[photos by Happy Place Media
After guitarist Rachel Ratner announced they were going to play “a bunch of songs in a short amount of time”, wimps, a 3-piece punk band from Seattle, launched into “Vampire,” a short, relentless blast of rock ‘n’ roll which as far as I can tell is about being a vampire (or not!).
Here is a short clip of “Vampire” from wimps’ set at the Soda Bar on June 29th opening for Brooklyn singer/songwriter/musician Katie Von Schleicher:
Along with Ratner, bassist Matt Nyce and Drummer Dave Ramm round out the relatively new Seattle punk band. All three are veterans of the Seattle punk scene, having played in groups like Butts, Meth Teeth and The Intelligence, so they combine fresh enthusiasm with the skill of a more experienced band.
[photos by MaxSounds]
Ratner presents a bemused outlook as she lays down her riffs and spare, surf-inspired leads; Nyce can barely control himself from bounding all over the small corner stage. Meanwhile Ramm is back on the drums, looking amused at what’s playing out in front of him, and always driving the band forward. While their sound and energy reminded me of a marriage between the Ramones and the Go Go’s, the back-and-forth vocal interplay between Ratner and Nyce was reminiscent of (a much funnier) Exene and John Doe of X.
Before the show I had a chance to talk with Ratner and Nyce and asked them about the humor found throughout much of their songwriting and especially how they manage to stay on the right side of the clever vs. jokey line. Ratner said that when she is writing she definitely likes to find the humor in the song’s subject and that she often has to dial this tendency back so that going for the laugh doesn’t overwhelm the song. Nyce concurred, sharing that the final versions are often much tamer lyrically than the song might have started out.
The humor was especially evident in a couple of numbers off their excellent 2015 LP, Suitcase on the Kill Rock Stars label: “Dump” and “Old Guy”. Just check out those videos – then watch again as they’re played at full volume:
Don’t let the clever lyrics, deadpan delivery and stage banter fool you though. They attack each song with abandon, as drummer Dave Ramm often leads the charge into the next song even as the final chords of the previous number still ring in your ear. Their sound is aggressive without being abrasive and punk rock that isn’t afraid of a pop hook. And as much as I love seeing bands like this in small clubs like The Soda Bar, wimps’ brand of sardonic humor combined with a fun stage presence and insanely catchy punk rock will hopefully lead them to bigger stages and a wider audience in the future.
More from the show: “Couches” and “Take it As it Comes” – Soda Bar 06/29/16