Monday, July 27, 2015

True inspiration: Stiff Little Fingers give fans a boost

Stiff Little Fingers in Seattle: Jake Burns, top, Ali McMordie below. (ALL ANDY PHOTOS)

(The following piece flowed easily after being inspired by Stiff Little Fingers' raucous gig last Saturday at El Corazon in Seattle.)

By Andy

When my big brother's friend came over to our house with a stack full of albums under his arm in 1981, everything changed.

The Stiff Little Fingers records, "Inflammable Material" and "Nobody's Heroes," immediately caught my attention, and once I placed the needle on the vinyl, I was introduced to my new favorite band. I remembered hearing a few of the tracks on Rodney Bingenheimer's radio show in Los Angeles, but never caught the name of the band. Now I knew. And Jake Burns' gravely and yet melodic voice has never been far from my ears over the last 34 years.

SLF is all about raw passion, emotion and solid songs that can both fuel your anger and leave you with a smile on your face. You will find yourself wanting to punch walls or even dance around the room. It's about being human. It's life.

When listening to SLF, then and now, we've learned about screwed-up world issues (and shook our heads in a chorus of disapproval), but also given insight into how people deal with personal relationships, which can sputter out or give you the courage to stand up and shout.

SLF has attacked those topics with crackling rage and honesty: A style and edge that drew me into their world ... and I wasn't going away.

They were and are a band that you want everyone to know about. You need this band in your life.

At least that's what I think because they've been an uplifting force for me and those who have joined me along for the ride, including my wife Cat, who is also an ardent fan.

If a band had a secret handshake amongst fans, SLF would be the one. The people who are drawn to them are dedicated and spread the word like wildfire. When you see someone wearing an SLF shirt or hear them talking about the band, it's like a magnet pulls you in their direction. You go with the flow and know that people feel the same way you do. It's a prestigious club to be part of.

One night after a party in Santa Barbara, a friend and myself sat inebriated on a curb and listened to someone blasting "Nobody's Heroes" out of their second-story window. I knew the album front to back, of course, but you can't pass up that situation, right? When will that ever happen again... at least being on the receiving end of an SLF stereo barrage? I knocked on the door to get the fan's attention, and even shouted up to the window, but didn't connect with them on a personal level. In essence, the connection was already made. Victory.

It was hit and miss trying to get people into SLF in high school in the early 1980s. Those who knew about punk were won over instantly, but every once in a while I'd take a chance and try and get some new wave or rock friends into the mix. Once at a party, I slipped "Inflammable Material" into a friend's tape deck, but SLF didn't make it past a few songs and was replaced by Ozzy or Def Leppard -- damn! I also made an SLF tape for another friend, who liked a few of the "Now Then..." songs, but not the harder-edged earlier tunes. Another triumph, but I wanted the girl to appreciate the entire catalogue. Oh, well, you give it a shot and hope for the best, right?

And that's really what SLF is all about for me: Making the most of life, gaining friendships and knowledge along the way. You road-trip it a few hundred miles to see SLF, not just to rock out, but to be with family, friends and other SLF fans. We're all linked.

On Saturday night in Seattle, some people were seeing SLF for the first time and others were marking another killer set to add to their SLF experiences from the early 1980s onward. We all stood together side by side and raised our voices and fists in the air. Another memorable night.

Cheers and hanx, SLF!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Fu Manchu: Kings of the Road storm Seattle

Fu Manchu's Scott Hill and Bob Balch rip Seattle a new one. (ALL CAT ROSE PHOTOS)

By Bill Tuck

This was my third time seeing Fu Manchu in the last three years, first time in Seattle.

Holy shit!

They destroyed Neumos and then some. Playing a nice variety of songs in their first set last Saturday, including the killer cover of Blue Oyster Cult’s classic "Godzilla," which they do justice to in so many ways (dare I say it’s better than the original?).

The second set was the entire "King of the Road" album. The crowd went nuts and rightfully so. Talking to another fan in the audience who was completely psyched to see them do this album in its entirety and they did not disappoint. The set ended with a cover of  Devo’s "Freedom of Choice." This in particular held a lot of meaning for me because Devo was my gateway into the world of punk rock. My aunt gave me an 8-track tape of "Freedom of Choice" for my 14th birthday in the summer of 1980 and I never looked back. This struck a chord with me because I suspect Scott Hill got into punk by way of Devo, both of us being heavy duty music fanatics and turning each other on to great music and bands over the last 30+ years. It was the icing on the cake for an amazing night of killer music and friendship.

Another connection is that Andy, Cat and I have traveled in the same circles over the last 30+ years (all of us being at many of the same shows together without knowing each other way back when), but did not connect until one fateful post about Corrosion of Conformity on Facebook three years ago, which has since spawned a great friendship with them both. Always a honor to be in their company.

Lastly, it’s really awesome to see a band that channels Black Flag, Bl'ast! and SSD but maintains their own sound in the process. Fu Manchu carry the torch and do it very well. I left the show feeling inspired.

(More text and photos below)

Balch, top, then Scott Reeder and Brad Davis.

By Tim and Beth Ramage

Every time I play Fu Manchu in my car, I quickly find myself driving at excessive speeds and taking more risks than necessary. Fu Manchu takes total control of my vehicle and I find myself having to keep my “loss of control” in check. As a true fan, seeing them perform onstage takes this energy to another level of experience. This Fu Manchu-fueled energy has to manifest somewhere. Once again, I find myself at the mercy of Fu Manchu, translating the riffs and stories into seemingly involuntary movements like a marionette puppet with its strings caught in the highly active gear shift. There is no way anyone can stand still at their shows.

Seeing them play two entire sets, one right after the other with a 10-minute break in between, was a pleasant surprise. Their energy did not let up one ounce. Fu Manchu stomped the pedal to the metal so fast as they took the stage, it would have even given the statues of Easter Island whiplash. We were scorched with old and new tunes. It was great to hear songs off their older albums as well as crowd favorites like Blue Oyster Cult’s “Godzilla.” Their encore presentation of ‘King of the Road’ in its entirety felt so damn good.

For more photos, visit

Saturday, July 18, 2015

#adolescentsweirdos 2015

Weirdos, top, Adolescents below. (All Cat Rose photos)

A Dangerhouse on fire.

That was the scene on Wednesday night when the Adolescents and the Weirdos headlined a raucous punk affair at El Corazon in Seattle. Moral Crux and Die Nasty rounded out the bill that was a perfect stay-cation outing for us here at There's Something Hard in There.

It was a gig of many moods -- and certainly everyone in the place was moved in one way or another.

Killer old songs and new songs. Joy. Anger. A boot to the head by a stagediver or a playful slap on the back to a friend when a favorite song was played. Smiles. Scowls. Inspiring stories of perseverance from band members from the stage or messed-up stories of social injustice that many of the songs railed against.

A memorable gig and a learning experience for all.

Here's Cat Rose's photos: