December 16, 2005 – Vera Project – Seattle, WA
by Katie Sauro
“Waxwing forever!” was the repeated bellow from one keyed-up fan, while the rest of the crowd screamed along in agreement.
Well, Waxwing for the weekend, anyway—the Seattle four-piece played its first of two final shows Friday night, with their farewell show scheduled to take place the following night in Redmond. The quartet has been a local favorite since their debut album was released in 1996, playing tons of club shows around town, and garnering a rather large fan base, judging from the turnout.
The band hasn’t actually played a show together in two years, each member concentrating instead on side projects, most notably those of the brothers Votolato, with hometown hero Rocky’s solo venture and Cody’s success with the Blood Brothers. But the boys decided it was time to officially call it quits, retiring Waxwing for good.
And they did so to a tiny club packed with teenagers and those of us brave enough to endure said teenagers, as frontman Rocky led the crowd in a sing-a-long of classic favorites, a slew of songs that seemed to start off slowly, then fluctuate between power ballads and punk muscle.
Waxwing’s set spanned much of their catalogue, an apparent thank you to the fans who have been there since the band’s inception, and the crowd, in return, thanked the band for finally saying a proper goodbye.
Openers were fellow Seattleites, Neon Blonde, a side project of Johnny Whitney and Mark Gajadhar, Cody Votolato’s fellow Blood Brothers. The familiar high-pitched screaming vocals, harsh metal-infused rhythms, and hardcore sounds of the Blood Brothers were instantly recognizable, but Neon Blonde’s sound is a little more melodious, throwing in dance-punk and synths that had the kids dancing along.
They played songs from their debut full-length, Chandeliers in the Savannah, their electronica-and-punk sound crashing perilously against the collective eardrums of the crowd, but no one seemed to mind. And with no one to share vocals with, Whitney took full advantage of being frontman, his shaggy blonde head banging dangerously close to those in the front row, shrieking in their faces—and the kids lapped it up, shrieking right back at Whitney.
Neon Blonde’s set was incredibly energetic, everything that one would expect from a Blood Brothers show, but possibly even more so. They were the perfect band to open up the show and pump up the crowd for Waxwing’s final farewell.