Vera Project - The Pseudo Show (Punk Rock Play) (Cover Artwork)

Vera Project

The Pseudo Show (Punk Rock Play) (2002)

live show

Picture this - a punk rock show, with three bands. The first band is playing their first ever show, and they're nervous. The second band, well, they couldn't make it this evening, but they're little brothers all formed a band and are taking their place! The third band, well, they're breaking up and playing their last show. However, it's all staged.

Directed by Malte "Joe Commie"-Frid Nielsen, and hosted by The Vera Project (Seattle's All-Ages Music Organization), the theme of the play is that of a punk rock show. As you stand outside in line, waiting for the doors to open, the play has already begun. Actors all around you (and you don't know who they are) have begun weaving their tales. Once you enter the venue, you can go wherever you want - the green room, where the artists prepare to play. You can check out the lobby and see people (who knows if they're actors or real people) interact. You can go down to the stage and see people swarming around, waiting for the first band to come on. It's a "no stage play". It's almost like one of those "choose your own adventure" stories. Almost all the doors are unlocked to you, and you can shape your own experience. It'd be impossible to follow every storyline (assuming you knew who to follow), but just milling around - you'll experience the true punk rock experience.

Outside, waiting in line, two punks start making havoc outside. Definately something you've seen before. As the doors open, you pay the $5 and go to the lobby, and see people hanging out. You notice one drunken punk whose already disagreeing with the security guard. Whatever. You hear live noise coming from the theater.

Three hot local bands from the Seattle area all played. First up were the Schoolyard Heroes, whose psuedo punk band name was "RobotRobotRobot". It's their first show, and they're nervous! The play ran three different days, and each time the bands played a bit differently. The first night, well, the drummer ended up quitting in the middle of the set, as he yelled "screw this band" and walked off. Luckily they had another drummer to come in and finish the set for them. Meanwhile, the rest of the band couldn't quite get their sound together. Stage fright? The crowd didn't enjoy it. As their set ended, they finally pulled off a song, but left dissapointed. Time to head off to the lobby. Not too much going down. You notice some people getting thrown out by the security guards, so you go down to the green room. You see the members of RobotRobotRobot arguing and yelling at each other. It's a sad sight to see, so you go back to the lobby and pickup "Bandwhore Zine". You read about how the three of the four members of RobotRobotRobot got their name. Apparently, lead singer Ryann wanted to be called the Small Wonders, while Steve the guitarist wanted to be the R2D2's... and Jonah the big bassist wanted to be called the George W. Bushes! Since they were all robots, they decided on the name RobotRobotRobot. They also talked about how excited they were for their first show.

The next two shows, they had different things happen. The second day, the guitarist and bassist had more problems -- their dance moves were off and they were constantly bickering at each other. It was pretty hilarious to see, especially being a fan of the actual band -- seeing something different. The third day, after a bit of stage fright during the first song, you could hear someone say "okay we're tired of fucking up", and pulled it together and played a great set. During the song "Schoolyard Heroes", they flawlessly broke out into a verse of "El Scorcho" - definately something cool. I remember seeing the band for the first time (the actual band, that is), and they played Weezer's "Tired of Sex" and made jokes about how they weren't a "fucking jukebox". Aww, how you've grown up. Anyway, too much of reality. Back to the play...

You read about the next band coming up, sxe rockers "Tyrannosarus X-Rated" (played by local hardcore punk rock band Youth at Risk). Reading the interview was a bit disheartening -- the entire time they were yelling at each other and calling each other names. During each question, they'd end up just calling each other names and bitching at each other. That doesn't bode well for the show. Sure enough, you go back to the main stage to see the main security guard, Joe Commie, announcing that Tyrannosaurus X-Rated couldn't make it to the show, but that their little brothers, Tyrannosauris Jr., have come to take their place. After an initial shock filled with booing, they start playing and they rock the house! That is, until, you see two huge security guards take down some blonde kid. Right in the middle of the set, in the pit, these guys started beating up on this poor kid! These two punks, the drunk guy we saw earlier, and some other kid, totally started bitching about it afterwords -- they were right on. It was funny though, the security guards accidently punched this annoying kid and he started whining. Whatever. T-Rex Jr. finishes the set. You're tired so you go back out to the lobby.

You buy a can of diet coke (for a dollar!), and you sit back. You're tired from that last pit. Those kids can rock. You see Alana, from Bandwhore Zine, interviewing the drunken punk guy. His friend, who I've been paying a lot of attention to, sat next to him. Then this chick, pretty attractive, pretty preppy looking, goes and stands next to the punk. She compliments him on his leather jacket and patches, and starts telling him about how she got her jean jacket at Hot Topic -- and then all of a sudden he blows up at her! He starts yelling at her, it was pretty sad. It's that punker than thou attitude, and he made the poor girl cry, running in the bathroom. Luckily her friends are there to comfort her. After he left, his drunken friend starts talking about how his buddy has been in the scene for a year, and everyone laughs. Right as the third band begins to start, the girl comes storming out of the bathroom, with some hatred in her eyes. Definately, you want to follow her. She goes down into the pit and practically tackles the dude, but there's no hard feelings, it's fucking punk rock.

The last band, "Tiny Tantrom and the Nervous Breakdowns" (played by Apocalypsticks) begin playing. It's their last show. The first song, "Toilet Love", is a bit uh.. slow... a bit too groovy. Nobody is really getting into it, until the drunk guy comes back! He yells at the band about how they got him into punk ten years ago. The lead singer, Tiny, yells "do you wanna rock?" and they do indeed. The set is kicking ass, the show is coming to an end, and they have one final song. This last song was an escape clause for the play, I think. Because no matter how bad it turned out, this last song would make everyone leave happy. The show had been a huge success at that time, however, and the ending was perfect. From the drum beat intro, you thought "wait... this sounds familiar", and then you hear the first guitar riff. You see all the actors, including the security guards and the director all in the pit. They're playing a cover, a Dead Kennedys cover. The circle pits erupt, people are singing along. "I am Governer Jerry Brown, my aura smiles and never frowns... soon I will be president." To me, at least, this is punk rock. California! Uber Alles! Everyone starts moshing with all their energy as the all-girl band totally rocks out, and you get goosebumps as you realise what a great time you've had. You realize your love for punk rock, you realize what a great idea this play was, and you sing the chorus at the top of your lungs. During the outro, all the actors take a bow, and then start the pit up again. The hot topic girl is crowd surfing, you're still yelling the words at the top of your lungs, up until the show ends. As you walk out, you notice the drunk passed out on the floor next to the bathroom. As the security guards come and see him, and check the bathroom, its realized that he's been shooting up, and they take him to the hospital. The scene really reminded me of "SLC punk". The security guards yell that everything is going to be okay.

Long enough review for you? Sadly this play only ran three days, from May 29th to the 31st. It's definately an interesting idea, and it was a huge amount of fun. I went all three days, and each day was different in its own way, although the final show was probabaly the best. It wasn't too fake. There were a couple fights, some yelling, and the bands all had alter egos. This is definately something I'd love to see again, or even see a sequal too. They even had patches of the fake bands. They had fake zines and fake posters too (including one for Minor Threat coming). It was definately a great experience, and extremely unique. I'm not into theater too much honestly, but the idea of an open play with no one stage was something new to me. The "adventure" I showed you guys was one of the many paths you could have taken while viewing this play. Definately, this was one of the most interesting things I've seen in the punk rock scene.