An evening of fantastic northwest rock and roll that almost no one saw.
Opener: King Ropes
Example #276 why you show up and see the openers if you don’t know them. King Ropes, a 4-piece from Bozeman that plays straight up rock n roll, was a very pleasant surprise. Theirs is that tried and true quiet/loud/quiet brand of rock complete with exquisite guitars and drumming, and it sounded great. Subject matter included having rocks thrown at you, levitation/flying, and an ultra-relatable (?) tale of driving through Wyoming in a windstorm, laughing and drinking and nearly being blown off of the road. Long live King Ropes!
Opener: The Phets
These dudes are young. When I arrived just as King Ropes was warming up there were exactly eight people in the “crowd”. I thought that the three excited, dancing kids might be musicians, and I was right – it was The Phets. Their lead singer has a definite thing for Alex Turner’s vocal style (who doesn’t?) and it is not subtle. At their best, they were reminiscent of his band’s (I’m talking Arctic Monkeys for the non-cool kids) terrific early punk-influenced work. Either way, he does have a great voice and these Phets have plenty of talent and energy.
Headliner: Chris King & the Gutterballs
These slacker rockers from Seattle (via northern California) are one of my favorite finds of the last couple of years (thanks Treefort). Their business card which I grabbed while buying a killer shirt at their merch table says they play “twang garage music”, and that is as good a description as I can come up with. Vintage-stoner country-rock? Nope, their description is better. But hey, they clearly do like bowling…
No matter what you want to call their music, it is quite a listen, and they’ve never been better than on their 2019 release Painwaves. We were treated to several tracks from that album, including “Heaven’s Gate”, “Time Takes All”, “The River”, “The Door”, and the spaced out beauty of “Goin’ On My Own”. That latter was a crowd request towards the end of the set (not just me, someone else blurted it out at about the same time as me and since there were only about 30 people there, he had no choice but to oblige).
Chris was clearly having a blast and doing what he loves, and their throwback sound combined with stage presence and energy for days made for a very fun hour. Chris started the set by asking the crowd “what the fuck is up everybody” (perfect, just perfect) and thanked us for coming, claiming we were the largest crowd they had seen in over a week. During their fourth song he invited the crowd to come onstage (with the caveat “just don’t step on my shit”), and many obliged. I had jelly legs from a half-marathon that morning, or I’m just getting old (both?), so I lived vicariously through these shenanigans.
Setlist (as best as I could):
Time Takes All
“New song about being on the road too long” –How Far We’ve Come (title guess)
Stories of Me
New Song (the actual title, not a new song, heh)
Goin’ on My Own
Movin’ Like Mike