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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 9 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 19
Brent Amaker turns 50; celebrates with The Rodeo
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Brent Amaker turns 50; celebrates with The Rodeo

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

BRENT AMAKER AND THE RODEO
THE TRIPLE DOOR
APRIL 25


If a person finds themselves lucky enough in a lifetime, they just might stand in the shadow of greatness. The word 'greatness' is not to be taken or used lightly. Greatness is not something that you refer to someone or something if it were 'just alright.' Greatness accompanies the few people that exist in this (mostly) miserable world that are really, really good at what they love to do. Vincent van Gogh loved to paint. Elvis Presley loved to entertain. Bette Midler loves to ... well, you get the idea.

In this case, Seattle front man Brent Amaker loves to be a badass. In fact, come to think of it The Rodeo (five-member band that accompanies Amaker onstage and on record) is pretty badass, too.

The first time I saw Brent Amaker and The Rodeo was not onstage, however. We met backstage, just before the start of Amaker's 50th Birthday Gala at The Triple Door April 25. I believe that backstage conversations, unless otherwise stated, are off the record, so I'm not about to tell you exactly what was said, but in order to set the scene for our readers, I will just say this: There was talk about John Stagliano's Buttman Adult Magazine and how it bests Internet porn while eating cupcakes that Amaker says his wife claims are the best in town. Based on that (and so much more) I didn't know what I should expect to see onstage that night. Suffice to say, I knew it was going to be spectacular. I mean, c'mon, Brent Amaker, the badass that he is, and I share an affinity for print pornography - you know, the kind that you could reach out and touch ... once. Not to mention, from the moment I walked into the dressing room until the moment Amaker was lowered (yes, you read that correctly) down to the stage from The Triple Door rooftop (possibly making this the most grand of all entrances in a live venue that has hosted some truly grand entrances) I just knew that I was about to see greatness in action.

Brent Amaker and The Rodeo owned my ass for the next hour. Hands down, Brent Amaker's 50th Birthday Gala performance was the best local act I've seen in the five years I've worked at Seattle Gay News. Brent Amaker and The Rodeo (BAR) hold the audience's attention without fail from the moment the house lights go down and the stage lights come up.

At The Triple Door, after Amaker was safely lowered to the stage, the band's burlesque performer Ms. Bunny Monroe (Ruby Mimosa) draped a red velvet cape around Amaker's shoulders, in which he proceeded off of the stage and into the audience amidst sustained cheers and screams (the ladies go nuts for this guy). The contrast of the red velvet against the all black (very Johnny Cash) country western black pants, button up shirt, cocaine sunglasses and cowboy hat was brilliant. Then, taking center stage, Amaker delivered the first notes from that amazing baritone voice that BAR fans had been jonesing for from the minute they walked into the joint; soon the newbies like me would join their ranks.

Throughout the show, performing in front of an audience of diehard fans (many of them wearing cowboy hats and BAR merchandise), friends and family, BAR executed with perfection, songs from the band's 2013 full-length Year of the Dragon album.

'The album's 13 all new tracks take square aim at Truth - to spill a weathered wisdom across the current musical landscape,' BAR told media through a press release last summer. 'The album also features original cover artwork by Afro Samurai creator Takashi Okasaki.'

Anyone familiar with Capitol Hill and Neumos, a live concert venue located in the heart of the Pike/Pine corridor, should remember the phenomenal mural that covered its Pike Street wall last year. That piece featured the art work on the outside of the album by Okasaki.

Amaker gets his influence from entertainers he refers to as heroes: Quentin Tarantino, Iggy Pop, Pablo Picasso, CW McCall, Kraftwerk and many more. According to Amaker, these were 'men who have had the balls to stick with a vision and create art without the bullshit. Those are my heroes.'

BAR is a cocky band. It is all very Alpha Male. You get the sense that this is, and always will be, a boys club (with the exception of Ms. Bunny, of course). Now, that's not to say they don't appreciate the ladies, because they most certainly do. But what is important to note is the skillful and focused way in which every detail of their public persona, style and mannerisms gets. These guys aren't playing around. In one of the band's music videos, Brent Amaker is cutting into a freshly grilled steak with a buck knife and most of the lyrics in the bulk of their discography are about Amaker regulating on people, and the Rodeo is there to back him up always. And it all works. BAR pulls it off and is quite sexy while doing it. I mean, we are talking about a band that in the beginning (eight years ago) saw everyone in the band riding motorcycles. The Rodeo was a cowboy/motorcycle band.

During an interview with Orange County Weekly, Amaker said of the band, 'We travel 24/7 dressed as cowboys, we play Western music, and we do whatever the fuck we want.'

At the same time, and I believe this is why BAR is so damn good, are some very obvious contradictions to the tough guy persona. Take for instance the stage names of some of the guys in the band. The Rodeo is (aside from Brent Amaker) Cinderella, Bryan Crawford , Ben Strehle, Tiny Dancer and Jacques Willis. Uhm ... Cinderella? Tiny Dancer? Also, there are a number of songs that are generally happy, so I don't want to give off the impression that BAR is some sort of depressing trip through an aging man's emotions, because it is far from that. BAR is a confidant well-oiled machine, and most certainly not depressing. However, the projection of the strong and in control man is not a negative in this vernacular. It works because these guys are not faking it. They are the real deal. Brent Amaker and The Rodeo are authentic.

There has been some debate as to what style of music BAR belongs to. Amaker cleared things up a bit for me when I asked him what I should expect as far as genre. 'People say we are country punk. I like to think we play Western music. Punk Rock is about attitude,' he said. 'We are a mix of Johnny Cash with the '80s sound like Kraftwerk.'

Regardless of aesthetic or genre or anything like that, BAR is one hell of a band, and Amaker and the boys know how to put on a show. Most music reviewers will go down the list of songs that the band played at the show but it doesn't do BAR justice to write, 'and then they played this song or that song.' The show, with their chemistry as a band mixed with Amaker's lead vocals, is so much more than just a list of songs. If you want my advice, it is simple: listen to all of BAR's music. You won't be disappointed.

Brent Amaker also has another project in the works called Android Amaker and it sounds very promising. I urge you to check that project out at www.BrentAmaker.com and all other things BAR at www.facebook.com/brentamakerandtherodeo/info. To book Brent Amaker and The Rodeo send an inquiry to RodeoBooking@me.com.

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