The Shows: Good stuff

by BENNETT HANSON

Take a married couple with some musical know-how, add a drummer and a touch of angsty lo-fi noise-pop and you’ve got The Shows. Made up of Joe and Stephanie Douglas and Ron Lewis, The Shows bring their emotionally-charged indie-rockness to venues in Bellingham and Seattle where their unique dynamic is brought to the stage.

Proof that married couples can rock together far from the rocking chair on their porch, Joe and Stephanie each take up vocals in the band. “When we play, Joe and I face each other instead of the audience,” Stephanie said.

The band is working to strike a balance between interacting with the audience and maintaining a certain distance as performers, so that stage dynamic is still in the works, said Stephanie. Either way, anything is better than singing with your back to the audience like the local “it-band” of my middle schools years in Spokane – so don’t worry too much Stephanie.

The Shows was formed in 2011 the day after the Douglas’ honeymoon. “We didn’t want to fall into the pattern of sitting at home watching Netflix and just ‘being married’ – it’s nice to have something to do together that’s separate from our relationship,” Joe said. And of course, there’s Ron on the drums who rounds off the trio and who – one can imagine – mediates or goes to pick up the pizza when, and if, husband and wife squabble.

However, the songwriting is done by all three members and Joe and Stephanie seem to handle their marriage like professionals. “When we walk into band practice or into the venue for a gig, we’re not married – we’re band members,” Joe said. “We run the band like a business and so just like being on time for load-in is important, so is not being all ‘coupley’ at a gig.”

The Shows have released three EPs over the years and a live album of their 2013 gig at The Skylark in Seattle. Their Girl Imploded EP and Girl Exploded EP is mostly the same material but the latter EP is a “re-imagining” after Ron joined the band and includes an extra song “Faulty” not included on the first release. The Shows’ latest release, ATRAXIA EP, was issued in October of 2014 and reveals a morphing of the band’s sound.

“Our early sound was very much noise-pop but we’re evolving over time – letting more dynamics and complexity into the songs,” Stephanie said.

“We’re experimenting more with texture but trying to maintain that core ‘emotional’ sound that’s important to us,” Ron said.

The band has big plans for the near future. “We’re gonna pull a 180 – instead of putting out nine songs in three years we’re going to dump 30 songs next year,” Joe said. The Shows enjoy playing this new material at concerts to read people’s reactions and to get a better feel for the songs. “We really like to throw ourselves into the fire,” he said.

In The Shows’ early days they performed where the members of Death Cab for Cutie used to live. Though the gig wasn’t ideal, with snow on the ground and having to open for “a puppeteer who played with garbage on the ground,” the band had a positive experience and received an energetic response from the crowd, Joe said.

“It set the course for what our Bellingham shows would become – three sweaty people who gave it their all,” he laughed.

LIVE SHOW: The Shows play at the Wild Buffalo on July 16 with City Hall and STFU Robot. Their ATRAXIA EP is available through theshows.bandcamp.com and at Village Books. 

Published in the July 2015 issue of What’s Up!