Tuff Love

So, it’s been brought to my attention that my recent post about those marvelous King Tuff boys was somewhat… negative,… off-putting,… on account of my references to the Tuff’s being “dangerous uncles.” Once I post, I never look back in anger. Still, I thought some data might help out with any editorial concerns. Data good. More data, gooder. So, here’s the thing, Kyle Thomas, the lead singer, repeatedly called us, the paying audience at The Shakedown, “motherfuckers.” And we loved it! Who but a slightly dangerous uncle could get away with saying that to our happy faces, so near the holiday season, and be loved more? Mr. Thomas also frequently slagged off (that’s a real slang word, look it up) Bellingham because he caught a head cold while “antiquing,” the day of the gig, in search of “tchotchkes.” Famous for his bitey social commentary, one can only assume Mr. Thomas wasn’t happy that there are so few local shops in the downtown core. And who wouldn’t be? We’ve all been there, emotionally, when the farmer’s market season ends. Again, that night at The Shakedown, we felt the love under his rain of epithets. I rest my case. It’s a family thing. And we still miss ’em, wherever they are right now. Come back soon.

King Tuff

Never Walk, Dance

What should we talk about when we talk about Katy Goodman? (Seen here, at The Shakedown, opening for King Tuff.) La Sera? The Vivian Girls? Energy? Her ability to throw together cool bands with equally gifted musicians who can all do what they do on stage and in studio, every day, like it’s no thing? Like it’s what everyone does when they’re bored, on tour, or broken hearted? Releasing everything on vinyl? Like it’s 1972, and it’s the only way we can release music, duh. Motion; her dancer’s moves? Her smart, subtle, spooky prolific songwriting… like it’s no thing to be funny and sad on the same record, just because a girl wants to be. Her singing, modern torch yet playful, innocent, and sweet? The girl next door, cuddling with her Musicmaster Fender bass. No, we must talk about her ability to dance and play the bass, on stage, on a small stage, with cables running everywhere! Come on, can you do it? Dance, sure. Bass, sure. Both, most of us would pitch head first right off the stage into someone’s Rainier, ruining the entire room’s retro cool. If she was a scientist, she’d be a dancing physicist. Higgs boson, sure. Dance, of course. Both? Pretty rare. Not one of the six physicists working on the boson-particle mystery is ever described as a cool dancer. Not one reference to snake hips, just tons of glowing prose about decades of tireless attention to particle-decay theory, blah blah blah, which you can’t even see, nothing about dance presence. If they did, we’d be talking about it. A lot. Check it out, you’ll see I’m right. I’m just saying. So buy “Hour of the Dawn,” (Hardly Art, 2014), vinyl of course, and let Katy’s art, her soundscapes, sweep over you. Marvel. Dance, even, if you must. But,… leave the bass, and experimental physics, to the gifted professionals. It’s not as easy as it looks. Safety first. Be cool. Avoid the sorrow.

Tough As Train Smoke

In the sprawling Sub Pop family of recording artists, King Tuff might be thought of as the slightly dangerous uncles you see once a year, around Thanksgiving usually, or maybe Christmas, but better on Thanksgiving. Some people think they do what they do because of some mysterious childhood trauma. No one knows why they’re the way they are, but they always seem to have more fun than everyone else, which invites envy. Sweet but bitey, opinionated and loud, definitely loud, you know you won’t be getting to bed early as long as they’re around. They arrive with all their gear, of course, piles of aging amp stacks missing parts, the guitars chipped and scarred, bringing their own booze, and you think, has it been a whole year since they were here, parking their vans wherever, in the front yard, on the lawn? The neighbors get worried, but it’s exciting! And you feel it. Where did the time go, you think. Weren’t they just here? (It’s been a whole year since they played the Shakedown in Bellingham, but I could have sworn they were just here last summer.) It feels nostalgic to see their posters go up around town, and to think… they’re coming again, with the rains and the moonless nights. And when they’re ready to pack up and leave again… wherever it is they go, it also feels kind of good, too, because you’re exhausted. If the Tuff have a wall-of-sound theory, and they must have one, it would be dramatic thrashing, with shredded goth highlights and lots of light and smoke. They’re out on the road, well, it’s not clear that they ever leave the road (do they have homes they go to? no one knows), supporting their latest Sub Pop release, “Black Moon Spell.” All we know for sure is that they’ve left the state. Last night was it. They must have left in the night. They never seem to sleep. What’s up with that? Someone’s going to have to clean up the mess, and it won’t be them. Still, I miss ’em. I hope they come back for Christmas, but I know they won’t.