Review: Young Fresh Fellows Tribute Concert, 5/9/2004

This goes along as a package deal with last week’s Selected Memories of a Scott McCaughey Show From 7 Years Ago.  Why post concert reviews from almost a decade ago?  WHY NOT.  Where else are you gonna see ’em?  Nowhere, that’s where.


Kittysneezes: Bringing you yesterday’s concert news TODAY.


OK, sorry it’s taken me a little while, but I’m all rested or somethin’ so I can write now. Anyway, the show was awesome. They had copies of the tribute album, the poster, buttons and also a shirt (had the same design as the poster, the head with LLYFF, which my best friend commented should be unpacked not as “Long Live Young Fresh Fellows” but “Ladies Love Young Fresh Fellows”, mentioning that LL Cool J sort of had cornered the market on the whole “LL” construct. I have to admit he had a point, but I do stand behind both versions, as Ladies do Love (or at least should) the YFF, and I also want them to live forever. So, there you go. 

Anyway, the stage had 5 of the heads, with L L Y F F in the middle, which was kind of neat and gave sort of a They Might Be Giants vibe to the whole thing, heh. There were a handful of people in YFF shirts, and I thought they were very lucky, since I’d love to have a YFF shirt. The closest I have (aside from the shirt I bought then, of course) is a TMBG shirt drawn by Tad. But I currently am not sure where that is. 

We got there a little late, but only in terms of Doors Time. We didn’t actually miss anything at all show wise, so actually, I suppose we were right on time, which was pretty awesome. We all had enough time to buy stuff and stake out a place. Then the guy whose name I forget but is a DJ on KUOW came out to host the show. He did a pretty long but funny introduction of the Night Of The Fellows, talking about their big influence with such songs as “Put ‘Em On The Glass”. And then they came out.

This was the first time I’ve seen the Fellows, and it was really great. I think this might be a normal thing, as I’ve heard it referred to as the Wok, but Tad’s drumkit _fights back_. It’s AWESOME and hilarious. It’s a normal drum kit, with a sort of… springy-stick that has a cymbal mounted on top, and then below that is a hammered-flat metal bowl that sort of sounds like a cowbell (I am assuming this is the Wok, as it sorta looks like one, and not the whole setup). And when Tad’s playing the drums, the stick with the Wok on it is bouncing back and forth all over. I think Tad was pretty successful in avoiding getting hit, but he might have once or twice. But anyway, it’s a great idea. 

They played a really good, wide selection of songs. Someone in the audience kept shouting for “Rock ‘n’ Roll Pest Control”, which they didn’t play, but more on that later. Tad and Kurt had a really good sort of interplay going between songs. They’d do all sorts of hilarious routines, like the thing about Round Table Pizza, which didn’t really make a whole lot of sense (Tad, or T-Hut, was talking about how he’d been there that day and once a long time ago, and that they had pretty good pizza. On the other hand, Kurt hadn’t been there in years, and couldn’t remember. Erm, trust me — this was much funnier than it sounded), or the one where Tad was asking Kurt what to do if he wanted to dry his clothing. And Kurt said he’d answer his question musically, and the band went into the first two lines or so of Tobacco Road, only changed to “I was born, now you’re dead/all my clothes are hangin’ in the bank.” Then they’d stop, and try it again. Then they stopped, and moved it up to another key, and did it again, stopped, and then went into another song, which was That Letter.

Somewhere around here, Jim made a joke that the set was almost over and that there was only “that much beer” (as he held up his bottle) left in the set. Luckily, he was wrong, or he is very good at nursing beers, because there was still a pretty good stretch after that.

Also: near the middle of the set, Chuck came out! And he played with the band! And it was AWESOME. They played a lot of the earlier songs, including some I hadn’t expected them to do, like “Hank, Karen and Elvis” (one of my favorites) or “Big House” (Chuck’s first, IIRC). Lot of stuff from both Low Beat and This One’s For The Ladies, and once Chuck came out, Men Who Loved Music. Which was pretty cool. 

It was obvious that all of the Fellows were just having boats of fun on stage, which made the show even more great. That’s the coolest thing about seeing the Fellows and Related Bands is that every time I’ve seen any of them, it’s been obvious that they just really love playing and it comes through in the songs and the performances and just makes for a great show. 

After their set, it was time for the other bands to come out. It started with Chris Ballew from the Presidents, joined on stage by one of the other Presidents and Chuck. Before the set, Chris goes “Maestro, Please!” and nothing happens. And Chris says it again, and the guy at the board remembers to hit play on the tape, and he does and a tape rolls. It’s a bunch of sound effects, then, an announcer comes on and says something similar to the opening of FabSounds, though it’s about how being a drummer in the Young Fresh Fellows is about the best musical experience you can have, so they’ve assembled a bunch of bands for you to listen to tonight with drummers! Then Chris goes into the Rock’n’Roll Pest Control opening riff, and does the song pretty much solo with the drummer (all the bands used Tad’s kit, which I think was two-fold: 1) to pretend they were the Young Fresh Fellows Drummer as per the tape and 2) It’s a pain in the ass to take down and set up like fifty different drum kits) until the solo, when Chris shouts “GO CHUCK!” and Chuck moves (he’d been motionless before), plays the solo until Chris shouts “STOP CHUCK!” and he goes back to being motionless, until the end of the song, when he plays over the outro again. This was incredibly awesome.

So very awesome.

Next was Superfan, which featured Kurt, and we were beginning to wonder whether or not _all_ the bands would have at least one Fellow in them. (If you don’t want to read on: No, it was pretty much just these two.) They did a relatively long set, and were pretty cool. They did My Boyfriend’s In Killdozer, some other songs that were also cool and IIRC, of the more obscure stripe, and ended with “Your Truth, Our Lies”, which was incredibly awesome, because I love that song. Kurt was all talkin’ with a fake English Punk accent, and the word “bollocks” was a recurring theme. At the very end, he mentioned that contrary to what he’d said in the song, our views were _not_ bollocks, though, which was nice.

Combover was next, and they were OK. Dale didn’t like them that much, but I liked their version of Get Outta My Cave OK.

Then was Chicken Starship, which was… I don’t care, I think I was the only person in the club who dug them, but I did. They were goofy as hell, but they had sort of an odd earnestness that I had to salute. They did “When The Girls Get Here”, which sort of fit their Goofy-Dorky Vibe (and is one of my favorite YFF songs anyway, because it opens with “When the girls get here/we’ll talk about integrated circuits and things/just to show them all how smart we are”). Then they explained that at that night, the deal was that they were told that they could only do YFF songs, but that they weren’t a good enough band, so they could probably only learn one. And then the club said that they could also do an original song _about_ the Young Fresh Fellows, and so, Chicken Starship presented their song, “The Young Fresh Fellows Are Teen Crime Fighters”, which was about a ghost at an amusement park haunting and scaring everyone, so the YFF are called in, and dislodge the ghost through the thrilling powers of ROCK MUSIC (after their soundcheck), and the ghost falls from the ferris wheel (where he’d been haunting people at the time) and they went over, and it turned out to
be TV’s Jim Nabors. It was pretty awesome, and I still say that would have been a better cartoon than Scooby Doo, but, well, I hate Scooby Doo. And I love the Fellows. Anyway, if Chicken Starship turns out to be a real band and not just a one-off for this show, they should totally put “Young Fresh Fellows Are Teen Crime Fighters” on an album, and do a music video for it, because I think that’d be great.

The next band made a joke about Peter Buck having supposed to be with them but said something about him being there for the soundcheck where the rest of them weren’t, and therefore he couldn’t play with them. I don’t really remember much of their set, but I think it was pretty good. 

After that was the superband with Johnny Sangster, Conrad Uno and Emily Bishton, starting with “Take My Brain Away/Teenage Dogs In Trouble”, first part sung all slow by Emily, the second part sung all normal-speed by Conrad, and it was pretty keen. Then Conrad left the stage, I think, and the rest of the band did Unimaginable Zero Summer (which is a cool song), Hang Out Right (also cool) and Sharing Patrol Theme. (They were also joined by someone who was sort of dressed kinda like Prince; I heard someone mention that this was Jimmy Silva; I’m not certain if it was or not, though.)

There was a bit of downtime, and then Headache came out and did one song which I am forgetting what it was, but I am thinking it might have been one of Kurt’s? It was OK, though.

I Can Lick Any Son Of The Bitch In The House was awesome, though. They did two or three songs, all in that Country Rock Bar Band Kind Of Style, leading off with Hillbilly Drummer Girl, which they did a pretty cool arrangement of. They also did Deep, Down and In-Between, which was already pretty country to begin with, and I think if they did another song, it was one ofthe other ones that were already on the Country End of the spectrum, which was pretty cool, as the Fellows are good at those songs, and ICLASOBITH was good at playing them as if they were straight country songs. I’m not certain if I’d really dig them as much in a non-Fellows set, but I wouldn’t be adverse to seeing them.

Eric Kassel (joined with a bunch of other people including Walter From The Silos), did a few songs, including “My Friend Ringo”, starting out on an omnichord, which is an instrument I want (it looks sort of like a synth based on the look of an Autoharp) and leading to straightforward rock, sort of like how the song goes on record with the mellow->rock thing. It was really cool. Eric sang the first half of the set, and Walter sang the second half, although I have to admit that I didn’t really like Walter’s voice as much. They did “Love is a Beautiful Thing”, probably my favorite song from Low Beat, and got Scott and Jim up to do the backing vocals, which was awesome. They also did Family Gun, segueing into “Happiness Is A Warm Gun”. 

Also, an aside: I kept an eye on Scott throughout the show, and it was _awesome_ because you could tell that he was _really getting into it_. You got the impression that he actually really likes the songs as Songs. Like, if he weren’t a Young Fresh Fellow, they’d be his favorite band anyway. Which is always really cool, and he was just having a really good time. Kurt seemed to also be having a really good time as well. I couldn’t see Jim, Chuck or Tad though, so I don’t know how into it they were, but I assume they were completely rocking out as well, as that sort of seems to be the Fellows Way. Goodnaturedness, fun and a sense of Fair Play! 

The last band (or at least on the bill) was Black Panties, who did Rotation. I wasn’t as much of a fan of them, though. After that, they were joined by Rachel from Visqueen, and did “Still There’s Hope” segueing into “Go Your Own Way”, and… it was OK. They were my least favorite band on the bill, though. 

Then a few people left, and the Minus 5 took the stage and did three songs, Mr. Salamander’s Review, I’m Not Bitter, and then Whole Lot of Pappy, which was a new song. Then we left, and stood out side the club trying to figure out what we were going to do the next day, but the door opened, and we heard the band playing an encore, so we ducked back in and saw them do Eat at Home and Strychnine. It was pretty awesome. And I’m assuming they only did the one encore. I hope so, anyway. 

Anyway, though, it was such a good show and also rather tiring just because it was about 4 hours long. It was a night of rock, however, and rock is always magnificent.

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