January 17th, 2008 5:33 pm | by JAY HORTON Music | Posted In: Columns, Live Cuts, Columns

Starantula at Audiocinema, Jan. 9, 2007

group srarantula We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at Starantula.

Outsized personalities thrusting an enlightened Monsters Of Rock onslaught lend themselves to caricature, and it's too much fun to imagine Starantula as, say, glam commandos—keyboardist Roach the weapons specialist; guitarist Gator the laconic sniper; frontman Seantos the hard-bitten sergeant growling orders below ever-present disco cop shades. Through elongated, shambling intro, as the members kid and preen, you wouldn't hope for much more than party band. And, then, at once, they lock step upon a groove, the frontman transforms from jovial MC toward atavistic rawk gawd and…they're still a party band, just seems like an arena should be invited.

It's not that Starantula play anything too new or difficult, they just do it all at once—think boomboxes turned loud to competing FM Classic stations should the dueling tunes coalesce and transcend their parts, a riffed-up maelstrom ever ready to spill out 'cept the tunes retain shape and veer somewhere's you'd never imagine. Masked tightness is the neatest trick.

Credit Kelly 'Gator' Gately (Fireballs Of Freedom, Diamond Tuck), David 'Roach' Simmons (Fireballs, Divining Rods), bassist Dave Dillinger (Divining Rods, Napalm Beach) and drummer Andy Simard (Power Of County) with the inimitable sound of Starantula. 'Tis a band, after all, one that'd be impressive even without a frontman. Just, considering the frontman, that's easy to forget.

Starantula frontman Seantos McDonald

Couple thousand years ago, Sean 'Seantos' McDonald would've wowed crowds with martial odes. Couple hundred years ago, he'd've had a troubadour following. Born slightly after the age of unironic icons, Seantos limns Iggy and Morrison and Diamond Dave through vaudeville wit and wrestler's physique towards predatory gyrations all his own. Elevating rhythmically from splayed knees, like a man of his build shouldn't be able to do, he bounds to the mic just as the long-gestating aural cum-shot/chord at last resolves. Porn rock, artfully done and no less sexy because.

This was the last show for Roach (a legend behind the keys; linchpin for some of the northwest's most influential bands; intriguing story…but, y'know, it's about the notes you don't play), and a goodly crowd of local luminaries had come to Audiocinema for tribute. Relatively hidden, practice/artist space adjoining, immaculate library corner studded with lurid band portraits—the venue's sort of like a post-apocalyptic Friar's Club. And no better band for a wake or roast. Gator and Seantos have developed a rapport as much Martin and Lewis as Page and Plant, and the band's an active partner in their showmanship. Patter's met with feedback. Slackness tightens upon whim.

Audiocinema has no real stage, it's not the sort of place for video feeds, and, as crowds rolled in, most folks couldn't catch a glimpse of Seantos. Plenty of room on the sides, of course, it's just a barely-transformed warehouse, but latecomers stayed to the front—watching Gator, watching Roach, watching the backs of the heads of folks watching Seantos.

Understand, the crowd could've easily moved around for a fuller view. And yet. They knew there was a performance. And they knew their place.

To hypnotize without eye contact's the neatest trick of all.


Photos courtesy of the band.
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