lodge Saturday night I glanced at the newspaper box that displayed the latest issue of CityArts magazine and saw Calvin Johnson on the cover. The chances of seeing Calvin on the cover of a magazine 20 years ago are slim, but that cover photo of Beat Happening from 1992 definitley takes me back. I didn’t live in the northwest then, I was in Morgantown, West Virginia going to college and spending most of my free time hanging out at my college radio station. Back then the pacific northwest and K records were a continent away and things I only read about. I remember trying to imagine what it must be like out here in this remote outpost.
Walking into the Black Lodge Saturday night, it could have been Saturday night any-year. The DIY space was hot and the stagnant air was filled with the scent of sweaty kids. It reminded me of the Dry House, the all-ages venue in Morgantown that I spent many an underage night at when I first arrived at university. Probably not much different from what a DIY show looked and smelled like in Seattle two decades ago.
Sourpatch aren’t from Olympia or Seattle, but if this San Jose, California band existed in the early 90’s they could have easily put out a record on Olympia’s K Records (they also remind me a little of the Blake Babies and could have been on Mammoth records, but Boston doesn’t really fit into this narrative). Those of you up on your history already know that another northern California band with a similar sound, Tiger Trap were on K at the time. E = mc2 and all that, but just to make my time travel experience a little more palpable, as Sourpatch began their set, I glanced around the room and spotted Rose Melberg front and center. Sherman, set the WABAC machine for 1993.
It seems like I’m always bringing up the past when I write about Sourpatch. I don’t mean anything bad by it, in fact it’s a total compliment. Some bands try for an early 90’s indie sound and miss the mark. I think Sourpatch don’t even try, it just is what it is. They’re authentic and their sound is timeless at least to my ears. It jangles and rushes and couldn’t care less if it was 1992 or 2012. Their second album Stagger and Fade is stronger than their debut and shows more diversity in their sound. Its songs stand out from one another but retain fuzzy and jangly friendliness. It’s not a groundbreaking thing, but the smiles all around the room were an indication kids today don’t need groundbreaking, they need good songs and unbridled enthusiasm and Sourpatch delivered just that, switching instruments, harmonizing and generally having a good time. Today, just like back then, for a kid out there in this big wide world there is always the hope and escape of a pop song and Sourpatch delivered exactly that to the hot sweaty room.
Joyride who played right before Sourpatch are from San Francisco and obviously kindred spirits with Sourpatch. Sounding a-like, but coming from a slightly more power pop angle, but decidedly cute power pop.
stream: Joyride – Person Place or Thing