This was more of a party than a show; a bizarre and joyous evening with The Hand and their friends.
First Opener: Nude Oil
These local guys played some metal and hard rock but also mixed in a few ska-infused songs for good measure. Their lead man joked a few times about the opportunity to screw up, and they were clearly excited to have the chance to open on this night.
Next Opener: Guardians of Virginity
Where, oh where, to begin? These guys can play rock music, no doubt, but they do NOT take themselves seriously. As soon as they walked out with their matching coveralls (complete with different colors around the cut-off shoulders) they had our attention. As in, what are these clowns doing? Well, they are entertaining, that’s what they are doing. Their set opened with a “band meeting” around the drum kit, which finished with them playing the opening chords to their first song. Throughout their 40 minutes they played a heavy dose of metal-adjacent rock, but also mixed in humor, polka, ska, and a Troy McClure reference (“you may remember me from such films as…”). Yes this was a hoot, although they aren’t going to find themselves playing arenas anytime soon.
Headliner: The Hand
Scot Schmaljohn is far from a household name, but he is a sort of cult legend in the pacific northwest rock scene. As a founding member of Treepeople, and now with his band The Hand, he has been blasting out guitar-rock for well over two decades. Yet, when you talk to him you get the feeling he still acts the same as he did at the beginning of the journey- and when you see him onstage, his hunger and drive is obviously still there.
Along with James Johnson on bass and Cody Roy on the kit, he brought us an hour of relentless and fun rock n’ roll with guitar attacks for days. He may never be as talented at songwriting or vocal delivery as his friend and former bandmate Doug Martsch (whom he thanked on the liner notes of their last record Find A Reason), but there is no doubt that Scott is a musician worth seeing. I was surprised that only about 60 people were in attendance on this album release party, but maybe I shouldn’t be – Scott is very unassuming, and literally never even mentioned their new album during the performance.
After a few songs, Scott brought out a grocery bag that contained a brand new element to the live show: a hand-made stuffed animal/toy/puppet/I dunno “hand” that sat atop a mic stand for the rest of the set. Scott seemed giddy about it, and hey, why not? This was their night, and they made the most of it, regardless of how many CDs they sold. Long live genuinely talented musicians, and long live local rock.