January 26th, 2009
So, if you’re a fan of the Stooges, or the Gits, or the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, or even the Black Keys, you’re probably a fan of the Ettes. Or, at least you probably should be. The L.A. garage-punk trio walloped the Sunset Tavern this past Saturday night (1/24) with a gritty set of urgent rock reminiscent of those bands (a.k.a. some of my favorites). I’m new to the Ettes, so I wasn’t extremely familiar with their music aside from the pre-show internet sleuthing I’d done over the past few weeks. That, along with the dejected psych-pop musings of Seattle stalwarts the Purrs, was enough to hustle me over to the Sunset, however. (Which remains, btw, one of the best places to see a rock show in this city, hands down. Excellent sound and size, unpretentious atmosphere, and the great stage area always contribute to memorable shows.)
The Ettes won’t blow your mind with a new vision or some sort of progressive, avant garde exhibition, but they smash so many raw, celebrated, and momentous rock obsessions together that it triggers all sorts of “who gives a fuck”-type reactions. The good reactions; the ones that elicit ardent fist pumping and feverish, hands-on-head “dancing”. The band is made up of two ladies and a gent: Lindsay “Coco” Hames on guitar and lead vox, Maria “Poni” Silver on drums, and Jeremy “Jem” Cohen on bass. All do their best to overpower and charm their instruments into a tight ‘n’ dirty punk extravaganza.
They opened with a saucy blues number, as Hames eschewed her guitar for a harmonica. It was kinda sinister and kinda sassy. All three contribute vocals, but Coco’s riot grrrl-meets-Nancy Sinatra voice sets the tone for the band’s blistering attack. And while she’s setting the tone, the rhythm section is busy setting the pace. Cohen’s menacing bass is grimy and delicious; Poni ups the ante by absolutely abusing her kit (she seems to sneer quite a bit, too; proof that she’s a bona fide bad ass). They killed it.
Not to be forgotten (by this guy OR the rest of the town), the Purrs, who’ve toured extensively with the Ettes, played an inspired set of their biggest tunes (“Disconnected”, “She’s Got Chemicals”, “Taste of Monday”), plus a few new ones. I’ve always loved this band: Jima’s lyrics and Jason Milne’s Fender are the bedrock of their catchy and captivating shoegazing pop. Milne calmly plays in the stratosphere with his hands close together, and Jima just can’t seem to get a break (somebody sign this band!). Add in rhythm guitar and Keith Moon-style drums for the Purrs’ signature sound. If you dig Luna or the Flaming Lips or Galaxie 500, this band is for you. SRSLY. They’ll be at the Comet on February 28th with the Pica Beats. The Ettes play in Boise tomorrow night (1/27).