fire in the western world
Dead Moon were my sounding board, my barometer, the band I went to to resynch when I got tired of bad attitude or tired of artistic phases or tired of anything that was outside of rock and roll, loud and onstage. They were the first local band I saw play live in Seattle, based on a post to some indier-than-thou music mailing list I used to be on back in 1995 (and whose name I no longer remember), where someone with taste waxed rhapsodic about this decidedly mono, non-bullshit band, and I loved the name and I loved that they were too old to rock and did it anyway.
I took friends to see them at Bumbershoot in 1995. I remember the gig primarily as the one the parents brought their 7 year olds who wanted to mosh to. And when i say ‘mosh’ I don’t mean that bullshit crowdsurfing crap that the grunge bands stereotyped, I mean old-school Black-Flag-at-the-CB’s-hardcore-matinee moshing, kids in a circle, heads down, arms flying, when someone fell down you picked them up.
That was a Dead Moon show. Always.
I saw them when they played big shows and small shows and all-ages shows, when there were five people there or five hundred people there. It didn’t matter. The gigs were always about that dynamic between Fred and Toody and Andrew, each points on a triangle, set up on the edge of the stage, candle on top of the upside-down Jack Daniel’s bottle, always burning. That candle never went out during a gig.
My favorite Dead Moon gig was in Olympia a few years ago. H. And I went down there to get the fuck out of Seattle for a night, to get away from rock shows filled with people who were there to be seen or there to see someone, and we wanted a room full of people we didn’t know. The bar was out of a timewarp (as is, well, most of Oly) and the band set up on the floor and played, while the audience huddled around. There was no magic circle at the front of the stage that people avoided because they didn’t want to be too close. You were IN the show. It felt like an off-the-network house show. It was vital and visceral and the lack of division between audience and band wasn’t bullshit, to me it epitomized what Dead Moon were about. There was nothing to hide behind, not even the artificial elevation of a three-foot-high-stage. Toody was fierce and beautiful and I ached because I will never ever be that cool.
[Afterwards, we went to King Solomon’s Reef and I remember this because everything we ordered, they didn’t have – until the waitress finally felt it relevant to mention that the grill was broken.]
Dead Moon played Europe more than they played the East Coast (and I understand why, now that I know musicians like them, who don’t fit into the format or the formula). They played Maxwell’s two years ago when I had a conflict with the Vote for Change tour, so I missed them, and they hadn’t been back here since. I had vowed to take the boyfriend, I had vowed to take some musician-friends who would have been energized and humbled by them, and, like usual, I wanted Dead Moon to reset my compass and remind me why I am here and why this matters and how the simple act of owning your art can be one of the most powerful things in the world.
And now they are gone, and the hole is bigger than most people will ever realize.
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