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Andy’s Accidental Trip to Big Ass Boombox 2019

Posted by January 15th, 2019 1 Comment »

6th Annual Big Ass Boombox Music Festival 
Jan. 4, 2018 @ The Crocodile
By Andy Bookwalter  
Photos by Travis Trautt

I accidentally went to a music festival the other day. Rather, I meant to go, I just didn’t expect to really go. Certainly I had no plans to put pants on AGAIN, as I’d already transitioned into the sweatpants phase of the day. But, my love for Actionesse is that pure love that only exists between a 50 year old man and a much younger rock and roll band, and Actionesse was headlining.

I brought my 14 year old son, because a free all ages show should be shared and I know the clock is ticking down to the day that he’ll be mortified by me and everything I care about. I needed him to know that no matter how cold a place the world seems to be, no matter how much 21st century white American teenagers are a brutally persecuted minority, there is always a place in hardcore for trombones and big saxophones. 

But first, a bunch of other bands. 


Monsterwatch (#41for2017) reminded me of PiL, but not because of the way they looked or sounded or any of their songs. Maybe it was a trick of the light, but for some reason I thought “John Lydon could play these songs.”

Secret Superpower was up next. In a night-of tweet I compared them favorably to the Go-Go’s, which was a lazy comparison then and remains so now, but it’s also not totally off. They were having some issues with the sound board, so from where I stood in the underage corral the vocals were a little underdone, but I’m pretty sure that Paige and Kira up front were harmonizing in a sort of retro-ish new wave kind of way. I liked them a lot. Hopefully they’ll stick around.

Secret Superpower

Vox Mod’s music for robots made me nervous. Don’t use that as an argument for or against it, or electronic music in general; I’m an old man who’s stuck in my ways. 

Strawberry Mountain (#41for2018) won me over right off the bat by bringing out an upright bass and then not playing rockabilly on it. In fact, Seattle’s (I assume) leading proponents of high guitar-wearing, hair in your face, psychedelic nerd pop played no billy at all. Just, well, high guitar wearing hair in your face psychedelic nerd pop.

Strawberry Mountain

Personally, I was getting antsy for Actionesse (my reason, after all, for putting on pants and hauling my child to Belltown) so when three women wearing bell bottoms and acoustic guitars got up and started playing polished folky country rock it was touch and go, but dammit, Charlie and the Rays were great. So great, in fact, that according to their Facebook page they’ve already broken up and are moving to NYC.

Finally, Actionesse! Trombones and saxophones and great spazzy punk rock. The band wore pajamas and took naps and when they brought cereal and milk, they actually did bring enough for the whole audience. Jake had some, but I’ve been around long enough to know not to eat dairy products handed to you by a punk band. 

To sum up the night, Jake’s top two bands were Actionesse and Monsterwatch. Mine were Actionesse and Charlie and the Rays. And Secret Superpower. Also Strawberry Mountain. A nice bit of father/son quality time, with guitars! 

Lead image of Seattle band Sea Salt. Check out a full album of Travis’s photos from Big Ass Boombox 2019 on our Flickr page.

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