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Friday, Nov. 30, 2012

Big Eyes w/ The Audacity, The Living Blackouts and Appleseeds

Nov. 29, 2012

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Listeners, usually of a certain age, love to pronounce rock ’n’ roll dead, and it’s kind of a dumb thing to do. From a cultural anthropology standpoint, that proclamation’s simply not accurate, and to any experienced, expectant fan it should be apparent that, over the years, genres move in unpredictable cycles of decay and reinvention. Even in seemingly fallow periods, there are good bands if you take the time to look, but thankfully, rock seems to be on the upswing, and at least for the moment, you don’t have to look very hard. There’s something for every taste too: weirdo glam (King Tuff), ’90s-style alternative (Jeff the Brotherhood), classic rock (Natural Child) and so on. Even pop-punk, which has long devolved from its proud beginnings with The Ramones and Buzzcocks into silly self-parody—I blame Fat Mike—is experiencing a happy if minor resurgence in the form of Thursday’s headliners at Quarters Rock ’N Roll Palace, the Seattle trio Big Eyes, who bring all the hooks and attitude and none of the Hot Topic crappiness that sullied its once good name.

But here’s where you can tell that good old fashioned rock ’n’ roll still has a pulse and it’s getting a bit stronger: Even during times when the genre’s relevance seems to be on the wane, it’s still not that unusual for a good band like Big Eyes to come through town every now and again, when just a couple of years ago, a four-band bill that was as collectively worth seeing as from top to bottom as the one Thursday night would have seemed nigh on inconceivable. Getting things started were two local openers, Appleseeds, whose blasts of twitchy punk and manic female vocals are as infectious as they are fleeting, and The Living Blackouts, who play a more conventional strain of punk but with plenty of tumbling drums and tricky guitar lines to keep things interesting. Next up was Burger Records act The Audacity, from Fullerton, Calif., who’ve developed into an amalgam of classic, kicking garage rock and longhaired grungy weirdness.

As good as all those bands were, it became apparent that it was mostly Big Eyes that had packed the club, but unfortunately, it gradually also became apparent that singer-guitarist Kate Eldridge wasn’t as enthused as everybody else. It seemed like nothing was going her way. First she couldn’t quite hear the vocals (Quarters does need a louder PA), then she broke a string and was forced to play a backup Fender, a brand she’s not fond of, then she seemed to have a hard time dealing with the heat (Quarters does get broiling with a full house). But for all of her apologies and apparent frustration, everything sounded fantastic. Even with the somewhat muffled vocals and the drummer from The Audacity filling in, the group was in fine form on fan favorites like “Your Lies” and “Back from the Moon” as well as some spunky new songs. The crowd seemed to be doing their best to bolster her spirits throughout, but even as they were howling for an encore, Eldridge was wondering aloud whether it was better to end on a weak note or no note at all. It was kind of disconcerting; everyone seemed to be having a blast but her, but even if she couldn’t hear it, they put a big exclamation point at the end of a long night of quality rock ’n’ roll.