It is on, it is on, it is on! Party people c'mon!
I'm normally pretty out of the loop when it comes to local music. I miss a lot of great bands because I hate committing an evening to one show only to find out the band is a rip-off of some famous band who aren't even that talented, themselves, and their "fans" are a bunch of neckless frat boys and walking Pantene commercials who spend most of the set with their backs to the stage or on cell phones. Ahem. So I've seen a lot of bad shows. When my friend kept insisting I needed to see United State of Electronica (U.S.E.), I nodded and mentally added them to the list of bands I might see, someday, if they were opening up for someone good and I managed to show up before the headliners came on.
I dragged this friend to the Austin City Limits music festival. We were in our hotel room after two days on our feet in 100 degree heat, discussing what to do with our evening, when he sees a U.S.E. show in the free weekly we'd picked up.
"You're kidding," says me. We were both exhausted and covered in dirt. The city was flooded with hurricane evacuees and other festival attendees. We'd been out the previous two nights and it was inevitable that Sixth Street would be madness.
My buddy is a very convincing guy. He owns his own business. He makes shit happen. So there we were in the back of Emo's watching some strange Adam Ant tribute band, waiting for U.S.E.
They came on and within minutes, my lethargy vanished. For the first time in two days of watching huge bands I totally love, I was actually dancing. It was easy to pick up the ecstatic refrains of their songs and before long, a handful of Texans and two half-dead Washingtonians were belting out the choruses to songs we'd never heard in the back of a sweltering Austin club. And so I became a convert. U.S.E. is the best Seattle band, the best live band, the best party band I've ever seen.
U.S.E. rose from the ashes of the band Wonderful in 2002. It started as a joke - they were walking around a party pretending to be a German electronica band. Their membership has since soared to seven regulars:
Jason Holstrom - Guitar
Peter Sali - Guitar
Derek Chan - Bass
Jon e. Rock - Rapping, Drums
Carly Jean Nicklaus - Vocals, Tambourine
Amanda Okonek - Vocals, Tambourine
Noah Star Weaver - Vocoder, Keyboard
(Not including innumerable sweaty go-go dancers and audience members who end up on stage at U.S.E. shows.)
They get compared to Junior Senior, Andrew W.K., and Daft Punk fairly often. I'd characterize their sound as the world's happiest electronic disco. Reviews of their shows and their album as peppered with words like "celebratory", "enthusiastic", "catchy", "contagious", etc. They're not lyrical geniuses. (Well, maybe they are when they're not playing with U.S.E. Nicklaus, for instance, is in another Seattle band, The Catch.) They make dance music, and damn fine dance music at that. They had a song at #2 on the Japanese dance charts. It would surprise me not in the slightest if their unofficial theme song "Emerald City" overtook Mix-A-Lot's "Posse on Broadway" as Seattle's hipster anthem.
Capitol Hill? We love it! We love it!
Currently, U.S.E. has one eponymous album available. Really, though, you want to see them live. They just finished a national tour and their website indicates they'll return to Japan in 2006. Keep your eyes peeled and you might catch them in your town.