The Sonics in Seattle 2008 – LOUIE of the Month!

Today, I’m sharing a LOUIE LOUIE that was a long time overdue.

Amongst Northwest rock bands from the early 1960’s, the Sonics had a different approach from their peers. They had a very raw sound… a precursor to punk, grunge, and metal thrash years before anyone ever started using such terms. Formed in 1960 by some Tacoma teenagers, this iconic band released two groundsbreaking albums on the Etiquette record label before the original group fell apart in 1967. While never achieving the mainstream stardom reached by other bands, The Sonics were clearly ahead of their time, and have been acknowledged by such fellow musicians as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, and Nirvana, to name but a few. A few years ago, they received some extra attention when their 1965 recording of Richard Berry’s “Have Love Will Travel” was used for a Land Rover TV commercial.

Nobody ever expected a reunion of the Sonics. Lead singer Jerry Roslie was considered a “Howard Hughes” of the pre-punk rock music – an eccentric indivdual that had no interest in ever stepping back on stage again. There were rumors that divisions within a group were irreconcilable, and it appeared that a Sonics reunion would truly be an impossible dream.

Luckily, all of the different theories and rumors were categorized as utter nonsense when the Sonics reunited at the big CaveStomp show in New York City last year. The CaveStomp event was followed up by two shows in London five months later, and then a series of performances in Europe, where an international audience eagerly embraced the chance to see these iconic rockers onstage. Ironically, it appeared that the biggest audiences for American music from the past, was outside of America. Very odd, but unfortunately, all too common…

For those in the Seattle-Tacoma area, it was frustrating to know that this band had not arranged a proper homecoming performance. Eventually, a special Halloween show was scheduled at the Paramount Theater in Seattle, which happened to be the location for would have been the been the last Sonics show- a one-shot reunion that took place in 1972.

When I found out about this special show, I purchased a pair of tickets as soon as they were available. Last weekend, I flew out to Seattle, and attended this event, which was well worth every single penny, including airline fare, accomodations, car rental and other expenses.

The Sonics delivered a very powerful performance which included their best original songs (“Psycho,” “Boss Hoss,” “The Witch,” “Strychnine,” “The Waiting”) and some excellent covers, which included two Richard Berry songs – “Have Love Will Travel” and “LOUIE LOUIE.”

Today, I’m declaring their version of LOUIE LOUIE as “LOUIE of the Month,” which I’ve never awarded to any other performance of LOUIE LOUIE. I’m sharing some video that shot with a small pocket camera. The audio is raw, and definitely not ready for any prime-time video productions in it’s current configuration, but I wanted to share this material for those folks anxious to see this.

In this clip you can even see one of the special guests for this event – Little Steven Van Zandt, who’s got that Underground Garage radio show.

Here’s another camera angle of the same performance, captured by my friend Merri, who runs the Sonics MySpace page.

Congratulations, SONICS, and welcome back! Hopefully, there will be more shows…. including some in the San Francisco region. I saw a healthy handful of Bay Area residents at this event, and I know there’s plenty of others that would have loved to have seen this show.