Rock School, the documentary about the East Coast's School of Rock Music, showed at SIFF last week, presenting the story of how one insane teacher (Paul Green) uses classic rock-from Sabbath to Zappa-to give youngsters the conﬁdence to jam the fuck out. In support of the ﬁlm, Green and some of his students also came to Seattle last week to play Neumo's. And while I wholeheartedly support the idea of teaching kids to play music through the music they like, watching the Rock Music teens perform live was... odd. They spent hours covering classic rock songs and Radiohead, a disappointing move since it would've been interesting to see what new ideas all that creative energy was fostering. Or maybe I'm just spoiled in the Northwest. We have young bands like Smoosh, the Wild Hairs, and the Mechanical Dolls, all of whom play original music and are more than a couple birthdays short of a bar ID. That's not to mention the Vera Project's music education series, the annual Sound Off! competition focusing on the underage crowd, and Portland's Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls. Seattle boasts a strong network of professionals and kids working together to boost the conﬁdence of the next generation of bands, without an instructor taking center stage and swearing like a sailor, and without movies touting our local all-ages music scene (although I'm thinking we deﬁnitely deserve one at this point). Okay, so now that I'm an asshole for not being ﬂoored by the School of Rock Music talent show, I will offer some highlights from the night: Rock School's duets with Heart's Ann Wilson and Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, both of whom added extra energy to the performance (Vedder really is one of Seattle's most prominent goodwill music ambassadors). And the band did display a great deal of effort-they show skills beyond their teenage years, so here's hoping they eventually channel that passion into something beyond revisiting "Rock Lobster."
Pearl Jam members make another SIFF-related appearance this week-not in person, but in another documentary, Malfunkshun: The Andrew Wood Story. The movie chronicles the life of a singer who lived and died long before I moved here-Malfunkshun/Mother Love Bone's Andrew Wood, who played in bands with future members of Pearl Jam-but who obviously left a strong impression before his overdose in 1990. Whatever your interest in local music, the ﬁlm does an excellent job of telling the moving story of an entertainer for whom showmanship and eccentricity were king. Wood's life is narrated through interviews with such famous friends as Chris Cornell, Stone Gossard, Jack Endino, Jeff Ament, and others, as well as though old interview footage and stories from loved ones. Collectively, they create a portrait of a musician passionate about music but set on an uncontrollable path of self-destructive behavior. The opening sequence narrated by Wood's father and the ﬁnal statements from his teary-eyed mother-as well as Cornell's memories of Wood's last hours in the hospital-are incredibly sad, but the overall mood is more a celebration of Wood's contributions to Seattle music history. Malfunkshun plays Saturday, June 4, at the Neptune and Thursday, June 9, at EMP.
I recently stopped by Capitol Hill's best little everything-goes bar, the Crescent, for Gaybash, the new club night that hits the second Thursday of the month (the next one is June 9). The party rotates various guest and regular DJs spinning rock, hiphop, and nostalgia-inducing pop with "impromptu performances" from Pho Bang's Ursula Android and Jackie Hell. "The idea was to really put on a dance night with a completely homemade house-party feel about it," says Android. "Both Pho Bang and Comeback started out that way, but as a night grows, the audience's expectations start to factor in more and more. We wanted to do a night that was completely ours, with no pressure to please a large, diverse crowd. It's deﬁnitely anti-elitist and anti-'cool.' I think our motto is, 'Dress to embarrass.'" Android also told me there's a real live Pho Bang doubleheader happening the weekend of June 18. Stay tuned for more details.
Speaking of club nights, though, I'm craving a good one to hit that shows depth and breadth in both DJs and in selection of underground music styles-a night that's not necessarily rock or electro-based, and ideally not on Capitol Hill. If you've got suggestions along those lines, by all means, shoot me an e-mail. A good dance night off the beaten path can be tough to ﬁnd.
TV hounds: Keep your peepers set to cable channel 77/29 on Wednesday, June 8, at 7 pm for the next installation of Seattle's best underground music show, Live Eye TV. This episode includes footage of/interviews with Erase Errata, the Ruby Doe, and Guitar Wolf, as well as a new video from the Catch. ■