Star Potential

It's July, and the brats who are too cheap and/or poor to shell out a Hamilton for Seattle's indie-credible 2002 Capitol Hill Block Party recline on a rusty baseball backstop overlooking the stage. Pretty Girls Make Graves hopscotch through their uniquely poppy 'n' spunky, punky 'n' chunky catalog for a throng of the curious in upper-80-degree heat. Frontwoman Andrea Zollo was desperate for a Honey Bucket before the set, but conquers nature like a trouper, pumping her fist and chanting/crying "Sad . . . girls . . . for . . . life!"

The only problem is, as usual, Pretty Girls Make Graves. A litany of inane "Sorry it's so hot, you guys" and "Thanks for sticking around in the heat" asides culminate with the little sociopath in my head screaming, "Shut the fuck up and rock me, you stupid bastards!" I know, I know; I'm not up there laying it on the line and blinding you with mid-tuning witticisms, but these frequent between-song delays are smoking guns for Pretty Girls' inability to really put together the knockout-blow live show their songs demand.

Does Seattle have a premier rock and roll band? A band that you spy in the concert listings and it's not even a question of what or who will I be doing or where will I be drinking that night, but fuck, yeah, baby needs tickets now! Maybe Modest Mouse? Pretty Girls could be that band; their self-titled EP and full-length, Good Health (Lookout!), are that promising, and that's just an aggregate 40 minutes of noise. Don't blame me for nitpicking; professional superfans ain't got shit to do but count hours and pick noses till their pet bands fulfill their potential.

It was clear from even their earliest local gigs that Zollo had the makeup of an icon. Women respond to her, respect her authoritah, and find her rare outbursts of venom (see the EP's explosive "Head South") irresistible. The musicians, all men, are hardly indie-stud window dressing. Bassist Derek Fudesco's swagger is still intact from his Murder City Devils days, and guitarist Jason Clark unleashes inspired, serrated Atari 2600 riffs that are somehow never quite pronounced enough live.

What's next is really whatever Pretty Girls want. The raw talent is there, the hooks and curveballs are intrinsic, but the energy? Hmmm. Sometimes something's not quite right. That intangible would be youth, which rules . . . and kills.

Andrew Bonazelli

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