The Metro Gnome

Looks like the Gnome picked a bad year to live in an underground bunker beneath the Space Needle—talk about a shaky troll! On that note, your disaster-ready correspondent discovered a few things in the wake of the quake. Howe "Giant Sand" Gelb is clairvoyant. His new album, Confluence (due out on Thrill Jockey March 20), features a lyric, "It's an endless ache, a heart attack and an earthquake." That's pretty fuckin' eerie considering that the only casualty in our quake was a heart attack victim. Meanwhile, the up-and-coming Scottish band Idlewild visit Seattle for the first time this Saturday, when they'll play Graceland in support of an album called, creepily enough, 100 Broken Windows. Yet vocalist Roddy Woomble tells a Gnome Gnotifier that he's "earthquake paranoid" because his band was in Japan not long after a shakedown last year.

Seattle's not the only place prone to maelstroms. Peter Buck and R.E.M. were shooting a video from their forthcoming album, Reveal, in Los Angeles, only to get washed away by one of the many rainstorms to hit Southern California of late. Well, as much as the Gnome would like to see Michael Stipe floating away in a muddy torrent, the boys weren't really washed away, but their shoot had to be postponed.

The folks at Seattle Metal Online ( sent out their latest newsletter with the headline "SMO hopes the quake didn't shake you up too much! Sure scared the piss out of us!" Um, metalheads frightened by an earthquake? C'mon.

Not even the artsy crowd at the Crocodile Thursday night seemed scared—fazed, maybe. There, the Sid Hillman Quartet set the tone with wisecracks about the quake and laid-back, twangy tunes that helped take the edge off. The L.A. band, led by the nephew of the Byrds' Chris Hillman, played a confident, competent set. Mojave 3 followed with some quake cracks of their own, then turned in an elegant performance that soothed any seismically frayed nerves. Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell's exquisite harmonies and a wailing, winding pedal steel were like an antithesis to the 45 seconds of roiling, rolling, and churning that shocked Seattleites last Wednesday.

For further salvation, the Gnome squeezed into Jeff Tweedy's sold-out show at the Croc Sunday night. The Wilco frontman and erstwhile Uncle Tupelo member looked shabby with his half-assed beard and multiple layers of clothes, and he bantered pointedly with the typically chatty crowd. (What is it about singer-songwriter shows that makes fans think they can have a one-on-one conversation with the performer? The Gnome has a request: Shut up and let the guy play!) Tweedy played lots of Wilco stuff as well as a bunch of songs off Uncle Tupelo's Anodyne, including a nifty version of "We've Been Had." Still the Chicagoan seemed a bit cranky throughout the night. It's not like he'd been through an earthquake. You betcha!

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