Seattle beats Portland as Flop’s unsullied exuberance outdoes Everclear’s grating thrash-punk in Vancouver


By Steve Newton

After being seduced by several catchy tunes on the latest Flop album, Whenever You’re Ready, I was definitely ready to check out the quartet’s energized brand of thrash-pop in a live setting. But my enthusiasm for the new music put together by these former members of Seattle acts the Fastbacks, Pure Joy, Chemistry Set, and Seers of Bavaria wasn’t the main reason that I lugged my tuckered-out butt over to the Starfish Room on Thursday (January 13). I was also interested in seeing what was up with the latest addition to the Vancouver nightclub scene. Would the recently opened Starfish Room be a worthy replacement for that location’s prior incarnations, the Big Easy and Club Soda? Could it be any worse?

I don’t know what the atmosphere of the Starfish Room is like on the nights when live bands are replaced by recorded dance music, but from what I saw of the place last week, its days as a classic-rock meat market/hard-rock poser bar are surely over.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d had a few good times at the Homer Street venue during the Soda days when bands like the Black Crowes, Stu Hamm, Goddo, and even D.O.A. rocked the joint, but quite often I’d picked up a shallow, semihostile vibe from the bar’s party-hearty patrons. That’s not the case with the current venue, which caters to a young, alternative-minded crowd that couldn’t care less about the tightness of its jeans or whether a sloshed Skid Row was gonna drop by for drinks in the roped-off VIP section. Everybody in attendance last Thursday seemed as if they were there for one reason only—to see and hear original bands. And that’s a beautiful thing.

Unfortunately, the music delivered by opening act Everclear was no screaming hell, even though the band’s lead vocalist made a valiant attempt at howling like a demon from the depths. The noisy, feedback-laden thrash-punk of the Portland quartet grated on yours truly, but still managed to go over quite well with the majority of the crowd. (Kids nowadays. What’s with ’em?)

Flop fared much better to my amp-blasted ears, even though the group’s musicianship got sloppier as the gig progressed. The unsullied exuberance of gems such as “Julie Francavilla” and “A. Wylie” still hit home in a Ramones–meet–Dave Clark Five kinda way, though, and wild-man drummer Nate Johnson showed moments of Keith Moon–like ferocity. The band members also scored points for looking way too young for legal entry into a Canadian bar, let alone one in their own stomping grounds.

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