The Gnome would like to start by thanking new sponsor Chrysler for the use of an old-fashioned-y PT Cruiser, which allowed your normally sluggish reporter speedy access to Seattle's nightclubs and/or hot-spots all week long. Probably a bad move, though, to start at Graceland on Thursday, where the little-known Tsar and the unpopular Gas Giants (a spin-off of the once-popular Gin Blossoms) were scheduled to play. The Gassy Giants didn't show and the lineup got jiggled around so that Tsar wouldn't take the stage till like four in the morning. Still, the Gnome managed to stay long enough to watch locals the Fakes finish off a set that might've sounded better in a garage. They closed with a cover of "Rebel Yell" that started as a funny joke, but, five-plus minutes later, grew tedious. Hint: Billy Idol songs are not to be jammed out ࠬa Neil Young! On that note, it was off to the Showbox for a selection of local bands on the small stage. Unfortunately, Skyward's set was already over when your diminutive correspondent arrived; Joe S. and friends played a terse five-song sampler, then split. Soon, a few guys started assembling keyboards, synthesizers, claviers, harpsichords, grand pianos, and Hammond organs—OK, it was actually a Fender Rhodes and another keyboard—and the Gnome heard an in-the-know scenester describe the forthcoming act as a cross between Hall&Oates and the Black Crowes. Yikes! Before the valet could bring the Chrysler PT Cruiser back around, the band launched into their first song and it wasn't too shabby. The four fellas in Firebrat don't look or sound like anyone else in these parts, but their twinkling pop melodies and earnest vocals are at least as good as anything Satchel pumped out. Last up was a solid performance by Ruston Mire, freshly scaled down to a four-piece following the departure of guitarist Mike Katell.
Funny, then, when Modest Mouse turned up at the Showbox Friday night with an extra guitarist, Robin Beringer, to help the boys through their two-night stand of sold-out shows. They didn't need much assistance though; the crowd patiently endured the woozy desert-rock of NoCal's Duster and the always-ramshackle Love as Laughter, then greeted the Mice with a heartwarming burst of energetic applause, bodysurfing, stage-diving, and unbridled perspiration. It reminded the Gnome of a time long, long ago—like, 1991! You betcha!
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