Friday, November 29, 2013

We're An American Band: Quasi On The Road

14 NOVEMBER, 2013
Fresh on the heels of a new LP, Quasi found time to visit Soho Santa Barbara, and give us their own inimitable take on rock and roll. The Portland duo of Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss celebrate 20 years of adventure, and the sprawling double LP set that is Mole City explores every nook and cranny of their existence. Combine that with the tour covers EP: Quasi Interprets 2013, and you have the groundwork of a hard won ideology, and a worthy case of why this music is still worth fighting for. A whole page could be devoted to their bio, (and is on their website), but briefly, Coomes came out of the Donner Party and Heatmiser (with Elliot Smith), and joined Weiss in Motorgoat, before they formed Quasi. Weiss came to the attention of most as the powerhouse drummer in Sleater-Kinney, before going on to sit in with Steven Malkmus and the Jicks and Bright Eyes, among others. Recently, around Quasi, she found time to anchor Wild Flag, with ex-Sleater-Kinney mate Carrie Brownstein, Mary Timony, and Rebecca Cole. Suffice it to say, when other people count sheep to fall asleep, my personal gambit is to try to discern whether I've seen Janet Weiss or Superchunk's Jon Wurster drum live more.
While touching on tracks from favorites Sword Of God and American Gong, the focus was on the new, and "An Icecube In The Sun", "See You On Mars" and "You Can Stay But You Got To Go" were standouts. Coomes started the night on keyboards before switching over to guitar, and the pleasure of the night was finally getting a close up spot to watch Weiss in action. To see her in a duo setting is to more appreciate her control and pacing, aside from the usual being slackjawed at her raw power. Truly one of the country's underappreciated drummers...For the encore, they dipped into the aforementioned covers EP, essaying a commanding take on Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" and hewing closer to the overload of Elvis Costello's take on Nick Lowe's "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding?" Capturing Coomes and Weiss on camera is akin to tracking a hummingbird, but our best efforts are below. A memorable night despite the light turnout, but, as Coomes noted-the LA crowd the night before was staid and arms crossed, but those who showed up on this night were ready to rock, and Quasi delivered.
Pennsylvania's Blues Control held down the opening slot on this tour, and the duo set the tone for the evening with a heavy excursion into the outer limits of noise/drone business. I quite look forward to their return to this coast. It was heartwarming to see what audience was their react positively, as the set certainly wasn't for the weak of heart, or ears.

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