Red Fang, Federation X, Uh Oh, Feb. 15 at the Shakedown

For some, the term “stoner rock” and whatever it implies is seen as a derogatory knock on whatever band is being labeled as such. But, for me, it has always been a flag I’m more willing to fly. I grew up on Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss, Sleep, Fu Manchu, Electric Wizard, Orange Goblin and a host of other bands that were kicking it around the California desert during my youth as an underachieving slacker in Los Angeles.

There is something about unapologetic, thick riffs, turned-up and slowed down. Songs about driving in cars, getting stoned, getting laid and partying up in every way possible: were the subjects of everything I did not do in high school. Yet, I was obsessed with the music. When I finally (and thankfully) left that wasteland of a city, and moved to the Pacific Northwest, my love of rock of the stoner variety took a new twist when I was introduced to Portland’s Red Fang, and then eventually Bellingham’s own Federation X. Bellingham also became the place where I eventually did all those things mentioned in all those stoner rock songs I loved (thanks a lot, Bellingham!) So, it did not take very long for both of these bands to be on regular rotation on whatever cheap iPod knock-off I had at the time. Long story short: when I first heard about this bill, I pooped my drawers (figuratively speaking.) And, apparently so did everyone else in town, as tickets sold out quick.

Uh-Oh opened the show and were awesome. They won the What’s Up! Award for best new band, and for very good reason. I thought the vocals were way too low (or maybe the guitar and drums were just way too loud, if there is such a thing,) but, other than that it was a great set-up for what was to come next. Andrew Nickerson’s guitar playing is pretty killer, and is a perfect match for the thick-riffed mayhem that would follow, and I swear every time I see Lupe play drums it is better and better. She is really turning into an insane drummer.

Next up, was Federation X, who has become a band that I make an effort to see every single time they play (which is not nearly enough, in my opinion.) But, seriously, Bill Badgley and company tear the crap out of venue every time they play. The twin guitar assault is the best thing about the band. There are not many two guitarist bands in town that I can think of that play so fluidly together. The riffs are tasty, the drums are loud, and even though every song kind of sounds the same (another staple of the stoner rock genre, for good an ill) it really doesn’t matter because all I want to hear are heavy-ass riffs, loud drums and shouting vocals- and Fed X does it better than anyone else around here.

Red Fang closed out the set with insanity, that resulted in me getting elbowed in the head a couple times and getting my feet stomped on incessantly. It really does not matter though, as I had plenty of Rainier in my system to not feel a thing.

In the end, I left that night with ringing ears, a sore everything and a high that only the best music can bring. I don’t care if any of those bands like being labeled under the stoner rock genre (sorry if you do,) but it is what it’ll always be to me.