Gun Outfit and Broken Water Meat Market Garment Factory Wednesday, May 30
I will declare, without the slightest inkling of doubt or hesitance, that Olympia, Washington has the best independent music scene in the country right now. The major hipster metropoli (Brooklyn, San Francisco, Austin) all have loads of recognized talent, but those cities have too much other lame crap per capita. In the last few years, every promising band hailing from the Evergreen State's capital city (pop. 46,478) has achieved some level of national acclaim: female-fronted metal band Christian Mistress just signed to Relapse Records, Homestead-era Big Muff rockers Milk Music were profiled in British rock rag NME (where they name-dropped Tempe locals Otro Mundo). Last night, two of the most exciting (and rising) bands from Olympia proved my point.
Olympia-founded Gun Outfit (now based in L.A.) had their most recent album put out by Post-Present Medium, the boutique label of No Age shredder Randy Randall. Playing their brand of wistful yet determined indie rock at Meat Market, their sound slowly loosed the necks and hips of the attendees. Gun Outfit sound like East-coasters Real Estate if they were bred in the Pacific woods, or Sonic Youth if they took it easy on the beach.
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Broken Water is easily my favorite Olympia act, a potent combination of '90s shoegaze guitar tones, post-rock bass lines and vocals dowsed with cosmic delay. The band played a nice amount of cuts from their earlier, tape-hiss addled records as well as from their newest release on Sub Pop subsidiary Hardly Art Records.
Ersatz band leader Kanako Wynkoop (only going with that title because she played nearly every instrument and did all the talking) took on bass duties at one point but turned her microphone around, squaring herself inside the audience and facing her bandmates from the crowd. Broken Water would probably be Kurt Cobain's favorite band: Pacific Northwest pre-grunge nods, loads of implied feminism and zero ego.
Fuck Portlandia, its lack of entry-level jobs and its shade-grown vegan squirrels: the dream of the '90s is alive in Olympia.