ATN Seattle Correspondent Matthew Amster
reports: Punk rock can
be hard work sometimes. The litany of power chords and
half-beats can't entertain a growing musician forever. When the
going gets tough, the tough go acoustic.
At least, that's what's been happening all this week, as Portland
punkers Elliott Smith (of Heatmiser) and Pete Krebs (of Sub Pop
artist Hazel) played a series of solo acoustic shows around Seattle.
I caught them on Friday at a free show at the University of
Washington's student union.
The twenty-something Krebs, who looks a bit like the guy on the
Encyclopedia Britannica commercial, came out suitably attired in
a Sub Pop t-shirt. Bucking the night's shoe-gazing trend, Krebs
sang up-tempo, twisted folk ditties that straddled the line separating
and new. One memorable song, which musically brought to mind the
Violent Femmes, concerned a young girl who hangs herself because
she can't be with the one she loves. Not a new idea, but Krebs'
baritone suited the tune well--there's just enough bass in his voice
convince you he's telling a story without sacrificing the integrity of
Between tales of love and loss, the guitarist joked with the
audience. "Sometimes I just sit at home and do this all day," he
said of tuning his guitar. Krebs is no slouch on that guitar,
either. He plays a mean blues, and unlike the night's other
artists, he can sing and play at the same time without reverting
to a simple strum. One of his most likable tunes was "Euphoria,"
which he played while Elliot Smith set up his equipment. Not
really a euphoric number, the song came off like a piano rag
arranged for guitar.
Krebs recently toured the country with the critically-acclaimed Hazel,
and only time will tell whether his solo work represents a diversion
new career direction.
Heatmiser's Smith gave a soporific performance, all drugs, pain,
and death, and the show was opened by the equally uninspiring
Birddog and Eric Jay Friedman, who sang about nothing
comprehensible (the former) and how summer camp really sucked
(the latter). Smith is affable enough, and a competent
guitarist, but I didn't care for his whiny vocals or his end-of-
the-world outlook. Each song seemed slower than the next, and
Smith kept checking his watch--evidently he couldn't wait to get
out of there.
Pete Krebs' solo record is called Brigadier (Caroline
Records). Check it out--he's definitely one to watch.