by Clint Burgess

My dilemma on Saturday night: Seawolf or D.O.A.? I opted for Seawolf at Mootsy's and was therefore halfway delighted to hear later that D.O.A. was a no-show at the B-Side. Always nice to make the choice that pans out.

I arrived at Mootsy's, one of Spokane's few "sure-thing" establishments, to the customary Saturday night packed house. Patrons were already feeling it, and the mood was festive. Six State Bender provided the punk rock drinking tunes and put on a marvelous show, complete with punch-in-the-stomach jams and a cowboy hat. This band gets kudos for bringing local punk legend "Joey" Rizzo to the mike for a guest spot that left the crowd howling and glasses held high.

The Authorities went up next, opening with a gritty, blues-punk song that was easy on the ears, heavy on the swagger, and with just the right amount of ear-piercing distortion. One commonality among the bands was a high-output noise level. As I often gauge the success of punk shows by how long my ears rang afterwards, it's sufficient to say this one came off well. As I rolled around the bar between bands, locals and scenesters alike testified to the proficiency of the barkeeps. More than one patron said the cold beers almost made up for the scorching temperatures inside.

The night wore on and my main motivation for coming began to take shape as Seawolf started to set up. The last two times I struck out to worship at the altar of Seawolf, the guys didn't make it, and I began to wonder if this mythic three-piece even existed. My beliefs were confirmed Saturday night: The battle cry of "Seawolf Saves" lives on. The tiny dance floor in front of the pseudo-stage was pushing maximum occupancy when Spokane's favorite punk sons eased into their mind-blowing set. If I sound like I'm gushing, I'm not. The band turned in a radical set that featured past and present favorites and even a cover from guitarist Jon Swanstrom's former band, The Flies. The anomaly behind the drum kit that is Gus Trapp was truly awe-inspiring. It is beyond me how that guy goes a hundred miles past supersonic every time he plays. I just keep waiting for him to explode. Another plus about this show was the vocals. Bassist Tim Absolonson's voice was the perfect blend of gritty croon and '70s suave. Past shows have been marred by bad vocal mixes, but Saturday's was right on the mark.

The music went until about 1:30 am and the obligatory schmoozing followed. I bailed out soon after, but the festivities seemed to have no intention of fizzling out. If you haven't heard Seawolf, you must. Unfortunately, they don't get out much -- but when they do, you're in for a treat.

Publication date: 07/17/03

Northwest Winterfest @ Spokane County Fair & Expo Center

Fridays, 5-8 p.m., Saturdays, 4-8 p.m. and Sundays, 3-6 p.m. Continues through Jan. 1
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