Childbirth played to a packed Funhouse on Thursday, August 6th. Julia Shapiro of Chastity Belt, Stacy Peck of Pony Time, and Bree McKenna of TacocaT made for the second local super-group of the night, after openers Bod. Songs like "Siri Open Tinder" and "I Only Fucked You As a Joke," whether you relate to their lyrics or not, are a discouragingly accurate snapshot of our generation. The line "I can't make good decisions every day," resonates with many crowd members in their own way, and is emblematic of the band's sarcastic humor. Although the crowd laughs along, the music sticks because deep down, it covers themes we're all afraid of: a generation distancing themselves from the onslaught of "Tech Bro" culture (literally the title of another song), yet obsessed with the very technology produced by it. Interactions, especially romantic ones, are increasingly filtered through apps and dating sites, not to mention the vice-like grip Facebook has on people's lives. Shapiro introduced "Tech Bro" by saying, "This song is about hooking up with an Amazon bro. It's . . . not from personal experience." The band shared sardonic smiles and launched into the garage punk number. Their songs are equal parts comic debauchery and up-to-the-minute, Seattle-specific social commentary, making for a potent combination. The night culminated in an awesomely fitting all-woman mosh pit.
After one year in Chicago in 2009, where Pizza Fest was started by Ruben Mendez, Lacey Swain, Pete Capponi, and Brian Costello, the festival moved to Seattle indefinitely. Capponi, of Steal Shit Do Drugs, the Coconut Coolouts, and the Fancy Lads, is the current Pizza Fest “impresario,” carrying the torch for pizza lovers everywhere. Brian Foss of the Funhouse has lent his talent for booking local bands over the years, and as some of the founding members took on other projects, Capponi brought in Jen Knight of Suicide Squeeze Records. Her booking chops have been fantastic, and she's now considered the "First Lieutenant" of the festival. This year Elaine Grabicki took the reigns as "Social Media Maven," fellow founding member Mendez was there spinning records, and Costello played drums for Nobunny. With the re-opening of the Funhouse in El Corazon's lounge this year, Pizza Fest was finally back in everyone's favorite evil-clown-clad club. DJ Peter Lowe kept the tunes going between sets.
First up were Pizza Riot, a band playing "anti-Putin, pro-pizza" punk, inspired by Russian feminist legends Pussy Riot. Their short setlist consisted of songs with amazing names like, “Poison Putin’s Pizza,” “Instant Parma,” “Choke On It,” and the eponymous “Pizza Riot.” Pun jokes were in full effect as singer Cyndi Goodman doused a photo of Putin glued to a pizza box with grated parmesan cheese. The rest of the band consisted of two women on bass and guitar, and a man on drums, with their faces obscured by ski masks and a pair of fishnets. At one point someone yelled out, “Who’s the hot chick on drums?” The faux-sexist comment amidst the cheesy feminist puns was too good, and the crowd roared. This was Pizza Riot’s first show, but they’re bound to join the ranks of other Seattle tribute bands like Underworld Scum, Stallion, and HalloQueen.
Bod (stylized "bod") create songs with an enjoyable blend of vibes, introspective one moment and dance-able the next. Their sound can range from progressive to shoegaze to spacey to punk, all without skipping a beat. They're fun to watch, with bassist Lance Umble making subtle stank faces, showing the utmost satisfaction while he hits the notes. Ben Roth‘s vocals on "Blue Highway" remind me of The Dodos circa 2008, and some of the guitar progressions echo the percussive bass of Paul Simon's Graceland, but on a more stripped down level. Bod, a local super-group, includes members from Cumulus, Boat, Oberhofer, and Slowwave. Their sound gets your blood flowing almost like video game music, building your adrenaline slowly, until you know you're almost to the boss. They're skilled at sudden segues between frenetic progressions and well-timed pauses. As Roth slowly tuned between songs, he joked, "How do you tune a guitar?" A crowd member yelled out emphatically, "WITH A PIZZA!" It didn't make any sense, but the crowd laughed anyway. They ended with the song "Too Soon," and after their short set, it was. To hear more, check out their debut EP Party Drug, out now on Swoon Records.
Donzis were next, bringing major axe-shredding and sipping "Bu-Bus on Ice," apparently a name for drinking Malibu Rum straight. These guys must have had killer hangovers the next day. Singer "Ice" had a voice like Chris Cornell, high pitched and heavy all at once, and he performed all manner of kicks, pelvic thrusts, and rested the guitar on his crotch like a giant phallus. This paved the way splendidly for the antics of Full Toilet, up next on the bill.
Full Toilet were by far the most absurd band of the night. As their set began, four musicians took the stage, one of them shrouded in a scary mask reminiscent of Freddy Kruger's burnt face, and wearing a robe. This figure began to verbally assault the band members, talking major smack and insulting their sound, the crowd, and the venue. The guitarist feigned exasperation, eventually saying, "Dad, I told you not to come to the Funhouse. This is the one thing I get to do on a Thursday night!" The "Dad" continued to rant and spew obscenities, eventually ripping his mask off to reveal Full Toilet frontman Don Sheets. Sub Pop's artist page on them describes him as an "angry young man with a short attention span."
Our own radio DJ Troy Nelson was in fine form in a camo shirt, shades, and playing guitar so hard that his pants literally fell down. Their songs were incredibly short and blunt, a blasting blitz of sound. One track was titled "Brain = Shit," and Sheets prefaced it by saying, "The next song is about my brain and what a fucking piece of shit it is." The song was only 5 seconds long. "Art Show" was punk sludge drudgery, and crowd members thrashed around happily. At one point, the other guitarist unleashed a spray of silly string from a can taped to his guitar head. "I'm a Gun" started with a spoken word poem repeating "When the gun has a mind of it's own," and offering examples of corruption and vice. It showed a deeper, introspective side to Full Toilet. Perhaps the toilet is deeper than it appears. Perhaps it is full of wisdom.
Grand Rapids, MI band Heaters were up next, their garage psych rock a compelling continuation of a thread bod had started earlier in the night. Andrew Tamlyn, Nolan Krebs, and Joshua Korf brought a heavier sound, reminding me of the urgent pace of Brooklyn band DIIV's fantastic track "Doused." A friend of Heaters' told me how she was in awe of their dedication to their craft, spending most of their free time when she first met them holed up practicing and recording. The hard work paid off, and Heaters played a solid set.
Audience members headed home after Childbirth's set, excited for the punk still to come. More photos from Day One can be seen here.
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