Thursday, January 3, 2013

0 Jake Weller's Year-End Review (and Special Announcement!)

2012 WAS FUCKING AWESOME: A Year-end Review (and Special Announcement!) by Jake Weller

In the immortal words of a young Bob Guccione Jr., as he dreamed of his future empire: “If you build it, they will come.”  A large part of me feels that 2012 was a great year mostly because we willed it to be.  And when I say “we,” I mean the whole PNW heavy music community; I mean all of the bands who gleefully cheered each other on, all of the habitual showgoers who go to every show and dish out the smiles and hugs, all of the amazing photographers, zine writers, bookers, promoters, headbangers, hair-farmers, happy drunks, heshers and hellions – we all built this, and we all came.  It is this communal spirit that makes this little scene of ours one of the most vibrant and inviting in the region, and it is this spirit that SRG will be trying to capture and encourage further as we venture into 2013. 

Without further ado, I am pleased as punch to announce that Mr. SRG, Nik Christofferson, has asked me to take a more active role in the future of this here blog, mostly with the procurement and management of even more of the quality content that I hope you've come to expect from us.  We've been brainstorming (okay, more like beerstorming) about what we can do to further support the local rock scene, and have come up with some pretty sweet ideas that we think will help make this site more informative and expansive, while also engendering the strength of our passionately loud community.

As for 2012, there were so many things that kicked ass this year... I have no idea how many shows I had the pleasure of seeing, good people I met, beers I drank, or long, aimless walks at 3 in the morning I found myself taking.  I could never encapsulate that in a simple list.  Instead, I think I'll just pick out a few things I got to experience with many of you this year that made it worth traveling all the way around the sun again:

The Portland Invasion!  That 150 mile gap gets narrower every year.  It seems like I spend more and more time nowadays in the city so perfectly placed to be our cultural rival.  We must have formed a truce over the last couple of years, as the weekly migration of bands between cities has gone from a trickle to a steady stream, with love growing for every one with each exchange.  Not only did I make my way down a handful of times this year to catch locals like Brokaw, Sandrider, Lesbian,  Monogamy Party rock the fuck out, but with bands like Red Fang, Yob, Atriarch, Gaytheist, Transient, Fist Fite, and Rabbits, and so many others willing to make the trek up this way as frequently as they do, the future of this comfortable (though historically tenuous) coexistence is looking more promising with every year.

Total Fest!  As with 2011, Total Fest in Missoula was a definite highlight.  It was a pleasure to see more Seattle folk enjoying numero once than previous years.  It has now become a yearly tradition for myself and hopefully a few more of us crazy assholes.  

Freedom of Choice! As evidenced by Adam Noble Bass' quality 4-night Choice Fest in April, in which every band performing had to include at least one female, the extreme gender disparity that has traditionally existed in heavy music is quickly eroding.  In fact, two of my absolute favorite live sets this year were totally dudeless!  Calgary's Mares of Thrace and Tacoma's Lozen not only both released phenomenal albums in 2012, but absolutely blew me away from the stage.  In fact, the hugeness of their sound is mostly notable not because of their gender, but because they are both only duos.

Random Craziness!  Perhaps the greatest thing about going to see rock shows is that every single night has the potential to end up being a truly memorable experience.  The best of these occur when least expected, as was the case with the impromptu and inexplicable stuffed animal fight during a Transient at the Comet in June, or the Battle Stations set before a small, but hungry crowd at the Josephine only a couple days later that completely blew the minds of every single person in attendance, probably including the band.  Hell, likely my current favorite live set in town is Monogamy Party, and they probably carry that status because they are so unpredictable when they play.  Sometimes dressed, sometimes climbing the walls, sometimes floating along the top of the crowd, frontman Kennedy is only consistent in being fearlessly rambunctious, matching the energy of the music (and the rest of the group) each and every time without it ever seeming gimmicky.

Local Music!  So many great releases and shows this year by local bands and artists, I can't list them all, and I don't want to pick and choose.  Some of the live highlights that come to mind were the recent and transcendent Mamiffer set at the Highline Bar, as well as the fantastic live show/theater mash-up of Blood/Sailing, and another successful Noise For The Needy lineup featuring much of the newest Good To Die roster – a label that has continued its run of high quality releases from PNW heavy bands throughout the year.  Speaking of releases, this year saw many of my favorite bands putting out their own records, including (but not limited to) the incredible Serial Hawk Buried in the Gray and the aforementioned Lozen Para Vida EPs, as well as new work by X Suns, Princess, Spacebag, and so many others... I was looking forward to a number of things from our local community this very day one year ago, and my already heightened expectations were exceeded in every possible way.

Other Music!  Though I spend most of my free time mired in the goings on of our local bunch of noisemakers, I still make it out from time-to-time to catch non-locals as they swing through town.  I was fortunate enough to see the legendary Sleep make a rare live appearance with the always amazing Kowloon Walled City (though the latter's set was fraught with technical issues this particular night).  Doomriders came scorching through town with the brutally entertaining Baptists, and Gaza gave me one of the biggest music boners of the year before a Torche set over the summer.  With career-peaking album releases from both of those latter bands, not to mention many others, such as Unsane, Converge, and Narrows (would they be considered local?), this year has seen a bounty of treats for the lover of heavy music.  Some of the lower-profile albums that received a high number of rotations by yours truly throughout the year were the aforementioned Kowloon's Container Ships and Mares of Thrace's The Pilgrimage, the self-titled debut of Brooklyn's two-piece Xaddax (featuring Nick Sakes of Dazzling Killmen/Colossamite fame), Megan Tweed's work with Made Out of Babies alumni on Bad Power's debut album, the frighteningly intense work that local artist G. Stuart Dahlquist produced with a French avant noise artist and a number of special guests on the Asva/Philippe Petit collaboration, and my absolute favorite release of the year (though it technically came out in December of 2011): Whores' Ruiner.

         2013's A-comin'! Though 2012 was a great year to follow heavy music, there is much to look forward to still in the upcoming year.  Personally, I am most excited about some of the new bands that are forming and starting to play out.  Both Old Iron and Caligula (featuring members of Sandrider/Iamthethorn and Bitches Crystal/Akimbo, respectively) are promising new side/other-projects that absolutely killed it when they paired up on a recent bill.  Additionally, newer bands like Glose, The Great Goddamn, Big Trughk, and Tacos! are definitely worth keeping an eye out for.  Speaking of Tacos!, they are one of the many bands with scheduled releases coming this year (word on the street is it's fucking awesome).  Others include new efforts from Good To Die bands Monogamy Party and Gaytheist, as well as follow-ups from Dog Shredder and Constant Lovers (now featuring the drum stylings of Helms Alee's Ben Verellen), the long-awaited final album from the sadly-departed Akimbo, Argonaut's first release with Chad from Mico de Noche as their new dynamic-shifting guitarist, and maybe that damn Grenades LP will finally see the light of day. 

Happy New Year, folks.  If you have any comments or suggestions on how to improve this site, please feel free to email me at  I look forward to seeing anybody who made it all the way to the end of this blog post out and about in 2013!


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