The Metro Gnome

The Gnome expects injustice every now and again, but last week brought several blatant miscues that fouled your usually chipper correspondent's mood. First, the Rock*A*Teens Friday show appeared in concert calendar listings at the Breakroom, which was false. Although your trusty Seattle Weekly calendar got it correct, other outlets failed to note that the band were actually playing Graceland, opening for Russell Simins, the gone-solo drummer from Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. So the fantastically fuzzed out Rock*A*Teens, who traveled all the way across this presidentially ambiguous land from the Atlanta enclave of Cabbagetown, Ga., wound up playing to a couple dozen souls amid the vastness of Graceland. Now, Graceland can be a terrific rock venue, given a few hundred fans to create a buzz and absorb sound—the brilliant (International) Noise Conspiracy gig there recently confirmed this. But deprived of a sizable crowd, the sound system becomes a mess. The Rock*A*Teens soldiered through their set, but you couldn't discern Chris Lopez's vocals from his reverbed guitar, and an organist seated at stage left shouldn't have bothered plugging in; he looked as useless as that little guy in .38 Special who wasn't really playing guitar. The Gnome doesn't know who to blame for the erroneous listing, but let's hope the Rock*A*Teens come back and get a real taste of Seattle. And let's hope they're without the lamentable Simins and his band, who couldn't have sounded passable with Phil Specter at the soundboard. Russell, baby, you're a drummer. Stay behind the kit. And don't use your hipster connections to have Grand Royal put out your record; you're stealing valuable resources from deserving bands.

On to another irksome instance, this time involving crosstown rival the Stranger. Some whiny rock critic wrote up a listing about a Briefs show, bitching about how the band keep promising to drop off a copy of their new record. The Gnome's got a tip for the Stranger's and all other critics: The record store will allow you to buy a CD, despite your obvious right to obtain one for free! To prove it, the Gnome sent an operative to Sonic Boom, where the Briefs' entertaining debut Hit After Hit was procured for just $10.99. The quartet's thrashing songs sound that much better knowing that the guys—and the independent record shop—will make some dough off the deal. And while the operative was at it, he picked up the brand new Joel R.L. Phelps and the Downer Trio disc, Inland Empires, with covers of songs by Iris DeMent, the Go-Betweens, and Steve Earle. The highlight's a masterful take on Townes Van Zandt's "Our Mother the Mountain." The whopping cost of all this Phelps-inspired pleasure? $7.99! Is it worth it? You betcha!

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