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The band Sky Cries Mary still has it, over 20 years later — Beer vs. Bread

If You Could Perform Yoga to Iron Maiden …

by Greg I. Hamilton on August 14, 2010

Sky Cries Mary still performing in 2010

Roderick Romero, co-frontman of Seattle’s Sky Cries Mary has braids Willie Nelson would covet and a disheveled suit worthy of the Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne. His voice is the occasionally ferocious yin to his wife Anisa’s ethereal yang. Together they carve slices out of the sky and serve them to the audience, like lovers who brush the silverware off the table, finger-feeding each other the last bite of tiramisu.

Last night Bellingham experienced Sky Cries Mary— what Roderick coyly called his band’s style of “space rock.” Their music is so much cooler than two words can describe— or even this entry’s 514. If writing about music is like dancing about architecture, then this blog has no chance of pinning down the essence of their music. And that may be OK: nobody ever danced to pin anything down.

Last night I danced like I hoped to pluck out my own pins. The opener, “Elephant Song,” like virtually all of SCM’s music, seems to have remained largely under the radar for the past decade or three. With enough commercial appeal to grace three Hollywood films (including Higher Learning and the delightful Tank Girl), I suspect SCM’s sound is too mysterious, too rich, deep, and powerful to grab hold of the deep-pocketed, drive-thru masses that radio stations and CD hawkers are after.

[By the way, at lunch in Seattle the other day, I was telling Rivers that the film Harvest (in which SCM’s “Elephant Song” appeared), managed to triumph despite its theme of a man hunting down the people who stole his kidney. Its success for me was sprung from the relentlessly brooding mood it conjured (largely helped by the texture and angst of one of SCM’s most towering, climactic songs) along with some excellent sex scenes.]

Last night’s show had the added bonus of Manooghi Hi setting the stage. The band’s leader, lithe headbanging BombaRock diva Mehnaz Hoosein is the sort of nymph who could lure men to drop their own babies and march into mortal battle. Mortal battle, that is, of the sort that involves joyous dancing and raucous prog-rock riffs, amid unfettered cheerful enthusiasm. If you could do yoga to Iron Maiden in a Bollywood movie, Manooghi Hi might be the soundtrack.

To round out this review, Bellingham’s Wild Buffalo was the perfect intimate scene for the psychedelic transformations of SCM and Manooghi Hi. Both bands have a stage presence and wall of sound massive enough to fill stadiums, but it’s when you get up close that you see the pure passion they pour into their performances. There is even a billiards room above and behind the stage, complete with make-out couches. They don’t serve food, but you can bring in your own. The bouncer recommended the $7 (now $9) pulled pork from the Bayou Bar next door and all three of us concurred: it was a damn good sandwich sauced with plenty of fire.

SCM is playing Neumo’s in Seattle tonight. Tomorrow they play my beloved Dante’s in Portland, near the original Voodoo Doughnut. Manooghi Hi will again be providing the opening workout: don’t be late.

Thanks for reading. Cheers,

Greg

Photos by Sky Cries Mary & Manooghi Hi


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