All photos taken by Dan Gonyea
Admittedly, I was not in the best mood when I set off towards Chop Suey, but that began to change when I noticed Alex Luciano and Noah Bowman walk right past the line of people waiting to get into the venue. Only after they were gone did someone else note, “oh, that was the band!”
By the time The Spook School took the stage, the sold-out gig had really started to fill up. I’d say a majority of the audience had never heard of the Scottish band before, but they were in for a treat. The Spook School kicked their set off with “Still Alive” then went straight into “I Want to Kiss You” with such energy and spunk, it was hard to keep still. They also engaged in plenty of playful banter with the audience, with drummer, Niall McCamley, at the forefront. Toward the end of their set, he joked, “please buy our merch or else we won’t be able to afford a ticket back to Scotland!” to which someone from the crowd replied, “you can stay in my garage!” and that guy got outdone by the lady who yelled, “you can stay in my bed!” “WOW! This is the most fun auction ever!” McCamley commented. The bid war ended when the band decided it would be best for them to actually play a song. They finished with “Body” which seemed to be their most confident number and a killer way to end their set. After that, everyone who didn’t know before, would remember who The Spook School were.
Between bands, Chop Suey provided an excellent pop-punk soundtrack featuring Good Charlotte, Sorority Noise, and All-American Rejects. Plus, “Sugar, We’re Going Down” came on and prompted a sweet, emo sing-along from the extremely respectful and well-behaved crowd. Respect was an important element of this show, as all three bands touched on being aware of the people around you and respecting their personal space.
I had been most looking forward to seeing Seattle bbs, Great Grandpa and was a little worried that I wasn’t going to because lead singer, Alex Menne, had to have emergency wisdom tooth removal. This led to the band’s inability to play in Boise and Vancouver BC earlier. But, lucky for Seattle, she decided to tough it out and play Chop Suey. They opened with “Teen Challenge” and blazed through an excellent set from there. It was also revealed that guitarist Pat Goodwin was sick and had been napping at his mom’s place just an hour before the show. He mentioned that he had taken anti-diarrhea medicine and felt kind of high from it: “They don’t put that on the label,” he joked. Alex and Pat were total troopers for hanging in there and putting on this show for us. Additionally, the band played favorites from their latest release, Plastic Cough, like “28 J’s L8r” and “NO” which married grunge instrumentals with poppy vocals seamlessly.
Menne was a force to be reckoned with. Her voice was full of hiccups and snarls, which brought even more character to the already unique songs. She threw her whole body into the music and seemed to tear up a little during “Mostly Here” (this could have been from wisdom tooth pain, but she didn’t say anything about it, so we’ll never know for sure). At other points, she’d end up laying on her back on stage while belting out choruses. She also started the show minus shoes, wearing only little red socks, which were eventually lost as well. To end the set, a barefoot Menne jumped into the crowd as the band ended with “Favorite Show”. The performance was captivating, at times upbeat and fun, but with an undertone of melancholy. Great Grandpa’s slot was full of contradictions and layers that created a beautiful sound.
To cap off the fantastic night, Diet Cig brought down the house. Before they started playing, Alex L. reiterated the point that their shows are “safer spaces” where people are expected to respect each other’s space. If anything uncomfortable or inappropriate happened, the person who caused the problem would be removed. With that, she and Noah, who were joined by Anna from The Spook School (on bass) and Karli from Pllush (on synth), jumped into the tender tune, “Sixteen”. They then kicked it up a notch with “Leo” which was prefaced with a “shout-out to all the Leos!” from Alex. The tiny ball of energy hopped around on her toes throughout the whole show and whipped out quite a few of her signature high-kicks. Alex is a Leo and a self-described “woo!” girl which she admitted on stage is the worst possible thing for her voice, but she was just excited! They seemed to speed through the majority of the songs off Swear I’m Good at This and played a couple oldies from Over Easy.
Noah Bowman’s drums are the driving force of the band’s sound, but Alex’s bubbly personality and on-stage charisma (which Leos are known for, duh) are what draw fans in. At one point they had an equipment malfunction and, in an effort to stall until it was fixed, Noah pounded out the beat to “Crazy Frog” and everyone sang along to the obnoxious little song. “Remember when Diet Cig covered ‘Crazy Frog’?!” Alex laughed before continuing on with the set.
Diet Cig’s songs are tender while still punk and fun to listen to. Initially I wrote off what I had read about Alex’s emotional vulnerability as an exaggeration, but after watching her perform, I now understand that she’s the real deal. She manages to present herself to her audience, flaws and all, and they fall in love with her. From her dazzlingly glittery eye makeup to her flower sticker-covered guitar, Alex refuses to water herself down for anyone and tries to send the same message to her fans. Diet Cig ended their charming set with a dance party to the sound of “Harvard”. Everyone sang along and left Chop Suey in a happy daze.
It’s rare to go to a show where all three bands are awesome, which made this one special. The all ages crowd was enthusiastic, and the performers gave them a show to remember. I left in a much better mood than I arrived in, that’s for sure.
If you want to read more about the history of these bands, you can check out my preview here. Follow Diet Cig, Great Grandpa, and The Spook School on Instagram to stay up to date as they continue their tour!
If you liked the pictures, check out Dan Gonyea’s website: www.future-breed.com!
HALEY PARSONS | why don’t more bands cover Crazy Frog? | KXSU Music Reporter