There was numerical balance in last Friday night’s garage rock mini-fest at Seattle’s Funhouse club: four bands on the bill, two local and two from elsewhere, represented as a duo, trio, quartet, and quintet. I had one camera and two lenses, and also had three beers, and “Schoolhouse Rock” says three is the magic number. The mysterious beauty of math set aside, Seattle’s Lovetan and the Apollos, Indiana’s TV Ghost, and Miami-based headliners the Jacuzzi Boys offered up surprisingly-varied takes on the venerable garage genre, and most thoroughly rocked out the Funhouse.

The Apollos are five Seattle University students who continue on the great and honorable tradition of the garage, which is youths getting together to play loud guitar-based three-chord rock n’ roll, drink beer, and have an outrageous amount of fun. They are the band you’d want to play at your raucous house party, and they’d probably break a lamp or something, but then totally apologize and go to clean it up. A little musically ragged here and there on the edges, sure, but it’s kinda charming. Bless you, my children...we worship at the same Kinks-y cool altar.

Lovetan was up next, a duo (Matthew Ford on drums/vocals and Craig Chambers on guitar/vocals) with some local history (ex-Factums, The Lights, Le Sang Song, Intelligence). After the slop-rock of the Apollos (that’s not a cut, in my book), Lovetan was distinctly more minimal and edgy. It took me a few songs into their set for me to switch over and warm up to them, but I did, and appreciated their weirdness and precision sludge. Somewhere in the Pine Barrens, Lovetan drinks grain alcohol with Robert Johnson, The Fall, and a mangy ex-circus bear, and it all makes sense.

The first thing I thought of when I saw TV Ghost set up was, “That’s Ian McCulloch’s hair from 1982!” and indeed I heard Echo and the Bunnymen in their sound, with strong Lux Interior channeling via manic dramarama frontman/guitarist Tim Gick. Indeed, he put on such a wild performance that he almost overshadowed the music, which was definitely taken from the darker side of ‘80s New Wave and garage punk, a mix of heady reverb, sinewy melodies, and metal machine music. TV Ghost provided the push the crowd was looking for to get their skinny bodies moving to some hypnotic craziness.

And then…the sun came out. Not literally – it was like a million o’clock at night by then – but the Jacuzzi Boys bring it with them wherever they go, and not in any slick yucky Anita Bryant/Disney way, either. The garage gleams gold from this Florida trio, who bring a slammin’ surf vibe straight from the beach to Your Local Club, without visions of Speedos or Snooki, thank god. It’s a unique blend they have: goofy without being silly, sing-a-long without being lightweight, thoroughly punk and totally pop. The group barreled through their set, which I think was the shortest of the night, and the girls came out of the woodwork or the bathroom or wherever they were hiding to pogo along with the floor’s bro-fest. It might say something about the band and their fans that twice I had girls apologize profusely for spilling beer or bumping into me while I was shooting. No problem, I said…rock on, ladies. 

Lead singer Gabriel Alcala was cracking me up with his song introductions: “This one is about cake,” “This one is about mermaids,” and when he said, “This one goes out to Marianne,” I smiled the biggest smile ever and said, “Oh! Thank you!” They then tore into a loud and gloriously rockin’ version of “Vizcaya,” my favorite song off of their latest album on local label Hardly Art, “Glazin’” (and the one I made a little YouTubefan video for, hence the dedication nod). Three was the magic number, again, because tres Jacuzzi Boys made everyone smile and dance at the Funhouse. I’m still singing “Coral Girls! Coral Girls!” around the house days later.

Wait a minute, honey, I’m gonna add it up…four bands = one great, inspiring, sweaty evening, and you can take that to the Funbank.