The Voodoo Glowskulls Crash Land in Seattle Again, This Time With a New Lead Singer, by Holly Homan

On Sunday October first I was nce again faced with two great acts playing Seattle on the same night. I sacrificed Billy Bragg to see the Voodoo Glowskulls and four other bands ranging from hard core punk to danceable ska. There are 365 days in a year. You’d think the punk rock gods wouldn’t schedule two great acts on the same night and cause me such dilemma. Sorry, Billy. Next time.

The Voodoo Glowskulls are now minus their lead singer and founding member Frank Casillas. He retired last June but the rest of the band wanted to continue so they found Efram Schulz (former lead singer and founding member of Death by Stereo.

The band hit the stage with Shoot the Moon and Efram wearing a devil with a Mohawk mask. He was all over that stage, often leaning into the sparse crowd to rile them up. He ran about, often jumping or running in place. He stripped off the mask after about four or five songs. About half way through he jumped onto the dance floor and danced with audience members, sometimes putting his arms around him. There was a little boy about seven years old in the audience and he picked him up, spun him around, before placing him back down and returning to the stage. The look on the boy’s face was sheer elation.

Other songs included Insubordination and Charlie Brown (A cover of the old Coasters’ song) and Efram stuck the mic into the audience, letting everyone yell the line, Why’s everybody always pickin’ on me? This whole band expends tons of energy on stage but mostly let Efram ham it up and ham it up he did. They have an incredible horn section (Eric Fazzini (SKAzzini) on sax and Jose Pazsoldan on trombone). Considering the Skulls’ music is very fast and loud, their skill was nothing short of amazing. This goes for the other members as well. Eddie Casillas – guitar and brother Jorge Casillas – bass guitar, played fast and furious yet barely broke a sweat. A.J. Condosta slammed away like a crazed lunatic, but still looked like he just finished a photo shoot for the cover of Gentleman’s Quarterly.
This was one wild night and though Frank was missed (this may have been one of the reasons the concert was so sparsely attended), Efram brought a whole new dynamic to the band and a fun time was had by all.

Playing before VGS was one of my favorite Seattle ska bands, It Gets Worse. It Gets Worse also went through personnel changes this summer and I wasn’t sure I would like them as well now that their charismatic singer Chelsea and guitarist and founding member Eric Stallard left the band. Suffice to say, my fears did not come to fruition and It Gets Worse has not gotten worse. They added a keyboard player (Ryan Mays) and his brother Tyler took over on lead guitar. Bass player James Sweazea was his usual class clown self and performed all lead vocals with the others singing harmony. James emoted and generally hammed it up, particularly on their final song, Iron Lung. The highlight had to be when the horn section (Andrew Adams- Trombone, Frank Smith- Tenor Saxophone, Peter Fink – Trombone and Sam Trowbridge- Trumpet) leaped off the stage and marched in a circle encompassing the entire dance floor. JR Sorrells kept the beat going on drums. As I said, It Gets Worse hasn’t gotten worse.

Prior to It Gets Worse was another Seattle band, Burn Burn Burn. These guys were wild! Their front man wore blue plastic rimmed sunglasses, which he shed about half way through their set. He staggered and strutted about the stage, shouting unintelligibly into the mic, which he often swung about on its cord. Other band members crashed and banged into each other and the entire band could have opened their own sauna with all the sweat they produced. They were a lot of fun.

Another favorite of mine, Simple Minded Symphony played prior to Burn Burn Burn. I call them the baby band because they ARE so young. These guys may be young but they know how to play music. This leads me to believe that they must have slunk from the womb all playing their respective instruments and probably practiced in the same crib, the same preschool, etc. They are that good. Besides their prowess in playing music, they ooze charm, particularly bassist/vocalist Kevin Silveira. Kaine Benson – Guitar, wore a Gilligan hat the entire time (for those of you old enough to remember the show Gilligan’s Island). Their music ranged from smooth and flowing to upbeat and danceable and their stage act is 100 percent charm. I always enjoy seeing them. The rest of Simple Minded Symphony consists of, Josh Servania – Drums, Cymbals, Jason Kincy – Alto Saxophone, Clarinet, Backing Vocals, Caleb Fox – Trombone, Patrick Maxwell – Trumpet, Josh Willey – Trumpet, and Sean Potocsnak – Tenor Saxophone, Flute.

The Famished opened the night. This Seattle quartet was one I’d never seen nor heard of, but I was very impressed with their performance. Vocalist Walker White was fascinating as he strutted and staggered about the stage, growling and screaming into the mic. Their drummer (Chris Sorensen) looked like Santa Clause vacationing in Hawaii and never seemed to break a sweat despite the band’s hard driving sound. Their bass player (Jake Carden) resembled a young Jimmy Page. Add Ethan Overton on guitar and what emerged was some hard core punk to some more pop punk sounds. I hope these guys play around town some more. I really enjoyed their set.

In one way I was glad the show was sparsely attended as I didn’t get slammed into the stage or into other concert goers. I needed time to recover from the night before. But those who stayed home missed a really fun show.

– All photos property of Holly Homan, all rights reserved.

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