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Juliette and The Licks/TSAR
November 15, 2005 – Neumos – Seattle, WA
by Christopher Mulally

She dances in white high-heeled cowboy boots. She’s a female version of Iggy Pop. She is Juliette Lewis, lead singer of The Licks, who brought her band to Seattle for some stripped-down rock and roll in a bra-less shirt and white knee pads.

There’s something strange about Lewis. Some people find her really attractive and love what she does, others are somewhat repulsed by her. But it is hard to ignore her when she is surfing through the crowd—like she did for about two minutes before her first encore.

The Licks kicked off the show with power chords. A few seconds later Lewis, a woman who has given her fortune to the church of Scientology, stepped on stage, sending a knife of applause through the audience.

“This is a song about sexual frustration,” Lewis yelled, before starting in on the title track off of
Your Speaking My Language, the band’s first full-length.

The girl can dance, and there’s something riveting about seeing a famous movie actress look dirty and sweaty and realistic. Throughout the set, Lewis and her guitar players rocked and smiled, humped each other and talked to the audience. A couple crowning moments were when guitar player Todd Morse got caught up in his cord and tripped on his face near the front left of the stage. After the song was over, Morse asked the audience, “How many of you saw me fall on my face?” A few minutes later, Lewis hopped up and clung on to his leg while he played, her white knee pads pointed toward the ceiling, hair matted across her cheeks.

The only problem with The Licks is the fact that people like Iggy Pop already wrote the same type of music 30 years before, so what you see at their show is only the modern retelling. It’s definitely not new if you have seen any of the classics, but it’s still worth buying a ticket.

As for Los Angeles-born Tsar, there was something cool about seeing the glam-punk-pop group’s singer Jeff Whalen strum his Fender with an American flag as a robe and smoke machine fogging up the stage. Though Whalen broke three strings and was battling a cold, TSAR still poured energy into the half-filled room, resembling acts like Cheap Trick and Sweet. They do a good job bringing to life good pop-punk shredders. “Band-Girls-Money” is hard and dirty enough to remind you of an era where guitars could lift you up and make you want to start a fight, or throw a brick through a window. And, the fact that they stuck the word “electrolyte” into the song is pretty impressive.