The crazy-ass windstorm that blasted through the Pacific Northwest this past weekend decided, FOR ONCE, not to knock out my electricity nor impede my mobility! Furthermore, said storm calmed its bad self down by Sunday, and I was off to see a fabulous sold-out triple-bill at The Crocodile in Belltown starring California post-punk rave-up get-down maniacs Thee Oh Sees and locals Steal Shit Do Drugs and Smiling. To be fair, even if the windstorm had been in full force I think I would've swam across Lake Washington with a ducky float to get there, 'cause you don't miss the Oh Sees when they come to town. You just don't.

First up, hardcore locals Smiling tore through their set with not one second of loitering about, no chatting about holidays in Cabo or Capitol Hill micro-condos, nothing but down-to-business thrash, which was good and proper and yes. Of particular note was their drummer, who I believe is part-hummingbird/part-industrial wood chipper/part-genius. Watch the video and you'll understand.

I love Steal Shit Do Drugs. Their songs stick in my head like a smudged-ink word hangover, repeating messages of what happens we have too much, or too little, or can't even tell one from the other. You won't find a more compelling frontman than Kennedy Carda, nor a more relevant band. 

Unfortunately, I missed most of SSDD's set since I was tagged and slated for demolition by the club for not having a photo wristband, which I did receive with kind assistance from the excellent Elaine Grabicki who intervened on my behalf, and who was not boiling and fuming as I was and therefore more effective. 

Anyway, what I did see was superb.

After I was examined for structural defects and mold and deemed fit to move freely about the club, I was able to enjoy the excellent work of DJs Dazzleshits and Xeroid, who both have excellent musical taste and combined could easily conquer the world. They are also just terribly good-looking humans.

I was really struggling down at the front of the stage to get even a single shot (I am short and it was jam-packed by Oh Sees time) and the view spots in the balcony were already taken. Here's where heroes Pete Capponi of SSDD and Shaina from the Croc swooped in to save the day, and beckoned me over to the side to climb up the darkened stairs to photograph from behind the backstage curtain. This is like giving a cool glass of ice water to a crawling desert nomad, and was so very appreciated.

When I last saw the band at the Crocodile in December 2014, the personnel changes had been profound -- only vocalist/guitarist/songwriter John Dwyer remained from a long-lasting and beloved lineup, and Nick Murray and Tim Hellman came on board, drums and bass respectively. This time, John and Tim remain, and Ryan Motinho and Dan Rincon are in place as dual drummers. I gotta say, I really, really like this -- I liked when the Oh Sees had Mike Shoun and Lars Finberg doubling up the drums for about a year, too. It better matches Dwyer's jaw-dropping energy and giant sound, and delivers a primal heavy backbeat that is irresistible. 

The best thing to watching a show from the wings is seeing the reactions from the crowd, which is a very different feeling than when you are in it. You see the waves of energy spread and morph, the beatific sweaty superfans braving the shoves and elbows and flung beer at the front, the smiles and cheers when a favorite song explodes from the stage. You can see why musicians put up with the bullshit that they do to be able to experience this.

I had a blast.

Thank you again Elaine, Pete, Shaina, Kitty Page, and all love sent to Smiling, SSDD, and the ever-amazing Thee Oh Sees!