My Inebriated Journey
Screaming Females at the Palace Flophouse
By Garrett Bekemeyer
The night began with the purchasing of two bottles of Johnny Bootlegger and a pack of cigarettes, followed by a hasty drive to the Eastside fueled by Little Big Town singing to our caravan the tales of being born and raised in the boondocks. We arrived at the Palace Flophouse with little trouble, showing up at the reasonably estimated show time of 8:45. Facebook said 8. An even more reasonable guess would have been midnight. The show started at 9:30.
I downed the Bootleggers, threw down five bucks, and headed in.
Kicking the show off were the local darlings Pines, risen as a phoenix from the currently inactive Olympia band Margy Pepper. Pines sounds like what pop-punk would be if pop-punk was actually the fusing of pop and punk music. Those familiar with Margy Pepper can assume how fucking good Pines are, as they are carrying on in roughly the same vein, still containing two out of three members. This slight line-up rearrangement brings just enough freshness to their well-crafted sound. Each bit of jangly chord, crooned voice, and spot-on drum beat pounded into the hearts of the audience. Something about Pines stirs up such pangs of regret, but hopes for everything working out in the end. I also really felt like I needed a beer.
So I chugged a beer chased by two cigarettes and then it was time for the next band, the Mona Reels, an apparent Olympia staple that I had somehow never caught before now. The band leader, Peter, has been keeping this project going for a long while, since the turn of the millenium, with an always changing roster backing them up. The current incarnation was as tight and groovy as all hell. It’s kind of like if maybe Britpop was never an English thing and was actually from Olympia, but more like Ben Folds Five. But maybe actually nothing like that. I heard the word “freegan” slipped into some lyrics and I was hooked. All the lyrics sung had a young but honest air about them and went over well with my slowly increasing inebriated state.
The crowd seemed into these local champs, but no one was getting down with the groove and I was a little bummed because I thought these acts were slaying it. I drank another beer and joined my friends in the yard as we pondered the intent behind “All Summer Long” by Kid Rock. But alas, there was not enough time in the world, and the first touring band was ready to take the stage.
I had no sort of inkling as to what the next band was going to be like. PUJOL was their name and they hailed from Nashville. I knew they were the band I needed to see when their drummer revealed himself to be wearing a skeleton-print morph suit. If you’re like me and want every song by every band to end in a flurry of guitar solos, then PUJOL is for sure the band for you. I could see some people weren’t too into it, and that might have been because of the full-of-themselves-bro-like vibe they projected. But I did not give a single shit. They knew that’s how they sounded and they nailed it. The kind of band whose only banter is saying what the name of their song is and maybe a slightly questionable dad joke. I don’t know, it’s like if the dudes from FIDLAR grew up in Tennessee and not California, with just a little more country twang. You could totally feel why they were on tour with Screaming Females as well, which at this point, everyone was really gearing up to see.
But before that happened, I found myself led to my friend’s parked car where we shotgunned beer to the sweet tune of “Rockstar” by Nickleback blasting from the radio. Was I just super pumped from the intense groovings of grade-A buttrock? No, I was pumped because all the bands that played this night kick ass. And the most ass-kicking of them all was up next. But first, I smoked three cigarettes.
I was a little bummed when I found my way to the basement to learn I had missed some impromptu stand up, but I was too drunk to really care, and was ready to have my face shredded to hell. I’d consider the Screaming Females one of my favorite bands, though I admit I can’t name a single song title of the top of my head, so I couldn’t tell you what their set was loaded with, really. But the point is, it fucking ruled. These guys have been doing their thing for a while and they still slay. It’s just straight-up, in-your-face punk and roll. They come from the land of New Brunswick, New Jersey, and on this tour, they were touting a new single. I’ve heard a lot of people call Marissa, the leader of the group, either the best female guitar player or at least their favorite. That’s a phrase that pisses me off because I have never heard anyone apply that phrase to male musicians. But that’s slightly beside the point, because she fucking kills it. The riffs wail and screech, and her voice howls along perfectly. I honestly was more impressed by her vocal work than her guitar playing. However, I was more impressed by the other members of the band holding it down. The bassist in particular was laying down such solid lines I could fill it rattling the beer in my belly. They kept the set short and sweet.
I would say the show calmed down when it was over, but it was honestly pretty underwhelmingly tame of a night. There were a few booties shaking here and there, but the energy of the crowd, I felt, really lowered the quality of the show. Palace Flophouse is one of those incredibly courteous spaces where personal boundaries are enforced at shows. I am all for this and believe safe show spaces should be a god damn requirement, but there is a line between respecting everyone’s space bubbles and being able to express yourself at a show. Maybe everyone will figure it out someday. Until then, I will nod my head furiously and wiggle my drunk butt back and forth in every basement of every punk house in Olympia. Forever.