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Opening for The Clean and saying farewell to The Satyricon.

September 26, 2010

Quasi will be opening for New Zealand band The Clean on October 5th at Holocene in Portland. Tickets are only $13 and are available through Brown Paper Tickets here, or you can buy them at the door for $15. Additionally, the band is playing one of the farewell shows at The Satyricon (also in Portland) along with Pond and M99 on October 23rd. This information is courtesy of the band’s Facebook page.

For your viewing pleasure, this is one of the cooler clips of the band available on YouTube, playing “Featuring ‘Birds” opening track, “Our Happiness is Guaranteed” at the Satyricon in 1998.


Featuring “Quasi” – How I Got Into Quasi, and Why This Blog

September 24, 2010

Photo by A.S. Van Dorston

Quasi came out with Hot Shit! at exactly the right time for me. I was fifteen years old, and had been listening to Quasi only a little bit for about a year or so. Like many others, I had heard of them through Sam playing bass for Heatmiser, who I of course knew as being the band of singer/songwriter Elliott Smith. It was 2003, and my normal teenage angst had become directed at politics; I knew I was a bleeding heart from a very young age, and it was really the height of George W. Bush’s idiocy. The Iraq War had begun in March of that year, as if I didn’t have enough to be angry about already.

Sam and Janet had never been especially quiet about their political leanings, but never had they been as verbal as on Hot Shit! and haven’t really been since. I didn’t know this going into the album, I just knew that Quasi had a new album coming out, and it seemed like the perfect time to start buying their records rather than relying on internet audio piracy. I had a bit of scratch, and made the trip downtown with a couple of friends. Wicker Park was Mecca for me at that age; I was angsty enough to fit right in, and not yet cynical or self-aware enough to shake my head at all of the hipsters. My favorite restaurant in the world is in Wicker Park. So is my favorite book store. And then there’s Reckless Records.

It has everything you want out of a hip neighborhood record store. Lots of used stuff, racks of old vinyl with stuff surely obscure enough to win you cool points. New CDs often marked up so much that you find yourself second guessing whether it really matters to you THAT much to support a local business, and of course, hipster employees that will look down on you and stare daggers when you meekly find yourself at the counter with a Tori Amos CD to add to your collection. I was spared the torment, because the gems I came out of the store with were Hot Shit! and Sleater-Kinney’s One Beat, having been completely unaware that the two bands had anything in common, let alone that they shared a drummer.

A month and a half passed before I listened to anything other than Hot Shit!. I fell in love with Sam’s voice and his way of songwriting. I thought his lyrics were so cool and fresh, and I was enthralled by Janet’s ferocious drumming. It was an album that said everything I was thinking, in a way that I never could, and it meant everything to me. It was bluesy, it was bad ass, and Sam was really letting go, especially in his vocals. Up until that point, it seemed like his vocals were much more polished, and often double tracked. Hot Shit! was raw and unfiltered, and the consistent middle-fingers to the Bush administration were the icing on the cake. The only thing that kept me from leaving the record in my player well past new years was the unfortunate passing of Elliott Smith on October 21st. As many other fans, he became all I could listen to in mourning for many months after. He was a musical hero of mine, and I was selfish; not only had the world lost him and his talent, and people who actually knew and loved him had lost a friend, I felt like I had lost a friend too.

Eventually I went back to Quasi. It felt as fresh as it had when I first listened, and I fell in love with it all over again. I started going back to get more of the older stuff, including picking up Featuring ‘Birds’ on vinyl (which I have unfortunately since lost in a flood of my basement. It still sits on my shelf, but its ruined.) on a return visit to Reckless. I ended up getting into that album even more, and I still feel like it is a perfect record. There isn’t a single song isn’t phenomenal. It was immediately upon finishing my first listen that I decided I had to see them live. Unfortunately for me, in early 2004, I was sixteen. Amazingly enough to me, Quasi weren’t world famous. They didn’t play huge outdoor arenas where every show was all ages. When Quasi came through town, it was places like Double Door, or the Empty Bottle, where there was no hope for someone my age. Its the heartbreaking thing for anyone who loves music in Chicago and is underage: unless your favorite band is enormously famous, along the lines of U2 or R.E.M., you’re not going to get to see them. So it took six years, a third band member (gasp), and two more great Quasi albums before I finally got the chance to see them live.

By the time I saw Quasi on May 1st of 2010, they were firmly in my top five. I had managed to see The Decemberists twice by that time, and on April 30th, I would have probably told you they were my favorite band if you twisted my arm. Since about eleven or so on May 1st, it has been Quasi. The show was phenomenal, everything I could have expected and hoped for. I had the distinct pleasure of meeting both Sam and Janet, who were friendly, genuine people. They were approachable, and not at all pretentious. Admittedly, I worry whenever I meet someone I admire. If they treat me like shit I’m liable to become completely disinterested in them from there on out. Luckily, this wasn’t the case. I was thrilled to come away from the show with a poster from that tour, a cool t-shirt, a signed copy of American Gong, and a photo with two of my favorite musicians. And that’s without even talking about the show itself.

My friends and I had arrived early enough to have dinner at the venue (Lincoln Hall), and heard the band sound checking from where they were sitting. I became excited when I heard Sam playing the first few bars of Birds from Field Studies, and to hear the band toying around with Led Zeppelin’s Misty Mountain Hop, two songs that would end up in their set that night. When the doors were opened for fans to enter the concert area from the restaurant, I went in quickly and staked out a spot right in the middle in front of the stage. Doors opened an hour before the show started, and my friends and I sat there by our lonesome until about fifteen minutes before show time.

Let’s Wrestle were the opening act, who reminded me of a poor man’s Buzzcocks. They were good, but I spent the whole set just waiting for Quasi to play. I couldn’t even tell you how long we waited between sets, I just know that when it started, it was awesome. The set was full of songs from American Gong, which suited me fine. I had pre-ordered the CD and had already listened to it a dozen times or so. Everything song was played well and energetically. Sam is certainly an interesting spectacle on stage, Janet is even more phenomenal in person, and Joanna is sort of Entwistle-esque in her on-stage stoicism. The set featured at least one song from every album since Featuring ‘Birds’ and was heavy on that album as well as American Gong. Only one song from Hot Shit! was on the set, but it was probably my favorite from the album, “Seven Years Gone.” By the end of the night, they had played about eight of my ten favorite Quasi songs, and I was thrilled. I went on one of those stretches for weeks where Quasi was the only thing I could make room for on my iTunes, or in my CD player.

So there’s the story of why I love Quasi, and should pretty much tell you why I started this blog. There’s really no single great place to get all the news and going on’s about Quasi, and I thought someone who loves the band as much as I do ought to do it. If I see an article about the band, I’ll post  here. If I get any news, it’ll be here. If I come across a really awesome clip on YouTube, it’ll be here. If Quasi themselves post anything on their Facebook page or otherwise that I think is worth re-sharing, I’ll post it here. If anyone has any pictures from any shows they want to share with more people, I’m happy to help with that here. Basically, if its Quasi, it’ll be here! Thanks for taking the time to read the blog, and please drop me an e-mail at whenthegoinggetsquasi (at) if there’s something I missed that you think ought to be here!