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The Raveonettes/Autolux/The Peels
May 7, 2005 – Neumo’s – Seattle, WA
by Ashley Graham

As the barrage of insignificant and unimportant bands continues to invade countless otherwise promising show rosters it becomes increasingly difficult to find that perfect line-up that is blessed by lacking such a detrimental distraction.  Thanks to The Raveonettes current tour, however, that perfect line-up doesn’t have to be a mere hopefully constructed work of fiction.

This perfect line-up begins with San Francisco band The Peels.  A combination of retro, garage and punk rock, The Peels are fronted by a woman that makes them what they are, Robyn Miller.  Her vocals are at times stronger than one may expect from her flower-pantsuit-clad body and at others exceptionally feminine, but always strong.  Throughout their set Miller dominates the audience’s attention by leaping and jumping and swinging the microphone.

And while Miller may be the main draw she isn’t the only one doing her job.  Bassist Joshua Keats is constantly moving and dancing and even takes a moment to thank his parents for their presence at the night’s show.  Guitarist Lane Rider may be a bit less visible but he shares the spotlight when Miller leans against him during several songs.  Drummer Ken Small is an exceptionally entertaining drummer to watch; he’s exciting and electrifying and even though he may be sitting in the background in the shadows of his fellow rockers, he is undeniably a great presence in the band’s line-up for his smiling face and energetic involvement.  It would have been great to see a more hyped audience during The Peels’ performance, as Miller remarked at one time “There are a lot of you not even smiling!” but luckily this band’s own energy more than made up for what was lacking in the crowd.

That energy picked up a bit more when second band in the line-up, Autolux, took the stage.  After having seen them twice previously, it came as no surprise that the crowd still doesn’t quite know how to respond to Autolux’s music.  There is some weary head-bobbing and some uncertain foot-tapping, and no one seems to realize just how great this band is.  A collection of Carla Azar’s drums, Greg Edwards’ bass and Eugene Goreshter’s guitar and dreamy vocals, Autolux is carefully constructed noisy pop music and it’s brilliant in its ability to seem simple while being so rich and heavily layered.  Performing from their debut LP
Future Perfect, Autolux’s setlist is highlighted by “Turnstile Blues,” “Sugarless” and “Blanket.” 

While Goreshter is the clear frontman for the bulk of the set, Azar steps in front of her drums for one song.  She crouches at the front of the stage and sings quietly and her voice, like Goreshter’s, creates a beautiful contrast to the aggressive music.  The members of Autolux might remind you just how much noise can come from three small people, but they should also remind you just how different and original music can still sound.  When their last song turns into a magical jam between the three musicians it’s so good that even the stoic Azar can’t help but smile throughout.

Those smiles transfer from the stage to the audience more when headliners The Raveonettes, who the all ages crowd was clearly paying to see, take the stage. Promoting the release of their new album
Pretty in Black, The Raveonettes kept the setlist to a wide variety of the best of their catalog, including songs from all of their releases.  A careful distribution of newer songs proved effective as, just when the crowd was losing interest in them, the band threw in favorites like “That Great Love Sound,” “Let’s Rave On,” and “Chain Gang of Love” to wild raves of excitement.  Newer songs worked in most instances too, though, which proves the strength of The Raveonettes' live energy.  “Red Tan” and “Love in a Trashcan” went over great and proved themselves as singles to look out for on the new album.

The most striking thing about The Raveonettes on their albums and in live performance is the chemistry between Sun-Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo.  This is especially prevalent when you have the opportunity to see them together on stage.  Wagner maintains a sense of stoic leadership, while Foo is his more flighty, smiley, sidekick.  But that is definitely more indicative of personality than involvement in the music as a whole.  The Raveonettes are nothing if not equal part Wagner and Foo, and that is made abundantly clear throughout the set.  The two are so much a team that when Foo misses a line near the beginning of “Noisy Summer,” Wagner immediately looks over to her, bewildered to hear only his own voice.  When he realizes everything is fine they share a knowing smile and continue.  Foo more than makes up for her faux pas when she gets her vocalist spotlight in songs “Ode to LA” and a cover of The Angels’ “My Boyfriend’s Back,” and when the light hits her blonde hair just right she absolutely glows.  In every moment, whether singing or dancing or playing guitar or tambourine, Foo is stunning.

And while Foo may be the clear attraction for the eye on stage, the sound emanating from it that catches the attraction of the ear is a great combination of creative forces present in all members of the band.  An eighteen song setlist may have proven a bit ambitious after the two openers and for a sound that can be, at times to the untrained ear, a bit repetitive, but The Raveonettes are never dull on stage and keep the crowd closest to them dancing throughout the entirety of that setlist.

This tour has luckily just begun and is bound to enthrall the rest of its audiences along the way to its completion in mid-June.  For more information on The Raveonettes visit
www.theraveonettes.com, for Autolux visit www.autolux.net and for The Peels visit www.dimmak.com/thepeels.