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Harvey Danger: Nice and Angry, Just like Seattle

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In preface to this review I will say that I am a HUGE Harvey Danger fan. I know all the words to all the songs and never miss a show unless I am out of the country. Sean Nelson is one of my top friends on MySpace, I offer to buy friends tickets to their shows and I routinely listen to their albums the whole way through.

Which made last night the Triple Door just perfect. The band kicked off their two-day celebration of the ten-year anniversary of the release of “Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone?” by playing the album the whole way through, and then they kicked down some rare B-sides, a real treat for the real fans in the crowd. Never one to plan too far in advance, I showed up at the box office of the Triple Door at 6:30 PM and bought a standing-room only ticket, then was pleasantly surprised to be led down to the seat as close to stage right as possible when I returned for Harvey Danger at 8:45. True, I could not see the drummer at all, but for a last-minute ticket, I was stoked to be so close to the band. I always enjoy watching band members interact with each other, plus all the disorganized, spur-of-the-moment fans go into the standing-room only section at the Triple Door which makes it the bounciest, most lively section of the venue.

That isn’t saying much. The Triple Door is an awesome space with great sound, but you can’t really call it rock and roll. This venue does not wear black leather or get drunk and break lamps. It sips wine like a classy French woman and takes little bites of egg pastries. I love the combo of food and music that the Triple Door provides, but I do prefer to see Harvey Danger jam at venues like the South Lake Union Block Party, the Redhook Brewery, or Neumo’s so that I can dance. Last night’s show at the dinner theater was the most intimate and solemn of any of their shows I have seen. It was serious. The fans were serious, and emotions were running high.

If you have never listened to a Harvey Danger album while you are going through a breakup, you need to. Did you just get dumped by a jerk? Go to Harvey Danger’s website and download their latest album, Little By Little, for free. Press play on your Ipod and don’t look back; blast it and cry and scream along with Sean. It was obvious last night that much of the audience had done just that; perhaps it was the combination of rich food and alcohol and a set list of slower, really emotive songs that don’t usually get played, but there was a palpable feeling of heartbreak in the air. The negative space of the Triple Door was filled up with feelings of forever lost and thoughts of pissed-off lovers. Harvey Danger fans have broken hearts. I know I wasn’t the only one in the crowd who had tears come to her eyes during the show; now that is ART, people.

Harvey Danger, you say? That band with that song? Yes, and they are so much more. Harvey Danger is so Seattle; Just like our city, you meet them and they are polite, nice, smart, and geeky. The official ladies room banter included the comment “Sean’s so cute when he smiles, I just want to hug his head.” Harvey Danger are loveable nerds in suits and slacks with carnation boutonnieres and floppy hair; they have been rocking dork-chique long before Napoleon ever caught anyone a delicious bass. They read books. They play multiple instruments. They sing of shitty studio apartments and a single strand of Christmas lights held up in the drywall with a thumbtack (best Christmas-sucks imagery ever).

But underneath the polite exterior of the band, an anger rages, a deep, dark, gritty current of unrest and dissatisfaction. Remind you of a certain city? Behind the amiable waves of drivers, under the progressive tolerance of crackheads telling bad jokes and beneath the no-please-you-first-I-insist facade is a very angry city. Seattle yells “jump!” at people on bridges, Seattle spits on floors at clubs, Seattle wears a lot of black eyeliner. I love Seattle for this juxtaposition, and Harvey Danger is one manifestation of this beautiful incongruency. Nice and angry.

And they manifest again tonight. The show yesterday was the best one for the hard core fans; I went to hear the B-sides that rarely or never get performed. For tonight’s lineup Harvey Danger will play through their other two albums, King James Version and Little By Little; this will be a better bet for those of you newbies contemplating a Harvey Danger experience. Much of the crowd from yesterday will return tonight; but don’t let their smiles and happy faces fool you. Under the polite veneer, a seething anger rages in their hearts. Nice and angry, just like Seattle- and just the way I like it.