Monday, August 22, 2011

Avengers, Jello pair up for some vintage punk at Seattle Soundfest Day One

Penelope Houston leads the Avengers through its Seattle set. (All Cat Rose photos)

By Andy and Cat

Penelope Houston dug down deep to bring her voice and poignant Avengers lyrics to life.

You could tell that her throat was hurting, but the veteran vocalist soldiered on. And with the help of backup singers Jello Biafra and Roxy Epoxy on stage and fans in the crowd, Houston was all smiles as the band rolled through its set last Friday night at Neumo's during the Seattle Soundfest.

Guitarist Greg Ingraham, Houston and bassist Joel Reader.

"We Are the One," "Second to None," "The American in Me," etc... Avengers fans know the drill and gladly welcome every second of these 34-year-old anthems that still give us a boost of confidence and energy rush today.

This is the second time in two years we've seen the band go full-bore in Seattle -- Houston's hometown -- and it's a far cry from Andy and friend Wayne playfully slam dancing to Houston's acoustic version of "Corpus Christi" at a festival in Mountain View, Calif., many years ago. We (Cat and Andy) also caught her acoustic set at Rough Trade Records on Haight Street in San Francisco around the same time.


Reader checks out the Neumo's scene.
 Jello time

With a slight limp in one leg, Biafra then took the stage with his Guantanamo School of Medicine and gave the slammers and stage divers free reign during the frenzied set. Songs like "Panic Land," "Victory Stinks" and "Dot Com Monte Carlo" were Biafra to a full in the politics/social commentary zone, and fit nicely with a few old Dead Kennedys tunes like "California Uber Alles" and more.

Jello Biafra goes for the crowd.

And forget that bum leg -- Biafra pogoed, twisted and turned all over the stage, and even dove into the sweating mass of fans during one song. Like back in '82 at the Barn (Alpine Village) in Torrance, Calif., the man with the mic didn't miss a word as he made his way through the pit for awhile and then back up on stage to finish the tune.
Biafra may have been a man of many garments -- first wearing a surgeon's smock with fake blood on it, then an American flag shirt, then a black shirt emblazoned with the word "Democracy" -- but he's the same old Jello, rocking with the band and talking current events, including praise for the freed West Memphis 3.

After Biafra, we headed over to the Funhouse to check out "punktry" band Drag the River, which featured just two fellows this go 'round: Jon Snodgrass and Chad Price. (We deemed the band Drag the Pond on this night because only half the band was present.) After a beer and Jello shot (not Biafra) for Carrie, a few tunes and greeting our friend Shawn and his wife, this exhausted duo was getting ready to leave, but were drawn back in by the top-notch "Medicine."

The mellow strains of Drag the River would be a massive contrast to what we experienced later during the three-day Soundfest. More to come, so hang tight.

Snodgrass and Price of Drag the River.

Reagan Youth rolled on before the Avengers.

Reagan Youth bassist Dave Manzullo.

This T-shirt at the Neumo's gig says it all!

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