Tonight in Seattle:  

The Importance of Being Automaton

Automaton. Photo from MySpace.

14 Jul 2002 at Capitol Theater

Ahh, Automaton. Boy, but it's been a long time coming for us to see Automaton, eh?

Now my imaginary girl friend Marlene and I are waiting to see them; it's the end of a long day of music, my Mom is waiting not-so-patiently for us outside, and I'm really hungry. And they're late. The charming Pat Kearney is tuning his guitar; he looks like a kid on Christmas morning, it's cute. But still, they're late! Let's tune and move, boys!

Finally, they begin. It's furious, it's intense. The drumming is phenomenal; I saw drummer James van Leuven when he played with his other band Plan B back in April, so I was eager to hear what he could do. He's pretty amazing. With a sound so tribal and heavy and rhythmic, James methodically manages the sound of the band.

It's chanty, it's rhythmic, with the single-minded intensity of a somnambulist. Only who could sleep through such a wall of rhythmic noise? ("Well, a somnambulist could," quips Marlene).

They're chanting now. I feel like I'm at camp, at some freaky alt-rock scary color war.

Rhythmic, rhythmic, rhythmic. Ba ba bah ba BOOM Ba ba bah ba ba ba BOOM! (there I go with the onomatopeia again...). But truly, the music is ponderously pounding with such single-minded intensity that I'm not sure I can find words. Ba ba bah ba BOOM Ba ba bah ba ba ba BOOM!

Relentlessly earnest and talented, Automaton are intense and driving, nearly to the point of overbearing. The crowd seems stunned with the intensity, overwhelmed and thrilled, and roaring for more.

Do we like this band? I'm not sure. A whole lot of people inside seem to dig it... and a line outside the door sure seems to confirm there are plenty more who want to hear. KEXP sure digs 'em. So they must be great, right?

Yes. They are great. In a town of timidity, Automaton stands apart, with an overt and imperious greatness.

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