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Oliver Elf Army celebrates ‘Telescope’ EP release

Oliver Elf Army at The Anchor Pub (Photo by Christine Mitchell)

The Anchor Pub was filthy with navy blue shirts that were brazenly emblazoned “EVERETT VS EVERYONE.” There were some folks looking around at this display of solidarity with confusion, but mostly they seemed bummed to not have a matching tee of their own. The shirts, masterminded by Henry J. of KSER‘s The Stereo Wire, were also worn by the members of Oliver Elf Army, who were celebrating the release of their Telescope EP. The band usually performs as a duo, but on this night they opted for the trio route, adding Henry J’s growling bass to the lower end of the mix. But let’s not put the cart before the horse, here, because the entire lineup was filthy with great music.

Sleepover Club stunned the whole place: it was the punk trio’s first time on stage, and they instantly became the room’s new favorite band. Screeching and screaming their way through songs with names like “Single Dad” and “Crime Baby,” Katee and Sierra shared guitar duties. Meanwhile drummer Sid pwned his child-sized drum kit in a vicious way, and he sang along, too. The crowd gave way to the largest mosh pit seen at The Anchor in recent memory, hair flying as folks shoved away their cares and their peers. After their set, Sleepover Club invited everyone who was underage to Denny’s after 11PM for “Saturday sundaes” (The Anchor is all ages until 11). They’ll be playing a house show in Seattle on March 24th that you might suddenly be interested in.

Moon Human started their chunk of the night off in a more subdued manner, but spent the duration building up their sound until they sounded almost like a different band after 45 minutes of playing. Their music tended to a spacey vibe, and the three members (Cosmosis Jones, Spaceboy Jonny Neptune, and Wizard Blue) obviously had fun playing together. Their interplay was fun to watch. Guitarist/vocalist Jones was the most active, cradling his guitar, hunched over it as he played, searching out the other two band members from underneath a “Canada” hat. Bassist Neptune seemed more serious, while Blue clearly enjoyed himself more than the other two combined, his wide grins from behind the drum kit lighting up the room. Waves and layers of noise built up as Moon Human played on, setting up the perfect handoff to Nail Houses.

Nail Houses has a couple of shows under the proverbial belt now, although maybe that doesn’t matter, seeing as Christian Smith has put his time in on stage with other bands. In any case, Nail Houses’ music came across as more powerful than ever. Smith led off with a track you can find online in demo form, “Wait, Commander,” a wall of noise that builds up to something that urges your body to start moving. He didn’t let up. Nobody wanted him to. Every song found its mark, heads were bobbing all around the room, and Smith, solo on stage with just his guitar and laptop, performed in a fervor. He’d roll his eyes back in his head and then suddenly attack his guitar with flying fingers. Nail Houses’ first EP is due out next month, and it’s our bet that as the days warm up, you’ll be hearing an electronic aural assault drifting out of windows in the know in Everett.

Giant shiny balloons spelling out “OEA” were placed along the brick wall behind the stage, and Oliver Elf Army took their places, each wearing the aforementioned shirts and each sporting a pair of Black Nikes in deference to the lead track from Telescope by that name. And never you mind that the 20th anniversary of the Heaven’s Gate massacre was that very night (it’s the subject of “Black Nikes”). The band chose to lead off with another track off Telescope, “The Ghost of Simon LeBon,” which was perfect, since “Rio” by Duran Duran had been playing just before their set started. Henry J.’s contribution on bass was immediately noticeable and welcome; OEA sounded huge and warm because of it. Old favorites were vocally heralded by the crowd, “Bellevue Brats” and “Dilaudid” standouts among them. Even the new tracks had been tested at least once or twice before in a live setting, and whether they were new to fans or not, they fit in perfectly with the set.

Oliver Elf Army’s music is very droll; the characters that inhabit their songs are quirky and flawed, and guitarist/singer Martin Adams seems to dryly poke fun at them all, even though they belong to him. Mary Adams serves as the highlighter as well as the keeper of time: her drums march us along, and her vocals remind us of single concepts: “Corridor! Corridor!” or “Love, love, love,” as Martin unleashes guitar around her. And Henry? Henry broke the imaginary barrier between the band and the fans, stepping out onto a subwoofer during the bridge of “Judy Do You Ever Miss Hell” with one hell of a bass solo. Of course, the crowd ate it up.

Of course, all good things must come to an end, although in Oliver Elf Army’s case, the room didn’t want to let go, which led to something supremely heartfelt and memorable. “Black Nikes,” the last song of the night, features an extended outro with the repeated refrain of “all I wanted to do was explore space with you.” Of course, everyone sang along. Of course, nobody wanted to stop. It was beautiful.

The celebration continued until The Anchor shut down. DJ goawaysun put on an Obscurist’s 80’s Disco Dance party, and about 30 diehards stayed to groove and/or watch the groovers. The front doors were locked, and stragglers had to leave by the side door next to the railroad tracks. Now THAT’S a sign of a good show.

 

Christine Mitchell has been poring over album liner notes pretty much since she acquired the skill of reading, and figured out the basic structure of rock songs at an early age. Whether it’s the needle popping into the first groove of the record, the beeps that signal the beginning (or end) of a cassette tape, or digital numbers ticking off the seconds from zero, music brings Christine happiness, ponderous thought, opportunities for almost scientific study, and sometimes a few tears. When she started attending live shows two decades ago, a whole new piece of the puzzle clicked in and she has been hooked ever since.