Not to get all Portlandia, but what if there was still a place where you could go to shows and it’s easy to park or even walk there? And it’s all cool, tiny venues that house a slew of emerging artists of every genre? A place where rent isn't totally crazy and you can afford to be an artist or design streetwear?

You might even be able to rent a house your band can practice in! You can take an affordable train to “the city” whenever you want! And, get this: There are incalculable cheap-ass dive bars and they ALLLLLLLL serve breakfast.

The spirit of Seattle 2001 is alive (and well) in Tacoma

But let’s be clear, Tacoma is doing her own thing. Tacoma is Solange, to Seattle’s shinier, posher Beyoncé. Funkier and working through her kid-sister syndrome, she’s seen the example and chooses to chart her own path. 

As LBSTR DelaHoya, the production side of Tacoma’s electro-glam trio Mirrorgloss, told me over A BREAKFAST SANDWICH THAT HAS A GIANT CINNAMON ROLL AS ITS BUN (I promise we’ll come back to it) at the (new) New Frontier Lounge, “I feel there’s an invisible ladder that connects Tacoma to Seattle. For example; one might say you’re too big for Tacoma and should take your talents to Seattle when, in fact, Tacoma is just Tacoma, and not junior varsity Seattle.”

Vocalist Del Brown added, “Enumclaw, let it be known that Black people are the ones keeping the scene vibrant and thriving! I’m so proud of them. Also, don’t sleep on the R&B and hip-hop scene here either.” She cites BVMMER, Khris P, Race to the Light, and Vealinium, as acts to watch. 

Mirrorgloss were born from their scene. Brown and Najah Monique Todd became friends while attending shows—that friendship blossomed into them forming a melodic, dynamic duo of their own. They have taken to performing as a trio with DelaHoya and have also branched out into solo and side projects, including Brown’s Elegant Pleasures, which gives her a chance to explore her rockin’ Tacoma roots, and Najah Monique’s house record currently in the works. Attending shows in Tacoma and Seattle was instrumental to her personally and professionally. 

“Back in the day Del and I would go to Magoo's or wherever and we would grab a Weekly Volcano and The Stranger and we would be able to plan out all the shows we wanted to see that week. And we would open our phones up and just start buying tickets.”  

It’s a testament to the scene and what you might call synergy that Todd is now writing for the newly revived Weekly Volcano, Tacoma’s local weekly paper. Helmed and staffed by mostly women and POC, Todd hopes the coverage will help clue folks into everything happening in T-Town.

“Live shows are having a hard time here. In Tacoma our venues are set in really great areas—you don't have to go far to go to a music venue. I don't think people know that shows are going on. You can share on Facebook, but it's already people who follow you.” 

One such tiny venue within walking distance for some of Mirrorgloss is the New Frontier Lounge. 

The venue held a special place for them as an emerging act and its recent change in ownership has only made the space more charming. As a fan and frequenter of dive bars, this one is easily the most femme-centric and friendly I’ve ever encountered. You can 100% tell when femmes have chosen the booby art.

“It’s a wonderful women-owned business," said Brown. "Rose and Ebony have been a part of the Tacoma scene as long as I have lived here and Jason Brown makes comforting and delicious food that can also be decadent or healthy—the portions are satisfying and the recipes are always innovative! Breakfast was superb, I had a savory quinoa porridge and I truly enjoyed it.”


So to get back to the decadent part she mentioned, a BREAKFAST SANDWICH THAT HAS A GIANT CINNAMON ROLL AS ITS BUN. It’s exactly what you think. The yolk, the cheese, the icing, the bacon. It’s great for a terrible hangover or to share with the table. Sometimes the bun is a giant apple fritter or donut. It just depends on what’s fresh and available.

And if you’re going to take part in A BREAKFAST SANDWICH THAT HAS A GIANT CINNAMON ROLL AS ITS BUN, and you can do it high, by all means, do. Tacoma fittingly has a weed emporium called World of Weed with a delirium of options. If you’re going to smoke out a whole musical act, a five-pack of Stone Age Joints infused pre-rolls (we went with a fruit-forward sativa) is just the ticket. A bit heady and chatty, the joint was brunch-worthy and a nice contrast to my breakfast bubbles. The band, who all have worked in different facets of the weed industry, approved both the taste and high.

Mirrorgloss will play the Seattle Center Armory Saturday, January 13 as part of the Seattle Office of Labor Standards' Making Gigs Work exhibition. The free, all-ages show starts at 3 pm and also features music from Foleada and artists Shayla Hufana, Mousy DeVilla, and Yulia Issa.