I'm writing this the morning after Guns N' Roses' appearance at the Everett Events Center and I'm happy to say I'm feeling entirely satisfied. It wasn't flawless or without embarrassing moments—opener "Welcome to the Jungle" was a little scattered and the lead guitarist made the idiotic choice to wear a curly black wig and top hat for the first few songs, an awkward costume that only emphasized the fact that he wasn't even in the same league as original guitarist Slash—but the rest of the two-hour-plus set was exhilarating. Axl's voice was in fine shape and he kept the emphasis where it needed to be: on Appetite for Destruction. He howled and growled his way through most of that record and cherry-picked the essentials off of everything else, including a sing-along–inducing version of "Patience" and a joyously bombastic rendition of "November Rain." Thanks to the kind ladies in the Suicide Girls (the deliciously depraved antiburlesque troupe opened the show and has been touring with G N' R for nearly three months), I was able to watch the entire thing side stage. Given the impressive length of the set and the strength of Axl's performance, it almost felt like he was deliberately trying to erase his reputation as an unreliable narcissist. Realistically, I doubt he truly gives a shit what anyone thinks of G N' R 4.0, but I was pleasantly surprised by what a great show it was.
At a time when unprecedented growing pains and the increasing stratification of wealth in this city threaten the sustainability of many independent businesses, the 10-year anniversary of Singles Going Steady is something to celebrate. The local record store will do just that on Friday, December 15, at the Funhouse, with a lovingly composed bill put together by owner Pete Genest. Portland's Absolute Rulers (a promising band that includes former members of the Diskords) will open the show, followed by Straightjacket (also from Portland), and the Tranzmitors. The latter are what Genest is most excited about. "The band contains two former New Town Animals and the guitarist from the Smugglers," he enthuses. "Although only playing local shows in Vancouver, there's a very big buzz on these guys in the punk underground." Endorsements coming from that man are valuable, given how committed he has remained to purveying the best garage, crust, Oi!, and hardcore since opening the Belltown store in 1996. "Singles hasn't changed much in the last 10 years," says Genest. "I am still a punk store leaning heavily on carrying lots of vinyl and maintaining a great selection of rare punk vinyl. The most satisfying things about running Singles is that I am still into music and get excited when I hear new bands."
It's certainly not a new band, but Jenn Ghetto's recent resurfacing with her band S. is a welcome return from the former Carissa's Wierd cofounder. Her unvarnished, highly intimate songwriting is both unsettling and enchanting, traits that make her the perfect match with Panda & Angel and the Cave Singers, who will join S. at the Crocodile on Thursday, December 14.
For me, the most important show this week is easily Ballard Calling on Saturday, December 16. It's the fourth installment in the Sunset's annual tradition of covering a classic double album from start to finish. This year's topic of London Calling will be tackled by more than a dozen local bands, including Saint Bushmills Choir, the Cops, Llama, the Tripwires, Sgt Major, and Optimus Rhyme (you don't want to miss their hiphop version of "Guns of Brixton," trust me). I'm a dedicated Clash fan already, but I'd be there regardless, because proceeds from the show will go to the Jasmine Ball Memorial Fund. Jasmine was the most important little girl in my life, and an incredibly radiant and talented child who died tragically and suddenly at the age of 11 this summer. Because she was so heavily involved with music and the performing arts, the fund has been established to provide scholarships and endowments for Mariah Art School, a progressive academic institution in Olympia that Jasmine attended, and Seattle Children's Theatre, where she often performed. The loss of Jasmine is immeasurable, but I can think of no better way to honor her than with the music of a band who exemplified her spirit in so many ways.