[All photos featured in article are by Emma Pierce]
There’s this principle called the “rule of three” which suggests that things that come in threes are more memorable, effective, or enjoyable than other patterns of numbers. For example, we live in a three dimensional world, music is built upon triads of notes in chords, Newton came up with three laws of motion, and even the deaths of the famous (as we know all too well after 2016) seem to come in sets of threes. I can’t say I’m a particularly religious person, which seems a bit ironic coming from someone who attends a Jesuit institution, but I also find the concept of the Holy Trinity intriguing. It suggests that God holds three persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost—that are distinct, but also same (‘tri’ and ‘unity’). Now I know you might be asking yourself, “What is this person going on about? Isn’t this a concert review?” Well, let me tell you, on New Years Eve at Neumos I witnessed a holy trinity of Seattle artists that are so distinct in their sound and approach to music but represent a collective group that not only have been killing it in the previous year, but are going to completely blow up like Space Needle fireworks in 2017. I guarantee it.
Two performers/living statues, (Ryan Patterson and Lavinia Darling), clad completely in gold paint and little else took center stage to start the show, followed by Ryan Leyva on bass, Robert Cheek on guitar, Steven Barci on drums and Joe Gregory. J GRGRY gave a performance that was completely about the music, giving little description and floating from song to song. As their set continued, the audience nudged closer to the stage, visibly intrigued by the opening band. During songs like “eFlower” and “Cave Birds,” both off the recent teaser EP, Prosthetic Fittings, more and more people began singing along to the arching choruses and flying melodies. The whole performance felt more like a 45-minute mysterious art installation that told stories of loss and redemption, vulnerability and strength, and a pure love for music, expressing both Gregory’s own experience and the individual experience of the observer. Music played long after J GRGRY left the stage, leaving the audience curious as to whether they’d return for more, which I viewed as a fitting preamble to 2017 and the release of Gold Teeth + Glass Eyes, their debut EP due in February.
I recently had the chance to interview Joe a few weeks ago. We talked about his inspiration for “Cave Birds,” what to expect from the upcoming EP, and more.
Up next was local rapper and hip-hop artist Porter Ray, who gave a performance consisting almost completely of new songs from his upcoming Sub Pop album, and several from his 2016 summer release, Electric Rain. Tracks like “Heaven in Blue” brought romantic rhythms and a laid back flow present throughout the entire set to the Neumos stage. Others, like “Battleground,” were passionately delivered, commenting on the local scene, interweaving some call and response moments like “F*** 2016 F*** Donald Trump,” which amped up the crowd. I had the feeling a lot of the audience weren’t familiar with Porter Ray’s stuff, and if that was truly the case, by the end of his set a great majority are now huge fans. In addition to introducing himself to a new crowd, Ray brought out a handful of other Seattle artists throughout his set, including Bruce Leroy, Ca$htro and Nate Jack, along with a shout-out to KEXP’s Street Sounds DJ and former member of THEESatisfaction, Stas THEE Boss, who are all featured on the new album. His lyrics and flow are already stellar and represent some of the best Seattle has to offer, so if Porter Ray can keep progressing as a performer, we’ll see him in the big leagues some day.
Headliners Thunderpussy came out in a blazing glory with flashing lights, pulsing drums provided by the jazzy Ruby Dunphy, and adorned in black and gold. I’ve been following Thunderpussy since their emergence in 2014 but have never been able to attend a show, so you can bet your sweet behind that I parked mine front and center before the set started. As the foursome took the Neumos stage, the crowd, which had been fairly mellow up until this point, pressed forward, screaming and dancing before a single note had been played. Molly Sides, dressed in black thigh-high vinyl boots and a fringe slip, approached the old vintage microphone with the confidence and swagger of classic rock and roll, and proceeded to deliver vocals that slapped awake my sexually repressive Anglo-Saxon genes. I, along with everyone else in the building, felt wanted as Sides jumped into “Welcome to the Disco,” and welcomed into the Thunderpussy fan club during their self-titled song. Guitarist Witney Petty absolutely shredded all night long with mesmerizing solos and riffs that really only come from those with inherent ability and dedicated practice. It’s no wonder a musician like Mike McCready has been working with this band and these artists; they are true rock and roll musicians to their core.
Just as Porter Ray did earlier, halfway through their set, Thunderpussy reiterated how awful this year was with a display of a dumpster set on fire reading “2016,” and then extended an invitation to hug a stranger standing next to you in the crowd. They continued the night with covers of songs like “Somebody to Love” by Jefferson Airplane and Led Zeppelin’s “Dazed and Confused,” along with archived original material and a few new songs.
Leah Julius (bass) and Dunphy (drums) were completely locked in the whole night as Sides and Petty seductively performed, allowing the music to be expertly played and the show to be visually entertaining. Thunderpussy plays like they’ve been together for far longer than two and a half years, and performs with the ability of a band that’s toured across the world for years and years. This New Year’s Eve extravaganza was completed with a group countdown, branded Chambongs for all, a spraying of champagne, and confetti cannons. If the way one spends their entry into the new year is any preview of the next 365 days, then 2017 is about to be a rock and roll party from start to end. Keep an eye out for Thunderpussy’s debut album sometime later year, as well as upcoming shows, because this band is going to take off the moment the album drops.
EMMA PIERCE | Praise be to the Music Deities | KXSU Music Reporter