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House Shows in Oly

By Thomas Moore, 7/14/10

House shows are a staple of the music scene in Olympia. The roster of locations is constantly changing, with ABC House, Chez Puget, Grandma’s House, the House of the Rising Sun, the Mango House, the Phoenix House, the Red House, the Solid Gold House, the Track House (where Phil Elvrum used to live), and certainly more. The folks at the long-standing Garden of Sweden recently moved, and one of the last acts to play there included Paleo (of song-a-day-for-a-year notoriety), The Hive Dwellers, and the Sundance Kids (who started in Olympia and live in Seattle).

Two shows at the ABC House on a recent Thursday and Saturday were perfectly examples of the scene at its best. Thursday was an “Intimate encounter” – unfortunately poorly promoted – but Nate Ashley and Graves from Portland played quality pop rock sets, and Lee Baggett sang on one song that came off like Neil Young covering Pavement. Nate said the last time he played the ABC House was when Pat Maley lived there (Pat Maley started Yo Yo Records, and his Yo Yo a Go Go Fest brought acts to Olympia including Elliot Smith, Beck, and Neutral Milk Hotel). To close the night Lazer Zeppelin (space country) played their last set with their current lineup til the fall, because front lady Alex Deccecco will be in Athens, GA.

Saturday showed a much bigger turnout by the end of the night. The evening began with Little Angry and the Sweets (Evan Hashi, also of Lazer Zeppelin – a ‘family tree’ of the combinations of bands and solo acts in Olympia-Portland-Seattle-Tacoma-Anacortes would look like a spaghetti dish). Then P.E.T.S. got on; this was a seven-piece with three dedicated singers, with some qualities of seventies easy-listening rock, some Soul Train, and some semblance to the Dirty Projectors. They can be found via Funkytonk Records. Then Fall of Electricity finished up the night with their lyrical (sans-lyrics) instrumental math rock. FoE is Andrew Dorsett of LAKE, the Greta Jane Quartet, and Brown Interior Records, and Ross Cowman of Bicycle Records and June Madrona.

A recent show ago at Chez Puget had Americana music from Boston (Lyndsay Clark), poetic dreamy (delightfully dynamic) folk from Nashville (Pineapple Explode), and polyrhythmic experimental (amazingly skilled) rock from San Diego (Witt). I saw Spencer Carow (playing in reggaeton-rock band Chung Antique that night) glance at the flier and say he knew everyone on the lineup from other shows he had played, which spoke to me of the dedication and solidarity of the DIY scene. The house shows combined do not fetch the sheer volume of acts that Le Voyeur or the Northern or the Loft all carry, but oftentimes the bands are equally worth seeing.

On July 14, June Madrona is playing at the Radacombs (2401 Conger) with Fera (Chico, CA) and Allan Boothe (Tacoma). On July 20, the Garden of Sweden II (new house name pending) will be hosting one of their first shows (possibly their very first) with Chung Antique, Silian Rails (SF/Oakland), the Stranger Gallery (Seattle/B-ham), and By Sunlight(Seattle); for details, go to On July 24, Grandma’s House will host Kusikia (Tacoma-Portland), Girls of Mars (Oly), Broken Water (Oly, WtH) Fall of Electricity (Oly), and Forest Park (Portland).

Also, the What the Heck Fest, July 16-18 in Anacortes, will include The Hive Dwellers, LAKE, and Broken Water, and the Helsing Junction Sleepover, August 20-22 in Centralia, will include The Hive Dwellers, LAKE, and members of Lazer Zepplin. ◙

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