As I prepared to write this post, I thought this: of all the concerts I've been to -- hundreds? a thousand maybe? -- none were more important than this very one, held at the Highline in Seattle last Thursday night. Our little music community here, this lovely, amazing bunch of garage punk freaks and geeks, came together to celebrate a warrior by putting together a partytime-excellent show of her favorite local bands. I don't use the term "warrior" lightly -- Betsy Hansen in her fight against cancer has shown such optimism, bravery, and strength that she deserves medals, fields of flowers, and poet laureate odes. What she and her equally-mighty husband Johnny Samra never deserved were an avalanche of medical bills so overwhelming that the couple have now closed their wonderful place of business (Radar Hair and Records), and soon will sell their home as well. Brian Foss, former owner of legendary punk dive The Funhouse and DJ of KEXP's equally-megapunk "Sonic Reducer" program, thought that a grand way to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Sonic Reducer would be to generously join in on the benefit show. And so it came to be!

(poster by Derek Erdman, who is donating the sale all of his artwork currently displayed at Radar to Betsy and Johnny!)

Family obligations had me arriving late to the Highline, so I'm sorry to have missed Deep Creep, and just caught the very end of Unnatural Helpers' set -- always fun, in that way of wanting to semi-pogo and then spill your beer on someone and then apologize while actually continuing to spill the beer on the person. Yeah, like that, without also smelling too bad.

(Click on the photos to enlarge and click on the Flickr set links to see more!)

Unnatural Helpers, Highline, Seattle 5/1/14 Flicker set

Next up were my dear wimps! This trio of sprightly grandmothers really set toes a-tappin' with their gentle folk tunes about taking the wrong pills, being cranky all the time, and napping. Only part of my last sentence is true, and all of this sentence is true. wimps' latest recording, "Party At The Wrong Time," is currently available on 7" vinyl, magic electrical download, and wax cylinder. Most of that last sentence is true.

wimps, Highline, Seattle 5/1/14 Flickr set

Something pretty special was next on the bill: a reunion of the Fe Fi Fo Fums, with Johnny Samra himself on bass! The delightfully Lo-Fi 'Fums offered up a classic set of their best mouth-droolin', hip-shakin' garage tunes, and seemed happy as clams to be playing again. Are clams happy? What is that all about? Who can assess the happiness of a bivalve mollusk? In any case, assuming clams are essentially friggin' JOYOUS, it was nothing less then heart-exploding wonderful to see Betsy rocking out at the front of the stage in her chair with Johnny up on the stage.

Fe Fi Fo Fums, Highline, Seattle 5/1/14 Flickr set

To close out the sweaty dance mania, Seattle's own groovy garage party punk supergroup Coconut Coolouts took the stage with their several hundred members, along with one rather brave drummer who donned the infamous Coolout "banana suit." Multicolored balloons flew through the air, and the crowd had just the best time, when everyone is there and smiling and everything is good and will stay good forever, you know?

Coconut Coolouts, Highline, Seattle, 5/1/14 Flickr set

A few days before the show, I was doing my regular rounds at the thrift store when I saw a tall trophy of a winged golden woman sitting on the shelf of assorted knick-knacks. When I picked it up I noticed it had no inscription; there was no way of knowing who once owned it, or what she had been awarded. I smiled, and put it in my shopping cart. On the day of the show, I borrowed a black Sharpie from my friend Kitty and wrote this on its marble base:

"To Betsy: Who won everything, despite everything."

Unexpectedly, Johnny Samra called me up onstage to say a few words and read the inscription to Betsy. He then gave the little thrift store trophy to Betsy as the room cheered for her, a warrior, never more beautiful. I left the stage and went backstage by myself, bawled like a baby for five minutes, and then went back to the party, dancing and smiling, glad for us all to be together.

Thank you to Brian Foss, KEXP, the Highline, all the bands, all the attendees, and everyone else who helped make this happen. If you would like to contribute to Betsy and Johnny's fund, you may click HERE to make a donation.