Manic Panic Jan 24, 2014

by Eric Pitsenbarger

The band’s set up right there, front and center and I see the performers meandering around on the stage checking stuff. They walk back and forth, sit down in a chair, lean on the wall together exchanging meaningful looks, bending in for a snippet of conversation or spontaneously grab each other in a full body hug. The fact that they’re on the bare bones stage and we, the audience, just over the divide of floor lights doing the very same thing, is all that would indicate that they are other than this evening’s collected Seattleites...with our jeans and club T’s, beards and boots, artfully mussed asymmetrical hair-dos leaning on walls in snippets of conversation or throwing full body hugs. It’s like a gathering of the clan. 

The music starts pumping and those offered earplugs get unwrapped and stuffed. Stragglers find their seats as one by one the performers find a spot downstage to stand and look at us…all looking back at them. Simultaneously allowing for the reflection of how similar they are to everyone else in the room but also for the differences to now manifest. I can see it in their muscular calves and solid planting of feet. Their faces all have a carved, hungry look. Rather baleful, even lustful, their emotionless eyes roaming the crowd occasionally locking onto someone and linguring for a moment inviting, confronting and when acknowledged with an equal stare, they look away. Ah ha! The set up for dynamic passive aggressive, urbaine emotional displacement, a not too dissimilar typical Seattle street. 

The punk aesthetic slams home with the bass beats and bodies flying into each other. Repeating patterns of restless pacing back and forth, heavy foot dragging, clumsy mosh-pit weight exchange. Their somnambulant yearning, manic and hungry gaze broadcasts a unrequited need. Craving something, searching for it with harsh insistence. The brash school yard commune of rough and tumble one moment, laid back and sleepy the next electrified as if by automatic jolts, maneuvering around and around like restless birds looking for a place to settle and when they land it's with hard synchronized sharp folding, slamming onto the floor. Their mechanical joints charged and released as if manipulated by marionette strings, yanked about by an angry, disaffected youth. It's a strangely empty space with all the business contrasting cavernous gloom. Puppets grappling with each other.

It feels like a clubby mating ritual played out in repeated arcing angst. Typical Seattle day.