The Magpies are one of those bands that you're certain you've heard before the first time you hear them. They've got that built-in familiarity, and kind of walk the well-worn streets of slacker mode independent rock that all kinds of great bands have. I say "slacker" pretty lovingly, thinking about those groups like Pavement and uh, who else, Superchunk and (the kind of more obscure Iowans) House of Large sizes who were absolutely bands that worked and got recording/tours done, but just had that sort of hair-over-the-eyes kind of vibe. Those were the days when you didn't see a lot of Love Boat-style nautical themes in bands. It was a more jeans/flannel scene. There were shirts that said "SPAWN OR DIE."
Anyway, when I see Sam and Tolan from the Magpies singing duets, I think of greats like Fred and Toody Cole from Dead Moon and Georgia and Ira from Yo La Tengo. It's got that same kind of honest and emotional deal for me.
Hey, look, I'm probably being pretty vague here, but ol' Elvis Costello said it best when he said "writing about music is like dancing about architecture." He summed up the futility of trying to write about something that's such a gut-level deal as music. That said, most of the good music I listen to has happened because somebody's recommended it to me, or told me about it in one way or another. So if you're in one of these towns, or have friends there: send them out to see a great Montana group called the Magpies.
Some interesting Magpies facts: Drummer Dave Martens is an amateur musicologist working on a Montana psychedelia compilation called Long Time Comin': Lost Sounds from the Treasure State. Guitar player Troy "Hank" Donovan is the proprietor of the Rattlesnake Cable Company, an burly instrument cable outfit.
Say hey to 'em for me.
Here are their tour dates:
March 29- Billings, MT Railyard Ale House
March 30- Minot, ND Pangea House
March 31- Grand Forks, ND Ojata Records
April 1- Minneapolis, MN Sound Gallery
April 2- Madison, WI The Frequency
April 3- Chicago, IL The Office (Aka Wally World)
April 4- Milwaukee, WI Quarters Rock n Roll Palace
On March 30, Zoo City Apparel, on 139 E. Main St., hosts a farewell blowout pop-shot super show! Featuring the crushingly soothing beauty of Seattle’s Helms Alee, Missoula’s own hairy wunderkinds Total Combined Weight and a buncha other bands, all as a fundraiser for our own massive awesomeness that is TotalFest, Thee Premier Musica Festivus of Missoula, Montana. I can’t think of a better way for Zoo City Apparel to go out than like this, unless you’re Thelma and Louise of course.
Zoo City Apparel was a spacious, vibrant clothing shop and all-ages venue, situa-located right in the middle tum-tum of a rapidly changing downtown Missoula. So many good shows were played and experienced there, man, and it was super dooper. The founders shut down the shop on March 1 to concentrate on continuing the 406 clothing line.
In a short time, Zoo City garnered enough word-of-mouth and popularity to showcase many amazing and legendary musicians, like Mike Watt of the Minutemen, and been privy to our proud town’s little scene of weirdo rock misfits. Its success as a venue, I most heartily believe, was thanks to the relaxed nature of its finely distinguished founders and the passionate promoters and showgoers. It epitomized that wonderful do-it-yourself ethic that all the cool kids are into nowadays and was a safe place for the peeps who love music but do not necessarily enjoy the drunken bar scene so prevalent in a college town.
I anticipate the farewell show to be one awesome and notable endeavor with a crowd to match. Helms Alee have always created and maintained an audience of converts to its pummeling, loud-as-shit, Pacific Northwest Super Rock, and if that ain't your cup of tea (you loser) there is variety to the night. Indianapolis’ Vacation Club will be providing that poppy lo-fi garagey stuff that seems to have become all the rage lately: It’s catchy, it’s fun, yeah. Crys, which is even more lo-fi, will probably make a statement, too, with their reverb drenched, driving little post-punk style ditties. So something for everyone and a fitting end to the “—ness” that was Zoo City Apparel.
-Tim Arrowtop plays in bands including Birds Mile Home and Buddy Jackson.
In one of the more unusual events to pop up in town in a while, the Ole Beck VFW hosts a screening of Floating Oceans, a 40-minute stop-motion animated opera by video artist and composer Alexis Gideon. It first premiered in October 2012 at a Portland theater.
From the description: “Video Musics III: Floating Oceans contrasts the vivid dreams of a nameless poet-protagonist with the foreboding routine of pedestrian life. When the protagonist attends a bourgeois dinner party, he hears different guests´ tales, each in its own melodic and visual style, affording glimpses of inchoate longing through the tattered veil of dinner-party patter.”
It looks to be a stimulating and somewhat unsettling experience.
Check out the trailer:
Floating Oceans screens at the VFW at 7 PM, with a Q & A with the director immediately following.
If you've been to a show in the Missoula indie/punk scene at all in the last few months, you've likely run across the effervescent John Yingling, photographer and editor of the Gonzo Chicago blog.
Gonzo Chicago started out documenting, well, Chicago, but since Yingling moved to Missoula last fall, he's been photographing and filming Missoula events and posting the results online—all for the joy of it, saying he doesn't expect payment for covering DIY shows.
He explained how he got started in a post for Impose Magazine, saying, "I started Gonzo Chicago in 2007 with a shitty point and shoot Canon ELPH, simply filming bands in DIY spots and other venues. Some of the things I was seeing in Chicago's underground were blowing my mind."
He goes on to explain why he started bringing a camera: "I could never find any music online from a lot of the bands I was seeing in these warehouses and basement shows, so it was hard to check out what I was going to see."
Here's Yingling's video of Thee Oh Sees show at Zoo City Apparel:
Yingling has also jumped into the promoter game, booking Chicago rock duo White Mystery at the VFW on April 10 in Missoula. He promises there's more to come, telling the Indy: "Chicago is home base for any foreseeable future. I'll return there in November, but Missoula has been phenomenal, and is part of an insane project to be launched in summer."
Way to go, Barb and all. A life of its own. Well begun, well continued…