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Bomb Garden 

by Luke Baumgarten & r & & r & Less Booze, More Pop & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & I & lt;/span & noticed something. Music's better now. Our scene, right now, is better than it was last year. If you're expecting some subjectivist rant, sorry. I've gone out and dug up some hard, anecdotal evidence. That's how you can tell I'm serious.

Last year in Spokane, as with most years in most places, Cinco de Mayo was a debaucherous sex-fest. As such, most of the music heard that night issued from open bar doors or was crammed sideways through marble-mouthed pick-up lines. We had James Pants and Supervillain at Mootsy's, Cary Fly at Hedge House and perennials Milonga at Casa de Oro. Good acts all, but each inevitably the backdrop for your regrettable hookup. Of the few performances classifiable under "gigs for gig's sake," the best (Aloha at Empyrean) was almost completely deserted.

This year is different. Bar gigs are still prevalent, but more bands are playing fewer boozy venues, and pre-sales are promising. Mootsy's staple Burns Like Hellfire is playing an all-ages gig at the Big Dipper. Morrissey's already sold around 500 tickets. Thomas Ruble is expecting big crowds for the USE and Velella Velella show at Whitworth.

Of those gigs tied to bars, the Yokohama Hooks show kicks off a Brooklyn-and-back national tour, something incredibly promising in itself.

It's a significant moment in the life of a scene when a hookup factory like the Big Easy opens its doors to an all-ages show (and Morrissey, no less) on this big a booze-sales night. It's similarly important when Seattle club bands decide to take a one-stop trip east to play a dry all-ages gig at a Presbyterian college's multi-purpose room. Though Velella Velella are Whitworth alumni, USE's connection is purely karmic. That isn't to say Cinco de Mayo's been cleaned up -- at least, we hope not. It just means the music scene, both from without and from within, is stronger.
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