Thursday, April 29, 2010

Being there when they do (Show Review--Smile for Diamonds, TRx, 4/24)

Tyrannosaurus Records, Renton.

4pm or so.

Smile for Diamonds --
Seattle, WA

They came in one at a time, driving separate cars, trying to find parking on a semi-busy day in Downtown Renton. Each introduced himself. Ian arrived last.

There was lots of equipment, stacks of amps and speakers, and the drums—oh, the drums. A harmonica mic…why not? Snippets of conversation overheard during the all-important set-up phase, talk of day-jobs, other shows they’d played recently, the records on the walls. In everything they did and everything they said, a sense of this band as a living thing…or, more like a working thing. These guys worked, this band worked. Music was the job, but not in the sense of something one does for a paycheck—it was a job in the sense of something one does because they know how and no one else will do it as well: less of a job than a duty.
Mike said they were going to bring the rock back to this town. I thought of the early 90’s, all the amazing things coming out of Seattle then. I felt like I understood exactly what he meant. Until they began to play.

Hunting Humans” began with echoing strings, eight counts, then the percussion—oh, the drums. Ian beat them like he was mad at them. He made faces at them. He mean-mugged his drumkit. It got the idea—I could tell because the drums did exactly what they were told, producing any roll he could imagine, any fill he could fit into a tiny space. The drums didn’t question him.

Pat was hidden behind a wall. His guitar thought it was front-and-center. In the small space, it didn’t matter that he wasn’t always at the mic when he shouted backing vocals. They came through loud and clear. The melodic bridge of “Found Myself” went up and down, up and down, back up—stop!—back down, swirling. All this, and Pat was behind the wall.

Mike bounced the way bass players do, heels never touching the ground. He leaned into Ian’s drums, willing the rhythms to fit. His hands slapping, holding. His bass nodding, understanding. His equipment said “Kiwi”.

Ryan was explaining himself to the amp, turning from the audience and shaking his guitar. He was explaining himself into the microphone. Explaining himself, giving us his reasons. “It’s time to get looouuuud…” After the show, he rolled a cigarette and smoked in the wind and the rain.

The set ended with “No Shame”. There is almost no way to describe this song. I could sit here and talk about what other post-punk songs it vaguely reminds me of or what other songs have a kind of similar guitar riff, but on a visceral level there is no way to describe it. It is an amazing hook + cymbals + raging guitars + deep bass + an outro from hell that seems to last forever. And it was the only way the show could have ended.
They met and coalesced in Colorado, though Mike is from New Zealand. They play songs that have purpose. The play songs with passion and desire. This is a band that works. They play songs because they have to.
..........................................................And there is nothing quite like being there when they do.



***Check out Smile for Diamonds' brand new self-titled EP, available at Tyrannosaurus Records***

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