Northwest Military Blogs: South Sound at Night

February 26, 2013 at 10:35am

Words & Photos: Mos Generator crammed into a Olympia house show

TRACK HOUSE: Up close and personal with Mos Generator drummer Shawn Johnson. Photo credit: Nikki McCoy


It grew larger and larger in my vision. I was being pushed closer to the "Crash 20" logo on Mos Generator drummer Shawn Johnson's Paiste cymbal. I took it as a personal warning - I was going to crash into the whole fucking drum set if I got moshed another 20 inches. My hair was drenched with beer. I'm pretty sure my elbow played a couple bass lines. And I was about to play the drums with my ass.

No stage. Bare light bulbs. And what seemed like 600 people crammed into the Track House's 12 by 12 room.

So. Fucking. Good.  

This was the scene at a house show Friday night in Olympia with Ancient Warlocks, Black Pussy and Mos Generator. It was a true house show. The kind of house show that changes an under-ager's life and validates a grown-up's one.The kind of house show that make you wonder, "Who the hell lives in this beer-trodden rock palace?"  I vaguely remember smelling something burning - pizza, I think someone said - and had a brief paranoid driven fantasy of a house fire, how everyone would be trapped in burning wasteland of rock 'n' roll. It was a beautiful vision, in an emo way.

But I digress. What was most beautiful was the heat of the moment, the truth of the music, the two new songs played Mos Generator played, and the way guitarist and vocalist Tony Reed kept nursing a bottle of Jager, calling the roomful of rockers "Freaks," and the crowd responding with deafening cheers.

Want to see an dhear Mos Generator? Below is the first video from the band's album NOMADS that dropped Oct. 23, 2012 on Ripple Music.

Filed under: Music, Olympia, Shout Out,

February 22, 2013 at 7:28am

Bat Police in flight

BAT POLICE: The band's sound could be compared to Weezer circa 1994. Photo credit: Seth Wheeler

I walked past Golden Oldies record store, past Farrelli's Pizza's outside fireplace window and into the warm glow of Metronome Coffee. It was around 9 p.m. on a Saturday night. It was packed. A smile cracked my face in anticipation of witnessing one of Tacoma School of the Arts' most exciting and hyped new bands, Bat Police. While the band was jamming, I stood stage side next to the band's frontman Levi Ratliff's girlfriend - and part time muse - Molly. Strange, she's wasn't dancing.  Typically a dancey person at SOTA shows, Molly was not in the dancing mood. "I think I have a fever," she claimed and left it at that.

Thankfully, Molly's unusual lack of dance and energy seemed to be the antithesis of the mood of the crowd that night. Bat Police encouraged a sort of energy and reaction that I had not been in the presence of since I saw the band Roswell in the dead of winter. Bat Police burned through their set list in little over an hour and left the crowd wanting more of the signature SOTA rock band sound that has been absent since the departure of both Roswell and Makeup Monsters.

Bat Police is a quartet, composed of singer songwriter and guitar player Levi Ratliff, bassist David Pierce, keyboardist Austin Milner and drummer Alex Williams. The group members met at SOTA and became fast friends, bonding over a shared love of Weezer and garage rock. The group's original lineup consisted of Ratliff, Pierce, Williams and Mitchell Babington under the name The Okays, which they thought sounded humble. Babington backed out of the band taking more of a managerial role. After a few failed attempts to find a replacement drummer, Williams became the permanent drummer. The Okays performed its first song, "Deep End," at a SOTA showcase, which was met with positive reactions. Ratliff remembers the show as being "pretty okay." Over the next year, the four friends worked to develop their sound, taking key influences from bands such as Weezer, Vampire Weekend, The Smith Westerns, Phoenix and Roswell. They also renamed themselves Bat Police.

In terms of both style and sound,

Bat Police's sound could be compared to Weezer circa 1994. Ratliff and his fellow band members appear awkward on stage, which lends the band a sort of nervous charm. Its focus on guitar-heavy indie rock makes the group easily identifiable, yet keeps its influences on its sleeves.

Over the summer of 2012, Bat Police continued to write and develop, culminating in its first show at The Den, which it played alongside prominent SOTA songwriter Evan Main. The success of the show inspired the band to perform again - this time at SOTA's summer camp showcase. Everyone left with Bat Police on the brain, clinging to one of the few surviving SOTA bands.

Aside from a recent show in the garage of The Trasholes' frontman Ian Call, Bat Police has taken time away from performing to write songs and improve its sound. With the addition of Austin Milner on keyboards, the band is currently at its best, proven at the post Valentine's Day show at Metronome.

Like all young bands, Bat Police seeks a label. In the meantime, catch the band Saturday, Feb. 23 at Anthem Coffee in downtown Tacoma.

I'm always amazed when a band can energize a crowd as the Bat Police did that Saturday night at Metronome. I don't witness such energy too often. Bat Police are in flight, and currently, it seems the sky is the limit.

Filed under: All Ages, Music, Tacoma,

February 10, 2013 at 7:13pm

WORDS & PHOTOS: Live bands and Mardi Gras party in Tacoma

JAZZBONES: A Mardi Gras party took over Friday night. Photo credit: Steve Dunkelberger


Friday night, I bar hopped around Tacoma with my camera. It was a full-meal deal of live music and audiences wackiness.

The first course of the night was a family set at C.I. Shenanigans along the Ruston Way waterfront. Gina Belliveau and Cottonwood Cutups were in the Fireplace Room, performing before date couples, families and old dudes snapping their fingers to the down beat. A kid or two played games on cell phones as the music blasted the room. Belliveau packed a lot of power into a spritely frame while Cottonwood did ... well, what Cottonwood does ... brought the thunder. See more photos from the Shenanigans show in the Weekly Volcano's Photo Hot Spot.

The next morsel came with The Front featuring RJ Medeiros playing at Rock the Dock Pub & Grill. The band brought out the power ballads for a mix of over 50 rockers and those who love them. The jam proved that age is just a number - some of those folks can cut a rug with the best of them. See more photos from the Rock the Dock show in the Weekly Volcano's Photo Hot Spot.

My main entrée was a delicious set by the Kim Archer Band at Jazzbones. The band brought its signature soul and energy to the stage with a tight set of classic R&B covers. See more photos of the Jazzbones show in the Weekly Volcano's Photo Hot Spot.

For dessert, I went for the weird. After the KAB show, the Jazzbones crowd was well lubricated for BZ Productions' Mardi Gras Costume Contest, complete with full-on bead craving hotties. With $100 for best Mardi Gras outfit on the line, and DJ Switch behind the deck, BZ asked the Jazzbones crowd to stay away from the trashy look. It got trashy. Fast. See more photos from the Mardi Gras Party in the Weekly Volcano's Photo Hot Spot.

LINK: Weekly Volcano Photo Hot Spot

January 28, 2013 at 11:52am

PHOTOS: Naughty or Nerd contest at Jazzbones

NAUGHTY OR NERD CONTEST: Winner! Photography by Steve Dunkelberger


BZ Productions knows how to throw a party, if the definition of party includes booze, fist pumping, short skirts and low necklines. BZ hosted a "Naughty or Nerd" contest Friday, Jan. 25 at Jazzbones in Tacoma. One hundred dollars was the prize money. Victor Menegaux was behind the turntables.

Suffice it to say, the audience cheered loudest for one naughty nerd because ... well, the beauty had blouse issues.

LINK: More photos from Naughty or Nerd night at Jazzbones

January 9, 2013 at 7:16pm

PHOTOS: Monday night karaoke at Bob's Java Jive

MONDAY NIGHT KARAOKE AT BOB'S JAVA JIVE: This happens. Photo credit: Steve Dunkelberger


Remember back in the day when you were in your first apartment and spent a memorable Saturday night with your friends just blaring the record player and singing along to random selections from your album collection? Toss in a pitcher of PBR and extreme lighting and that is karaoke at Bob's Java Jive.

Sunday through Tuesday nights has Nikki Weatherhead on the mic. The spunky Tacoman never seems to lake energy or a smile even if the sign up sheet is less than full.

Monday, Jan. 7 brought Tacoma filmmaker and all around hipster G.W. Welsh to the mic to celebrate his birthday. It was a good time.


LINK: More photos from Monday night karaoke at Bob's Java Jive

Filed under: Bars, Karaoke, Tacoma,

January 2, 2013 at 11:33am

WORDS & PHOTOS: New Year's Eve in Olympia

NEW YEAR'S EVE 2012: Midnight at The Brotherhood Lounge in Olympia / photo credit: Nikki McCoy


I pulled on my thick black tights, knee high boots, gold leopard print mini skirt and Iron Maiden T-shirt. I was ready to hit downtown Olympia in all its New Year's Eve glory.

The original plan was to launch the night at Frankie's Sports Bar, where smoking weed is allowed in its upper room. When the cab driver told me he accepts reservations after 9 p.m., I bagged Frankie's. The cabbie informed me last New Year's Eve there were 3,000 people in downtown Olympia and only 18 cabs on the road. No need to hitchhike at 2 a.m.

When I asked the cabbie where he's dropped the most people off, he promptly replied "The Brotherhood." Sounds like a plan. Off to The Brotherhood, indeed, where there were many fine looking people in suits and sequins - and 500 balloons piled in a net, ready to drop at the stroke of midnight.

A couple drinks in, and a few good, danceable spins from DJ Dead Air, I got the wandering bug and headed down to the 4th Ave Tav for some pool. While the place was packed - 15 minutes in line for a shot of tequila packed - I was able to squeeze in a few games of pool, listened to a bagpiper, and ran into man-about-town Jerry Zeigler, who was in a festive mood. After a few wet kisses on the cheek, I realized it was almost midnight, and headed back to the Broho to watch the balloon drop. 5-4-3-2-1! And a rainbow fell on all the tipsy heads in the bar, with much hollering and high-fiving (and ass-pinching, as Pappi Swarner observed in his latest visit to Olympia).

Somewhere in my Hornitos soaked mind, I remembered that Rockfish was serving a midnight buffet. I swaggered up Fourth Avenue - passing by loud groups, sexy ladies and the occasional soldier - until I found the spot, which was nice and dark with a good dance scene. The buffet was a pretty rich spread of fresh fruit, chicken wings, penne Alfredo and more. A friend handed me a glass of champagne to wash it all down with, and at that point, I forgot how to take pictures, and most of my penne desired to come back up.

So, I made my way to McCoy's where everybody was as shit-housed as me. I called a cab. Of course, it was more than an hour wait. Luckily I ran into a friend who was playing designated driver and I got home safe. 

I hope Olympia had as much fun as I did ringing in the New Year. I also hope next year brings many more good parties and safe rides home.

LINK: Live music tonight in the South Sound

Filed under: Bars, Holidays, Olympia, Party,

December 17, 2012 at 2:20pm

Doyle's gives major awards to 100 Pint Club members

DOYLE'S PUBLIC HOUSE: The Tacoma neighborhood bar honored Joe Shuckhart and John Howard for drinking a helluva lot of Guinness.


Doyle's Public House and its patrons have St. Patrick's Day on the brain ... constantly. In fact, Doyle's hosts a St. Patrick's Day practice party every 17th of the month. During the "St. Practice Day" party, patrons discuss what they will wear on St. Patrick's Day - such as obnoxious green eye shadow, glitter and thigh-high green and white striped stockings; who would a fight between the Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly; and whether the guy in the green trash bag will show up again March 17. Above all, St. Practice Day monthly parties are a chance to gather with friends and drink a pint or three.

St. Practice Day parties are also a time to do business, specifically if you're a member of Doyle's 100 Pint Club. Doyle's co-owner Russ Heaton calls the meeting to order, typically with a Guinness in his hand, and rattles off member drinking achievements, such as hitting 250 and 500 Guinness pints consumed. With each name called, there's a toast and everyone advances further toward his or her Guinness drinking goals.

This month, St. Practice Day was stretched over two days. Today, Dec. 17, there will be the typically revelry including a 6:17 p.m. 100 Pint Club member toast, and a chance to win the Guinness Guitar for those who drink Guinness pints before 6 p.m. Last night, a special St. Practice Day was summoned to hand out drinking honors and dance to several bands, including Matt Coughlin and the Growlers. The big honors of the night went to Joe Shuckhart and John Howard, two 100 Pint Club members who reached 1,000 Guinness pints downed at Doyle's. It's equivalent to drinking 10 kegs for those trying to do the math. Shuckhart and John Howard receive Doyle's bar stools each with their names engraved on the back.

Tonight, at 6:17 p.m. two more members will receive stools for reaching the 1,000 pint level.


Filed under: Drinks, Tacoma, Party, Bars,

December 8, 2012 at 5:10pm

WORDS & PHOTOS: Jeff Buckley Tribute Night in Tacoma

WAIT IN THE FIRE: Najamonique Todd and Del Brown gathered talented musicians for their new Jeff Buckley Tribute Band. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner


I kissed a lot last night.

My wife, Kate, and I fell in love while listening to hours and hours of Jeff Buckley songs. In the '90s, Kate saw Buckley perform at the old Backstage venue in the Seattle's Ballard neighborhood. To this day, that Buckley show, which was on his birthday, remains her all-time favorite concert.

Back to the kissing - last night The New Frontier Lounge hosted a Jeff Buckley tribute show. Besides performing in their Jeff Buckley pop-up band Wait In The Fire, producers Najamonique Todd and Del Brown asked Alex Tapia of RowHouse, Kurt Lindsay of BODYBOX and Not From Brooklyn to perform songs from Buckley's small catalog of songs. Todd and Brown couldn't have picked better bands. All musicans performed with passion, as well as showed admiration for each other. The music was so glorious we practically made out.

Highlights included Tapia's "Lilac Wine," Lindsay's "Grace" and "Everybody Here Wants You" and Not From Brooklyn's "So Real," which I caught on video.

The night was Todd and Brown's second Sound Icons show. Can't wait for part three.

Filed under: Music, Tacoma, Shout Out,

December 6, 2012 at 9:39am

PHOTOS: Repeal Prohibition Day Celebration in Olympia

REPEAL PROHIBITION DAY CELEBRATION: Olympia knows how to party. Photo credit: Red Williamson of Newspin Photo


When the country outlawed alcohol in 1920, millions of Americans turned to a clandestine network of speakeasies and bootleggers in search of a stiff drink. The 18th Amendment, which banned the sale, manufacture and transportation of alcohol, ushered in an era of prohibition and gave rise to organized crime, whose bootlegging operations flourished over the 13 dry years.

Dec. 5, 1933, passage of the 21st Amendment, brought an end to Prohibition. Last night at the Capitol Theater, Olympia celebrated Repeal Prohibition Day with a night of drinks, burlesque and music.

Photographer Red Williamson of Newspin Photo captured last night's gratuitous debauchery, lavish carousing and general tomfoolery. Below are a few of his photographs. To see his whole album of shots, which include many NSFW shots of the TUSH! Burlesque troupe, click here.

Olympia, you look awesome.

Filed under: Drinks, Events, Fashion, Olympia, Party,

November 19, 2012 at 12:00pm

PHOTOS: Encore Boutique Nightclub's Second Anniversary Party

ENCORE BOUTIQUE NIGHTCLUB: The Grey Goose will have you seeing double. Photo credit: Steve Dunkelberger


Saturday night Tacoma's Encore Boutique Nightclub celebrated two years of making customers feel like movie stars. The two-story club's dark leather seating, velvet ropes, plush bathrooms and upscale décor played host to yet another night of pressed suits and fashionable dresses - as well as shabby jeans - popping Grey Goose Bottles and admiring the degree of slope in some of the high heels.

When photographer Steve Dunkelberger wasn't following the hot Grey Goose Girls around the club, she snapped a few shots of the night.

Happy anniversary Encore!

LINK: More photos of the night in our Photo Hot Spot

About this blog

A South Sound nightlife blog written in the clubs, on our smartphones, while dancing.

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