STRANGERCROMBIE WINNER! This article was bought-and-paid-for in The Stranger’s annual charity auction—which this year raised more than $50,000 for the Seattle nonprofit Treehouse, helping foster kids since 1988. Thank you, everybody!

Super Geek League certainly aren't the first band to be kicked off the Warped Tour, but they might be the only one ever booted due to the misuse of a two-pound mackerel. (Led Zeppelin, recall, were way before Warped Tour's time.)

Sponsored
Pacific Northwest Ballet’s The Nutcracker is Back Onstage at McCaw Hall! Tickets start at $27.
Join PNB for a timeless tale of holiday adventure performed by PNB’s amazing dancers and orchestra.

"We actually got thrown off the first date we were there, due to all of our antics," says bandleader Floyd McFeely. "It kind of got out of hand a little bit. You know, the kids just started throwing projectiles, some things went awry, and they ended up unplugging us 15 minutes into our set and closing us down.

"What happened was, for one of our acts, this dirty old priest goes into the audience and gives an offering of fish and crackers. Well, somehow the fish got out there into the audience's hands, and the next thing you know, we're being bombarded by these two-pound mackerels flying through the air that had been cooking in the sun all day.

"That was in Boise, and we were supposed to have two more dates," McFeely continues. "Fortunately, we kissed enough ass that they said they'd see about letting us play the next day at the Gorge if we cleaned up all our shit and helped them break down and move all the gear, which we did. We really didn't know if we were playing the next day until we unloaded and helped them set up stages, and they were like, 'Okay, here's a list of things you cannot do: no water, no live animals, no dead animals, no food of any kind.' So we had to change our show on the fly, and we actually did pretty well. By the third day, in Portland, we drew a good crowd and got an encore. So it was a travesty, and we kind of turned it around and made it a positive experience."

This was in 2006, just a couple years after McFeely, along with multi-instrumentalist Knuckles and drummer Gil Chowder, first formed the band. "It started as an air-guitar band, really as performance art," says McFeely. "We had four or five people performing while an iPod played original material that I recorded at home."

The band gradually became bigger and bigger, musicians came and went, and the stage productions grew more and more elaborate. Currently, the League consist of nine musicians—P-Word on bass, Evad on guitar, Vy Agra on vocals, Sheesh and Sunshine Applebeard on horns, and on theremin Barry McCockner (aka SGL cofinancier and former Strangercrombie high bidder/cover boy, millionaire Ben Exworthy)—and usually around a total of 20 stage performers.

"We've developed a kind of love/hate relationship with a lot of venues," says McFeely. "But we've been doing it now consistently, at the Showboxes and Neumos, and we know what works and what doesn't. We work with the production people, we clean up after ourselves, and we keep it a positive vibe. But that's definitely come through trial and error. We've done a lot of stupid shit, too. You learn, like, 'Okay, no human cake [a baked good that involves a man in a cake in a shopping cart, with just the man's head sticking out], because people will pick it up and throw it, and it'll get into the monitors.' Nothing that can really damage the club—that's the key."

The Warped Tour, says McFeely, encouraged the band to "kind of [get] our shit together, so to speak," to really perfect the stage show and get the music "up to the point of rehearsing and releasing albums."

The band's first album was a highly conceptual affair. "I wrote this long story, 'The History of the World According to SGL,'" says McFeely. "It was a narrative about this world, the City of Deformity, and the Legion of Mutations versus the Super Geek League, and the Legion of the Underworld, and all these characters. They all had their little subplots, and the characters would all do battle amongst each other in this imaginary world, which was hallucinated by the Contemplative Dwarf, who was hooked up to the Hallucination Engine. So, I had this whole mythology, and the first album was based on all that."

But as the band grew and matured, that mythology played itself out, according to McFeely. "[The new album] is a lot more sincere from a songwriting standpoint. I'm singing about things that are more dear and true on a personal level. But we always try to maintain the frenetic live experience."

About the live experience: At a recent Friday night at Neumos (a "scaled-down" show for the League, at a "smaller venue"), it begins with a man in a red ringmaster's suit roaming the crowd, yelling, "Time for the show," and, presumably in response to some heckle, "I can dress how I want—it's Capitol Hill!"

A dozen or so people take the stage, most wearing shiny silver jumpsuits (which later light up with Tron-style neon lines). Some, such as the horn section, have evil clown makeup; others, like the guitarists, have big, foamy anime-style hair. The horn section, who wear sombreros over their death's head face paint, giving them the appearance of a Day of the Dead mariachi band, plays a cavalry "charge," and the band launch into their first song. Within 30 seconds, a blast of confetti, shot out of cannons powered by pressurized oxygen tanks on one side of the stage, fills the room. Confetti chokes the air throughout the night, first multicolored ticker tape, then shiny Mylar, then white, falling like snow, covering every inch of the floor, landing in drinks, and going down the back of my shirt. ("We spend $750 per show on confetti," says Exworthy. "Just confetti.")

The first song must be seven or eight minutes long, or else it's a suite of songs that flows together so smoothly, shifting into a half-time breakdown midway through, as to seem like just one. The music itself is a mix of cartoonishly extreme metal, hardcore grind, alt-rock balladry, and ska. (McFeely cites as influences: "Everything from Korn to Slipknot to Marilyn Manson to Chicago to Zappa to, obviously, Devo," as well as Stevie Wonder and Funkadelic—"the younger guys in the band are into Dillinger Escape Plan.") The vocals are alternately screamed, either Cookie-Monster low or shrieking helium high, and kind of rapped by one of the many guys in the band, or else delivered diva-style, operatic over all the instrumental chaos, by the band's lone female musician, singer Vy Agra, whose silver spacesuit is just slightly more snugly fit than her male counterparts' (imagine Tina Turner abducted by retro-campy aliens).

She is not the only woman onstage, though, as she's frequently flanked by a pair of burlesque-style dancers who move in sultry slow motion through a variety of scenes and costumes. One dancer comes out wearing a contorted mask, a cotton-candy wig, and a tutu, spraying whipped topping out of a can onto a paper plate and then scooping it up with her fingers and feeding it to eager audience members. Later, she's wearing a kind of wedding dress (the kind that the father of the bride would probably frown upon). Still later, she's dressed in all black and cat glasses, spanking the other dancer with a spindly black paddle.

A skinny, shirtless man wearing suspenders and a gnome mask (one of the G-Nomes, according to McFeely) is helping a midget dressed as a leprechaun to hoist a rod twice the midget's height. On the end of the rod is a spool of toilet paper. At first the toilet paper falls off, and the leprechaun and the gnome fumble to reattach it, but once it's properly secured, a fan attached to the contraption (a leaf blower?) propels the toilet paper roll, sending streamers of the stuff out over the audience. This thing is a high-school vice principal's worst nightmare.

There's a guy in an Elvis costume. There's a guy with a big mustache and flight goggles. There's McCockner, in the back, playing theremin, wearing an old-man mask and the black robes of a priest.

The band break into a ballad whose guitars sound a bit like the dulcet alternative tones of late-era Red Hot Chili Peppers. The singer is howling, "Oh, oh, I go..." ("home"?—hard to tell), and it's some serious "Under the Bridge" climax/catharsis.

The man in the red suit is suddenly back in the crowd, followed by two guys wearing big, shapelessly floppy, plush white costumes, like snowballs or molars with holes cut out for faces and limbs. One of these guys in white has a suitcase, emblazoned "SGL," from which he produces bags of white, floury powder, which the man in red scoops onto his face by the handful, eyes bulging excitedly, huffing and puffing and blowing clouds of the stuff into people's faces. Onstage, a guy is wearing a big foamy devil mask, and the devil is wearing giant 3-D shades and wielding a plastic pitchfork. McCockner runs into the crowd, offering the banned-by-Warped-Tour fish-and-cracker communion to audience members, and then slapping each recipient on the face with a fish. Now there are two devils onstage, and one of them is perched on the shoulders of the gnome (who looks a little like an evil Santa) and wielding a squirt gun.

An eight-bit synthesizer sounds out a familiar three-note progression, and—oh my fucking god!—the band are covering "What You Know" by T.I., three of the scary clowns rapping while Agra sings backup vocals and the two dancers writhe rhythmically at the front of the stage. It is, to say the very least, a singular performance.

Someone, in a British accent, commands the crowd to "bring [their] hands forth," so that the band may "set sail upon the sea of disease." When the fans raise their hands, the elderly priest dives off the stage to crowd-surf. The band are playing and chanting, "Jump, motherfucker, jump," as various members of the troupe repeatedly dive into the sea, at one point with an inflatable crocodile as a surfboard. Next, pillows are tossed to the crowd for a ritual pillow fight, which audience members take to with an amount of wicked enthusiasm that makes even pillows seem dangerous. There is a birthday dedication, so the band plays a slap-bass-aided version of the chorus of 50 Cent's "In Da Club" ("go, shorty/it's your birthday...").

Support The Stranger

Someone flings a pillow at one of the dancers, and like a pro, she doesn't break her showy smile for a second and just gamely tosses the pillow back. Now, the band are singing a chorus about "follow[ing] the leaders." Lights strobe and swing from the octopus- arm branches of some "trees" on either side of the stage (these trees are the kind of lamp fixtures IKEA would make if Tim Burton were in charge). Agra sings, "Power leads to money, and money buys time... someday I'll rule the world!" A guy in the audience is throwing metal horns up while wearing a pair of Mickey Mouse gloves. And then it's over.

Everything about this show—the music, the props, the antics—is engineered for maximum excess, and it really is a kind of spectacle not matched (or indeed even attempted) by any other band in Seattle. "It's really designed to be entertainment," says McFeely. "It's designed to be fun and to provide just a really great, energetic live experience. Go big, go over the top—that's always kind of been our philosophy." recommended