Defenders of the Faith

Veteran musicians get by with a little help from their friends.

It's a good thing I've seen Judas Priest more than half-a-dozen times previously, because I probably would have been disappointed if last Tuesday's performance at the Qwest Field Events Center had been my inaugural JP experience. This is not to say they were terrible—far from it—but thanks to the reality that Rob Halford and company were touring to promote their new 90-minute concept record Nostradamus, their set was long on questionable new material and book-ended by the requisite predictable hits, including "You've Got Another Thing Comin'" and "Breaking the Law." There were very few back-catalog surprises, with the exception of "Sinner" and "The Green Manalishi," and compared with the grandiose production values of their last tour two years ago, the overall experience was a bit of a letdown. Showbox booking agent Chad Quierolo, also in attendance, was more forgiving than I, noting that "Rob's use of reverb was a bit much, but hey, that's what you get after screaming for vengeance for 30 years." Saying their goodbyes last week were members of local band Das Llamas, who played their final show in the crowded bowels of the Cha Cha Lounge on Friday night. Band leader and Aviation Records founder Kerry Zettel is pulling the plug on the promising punk foursome to focus on his less-noisy and more dark-hearted folk-tinged project, See Me River, which quietly released its eponymous debut in late 2006. Despite the lower volume, SMR is actually more striking on some levels, with Zettel's rich baritone taking center stage in a way it never could in the hurricane of distorted guitar and squalling keyboards that defined Das Llamas. The SMR lineup currently includes Das Llama's guitarist Aaron Everett, but he is preparing to move to Indiana and will be replaced by Joseph Childres, formerly of Vendetta Red fame. Zettel is clearly at peace with the decision to disband, saying "[Guitarist] Shawn [Kock] and I had been playing music with each other for close to a decade and many things can change in 10 years. We had different ideas about how things should be, and unfortunately the one thing we could agree on was that it was just not working out. I suppose that it was a feeling of great relief for both of us to be able to get back to being friends and go our own directions musically." SMR's Nick DeWitt–produced sophomore effort, Time Machine, drops as a joint release from Don't Stop Believin' and Aviation Records on August 26. A similar, if more long-winding, creative path is being traveled by former TAD leader Tad Doyle, who has spent far too many years living in the shadow of his exalted grunge-era band. I'm as guilty as anyone of waxing nostalgic about that band's much-missed greatness, but after finally catching his new project Brothers of the Sonic Cloth at the Funhouse last Saturday, I have taken a solemn vow to knock off that wistful bullshit immediately. Originally conceived primarily as a recording project, the Brothers (which includes Doyle's girlfriend and veteran punk bassist Peggy Tully, along with esteemed Seattle drummer Eric Akre) is now a thundering, lysergically inclined unit with its own distinct sonic identity and thoroughly mesmerizing live presence. They don't have any Seattle dates booked in the immediate future, but you can catch them down in Portland at Berbati's Pan this Saturday, Aug. 2, with Harvey Milk. If a trip to Portland isn't in the cards this weekend, then look no further than the Sunset Tavern on Saturday, when the Ballard club throws a benefit for Guns 'n' Rossetti bassist John "Frosty Chopper" Fisher and his wife Donna. "The couple's 4-week-old baby died last month from a rare genetic disorder," explains band leader Dick Rossetti. "And these two have really landed on hard times, involving job loss, relocating, and other bad-timing stuff." Along with Red Jacket Mine, Girl Trouble, and his own band, Rossetti has enlisted the help of Duff McKagan's lower-key side project Loaded. "We hope that our contribution in this event can at least alleviate some financial burden for this amazing couple," says McKagan. "As a father myself, I can't even begin to appreciate what gut-wrenching agony these two must be going through." The show starts at 9 p.m., with a suggested donation of $8 at the door.

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