V for Vendetta
w/Family Outing, the King Cobra, the Dark Places, Enemy Kite, Kremlin

Crocodile, Sun Dec 8, 8 pm, $7.

For the last few weeks, I've been questioning my sexuality. For a red-blooded American boy who, despite appearances, maintains a staunchly heterosexual stance, this question is more one of celibate intellectual and artistic pursuit than of passion or confusion. The reason for my befuddled identity crisis? My record collection. Although I realize the absurd premise behind this inner dialogue (the fact that the bulk of my musical purchases in the last few months have been produced by queer artists) should have nil bearing on my own propensity (nor, ideally, should this fact have any relevance whatsoever), I can't help but let the wheels spin. What does musical identity have to do with sexual orientation? Is there something specifically afoot, or am I just tired of heterosexuality?

Maybe I'm just a victim of all the propaganda; the past year has left our sleepy region saturated with queer-rock celebration. From Olympia's Homo a Gogo festival to Seattle's own Bent fest, the gays are starting to look like good company to hold. Bent's 2001 incarnation--a four-day autumnal queer-rock extravaganza straddling both the Crocodile and the Sit & Spin--was a tremendous artistic success by all accounts, with performances by such luminaries as the Butchies, Erase Errata, the Gossip, USAsexual, Tracy + the Plastics, the Chromatics, Pansy Division, and the Haggard. Supposedly the introduction of a yearly event, Bent has ever since seemed (publicly, at least) to lie dormant. And with the assault of Olympia's similarly themed (and in many ways more extensive) Homo a Gogo festival this past September, Bent finds itself in the precarious position of competitive expectation in the queer-rock race.

"When I initially found out about Homo a Gogo, I have to admit I was a bit jealous," confesses Frank Nieto, Crocodile publicist/booker and co-organizer of last year's Bent fest. "It was a mix of professional jealousy and fear that people would feel oversaturated with festivals and events of this kind. The idea was one I felt very personal about, and I felt as if I was being usurped. But the more things came to light with that festival, the more comfortable I became with it, and I soon became enamored with it (Olympia just seems cooler about stuff like that anyway)."

Initially intended for November of this year, the sophomore effort of the Bent squad (Nieto, local promoter/Sit & Spin booker Dave Meinert, and colleague Lindsay Marsak) met with scheduling and availability problems, and has been postponed until late June--just in time for Pride. Prospective performers remain under wraps, but the organizers plan to distribute talent among a number of additional venues, including the Experience Music Project and the Vera Project.

In the meantime, Nieto has begun Team Bent, a monthly concert series planned in the image of its ambitious elder sibling, on a smaller, more consistent scale. Singular, evening-long queer-rock shows will happen in lieu of the more extensive festival for now, keeping the Bent name afloat.

Team Bent's maiden voyage begins this Sunday in the familiar confines of the Crocodile Cafe, with a bevy of premium queer-centric acts on the accidental-conversion trail--including the show's initial catalyst, headliners V for Vendetta.

Propelled immeasurably by their association with the pedigree of Mr. Lady Records, the sharp Providence, Rhode Island dyke duo takes the familiar guitar-and-drums formula and compels it into an arithmetical soundscape set to the melody of breathy vocal delivery. And mathematics never sounded so pretty.

The evening of duos continues with the all-in-the-family flair of Family Outing, featuring queercore iconoclast Jody Bleyle (owner of Candy Ass Records and founding member of Team Dresch) and brother Allen (USAsexual, Necktie Party) in a schizophrenic stew of pop, punk, and folk. But the highlight of the evening is the King Cobra, the devastating twosome of Betsy Kwo (from Ibobuki) and Rachel Carns--whose criminally undercelebrated former band the Need was sonic persuasion enough to switch to the lavender team. Here playing their, oh, fourth show or so, the King Cobra plots a similar trajectory with a fresh metallic sheen. Rounding out the heaving lineup are local bands the Dark Places and Enemy Kite, with a three-way DJ set to boot.

"We're planning a lot for the coming months," says Nieto. "And ideally I'd like to take Bent to a much higher level. I'd love to collaborate with the folks of Shacked-Up and Pho Bang to pool our resources in some sort of Northwest queer-punk collective. The Pacific Northwest has so many great queer rock acts that something needs to happen."

Whether an essential platform for a queer performance community or another form of well-intentioned exclusion, Team Bent has my ear piqued; what comes of my wrist remains to be seen.

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