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An Open Letter to the Capitol Hill Block Party: Book the Bad Things

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The Bad Things Photo by Tom Mohrman

Dear Capitol Hill Block Party,

You Need to Book the Bad Things. The thing with this band is that within three songs the crowd will be swaying side to side, by the fourth the dancing will be open and unashamed. Accordion front man Jimmy the Pickpocket leers at the crowd and sings with a captivating energy reminiscent of Shane MacGowan crossed with Frank Black. Seeing them at the Comet on Friday the thirteenth was proof that Seattle loves the Bad Things. You could feel the wooden dance floor move under your feet like a trampoline.

There were four bands on the bill Friday night, and not a bad one in the bunch. It was a night of neo-cabaret, or steam punk music. All of the bands had that vibe. (Read: bowler hats, corsets, accordions.) There were equal numbers of pirates, flappers, and Dickensian chimney sweeps in attendance. It was an extremely interesting and fun crowd.

Gunstreet Glory Photo by Tom Mohrman

Gunstreet Glory was the first act. Their lead singer has lots of dramatic flair. She’s at her best when it’s like she’s yelling at god. The band itself is like a Quaalude dipped in a David Lynch movie. They’re captivating, and surreal, and were a great way to start the night.

Bat Country was the second act. There were a lot of them. All of the acts on Friday’s bill had upright bass players. Theirs looked kind of like a prospector. Their lead singer really belts it out. He looked a little new wave, while the rest of the band was more early twentieth. It worked though. The best parts of their show for me were when the two ladies in the band were singing harmony parts. It was a touch of folk mixed into the set, just a touch, and it was real nice.

The third act was Bakelite 78. They were the band with the most commitment to the theme. Their costumes were spot on. While they were setting up there was a lot of talk back and forth with the sound guy. They had more instruments than microphones, and it was clear that there was some frustration on both sides. But once they got started it was all dancing and debauchery. There is something intrinsically sexy about the accordion. (There’s a sentence I bet you’ve never seen before.) It’s true though. It’s true. It was getting towards midnight at this point, and the audience was starting to make decisions about who was going home with whom. The Bad things were up next, and everyone was ready to dance.

The Bad Things Photo by Tom Mohrman

The Bad Things announced at this show that it’s been ten years that they’ve been together. It shows. They are effortless with each other on stage. There’s that ESP that you get after years in the trenches. They were the least costumed act of the night. They are honest, and their music speaks volumes of emotion. They’re at their best when they are manic, Jimmy the Pickpocket’s neck vein popping out as he puts it all into the mic. Their songs are as comfortable as sea shanties, but they sound fresh. There’s nothing automatic, or stale. They held sway with the crowd at the Comet. It was a room full of last call shots and people congratulating each other for being in the right bar on the right night. This band would be perfect a the block party. Are you still there? Book this band. Give them an indoor stage and let them shake the dust out of the walls. You can thank me after.