The Sonics, the legendary ‘60s Northwest rock band, were joined by a vast array of rock stars from several decades Saturday at Easy Street Records, including Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder.
There may never have been as many intergenerational Seattle rock stars on one stage in one night as there were Saturday (April 18) at Easy Street Records, in West Seattle. The performance by the Sonics — announced only the day before as a ticketed $100 benefit for KEXP on Record Store Day — saw nearly a dozen grunge-era superstars join the influential sixties band.
“We’ve got a lot of really important Pacific Northwest talent who are going to come up here,” Sonics sax player Rob Lind promised as the show began.
He wasn’t kidding. During a spirited, 20-song set, the Sonics, icons of ‘60s Northwest rock, were joined by a virtual who’s who of Seattle music from members of Pearl Jam to Soundgarden.
Van Conner of the Screaming Trees was the first guest on a spirited “He’s Waitin’.” “This was the biggest song of my entire life when I was in fourth grade,” Conner said.
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Chris Ballew of the Presidents of the United States of America sang “You Got Your Head on Backwards,” then Big Kahuna of Girl Trouble joined for “Have Love, Will Travel.” Both added a punk element that mixed perfectly.
Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam was next for “Leaving Here.” As Vedder began to sing, Easy Street opened its garage bay doors so the several hundred fans in the street, who weren’t able to get in to the sold-out show could hear. It was a magic moment.
“This has been an unexpected privilege,” Vedder said after his song.
He watched the rest of the concert from the wings, raising his fist in the air often.
The hits and stars kept coming. Calvin Johnson sang a cool “Shot Down,” Rod Moody joined for “Hard Way,” and “Louie, Louie” featured both grizzled Matt Lukin of Mudhoney and fresh-scrubbed 17-year-old Jason Kertson.
“Strychnine” had Mike McCready of Pearl Jam and Emily Nokes of Tacocat, while “The Witch” closed the main set out with Ben Shepherd of Soundgarden plus Mark Pickerel of the Screaming Trees.
The star power was unique, but it was the tight playing of the Sonics themselves that made the concert work, and which propels their new album “This is the Sonics.” Jerry Rosalie’s voice hasn’t aged in 40 years, while guitarist Larry Parypa’s dirty guitar playing remains the band’s signature anchor. Freddie Dennis (bass) and Dusty Watson (drums) were solid, and Lind’s sax earned a Vedder high-five. For “Psycho,” even original band member Andy Parypa joined his former cohorts.
The concert raised $20,000 for KEXP, and, better yet, it was recorded and may see release.
After the show, in Easy Street’s basement, guitarist Paprya called it an epic night.
“We never thought we’d have a second act in our careers like this,” he said. “We never imagined this night with all these bands.”
“We felt honored,” added singer Rosalie.
Then Rosalie asked if concerts like this happened often at Easy Street, on the record store’s eight-foot-wide stage.
They don’t. Saturday’s night’s performance — linking the Northwest’s rich music heritage from the sixties to the present — was one for the history books.