Christmas For All Concert @ The Grail with Bent Penny and Cameron Bameron

Rockers and mockers were packed elbow to elbow for last night's Christmas for All benefit concert at The Grail. Colleen "Weenis" Smith has been organizing these events for 12 years and this year's gig was in memory of her late mother, the fabulously large-hearted Dolly Smith, who co-ran the charity until her death several years ago. M. and I decided to conquer our fear of The Grail and show up to support the cause and catch the debut of the new Bent Penny line-up.

We realized that we hadn't even darkened the doors of The Grail since before it burned to the ground and was rebuilt, which was at least 5 years ago, if not longer. Something about all the gang-related stabbings, swarming police cars and the 18 and over entry policy made me want to avoid the place entirely. However, they're strictly 21 and over now and have cleared out much of the riff-raff by switching away from rap music to a hard rock format. Inside, it wasn't as trashy as I'd thought it was going to be, and I can see myself checking out some bands out there a little more often. The infamous Larry Sumner was behind the bar and he will pour you a Pabst Blue Ribbon and yak your ear off for hours and hours if you're not careful.

For some reason, all the tables were crammed in together so the crowd had to practically sit on each other's laps. Colleen gave us each one of her snazzy new monogrammed Weenis Exotic Body Piercing 2008 appointment books, which was so exciting we had to have a few shots to celebrate. Local ukulele-wielding loon and Judge Judy winner Cameron Bameron took the stage for a very short set of his bad-taste ditties including a new one called "Fairy Craig" about our favorite not-gay Idaho senator and returned for an encore of "Juicy Lemon" which rhymes the word "meringue" with a certain slang word for a woman's (ahem) ladybusiness. Juvenile and vulgar? Yes, but hilarious live.

Next, the fetchingly festive ladies of Bent Penny took the stage wearing naughty Santa girl outfits and fishnets. With the new addition of Post Falls drummer The Ghoul, they're sounding tighter and better than ever. I was at their debut concert at D'Mouse Trap three years ago, and they were pretty shaky back then. Now, they own the stage and the whole venue and everyone in it, tearing through classic three-chord power punk tunes smeared with the personality of cigarette-voiced songwriter Stephanie Ward and the propulsive bass lines of the lovely Lisa Justus.

This was their first live appearance since the departure of the violin player, who was subsequently replaced by Miss Amelia on flute. Flute? The fiddle lent the band a decidedly cow-punk bent, but the flute treads dangerously close to Jethro Tull territory. It took a song or two to adjust, but ultimately I decided I did quite like the perky wind-instrument in action, adding some nice counter-melodies which weaved in an out of Ward's guitar fuzz. M. did not agree, and after a few more shots she loudly announced her utter disdain for the whole flute thing. Regardless, the girls firmly rocked the walk and the talk and made it happen with a gorgeous pop-punk noise. After Bent Penny left the stage, we decided to bid our adieus and head to the safety of our usual haunt rather than stick around for sets by Inspired and Lack of Change. They're fine at what they do, but hard rock/metal-funk just never really baked my cookies.

Here's some video action - the Bent Penny clip was filmed by me and I'm not sure who is responsible for the Cameron Bameron "Fairy Craig" video, but WARNING if you're easily offended or likely to get in trouble at work you might not want to click play...









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