Johnny Unicorn at Seattle’s famous Chop Suey!

Seattle, WA

Photo courtesy of Hope Josephine Maranatha Gardner

Das Kapital Hill district of Seattle is famous for its tight pants, trendy facial hair, youthful indifference, music clubs, and alternately disgusting and wonderful smells (in fact, just walking down the street, one gets an idea of what it must be like for dogs when they put their heads out of a car window). There are an innumerable number of flyers posted on the telephone poles, each with a different set of band names attached to it, and every one of those bands is vying, in this neighborhood, for the attention of the super-cool; the ones who can’t be bothered to crack a smile; the ones who would just as soon kick you in the face as look at you. The flyers are so thick on the telephone poles that the poles seem to bulge out at eye level. Every flyer advertises a different show. This is the story of one of those shows.

First, I will paint for you a portrait of what the nightclub is like. The colors: dark grey, deep blood red, crimson, vermillion, firey orange, dark black, sort of a tan off in the corner somewhere…colors of mystery and an not-entirely-comforting warmth, almost directly contradicting the total lack of mystery and the piercing cold of the unheated room. The club is named “Chop Suey” but I couldn’t find a menu anywhere. A giant dragon floats at ceiling level and eyes the patrons hungrily. All of the PA speakers are in cages. The floor is terraced, like a rice paddy. The bartender is a very friendly man who will happily mix any liquids if he is asked nicely. The live audio technician is quick and does not turn up the volume too loud for comfort. The floor is like a garage floor. The bathrooms are unspeakable. The green room has never been touched by a cleaning utensil. It had a kind of charm to it. The sort of charm that you immediately want to wipe away with soap, but remember fondly nonetheless. The very fact that there was a green room at all was enough to make me feel like I was being given the royal treatment. Of course, it was completely filled with equipment.

All the other bands were great people and played very well. No Rey was a relaxing and kind of psychedelic mix of folk and dub. The Brian Marshall Band was very straight-forward rock. I was particularly impressed by the lead guitarist’s smooth playing style, and the surprised but triumphant look he got on his face every time he completed a delicious solo. The Autumn Electric I have probably talked about before. I may once have called them a folk band, but now I hesitate to use that word. They are doing some sort of rock, with a very interesting line-up of instruments. They brought home-made cookies and hats to the show. All the bands did well. But I’m here to talk about me:

I took the stage and looked out into the bright lights, which reduced the audience to a cold, empty blackness. My synthesizer had lost all of its data. So I had to jury-rig a non-electronic set, which was no big deal, but I was worried it would not be as “hard-hitting” a set as I’m accustomed to thinking I delivered. So I sang into the blackness, hoping my voice would find ears, like a dandelion sending its seeds into the wind, or a job applicant sending cover letters and resumes out to every company on craigslist. Time twisted, and everything became hazy. I could hear the dragon in the distance. As I continued on, all moisture in my body began to evaporate, and all I could produce from my mouth were puffs of dust. My only option was to drink and attempt to breathe as properly as possible and put as little strain on my throat as I could for the rest of the performance. The performance went on, and took me with it. And by the end, I was riding high on shoulders of the cheering audience. I won! It was a huge musical triumph. That night, I celebrated the amazing victory in the Griffindor house common room with my mates by watching the worst British romantic comedy/drama I could find.

Stay tuned for my next blog post about another show in Capital Hill with the illustrious Horace Pickett.

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2 responses to “Johnny Unicorn at Seattle’s famous Chop Suey!

  1. I’m playing Michael Trew’s guitar in this picture. A great piece of machinery.

  2. Correction: I’m playing Dan Desrosier’s guitar. Michael Trew plays it in the band usually.

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