I feel bad for taking my wife to this show. She’s as big of a music fan as I am; when we met in Seattle, she worked at the greatest record store of all time, Fallout Records, and her record collection practically dwarfs mine in both size and coolness. Yet she’s not a “record collector” like myself. I’m stupid over records; I will rush over to Amoeba whenever my buddy Rob text messages me about the arrival of a new release. I did that last weekend with the new Unnatural Helpers album, a CD release that only the coolest of the Seattle ex-patriots in the Bay Area would know about. But I couldn’t take the risk of someone buying it out and ran to Amoeba immediately.
My ilk was in full force at the Wooden Shjips show. The first band, the Nothing People, played to a half-full venue, which is sad ’cause record collectors all over would’ve appreciated their heavy-psych garage tunes full of reverb and acid. Admittedly, their live show was akin to watching a record spin on its player, but the songs were there, nonetheless.
When the Wooden Shjips took the stage, the venue was standing-room only, and that room was in the very back. Record nerds were everywhere, including Agony Shorthand/Detailed Twang’s Jay Hinman and the owner of Anopheles records, who I heard discussing his efforts to re-release Debris’ “Static Disposal” (!).
Three minutes into their first 10-song, about three feet of space cleared out in front of the stage. The 4-piece didn’t have huge amps, but they managed to produce a massive sound that reverberated at every frequency (and I know; I had to deal with the recordings). People talk about the “wall-of-sound” effect, but the Wooden Shjips recreate the Wall of China with their set.
Loud is always good, but the one thing that seemed to lose people’s interest in the band was the length of the jams. It wasn’t your Phish-style jam, the kind that runs on for hours it and sounds like the band agreed to noodle as much as possible, with their level of success being determined by the number of hippie-women with flowing hair and clothes that dance like they are swimming. No, it was much noisier and heavier. They were just long jams that changed little, which is why people like my wife grew seriously bored during the Shjips set.
But I and the other 70 record nerds in attendance found the real life “wall-of’sound” to be impressive. Through every song my head nodded slightly, and that’s a sign of approval from me and most San Franciscans. Wooden Shjips: mission accomplished.
Here are three of the four songs. I would’ve posted all four, but during the third song, “Death is not your friend,” I fixed a microphone issue: I turned my mic on. Sadly, because I had been recording on high levels to compensate for the fact that the mic wasn’t on, when I did turn it on, it blew out everything. Sorry.
Don’t forget to click on the photo above to watch a slideshow of pics I took during the show.
PS- My wife Lily and I left before the last band, Residual Echoes, and I’m sad I did. I would’ve loved to record them. My band Red Nurse played with them in a bus the following Saturday and during their set I thought for a second, “This could be my new favorite band.” Apparently they used to be psych rock and now they sound exactly like a mix of early Dinosaur Jr. and Husker Du. I expect that they’ll hear those comparisons a lot, especially since the singer/guitarist looks just like Lou Barlow. They have a new record with this material coming out soon on (Ebullition?) records and I highly suggest picking it up.
***Update*** Message straight from the Residual Echoes: “It’s an EP about 24 minutes, being released on cd on a new label called ‘Elevation’ run by this guy joe greenwald in detroit. it should be out in a month or so.” Also, the Holy Mountain exec told me the Wooden Shjips album should be coming out in late August.