August 7, 1992
OUTDOOR FUN ROLLS ON WITH 'END FEST'
By Gene Stout, P-I Pop Music Critic
Outdoor rock festivals - once an endangered species - are enjoying a renaissance this summer. Among the summer's largest outdoor events were the Rock and the Environment '92 concert in June, Lollapalooza '92 in July, and last weekend's KUBE-FM Summer Jam dance-music event. The big, multiact marathons continue tomorrow with KNDD-FM's "End Fest" at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds in Silverdale. Tickets sold out within a day of going on sale.
The location is the site of Lollapalooza '92, but this time the crowd will be smaller - about 15,000 as opposed to more than 25,000.
The event celebrates KNDD's first anniversary as a "modern rock" station. When it went on the air last August, KNDD ("The End") created a lot of excitement with its blend of modern alternative rock and new wave oldies.
The day's lineup reflects the station's playlist: funky rappers The Beastie Boys, English pop group Charlatans U.K., underground rockers Sonic Youth, California alternative-rock band Toad the Wet Sprocket, Hollywood underground-punk band L7, Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan, and Seattle groups Mudhoney and The Posies, both signed to major labels. (The new albums by Sonic Youth and L7 were done with Nirvana producer Butch Vig.)
Concertgoers are encouraged to carpool. The fairgrounds are accessible via Highway 16 from Tacoma or the Fauntleroy/Southworth, Seattle/Bremerton and Edmonds/Kingston ferries.
The Seattle Times
August 7, 1992
BOYS! YOUTH! L7! POSIES! THE END!
BY KEN HUNT
So, Lollapalooza wasn't enough for you? Then you're probably headed back to the Kitsap County Fairgrounds in Silverdale tomorrow for KNDD's End Fest, another massive modern rock festival that matches Lollapalooza point for point in terms of creativity and diversity.
New York's Beastie Boys, former purveyors of hardcore punk and the earliest rap-rock fusions, headline the show. These days, they've toned down the goofiness of their live show and added techno, psychedelic and industrial elements to their old sound, evidenced in the album Check Your Head.
Like its predecessor, Paul's Boutique - which the critics slobbered all over and the marketplace ignored - Check Your Head is filled with weird little asides and references lost upon anyone not intimately familiar with New York City. The album is devoid of the sardonic hymns to prostitutes, malt liquor and guns that permeated the 1987 breakthrough album, Licensed to Ill; more typical is the unwittingly self-deprecating "Pass the Mic," industrialized soundscapes like the single "So What'cha Want" and "The Maestro," and a push for positivity, "Gratitude."
Stuff like this usually goes over the heads of most, but apparently someone out there's looking for adventure: The album went Top 10 soon after its release.
Sonic Youth is a legend in the world of alternative rock. The band's influence on not only a decade of noise-oriented bands but on a whole field of harmonic-series theory is immeasurable. Of course, the music doesn't sound academic. Early Sonic Youth sounds like the souls of the damned being shoved through an electric fan; only with 1990's Goo did the band make a pop album - albeit pop with grating, free-falling guitars and some really warped lyrics.
Dirty, the band's new release, combines their new pop bent with the artsy atmospherics of old. It works best when they deliberately play these angles off one another - "100%," already a hit in England, sounds pretty tame until a glorious burst of dissonance at the end. "Theresa's Sound-world," arranged like a miniature symphony, goes from creepily pretty to explosive and back twice. There's also plenty of sustained-chord anarchy for the purist.
Former Sub Pop band L7 has been slapped with the demeaning label "foxcore," meaning "women playing very loud and fast." When this quartet takes the stage, gender slides into the background beneath a mound of steamrolling hooks and sneering attitude. When Donita Sparks growls "My diet pill is wearing off" on the song "Diet Pill," it sounds like you should run for your life.
Charlatans U.K. come from the Manchester, U.K., rave-rock scene. Like their mates the Stone Roses and Inspiral Carpets, the Charlatans specialize in jams based on hip-hop beats and fuzzy wah-wah guitar. However, they differentiate themselves with a cheesy '60s-type organ. Their two albums have yielded several club hits, including "The Only One I Know," "I Don't Wanna See the Sights" and "Weirdo."
Sarah McLachlan and Toad the Wet Sprocket might seem a little out of place amidst the guitar-happy barrage surrounding them. Both are acts rooted in folk-rock and go for sad reflection rather than anger. McLachlan has a lifetime of classical guitar and piano training behind her, and it shows: two albums, Touch and Solace, are filled with transcendent songs, rich with nature imagery and raw emotion. Too bad she's in the opening-slot ghetto.
Toad the Wet Sprocket immediately brings harmony-heavy '60s bands like the Byrds to mind, but they write with a contemporary sense of cynicism. Their 1990 breakthrough single "Come Back Down" showed enormous promise for this band, despite the fact that they could easily induce widespread fits of depression. "All I Want," from the new album Fear, is an anomaly; the maudlin lead track, "Walk on the Ocean," better represents the dark beauty of the work.
Mudhoney and the Posies represent two sides of the Seattle scene. If there's any validity to the whole notion of grunge, Mudhoney is its archetype. Their single "Touch Me I'm Sick" was the first real example of the poppy hardcore that brought Sub Pop around the world and dragged dozens of bands out of the garage. They've kept it up since with two LPs on Sub Pop and a zillion singles like "This Gift" and "You Got It (Keep It Outta My Face)."
Mudhoney's public image helped define the Seattle scene as well, what with the long hair, the cheap beer, the incendiary live shows, the eternal punk-rock questions: Will they break up? Will they get signed? Will they sell out? The answers are no, yes, no. Their album for the world's largest label - Warner Bros. - is expected later this year, probably to an audience primed by their appearance on the hit soundtrack to the movie "Singles."
The Posies, on the other hand, actually dragged out the term "pure pop for now people" in a band directory a couple of years ago. And it fits. Guitarists Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow harmonize like brothers and can write circles around punsters like XTC. Live, however, they turn everything up to 11 and let it rip. But it's never, ever grungy.
As is de rigeur with these events, a number of vendors will offer food and merchandise, and there will be information booths sponsored by various political activist groups. End Fest begins at 11 a.m.
The Seattle Times
August 10, 1992
SONIC YOUTH, BEASTIES GET END-FESTERS MOSHING IN THE MUD
BY KEN HUNT
End Fest, Kitsap County Fairgrounds, Silverdale, last Saturday night.
Every plaid flannel shirt and woolen ski cap in Western Washington, it seemed, showed up for End Fest last Saturday. What they got was a loud, brash and slightly obtuse sampler of alternative rock and a big mudpit in which they could mosh to their heart's content.
Sonic Youth carried the day with a splayed-out train wreck of a set, pulled off remarkably well given the outdoor acoustics. Guitarists Thurston Moore and Lee Renaldo played their instruments in every conceivable way, including jamming drumsticks beneath the strings and hitting the contraption with another stick. Bassist Kim Gordon exploited her unusually large share of the vocal duties, groaning like a birthing elk.
Moore's behavior was as entertaining (and frightening) as the music. Whether he was attempting to snap a guitar neck across a monitor, hammering a microphone into the stage and wondering aloud why it didn't work, or trying to kiss a roadie and rolling across the floor with him, it was hard to tell how much was stage act and how much actual nervous breakdown.
Sonic Youth ended with "Expressway To YrCQ Skull," climaxing with a spontaneously created feedback collage, its fragmented howl echoing into the evening.
Headliners the Beastie Boys gave off mixed signals the minute they came onstage. Ad-Rock, Mike D and MCA (now with obnoxiously green hair), backed by DJ Hurricane, a keyboardist and a percussionist spent half the time jumping like fleas and rapping and half the time anchored to instruments and doing spacey, incoherent instrumentals. They were energetic but hardly ever addressed the audience. They tried to show off their "serious musicians" side but kept intruding with their trademark wackiness. It just didn't work.
Charlatans U.K. turned in an over-long set of repetitive dance rock, complete with a shoe-gazing guitarist and a singer seemingly afflicted with a nervous disorder. The songs kept the pit churning but sedated the rest of the audience.
They unfortunately remained that way through L7's show. The Hollywood-based all-woman group pounded out some of the heaviest, thickest stuff heard all afternoon, especially stuff like "Wargasm." They ended with a tribute to late Seven Year Bitch guitarist Stephanie Sargeant and with bassist Jennifer Finch hurling herself into the audience.
Mudhoney had a miscarriage of a set - great material, great attitude ("Thanks a lot. You're so cool," singer/guitarist Mark Arm sneered immediately after getting up there) but fell victim to an abysmal sound system and a pit injury serious enough to cause them to stop and wait for security to bring the stretcher for the unmoving body. Arm's response proved him to be, as always, quite the performer. "But dude, we're gonna rock you into heaven!"
The Posies showed off their new bassist and a bunch of new songs, which are less immediately accessible but denser and more engrossing than past efforts. They had the honor of being introduced by kiddie TV star J. P. Patches, who confirmed that the crowd was utterly stuffed with "Patches Pals."
Sarah McLachlan began the day with plenty of good humor and a spectacular (and insultingly short) sample of her acoustic-based songs. "No moshing," she smirked at the beginning. "Especially for this one," she said before "Into The Fire." Toad The Wet Sprocket followed McLachlan with an inoffensive set of folk-rock tunes and a call to remove George Bush from office.