On March 19 Seattle once again hosted a rousing fun night of (mostly) ska bands, this time at the Tractor Tavern. The headliners were the recently reformed Save Ferris. The only original member is lead singer/front woman Monique (Moe) Powell and she entered the stage after the rest of the band started playing. And what an entrance she made! She came on stage all charisma and oozing sex appeal which she played up constantly as she belted out songs with her gutsy but smooth voice. When she wasn’t singing and even when she was, she bounced and twisted about the stage almost non-stop. The overwhelming and loud cheers of appreciation actually brought Monique to tears she was so touched by the admiration. But said admiration was justly deserved. As big a powerhouse as Monique was, she was being backed by some damned fine musicians and they were almost as cute as she was. The horn section (Mathias-Sax, Connor McElwain-Trumpet) performed lively dance moves, often choreographed, while drummer Brandon Dickert slammed the skins like a maniac yet never seemed to break a sweat nor have a single hair fall out of place. Bass player Gordon Bash switched from bass guitar to stand up bass, which he proceeded to perform acrobats on. Meanwhile guitarist extraordinaire Patrick Ferguson drove the sound with grinding chords and a few twangs as well.
About half way through the show, Monique stripped off her tight knit sweater in a tantalizing strip tease that riled the crowd, and revealed a checker board pattern knit halter top. When they performed their song Goodbye there wasn’t a still body in the sold-out venue.
For the encore Monique returned, this time wearing head to toe spandex including an all black strapless top. Again there wasn’t a still body in the house. My one disappointment was the lack of a second encore though it was listed on the set list. They were supposed to play Spam during a second encore. The set list said so. How could they not play Spam? Why, Save Ferris, why? All joking aside, this was a fun, well put on show. Monique Powell knows how to tantalize an audience and I am positive everyone had a great time.
Preceding Save Ferris was a California outfit calling themselves Vista Kicks. This young and absolutely adorable quartet played a mix of musical styles none of which were ska. They stressed from the get go they weren’t a ska band. This in no way diminished their appeal. Each pair of this quartet wore matching outfits. Guitarist Sam and bass player Trevor wore identical denim jackets, blue jeans and matching white Chuck Taylors while drummer Nolan and singer/keyboardist Derek wore matching leather jackets, black turtlenecks and black jeans. They also wore the same matching white Chuck Taylors. Vista Kicks is a new band but you wouldn’t know this by their musical ability. These four young men are superb musicians and were very much at ease in front of an audience. Derek looked very much like a late sixties/early seventies John Lennon and the fact he wore John Lennon specs only accentuated this. Sam and Trevor wore haircuts that also harkened back to the early seventies reminding me of the haircuts I saw when I followed bands like ELP and Bad Finger among others. Musically there were elements of disco (but quality disco) complete with falsetto vocals and even some psychedelia. There were definite retro overtones but with a very modern twist. I recommend Vista Kicks very highly and recommend anyone go see them while they’re still playing small venues. You won’t be disappointed.
Starting off the whole evening was Seattle’s own It Gets Worse. Going to see nationally known ska bands now almost guarantees It Gets Worse is on the bill and this is a treat to look forward to. Suffice to say, they still AREN’T getting worse. I have watched this band for a couple of years now and have seen them evolve into the tight knit fun band they are today. The addition of vocalist Chelsea Crispin not only adds to the music but adds to the charisma. This time many of the band members sported quirky attire. Bass player and vocalist James Sweazea wore large white square rimmed plastic sunglasses and a cool black hat. Trombonist Andrew Adams (also known as the Brassquatch) wore a large fur hat with horns sticking out of it. Trumpeter Sam Trowbridge looked like a school boy in black shorts, a striped shirt and a yellow floppy hat you’d expect to find on a toddler. The onstage antics and costumes this band comes out with only adds to the entertainment. Their stage personas don’t at all detract from the superb musicianship offered up by this band. When their set was over I overheard a few people nearby enthusiastically proclaiming how good they were. The rest of It Gets Worse is, JR Sorrells- Drums, Eric Stallard- Lead Guitar , Trombone, Frank Smith- Tenor Saxophone, Peter Fink – Trombone, and Michael Turner Anderson, (MTA)- Baritone Saxophone.
I will be on a high from this show for a long time.
– Photos property of Holly Homan, all rights reserved.