LIVE: Royal Headache, Chop Suey, Seattle, WA


By Gabriel Mathews

I hope I can be forgiven for expecting something a little more frightening from VHS’s opening set at Chop Suey on Monday. Their name does, after all, stand for “Violent Human System,” a name which like, say, High-Functioning Flesh or Criminal Code or Stoic Violence implies some sort of disturbed intensity and perverse anger that was not present on stage with the sleeveless RUN-DMC tees in VHS. Their frontman, who actually drums for Criminal Code and whose name I’m having a damn hard time tracking down, wears his bleach-blond bowl cut in direct homage to Greg Sage, a comparison that has clearly been made many a time. That said, if there’s any great PNW band that hasn’t been ripped off enough, it’s Wipers, and VHS actually do a pretty good job of it, though they need two guitars to pull of what Sage did with one. Bowl-cut’s singing voice is a nasal bellow in Sage’s direct lineage, and his melodic sensibility produces a pretty straight Is This Real? vibe very easily. That said, I don’t want to pigeonhole VHS too hard—they show promise for growth and are clearly skilled musicians, and as I said, more Wipers-apes wouldn’t be a bad thing at all.

I’m not sure I can give such credit to Dude York. These guys apparently formed at Whitman College, where if I had to guess they bonded over a shared love of mid-period Weezer and cheap irony. They’re not bad at what they do, and I especially enjoyed when bassist Claire England took over vocals from the unbelievably boyish Peter Richards, whose onstage persona is drenched in the all-too-common-in-Seattle-punk white-boy happy-go-lucky nihilism to the point of alienation at the expense of the music. His heckling of the sparse crowd—“Who’s having a good time?!” “Wow, you guys are all so great!” “Nice physical action! We endorse physicality of all kinds!”—felt so disingenuous and patronizing that I had a bit of trouble staying in the room. Dude York’s songs are tight, their power chords are powerful, and drummer Andrew Hall has some neat tricks up his sleeves. But why should I take a band seriously when it’s clear they have no intention of taking themselves seriously? (All this aside, points for writing a song called “No One In My Life Can Hear Me Scream.”)

Australia’s Royal Headache had just crossed the pond before playing this, the first show of their tour, as frontman Shogun was quick to point out. “I am so fucking jet-lagged,” he said before they even started, and he never really stopped complaining. Tearing out of the gate with “Really In Love,” a highlight from their self-titled debut and then rushing through a few new ones, Shogun and company (Law on guitar, Joe on bass, and Shorty on drums) were a blast for the first ten minutes of their set. Shogun has one of the best voices in punk rock, one which garners him frequent comparisons to such soul greats as Sam Cooke, and which really sets the band apart from other garage-rock clacissists. But he really comes across more as a Robert Pollard imitator on stage, both vocally and physically, with high-kicks and arm-flails abounding. A few songs in, though, it was clear that fatigue was setting in, as he sat down on the cinder-block Shorty used to keep his kick drum in place. Eventually, at Shogun’s request, a stool was brought out for him, and between every song he’d make some comment about how he was too old for this, wanted to do a slow one next, or how he needed a personal trainer.

The set was still a lot of fun—songs like “Down The Lane,” “Psychotic Episode” and the incredible “Girls” still ripped, as did tracks from their forthcoming second album, High, particularly bangers like “Garbage” and the title track. The uniform brown hair/white tee of the band offset the emaciated, shirtless, red-headed Shogun in a nice way that didn’t seem premeditated and added a bit of spectacle even when he was sitting down. But it’s hard for me to swallow a guy saying “This is a song about fake punks” (“Another World”) from a stool. Here’s to hoping Shogun gets his energy back before squandering what ought to be a killer tour.

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Episode 143: MusicFest Northwest 2015!


Thanks to Matthew MacLean and Matt Manza for joining us this week! You can listen above, and download the episode right here.


  • Matthew MacLean and Matt Manza discuss this year’s edition of MusicFest Northwest, including the booking process, the changes made this year, and what the fest’s future looks like.


  • Dr. Dre – “Talking to My Diary”
  • Lady Lamb – “Billions of Eyes”
  • Talk in Tongues – “She Lives in My House”
  • Deerhunter – “Snakeskin”

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Polyphonic Spree Celebrate 15th Anniversary With Beginning Stages Of… Tour



Back at the very beginning of the last decade, The Polyphonic Spree, Tim DeLaughter’s charming (and vaguely but endearingly cult-like) Texas-based choir-rock monolith, released their debut record, The Beginning Stages Of…. If you heard the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind soundtrack, or watched Scrubs, or saw a Volkswagen ad, you were undoubtedly aware of their infectious, ELO-esque single “Light & Day”, which helped to launch the band into the hearts and iPods of just about everybody who heard it. In the years since, they’ve put out a handful of equally poppy (though admittedly less psychedelic) records, the most recent of which being 2013’s Yes, It’s True.

Now, just in time for the band’s 15th anniversary, the band are embarking on a neat little tour: Every night, they’ll play through The Beginning Stages Of… in its entirety, plus a bunch of other “deep cuts and choice covers”, in the band’s words. You can expect this one to be a gloriously upbeat evening, and it’ll be worth the price of admission just to see how they handle the album’s slow-burning finale, “A Long Day”

You can check out the upcoming tour dates after the jump, and watch them covering Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” for The AV Club. For tickets to see the band’s Star Theater performance, head on over here!

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Episode 142: Good Cheer


Thanks to Blake Hickman and Mo Troper of Good Cheer Records for joining us this week! You can check it out above, or download it here.


  • Blake Hickman and Mo Troper of Good Cheer Records join us to talk about the challenges of starting a label, the foolishness of small pressings of vinyl, and the future of their label.


  • EL VY – “Return to the Moon (Political Song for Didi Bloome to Sing, with Crescendo)”
  • Sabonis – “More Time”
  • Royal Headache – “High”
  • Stone Temple Pilots – “Interstate Love Song”

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Episode 141: Major Label Debut


Thanks to Veronica Medici for joining us this week! You can listen above, and download this one right here.


  • Major labels
  • How did Veronica begin working with a major label?
  • How do majors compare to indie labels, in regards to artist communication and inner workings?
  • What is the role of a big label in the modern day?
  • How does streaming tie into the business of major label operations?
  • What direction is the music industry going in, and how can it be saved?


  • Rowdy Roddy Piper’s theme
  • Disclosure – “Latch (Ft. Sam Smith)”
  • Wilco – “Either Way”
  • Jason Isbell – “If It Takes a Lifetime”

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Episode 140: The Best of 2015 (So Far)


Thanks to Jordan Portlock for joining us this week! You can listen above, and download this one right here.


  • The best of the first half of 2015! We talk about our favorite records, favorite shows, biggest surprises – and disappointments.


  • Sleater-Kinney – “Price Tag”
  • Sorority Noise – “Corrigan”
  • Kendrick Lamar – “Mortal Man”
  • Beat Connection – “So Good”


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Episode 139: I Know It’s Over

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Thanks to Katy Hampton for joining us this week! You can check it out above, or download it here!


  • The Smiths and Morrissey!
  • We discuss our love and passion for The Smiths and Morrissey, the things that make both feel unique, our relationships with Morrissey (the person), and – as always – talk about how they’re never reuniting.


  • Wilco – “EKG”
  • The Smiths – “Rusholme Ruffians”
  • Morrissey – “Sing Your Life (KROQ Version”
  • Stiff Little Fingers – “Suspect Device”


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Project Pabst, Day 2

…and just like that, year two of Project Pabst is a wrap! Head over to our Facebook for photos of Weezer, Buzzcocks, Wild Ones, Passion Pit and much more – including some sweet views from the Ross Island Bridge (like this one!)

Weezer // Photo by Yousef Hatlani

Weezer // Photo by Yousef Hatlani

Project Pabst – Day 1

Day 1 of Project Pabst is in the bag! Head over to our Facebook for photos of all the festivities, including sets by Blondie, TV on the Radio, Run the Jewels, thee Oh Sees and more.

Blondie // Photo by Yousef Hatlani

Blondie // Photo by Yousef Hatlani

Episode 138: Project Pabst 2015!

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Thanks to Matt Slessler for joining us on this week’s show! You can check it out above, or download it right here!


  • Project Pabst!
  • How did the Project Pabst festival begin?
  • What goes into the booking of the festival? What the process look like from start to finish?
  • What could have been done differently the first year?
  • What does the festival’s future look like?


  • Maurice Jarre – “Lara’s Theme” (From Doctor Zhivago)
  • The Buzzcocks – “Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)”
  • Blondie – “Hanging on the Telephone”
  • Keiichi Suzuki – “Smiles & Tears” (From Earthbound)
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