Neon Panda
Thurs Jan 31 at I-Spy.

When people stand up onstage and play rock and roll, I get really bratty and I want everything but I rarely get it. That's what I was thinking at one point during last Thursday's Neon Panda show at I-Spy. I was thinking that the band is great; that singer Corinne Sweeney's got a kick-ass voice, which she's smart enough to refrain from overusing but invested enough to use a whole lot. A friend I went with said Sweeney's voice reminded her of Penelope Houston from the Avengers, which is funny because from a distance Sweeney actually looks like Penelope Houston, spiky, bleached-blond hair and all.

I was thinking that guitarist Sarah Utter is a good player, and scary to boot--sneering and insular, she knows she's got chops and is cooler than you are. Likewise I was thinking that Kelly Chambers is a talented bass player; that her interplay with both Utter and ace drummer Natalie Cox was strong and sharp; that Neon Panda's overall sound was well constructed. More metal than punk. My friend called this one, too: Neon Panda is half-Oly/half-rocker. Like the Gits or 7 Year Bitch.

But let's get into that: I only saw 7 Year Bitch once, a long time ago, and I loved the show. Selene Vigil's voice kicked my ass (much the way Mia Zapata's would have, and yes, the way Sweeney's did at times on Thursday). But it was 7 Year Bitch's spastic, gut-level energy that really moved me, and I think I would have liked Neon Panda's show for many of the same reasons if Panda's members hadn't been as reserved as they were. No one freaked out. They played heavy music, scowled, thanked us, and left.

But welcome to Seattle, opening act, 2002. Fifty static figures stare lifelessly while you play the rock. I bet that if you pack a small room full of excited people and let Neon Panda play its heart out, the band will kick your teeth in.