Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Flake & Sister Psychic - Reunion Show

This past weekend I joined my friend Rod and his wife Lisa at the Comet Tavern in Seattle’s Capital Hill area for a the Flake & Sister Psychic reunion show.


The History:

Sister Psychic is one of my favorite local bands. Their music is a bit grunge, a lot of pop and with some catchy funny lyrics. Rod and I saw them play a half dozen times in the early 90’s. Andy Davenhall is the lead singer and the driver of the band. They have 3 albums and he has a more recent one from his band The Lawnmowers, which is okay. Fuel, is the first album and has so many of my favorite songs; Hangtime, Birdhouse and Painting all are great catchy songs. Their sophomore album “Surrender, You Freak!” is just as good. The production value on the album helped a lot. More great songs like Velvet dog and Little Bird. But my favorite is their cover of “Kim the Waitress” a Green Pjamas song. Their third album “Catch & Release” is good, but not as good as the first two for me.


Andy put this show together actually and he asked his friends in Flake to reunite and play as well. In fact, it was a Sister Psychic CD release party for “Surrender, You Freak!” that we first saw Flake.


Flake will always have a special place in my heart. I think Rod has seen over 100 shows and I’m sure I’ve seen at least 40 during the 90’s. They are just a trio band, with various drummers (my favorite being Rob Cunningham from the Lemons), with Ken on bass and Rob on lead guitar and vocals. To say they have a garage sound is understatement. I loved them because the music was very raw and Rob sings with a lot of feeling. He’s engaged in the sound and that comes through. To be honest Rob’s lyrics are hard to understand at times, but that has never bothered me. In fact, I think that is more me than the singer at times.


Flake’s first album “Box” was a good album. It contained all the songs they had been playing live. They later released it with a new cover (thankfully because the first was just hideous) and with 4 new songs on it. Some of my favorite songs are “The Rough,” “Emily,” “Natalie” and “Fun and Games.” Rod and I actually made the credits on the first album. It said “Rod & Jeff” which made us sound like a gay couple, but we were cool with that. I got dropped for later records, but Rod continued to make the credits.


After “Box” they produced “Wild Cool Anger” on their own record label, Y Records (yours is not to question Y). This album plays in my shuffle at least once a week. Flake covered Elton John’s “Harmony” during their early shows and recorded it on their “Wild Cool Anger” album. A crowd favorite for sure. On top of “Harmony,” “Equal Beast” and “This House” always stand out for m.


The Memories:

I hate to even admit this but I don’t think I had ever been in the Comet before, which just seems simply wrong. Not that I was missing much. It is your typical Capital Hill bar. But the history of the place is there and you can sense it when you walk in. The show kicked off at 10am with opening act Dollhouse. We skipped them and went and had coffee at Café Vita, the site of the old Café Paradiso. Rod spent more time in that coffee shop then he did at home some years. Together we walked memory lane for a while, recalling the times we had seen Flake & Sister Psychic. The memorable ones were

  1. Jeff & Lavi – Sister Psychic opens for Black Happy (show in April 1993, I remember because I took Lavinia out that night. My bike had just been stolen from the UW Campus and this among other things was the pick me up).
  2. Jeff, Rod & Lavi watch Sister Psychic open for Lazy Susan at the Backstage in Ballard
  3. Jeff & Rod – Sister Psychic CD release party with Jason, Tim and Dad (Kevin Kent). Flake opens
  4. Jeff & Rod – Flake at the Off Ramp, Tim falls asleep during the set.
  5. Jeff & Rod – Pick a Wednesday in 1994 and we were at the Crocodile Café watching Flake with maybe 10 other people.
  6.  Rod – acting as a road crew travels with Flake to Portland.


The Show:

The shows were good. You could sense that neither band had played much in the past few years, at least together. Flake actually messed up a few lyrics. I think the sound in the Comet was simply poor, maybe a better system would have helped. Rob of Flake said that he couldn’t hear a thing up there so it was hard to gauge.


Flake played a good set. All my of favorites, with the exception of Harmony. They looked like they were having fun. Their songs did have me drifting back a few years. I enjoyed their set this time as much as I did in the past. Sister Psychic played more songs off their 3rd album than I cared for and I felt that leaving “Velvet Dog” off their set was an injustice.


The average age at the show was easily mid-30’s. Such a change from when we had seen these bands earlier. I figure in the future I’ll have to explain this music to my kid(s). We’ll just have to wait and see if they dig it at all.


Thank you Flake & Sister Psychic for the good times over the years, and the chance to have one last time together.




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