Spotlight On Hazel's Pete Krebs

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

old

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

to

convince you he's telling a story without sacrificing the integrity of

the

singing.

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

or a

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.