Chop Suey, Seattle
November 12, 2017
Words and Photos by Todd Terry
Hot Snakes do not care for the kids.
That message was loud and distorted when they went into the powerful rumble of “I Hate the Kids” at their sold out show at Chop Suey last month.
The group’s Rick Froberg and John Reis have been making beautifully dissonant music together since they actually were kids, so maybe that explains some of their animosity towards youth. The pair formed their first band, Pitchfork, in sunny San Diego in 1986, and have continued to collaborate for over 30 years. They formed the post-hardcore band Drive Like Jehu in 1990 and the more primal Hot Snakes in 1999. All the while, Reis also fronted the mighty Rocket from the Crypt.
On this night, Hot Snakes were a thunderous riff machine powered by Rick Froberg’s throat shredding vocals and voluminous amounts of perspiration from the band. Reis was sweating like a lady of the evening in a Southern Baptist church outside of Atlanta on a warm summer day. With every swing and sway of his guitar, droplets of moisture flung into the crowd. From my vantage point right by the stage left speakers, the show was an immersive and visceral experience for all of the senses. Music to be felt as much as heard.
The 21-song, 70-minute set included songs from all three of their albums, as well as a couple of (possibly?) new tracks. The band was recently signed to Sub Pop, who will be releasing their first album in 14 years, as well reissuing their three previous albums. The reissues will be available in variety of formats including, strangely enough, cassette tape. (I once had a pretty extensive tape collection too, but the renewed interest in the format has me kind of mystified. What’s next? 8-track? Reel-to-reel?)
Drink of Choice: Jellyfish Smack IPA at Bar Sue before the show, and PBR Tall Boys at the venue.
Audience Participation: I am not tall, so if I want to see the performers during a show, I sometimes have to work to get a good spot. I made my way forward, ending up in front of a Vancouver Canucks fan who told me that he was going to “rub against me the whole show” if I stood in front of him. Say what? Needless to say I moved on and gave that gentlemen plenty of space. He kept yelling “Hot Fucking Snakes” between songs, so he had that going for him.
Most Valuable Player: I really enjoyed drummers Jason Kourkounis and Mario Rubalcaba rotating in and out of the set like it was a WWE tag team match. Both made a striking impression, with the former in pigtails and the latter sporting a sweet Hoodoo Gurus shirt, but my favorite was bass player Gar “Forgets His Insulin” Wood. With his thinning hair and glorious mustache, he is a dead ringer for Orange is the New Black prison warden / Sideboob bassist Joe Caputo. His shirt demanded more cowbell, and his excitement about being on the stage was contagious. I really don’t think there was anywhere else he would have rather been. Me neither.