Ship to Ship, Pan Pan, Falling Upstairs, Partwolf: March 30th at The Shakedown

Trying to define Part Wolf through any conventional genre is pretty difficult. The band is Bill Badgley (Fed X) on vocals and bass, Jason Sands (PRND, Frozen Cloak, Reeks and the Wrecks, etc.) on guitar and a vintage drum machine backing them up. If there was a genre to describe them, it could be classified as “doom pop” or something like that. This was their first set with a bass and it really rounded out their sounds, or as Badgley put it, “the bass is like the skeleton inside the skin.” The band closed their set with “Afrobeat,” which is a name derived from the drum track they used for the song. With screechy start-stop guitar riffs, the aforementioned drum beat and the reverb-soaked vocals, it was the highlight of their set, in my humble opinion.


The booming set by Part Wolf was then followed by a much milder performance from Pan Pan. Sarah “Strongbow” Jerns is the leader of the band, and is easily the best piano player I have ever seen in Bellingham. The music is pretty, delicate, jazzy and very much focused on the nimble finger work of Jerns. It has been a while since I have seen Pan Pan play, and it was just as good as I remember it being.


The jazzy, saxophone-laden music continued with Falling Upstairs. While their music is definitely rooted in jazz, there are plenty of elements also taken from Dischord-type post-punk. The saxophone work of Ryan Wapnowski is the main focus of the group, but watching Jonathan Sherman play drums is the most entertaining part of the show. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: He works hard and beats the crap out of those drums.


The final act of the night, which was Shakedown co-owner Marty Watson’s birthday, was Ship to Ship. The band hails from Bellingham, but has members that have called Portland and Seattle home at various times. The experimental, loop-utilizing, instrumental sound of the band recalls former Bellingham greats like Todos Somos Lee and the Rooftops. While the band does work in the same vein as those bands, they bring a little extra to the table as they are a little bit leaner in terms of song-length and less bogged down by the more proggy aspects of the genre.