The Chameleons Vox, Soft Kill, and Nostalgist
September 17, 2015 @ Neumos in Seattle
By Frida Ray
The night began pleasantly enough, with local shoegazers Nostalgist warming up the crowd with their dark drone. I’ve seen this band several times but tonight they were more relaxed and cohesive: a perfect opener for such an iconic band. I heard Nostalgist recently disbanded and I can’t think of a more wonderful way to end a project than sharing a night in one of Seattle’s best clubs with Chameleons Vox (the moniker they took following the loss of a band member).
Soft Kill, a post punk darkwave band from Portland that has served as main support for the Chameleons U.S. tour, took the stage next. These guys are purveyors of pleasant, dark pop but a bit of a “one trick pony.” By the third song I was off to bide my time in the bar until Chameleons showed themselves.
Time to fess up: I’ve been dying to see Chameleons for absolutely ever. Confession number two: I was worried that I was in for a “dinosaur’ show.” You know, those shows where you pay higher ticket prices to get a “light” version of your favorite songs of yesteryear tossed at you by geriatric has-beens who seem like they are only touring to cover their ObamaCare deductibles? In defense of my concerns, I think anyone who knows about the Chameleons knows that these dudes are pretty far along in years.
I am pleased to say that my fears were never realized. Mike Burgess, lead singer and bassist, took the stage with a happy grin, waving at the crowd. Bass in hand, he stepped up to the mic in one elegant stride to belt the classic “Don’t Fall” right at my face. I screamed like a teenage fan girl who had never been to a concert before. Not only did Burgess still rock the mic with sexy style (yes, I said sexy) but he owns the bass. Owns it. I kept screaming “Don’t Fall Lalalala!“ By the time the song was over I could barely breathe.
Song number four was my favorite Chameleons track, “Second Skin,” a track that sends me well into the depths of teenage nostalgia and still resonates with me today. I spent countless hours with my headphones on as a young girl, locked in my bedroom, pretending that Mr. Burgess was really singing “I dedicate this melody to you” just for me.
“No wonder I feel like I’m floating on air,” he sang on, and I’m pretty sure I was floating. I’m pretty sure everyone was.
This is the second time recently that I’ve been proud of normally stiff, aloof Seattleites cutting loose at a show. By about halfway through the set, the crowd at Neumo’s was dancing and singing along with every word.
Confession number three: “Less Than Human” and “Pleasure and Pain” had me wanting to light up a clove cigarette for the first time in twenty years. Oddly enough, when I sniffed the air I was sure I’d smelled the nasty contraband drifting through the exit door. Only moments later, during “Less Than Human,” I looked to my right to find two humongous dudes from Neumo’s security team, dancing in the doorway and bobbing their heads. Had the waft of cloves come from them? Turns out, it was a random Goth on the sidewalk, looking too broke to get in and just far enough away from the security exit to get hassled for trying to watch the show for free.
Before I knew it, I was being treated to an encore that included the beloved “Sing Rule Britannia (While The Walls Close In). I quickly came to the realization that there is no way to become a dinosaur if you’ve never stopped rocking. Chameleons rocked off my socks with the first song and didn’t let up once during their incredible set.