Seattle tour May 24-29 2003 Ment checks on the Coast ...
Genitortuers w/ SMP Fenix underground, Seattle Wash, 5.25.03.
This show apparently marked the formal reopening of the Fenix, a nightclub I’m told collapsed into itself in an earthquake a few years back. Though there’d been a handful of shows at the new site previously, the blow out was attended to by a healthy crowd of unhealthy--looking night dwellers. Not just weekend warriors, pulling their leathers from the closet by the door mind you, but full-fledged card carrying members of the pale-skinned group my buddy said probably don’t go outside much unless protected by long-sleeves and a parasol.
There were black-vinyl bustiers galore, along with mild fetish wear of every ilk, and for those who didn’t come prepared, a handful of vendors lined most corners offering the goods for sale -- everything you need to complete your gothic or s&m ensemble, for a moderate charge.. The drinks were also for sale, and reasonable from what I saw. The pool tables, bright green and unscared, were free. SMP was recruiting for a new keyboardist with the one on stage apparently retiring to some other pursuit or returning to some other band. “Someone with more than a 60 IQ” was the only request. “”two arms not required.” Very dramatic, this neo-industrial rant rock scene has become. I caught the third half of the set on a video screen from the mezzanine, overlooking a paddle peddler. By the end of that set, the dj team on the lowest of three levels had a happy crowd of 30 o 40 twirling in dance. I later met a gal who said some creep in a T-shirt and jeans asked for hand-job there. She walked away a little nervous and disgusted. Watching Genitorturers’ lead vixon threaten a paddling with a lollipop make me miss the theater of this kind of show and made me think she was into it more for the theater than for the lifestyle. I was glad she didn’t sew a random audience member’s mouth shut, as the show had been advertised. Knowing that sadomasochism at this level is mostly theater, or performance art, and few if any of these folks sleep locked in a trunk or hanging on a hook in a closet, I suppose the Genitorturers are doing no harm. The gal with the unfortunate run-in behind her called it ‘spectacle’
In some ways, I suppose they’re the evolution of GWAR, with it’s monstrous battles and blood fests that shook the dust off of otherwise unremarkable music. For GWAR it was basically speed metal. Writing this today, the week of the show at the Fenix, I’m hard pressed to say what Genitorturer’s sound was. Diamanda Galas on speed? Leaving the Fenix, I had some recommendations to follow up on - didn’t, and a bit of Seattle lore that would become significant the next day at EMP, the Experience Music Project museum and performance center. I didn’t get to drop a rock into the juke box at the Five Point, but I did see some old flyers for the Seattle band The Gits from which murder vic Mia Zapato was the victim of a 1993 random rape and murder whose slayer was only recently identified through DNA trace evidence. The flyer was part of the retrospective Scissors Paper ROCK @ Experience Music Project, a look at 25 years of punk rock posters promoting gigs in the Pacific Northwest.
It was a solid installation, with original art (and maybe a few reproductions) framed, or stapled to simulated fat telephone poles-- the venue for which so many were designed in the first place. The poles looked fat to me because their diameter would be larger than anything I’m accustomed to. (Walking around Seattle in the coming days, I decided the poles out there are actually quite massive compared to those in New York) Anyway, back to the exhibit, much of which was hung flat on the wall, papering it floor to ceiling.. I was surprise and pleased to recognize so many bands -- even some flyers that I’d swear I saw before or were designs recycled by for or from these I was looking at for NYC shows. Many of those were the photocopied type. But others were more colorful silk-screened jobs with multiple bright colors and swanky art by the likes of Frank Kozic or members of the band perhaps. Borrowing imagery from Asian packaging, or 60s shlock horror films, the real prizes of the collection are the minority, bracketed by posters that hold more nostalgic value than artistic merit. There was Big Black, Vomit Launch, Melvins, Nirvana, Dwarves, Derelicts die Kreuzen DRI “from L.A.,” no less” and more. The whole thing only filled one large gallery room, or perhaps half split with “Yes, Yes Y’all” a slightly more electronic hip-hop retrospective. Cool to see Krylon cans encased in glass as part of a museum exhibit. I grew up riding the painted subway cars now only the thing of movies from the 70s, and college courses on urban folk traditions. Kid Creole’s leather suit looked like it would hardly fi t a nine-year-old, and Jam master J’s?? battle decks made me long for my own long-lost Techniques turntable. On 5.28.03 I saw what EAK said were reproductions from the EMP collection on the walls of The Fabulous Rainbow, a corner bar in the University district that’s been host to everyone from Etta James and Sun Ra to Fishbone. I was there for the regular Wednesday night sets of Dub Championz. If in town, and craving a little bit higher-brow (and wishing to do so on the cheap) I strongly recommend the Frye Museum. It’s near enough to downtown to see the shore by foot or shuffle to China town for some Hello Kitty nori wrap (packaged, not wrapped cat -- isn’t nori vegetable, anyway?) I caught the Avard Fairbanks sculpture exhibit. I’d never considered that an established sculptor might be commissioned by a car company for its hood ornaments, but then the age of the P2 is long behind us. Fairbanks was hired by Walter Chrysler in the 1930s to design powerful symbols to mount atop the grills of Plymoth and Dodge automobiles. At the Rainbow, Dub Championz played through a thick cloud of smoke to a mostly college-aged crowd. With a handful of rastafari for good measure, the crowd was quite into the echoy sounds blasting from speakers in every corner of the bar. I’m pleased to say the Rag is now distributed at Rudy’s Barber Shop where you cant get a haircut or a tattoo or both. EAK typically handles west coast distribution through an unaffiliated network of coffee shops, bookstores, and bars.