We're gonna miss you guys.My (abridged) history with Pretty Girls Make Graves:
April 21, 2002: The band opens for Saves the Day at The Showbox. I was shocked I'd never heard of this band before. When they said "Hi, we're Pretty Girls Make Graves from right here in Seattle" and then proceeded to knock me on my ass, I felt lame. I knew nothing about the bands that my own city was putting out. But their sheer energy was enough to win me over*, and I later picked up Good Health, an album so good it still finds its way into my rotation to this day.
November 9, 2004: The band opens for Death Cab for Cutie at The Paramount. The band was boring, Andrea's vocals were more nasal than I remembered, I didn't recognize one of the people on stage (not knowing that guitarist Nathan Thelen had left the band), and the crowd response was weak, save for a handful of devoted fans at the front corner of the stage. They played nothing from Good Health, sticking to material from The New Romance and playing a couple of new songs. While I really loved The New Romance and I hate to be one of those people who says "their old stuff is so much better," the new album just wasn't as good as the old. I wanted to hear the songs from Good Health again, which was actually the reason I decided to go to the Death Cab show, and the band let me down.
June 9, 2007: The band plays their last show ever at Neumos. I'd wavered back and forth whether or not to go because of the disappointment that was Elan Vital. Figuring their legacy had already been soiled in my mind and the fact that I'd never been to a band's final show in their hometown, I decided to go. I'm glad I did, though the show sold out and they eventually scheduled an "early" last show, which sadly factored into their evening performance.
I arrived at the venue promptly as doors opened, only to see that Triumph was opening. For the uninitiated, Triumph (or Triumph of Lethargy [or Triumph of Lethargy Skinned Alive to Death]) is Spencer Moody's new band. For the even less in-the-know, that's Spencer Moody of Murder City Devils fame. Having seen this trainwreck of a band a few weeks earlier at a Blood Brothers show, I opted to wander the streets of Capitol Hill until the Moonrats went on.
I eventually found myself at a Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground show at the Pretty Parlor, which is Kirk and Kyle's (of Gatsbys American Dream fame) new band. I'll spare my history with Gatsbys and simply state that they are one of my favorite bands ever. That said, I'm fine with their hiatus/breakup/whatever as long as Kay Kay sticks around. The band was in top form this evening and I'm glad I skipped the Moonrats to see them. Unfortunately, the Pretty Parlor is a local clothing store and not a music venue, and they were putting on a fashion show after the band. As such, the place was full of lazy fashion kids sitting on the floor in front of the stage and other fashion kids that couldn't care less about the band. I didn't let it get to me, and had a good time from the back of the room.
I walked my way back to Neumos at about the time Pretty Girls were supposed to go on. The band took the stage about 15 minutes late. Andrea declared to the crowd "We're gonna miss you guys" before starting right into "Chemical, Chemical." The crowd went crazy, and I could immediately tell that the band was going to be better than when I saw them open for Death Cab.
The band played an excellent mix of songs from all of their full-length albums, but neglected to play anything from the EP. Ultimately, you could tell that the crowd was there to hear songs from Good Health. Anytime the band played anything from that album (and to a slightly lesser extent, The New Romance), the crowd exploded. The consensus that Elan Vital was not a good album was commonly understood in the room. I'll say this: For as much as I disliked Elan Vital, the songs are actually pretty decent live.
The band plowed through many of their songs in clusters, taking numerous lengthy breaks in between and actually telling the crowd "we've never played two shows in one day before." I thought that was mildly lame, since we were essentially getting the "evening show" and not the final show. But the band soldiered on and managed to play close to their entire repertoire. Ex-guitarist Nathan Thelen even joined them on stage for a final run of old songs from Good Health during the encore. The band finally closed out the show and their career with "Bring It on Golden Pond," an odd choice, but it still closed out their final show nicely.
All said, I'm really glad I went to the show, if only because it was a chance to see them play "Speakers Push the Air" and "Sad Girls Por Vida" and all of the other songs from Good Health one last time. Even though they took numerous breaks throughout the set, they definitely gave it 100% when they were playing.
* - I'd also like to say that even though my experiences with the band were mixed and their final show wasn't perfect, this was the band that showed me how important it was to pay attention to the music happening around me, and I owe them my eternal gratitude for that. I intend to repay that gratitude by seeing them when they reunite for Bumbershoot or the Capitol Hill Block Party in a few years.