Violent Friends Live @ Conor Byrne
October 27, 2017
By Todd Terry
The drummer’s t-shirt declared that “The Future is Fucked,” and then the Violent Friends launched into “Blister in the Sun.” Maybe the immediate future wasn’t going to be so bad after all.
The Friends are a Troy Nelson—of KEXP and The Young Evils notoriety— fronted Violent Femmes tribute band that formed earlier this year for a set at the Timber! Music Festival. On that warm July evening they turned the Campfire Stage into a sing-along like I haven’t heard since the hippy teacher at my elementary school led us in a rousing rendition of “The Cat Came Back.”
The stage set up at Conor Byrne kind of reminded me a little bit the old Colourbox in Pioneer Square, but, you know, less gross. The setlist consisted of the classic 1983 self-titled debut album, played in order, and ended with “American Music” from 1989s “3.”
Troy Nelson channeled a youthful Gordon Gano, the music had just the right folk punk swing, and the crowd raised their voices for songs that they knew by heart. The effect was an enticing mix of nostalgia and unity that seemed to bring a little light into the world of the fucked future. From the stage, Troy Nelson explained that the show was like a laser Dark Side of the Moon show, except that they were a Violent Femmes cover band at Conor Byrne. Sounds about right.
Drink of Choice: Olympia on draft. It’s the water.
Audience Participation: The show was on the edge of Halloween, so there was a smattering of costumed folks in the crowd. Some Disney princesses here, a Beetlejuice there, but I have to give the prize to the couple dressed as burlesque zombie miners. Their slow dancing was both mesmerizing and a little off-putting.
Most Valuable Player: For the majority of the set I was leaning towards drummer Eric Wennberg being my favorite for this show. He was making quite a racket with just a snare drum, wire brushes, and a tiny cymbal, but in the end the spotlight was stolen when his wife Jenni Wennberg came up to play glockenspiel on “Gone Daddy Gone.” I guess I’m a just sucker for some sweet glockenspiel.