by Josh Vanek
Among the bands of the last twenty years, as far as we can tell, there's just a few that really have kind of ruled the roost as much for us as Thrones have. So, we decided to go out to Oregon for their twentieth anniversary show about a week ago. It was a rager, Joe Thrones was notably moved by the turnout and attention folks paid to his deal. There was cake, there were dudes in black leather jackets, there was a poor selection of beer in arguably the country's beer capital. It was a rock show! Back about twenty years ago, a twenty-or-so year old Josh saw Thrones first ever show. I didn't know it at the time, but that's what was going on at the Madrona Hills Winery with Unwound and the Waydowns.
Thrones was unquestionably the evening's highlight, and cranked out a set of full-tilt, vocoder-laden whatever-it-is-he-does exactly. And I think that's probably the biggest part of the charm. Thrones isn't a doom band. It also isn't an experimental band. It's not a lot of things. It's too omnivorous for the metal purists and probably too riffy for the noise donks. But somehow, those dudes can see past their musical barriers and just feel the vibe. And it's just a real treat of a thing that Thrones does, I think.
Mostly, you can't help but be moved by what a savage the guy is on the bass, and with the sounds he makes. It's definitely a craft he's studied, perfected and mastered and I tell you what, there are few people I'd rather see on stage for about an hour. Here's to you, Thrones. That night was kind of special. Oh, and he covered Trees by Rush, which I'd never seen.
It's worth noting that both Daniel Menche and Survival Knife, who both also played, tore shit up in their own rights. Menche wove a big single quilt of noise-scape, complete with a contact-miked metal plank that he held up to his throat while singing, and laid down plenty of texture and build to command a pretty solidly rocking 25 minutes on the stage. Survival Knife, with Justin and Brandt from Unwound and the Kris Cunningham (who slayed Nudity's tubs) and Meg (who I don't know from other bands), were good too. Kind of a straight ahead punk and post hardcore vibe, compared with Unwound's more moody/feedbacky deal. I think for the music they're making, it would've been more intense for me had it been played faster.
More on Thrones: The guy's an excellent free spirit, and kind of an anomaly in 2014: label-less and booking agent-free, and with as far as we can count, just a couple vinyl releases (Wage War 7" and Sedan split 12") over the last ten or so years. He does Thrones on his own time, and exactly as he wants to, and with no pretense. Recently, he's been uploading great live sets up to his webstore, here. More folks should check it out.