The Weekend Wayback Machine

Whether by coincidence, folly or serendipity this weekend brought two classic acts to Seattle.  Both west coast micro phenomenons from way back, one wonders would they get any attention given today’s clogged internet arteries of bands. Like elephants, old people never forget, and they tell the youngsters about how the music from back in the day was so much better. Some of the youngster must actually listen to their elders, or maybe they just find out for themselves?

It had been ten years since Seattle’s very own Fastbacks called it a day. They were not only one of the first purveyors of punk rock in the jet city, but they also outlived all of their contemporaries (not that they had many).   By some stroke of good fortune, the West Seattle Summer Fest organizers convinced the band to reunite. Kurt Bloch, Kim Warnick, Lulu Gargiulo along with drummer Mike Mussburger decked out in a clown costume hit the stage a little older, but no less enthusiastic. The crowd was mostly older and enthusiastic too. There were lots of old timers in attendance. Many of them sporting Fastbacks t-shirts and kids.

It’s two days later and I’m still kind of buzzing from this show. It was like a peak back into Seattle’s storied rock past through nostalgia tinged glasses. Yeah, some of the singing was a little off, but the Fastbacks pushed so many of the right buttons that it didn’t matter. Hearing those song after such a long time was such a blast you could overlook the little things.  Bloch looked a little weathered, but he was a madman, running around the stage, poggoing while playing guitar, posing with is rock-star poses, and generally hamming it up. He ribbed Lulu about the state of her battered guitar that he remembered picking up in Buffalo for $3.98. Warnick’s red and white bass was not weathered Brand new more like, as she thanked the maker during her previous set with  her new band the Cali Giraffes.  Not being in our prime anymore either, the crowd seemed to take a little time to get into it, but finally near the end of the set with They Don’t Care, K Street and Set Me Free it got rowdy. A mini-mosh pit developed right beside me and some old crazy drunk guy in a Damned shirt tried to kiss me. It was a time.

mp3: Fastbacks – Set Me Free (from …and His Orchestra)

Formed a year or two earlier than the Fastbacks and out of the ashes of the Nerves and the Breakwawys, the Beat and later the Paul Collins Beat released their first self-titled album in 1979. It’s a classic powerpop record and seems to have garnered more respect in the day than it ever got when it came out 32 years ago (Current fans can be heard on Under the Covers Vol. 2, A Tribute to Paul Collins, Peter Case and Jack Lee record). Fans old and new turned out to the Funhouse Saturday night to hear some classic powerpop from Paul Collins, and Collins did not disappoint.

In recent years Collins returned to his powerpop roots after a temporary sojourn  into alt-country during part of the 90’s. He recently released a new album called the King of Powerpop of new material, making no bones about how he sees himself in a historical context.  He played a handful of songs from King but the meat of the set was the classic Nerves/Beat material.  Collin’s voice is a little worse for wear, scratchy and rough where it used to glide, but the songs are timeless and he and his band more than delivered. They were loud and on it. They played all the best ones from the first Beat record and saved the really classic Nerves songs to the very end. Working Too Hard and Hanging on a Telephone Wire were delivered for the encore and then just when you thought they couldn’t play anything else they pulled out Paper Doll at the very end.  I should have felt really old this weekend seeing and hearing all this ‘classic rock’, but it was just the opposite. It felt vital and timeless, especially knowing that bands still look to their elders for inspiration.

mp3: Paul Collins Beat – Walking Out On Love (from The Beat)

Florida’s Garbo’s Daughter opened for Collins. Their take on the classic powerpop of days gone by sounded great, and Collins is an unabashed fan. He ran up on stage to egg them on to play one more song at the end of their set not wanting it to end. Thankfully, it never does.