I finished out my trio of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club shows last night, this one on local turf at the Showbox at the Market in Seattle. It's the sister club to the Showbox SODO where I saw Ray Davies in July, and I again I was impressed with the quality of the place and the nice folks that work there. I guess over the years after being in so many filthy venues with surly pinhead staff it is now always a nice surprise to find somewhere that is run well. And that has toilet paper in the bathroom.

I came in early to get a good spot in line, found there was no line yet, so I could grab a bite to eat in their little basement cafe/bar. An ice water and a turkey melt with fries was my Rock Dinner. It was the perfect amount of food, I noticed -- not too big of a sandwich, and only six or so big steak fries. I appreciated this and the club's clear intent on offering value without supersizing my stomach before a show. Or maybe they are cheap, I don't know, but it was good. Time to get in line now.

You know you are back in Seattle with a crowd as diverse as the one that surrounded me at the Showbox. There were boys wearing BRMC t-shirts that could not possibly be 21 years old, no way, no how, with scrubby brush hair and baby skin. It made me think of my early club days, when I had THE WORLD'S WORST fake I.D. that I ordered from an ad in the back of CREEM Magazine when I was 15. It had absolutely no resemblance to a real Wisconsin I.D., just a state flag plastered on it and my blurry child face staring out, trying to look mature. But it worked, mainly I think because the legal drinking age was 18, and no one actually cared all that much. I bet the kids' fake I.D.'s are SO much better now. Progress!

There were old bald guys and their mom-jeaned spouses, pretty young things in boots and miniskirts, serious-looking alternadudes with scruffy beards and all in black. There were two impeccably-groomed young gay men who were so thin as to disappear when you looked at them from the side. There was a hulking transgendered person in a cheetah-print dress, alone, clomping around on giant heels. There were giant portly dudes who said, "man" a lot. Lots of 20s/30s young white bright eyed fans. A blonde girl in a tight black silk Chinese dress who fascinatingly walked on the total outside of her stiletto boots, and I have no idea how she was able to do that without breaking her ankle. A kid that was talking to his buddies how he's still gonna party when he gets old -- 35 -- someday.

Ah, but what did I see when I hurried to make my way up to the front of the stage? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! Oh, man. One of the Classic Rock Sights I hadn't seen for awhile: The Gaggle of Drunken Women Fans. Oh oh oh oh. This became obvious to me standing behind them, as they made everyone aware this was Their Spot, Their Show, and I knew how it would go. It reminded me of when I was a teenager and attended some shows where Cynthia Plaster Caster and her Chicago buds were ruling the roost; you've seen something like this in the movie "Almost Famous," just that in the movie all the groupies were young and good-looking. So they cackled away, loud and braying, hugging each other with flappy arms, oblivious, taking pictures of themselves even when the bands were on! I noticed the painful reality that the view the bands would have if they dared to look at the stage front, was a line of women in their 30s/40s, with crappy hair, glasses, not hot in any way, and this seemed unfair, and I actually laughed standing there as I counted myself in that as well. It's not easy being a rockstar sometimes.

One of the women turned around and made a comment about the Kings Of Leon t-shirt a nice young guy from Everett was wearing. Her voice was scarily similar to my dreaded Safeway Customer Service Girl, high and drawn out, with odd upward inflections. Her entire point to getting his attention was to ask if he had the leak to their new album, and to brag that she did, when he said no. As she spoke and he asked some questions, I realized HA!, she doesn't have it at all! She couldn't mention a single song title, other than "Sex On Fire," which has already been officially released, and the only thing she could say about it over and over, was that it was "amaaaaaaaaaaaaazing." She kept implying that she had some kind of "in" that she had the album and couldn't possibly tell where she got it. Ma'am, I call bullshit on you, and I'd bet a hunnerd bucks and a Demonoid invite I am right.

A three-piece band called Hazelwood Motel opened, with a sad-faced blonde bearded guy on a weedy Epiphone guitar, a quiet young plain-faced woman on synth, and a drummer who clearly played percussion in his high school band (who else would use tympani mallets and bells?). He was good-looking and the Gaggle upfront waved and yelled at him throughout their set. He was good-natured about it, although declined to give one of them his "BRMC - SUPPORT" pass plastered on his shirt when she loudly asked for it, during their set. They certainly were not the worst opening act I have ever heard, but were thoroughly unremarkable, with the only spark of life coming from the drummer. It was hard to tell what compelled them to write and perform music. Sorry.

BRMC arrived onstage with a roar of delight from the crowd, missing them after a year's absence. They tore right into their set, and it built beautifully, with great power and energy, throwing in some lesser-played songs like "Salvation" along with fan-favorites "Six Barrel Shotgun," "Berlin," "Weapon Of Choice," "Spread Your Love." It was hot, and it didn't take long before my hair was wet, and sweat ran down my back, but that is all rock and roll and such, and at least I didn't smell bad. I cursed the Gaggle's stupid waving blarby arms that kept getting in the way of my camera. Feh.

My only complaint on BRMC's wonderful show was that they included a very long acoustic set, with Peter and Robert taking solo turns. I truly like hearing a range of material from them, not just the harder stuff, but it surprises me that with their experience they do not see how this stops the flow of the show cold. People get restless, start talking, go to the bar, go to the bathroom, and the energy is lost. Robert's choice of singing Bob Dylan's "Visions of Johanna" is curious, and truthfully seems indulgent -- an exercise in showing off his voice and that he can remember what seems like 30 minutes of dense lyrics lost on a crowd that is not prepped to actually hear it in that context. I thought they did not regain that enthusiasm from the crowd, fully, after that, not quite. It seemed that Leah the drummer struggled afterwards, lost her timing on one song, made some clear mistakes, and seemed exhausted. I felt bad for her and wanted to give her a drink of my water.

But let me make it totally clear, I had a wonderful time, again, and felt lucky to see the band, and would feel lucky to see them again if they played the Showbox tonight. They have something, some kind of "it" factor that I think is felt, and I hope they continue on to have the kind of artistic and remunerative success they desire. I can't wait to hear what they do next.

After an encore, I walked as quickly as I could over the plastic cups thrown to the floor over to the bar at the side, and ordered two bottled waters. The bartender said "Four bucks," I tossed him a five, he smiled and said "Cheers, babe, have a great night!" and I downed one of those suckers in seconds flat.