I’ve always believed I have a musical open mind. My musical tastes are pretty eclectic and I rarely dismiss anything until I’ve heard it. I have a core musical belief that there’s no good music and no bad music, just the music one doesn’t like. That’s kept me actively listening to new music from the 1960’s through the present, though I am finding it harder and harder to keep up even with Spotify.
Though I give myself a little pat on the back that I’m not stuck in the ’70’s, the music lover that I really appreciate is my son, Patrick. Pat is 32 and he knows far more music than I ever will. Since Pat was a little boy he’s listened to music and by the time he was an adolescent began compiling his mental playlists. Today I can safely say Patrick has forgotten more music than I know, and his interests are as broad as the Milky Way from Led Zepplin to Snoop Dogg to MGMT and beyond. He’s also brought his wonderful wife Michelle along on his life of musical discovery. To talk music of any kind with either of them is just a treat. They’ve taken me with them to concerts, including to see Roger Waters’ The Wall, Soundgarden, and The Zombies, probably three of the most memorable musical experiences of my life. I really appreciate it; it means a lot to me.
Of course, Pat plays in a band. Pat’s played in bands since he was a teenager: Zoe Imbiotic, the Color of East. He still plays in a band, Death by Stars that includes Michelle and their friend Rafael Martinez. They’re good, a pleasure to listen to. You can catch one of their songs, “Le Voyeur,” on Spotify.
But a couple of times the past year, Pat’s cut loose and played a solo accoustic set. Last night he played at the Amocat Cafe in Tacoma with friends Adam Hendricks and Deborah Page. I was on the fence about whether to attend. It’s been a really long week. It was a deadline week for JagWire, and just a string of 15 hour days. My back’s been bothering me, and it would have been easy to call it good and try to catch the next show. That would have been a mistake and I’m glad I was there.
I arrived at the Amocat at about 6:30. Adam was scheduled to open at 5:30. When I got there they were behind, Adam hadn’t started yet. Surprise, surprise, such is the nature of the bar band scene. Adam played about a ten song set. I’ve always heard great things about his music and I am glad I heard him play. I was most impressed with his songwriting which often had political overtones. Though is voice wasn’t anything special, the songs were enough fun to carry his performance. Fun stuff.
Pat was on next. This bears a bit of story telling. Patrick and Michelle both use stage names. Patrick W. Smyth is Patrick Galactic. I think it’s hilarious. I’m not sure his great grandpa Smyth would have felt the same way. On the other hand, it’s goofy to receive all these tumblr generated messages that announce gigs for Death by Stars from Patrick Galactic. Michelle is a member of Death By Stars, plays keyboards and vocals, and also goes by the stage name of Cherry Danger. She’s amazing, and I love the name. What I really like is when I’m at some kind of function with the two of them in which they’re using their pseudonyms, I get to play along. I’m Papa Galactic.
Pat also played about a ten song set. A lot of the music was original stuff, some of it from his previous band Color of East, much of it from Death by Stars. It was all good. But what really blew me away were the three covers he chose. He opened with Tom Petty’s “A Woman in Love” from “Hard Promises.” His performance was a great mix of great singing and super performance. It set the tone for the night. Pat really commanded the stage, and set out to connect with his audience. I really enjoyed DBS’s “Lois Lane” for its fun lyrics. Smack in the middle of the set Pat dragged out another oldie, Billy Joel’s “Movin’ Out” from “The Stranger.” Cherry D. joined him onstage for a couple more DBS songs. He accompanied her vocals, and they were flat out amazing. I’ve known Michelle for at least 14 years, and couldn’t imagine she could produce those kind of vocals. She has a smooth, but smoky voice that is evocative of somebody I know and admire but I can’t quite make the connection. Maybe Dusty Springfield with a bit more bite. Pat closed with David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream” from Ziggy Stardust. Another strange but wonderful choice.
Take it for what it’s worth, a father writing about his son’s performance, but I thought it was really good. I’ve been going to Pat’s shows since he was 14, and while I’ve always been supportive, have not been unreservedly enthusiastic. Let’s just say I’ve been honest about Pat’s music. He wants to lead a musician’s life. It’s a hard road. Lots of late nights, the prospects of perhaps touring, balancing with day jobs: it’s more than I could do. But together Pat and Michelle want that for themselves. Honestly this is the best performance I’ve ever seen from my son. His song choices were a incredible. It demonstrates a great pop sensibility, perfect for this kind of show. His vocals were clear and confident, something he’s been working on for years. Michelle’s vocals were a superb contrast in style. Both were powerful, on key, the real deal.
I enjoyed the show immensely, more than any other I”ve seen. I’m really glad I was there. If you get the chance you should check them out.
Pics are from my iPhone, so they’re not great, and I foolishly didn’t get a picture of my beautiful and talented daughter-in-law.