As hard as I'm racking my brain right now, I simply cannot remember when I first saw Waxwing. It was probably at the Paradox. Or maybe it was at Local 46, back when the Vera Project was still using that strange cafeteria-like showroom? I guess it isn't important, because whenever that first time occurred, I do remember my jaw dropping, my eyes popping out of my head, and standing there thinking, "Where has this band been my whole life?" (I was probably around 18 years old, so I really was that dramatic.)

My point is, after witnessing just one live show, I was hooked. I bought a copy of the band's most recent record at the time, One for the Ride, and listened to it endlessly while driving around in my car and singing along. From the beautiful, heartbreaking title track ("I see things clearer through your eyes, everything's fine...") to the haunting and dark "Kill the Messenger," I loved the entire disc. The songs all worked like maps, creating intricate lines of music and lyrics that laid out roads traveled in the narrator's life. While listening, you could either completely relate to, or at least appreciate, the lessons being learned.

It's kind of embarrassing how much I loved that band. They made me geek out, and I totally didn't care.

Although Waxwing never officially "broke up," the members began dedicating their time to other projects after Ride. Guitarist Cody Votolato had the Blood Brothers, singer/guitarist Rocky Votolato had his solo work... they were busy boys. As Waxwing shows waned, it became clear that the band was being put on the back burner. They played their last show in September at the Paradox Theater, and no one, probably not even the band members themselves, knew when or if they'd be back.

But now there's good news for anyone who is in the same Waxwing fan boat as me--they're playing their first show in over a year this weekend on Saturday, December 20, at Redmond's Old Fire House.

Their return is not just any ol' rock thing, either. One special feature is that fans can log on to the band's website before the show and vote for the songs they'd most like to hear (www.waxwingrock.com). Another bonus is that the event is a benefit being sponsored by Bands Against Bush.

"All of the money we make from the door is going to be donated to VoteNoWar.org," explains Rocky. "They are an organization that helps to organize demonstrations in D.C. against the war, among other things. I just think now is an important time to get young voters involved and registered, so that they can help vote the worst president in the history of the United States out of office in 2004."

To further shed light on the current state of American politics, the band has opted not to have opening acts but instead is inviting David Bazan (of Pedro the Lion fame) to speak about the Bush administration.

Playing alone, Waxwing will be allowed to perform an unrushed, extended set. It's going to be amazing, and yeah, I'll probably geek out all over again. But that's just fine with me. MEGAN SELING

megan@thestranger.com

Need more? You can hear my personal picks for the week on 107.7 The End every Monday and Friday at 5:30 pm during DJ No Name's Afternoon Experiment.

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