Thundering Broadsides Ahoy!
I just got back from the GeekGirlCon ‘15 Kickoff Party and Concert, featuring the Portland-based supergroup the Thundering Broadsides—uh, I mean, the PDX Broadsides and the Thundering Asteroids, who are normally totally separate bands, but this time ended the night in an Avengers-style teamup. But more on that later!
One great thing about nerd concerts, and GeekGirlCONcerts in particular, is that you can get melodic folkish bands with complex harmonies (like the PDX Broadsides) and high-energy punk (like the Thundering Asteroids) in the same lineup, all in a relaxed atmosphere where kids of all ages can hang out, alternating between board games, dancing, and some high-quality muppet flailing.
The Broadsides kicked off the show with a Fraggle Rock filk about the Norse apocalypse, called, fittingly, Down at Ragnarok. They then took us on a fandom tour from Doctor Who to Lego to Game of Thrones.
The band specialize in witty lyrics about gruesome things (“Crush your enemies, see them driven before you,” they chirp in the Conan-themed Best in Life, or “In the game of boobs and lies, everybody dies”), all sung in sweet, sweet harmony. They have a great rapport between band mates; “All of our songs begin with the words ‘what if?’,” said Jessica, only for Christian to chime in, “They usually begin with the words ‘happy hour’.”
The humor of some songs sneaks up on the listener—such as the song about Settlers of Catan set to the tune of (bear with me here) Adele’s Rolling in the Deep. When they got to the chorus (“It was all my faaa-aaauuult! Rolling in the sheee-eeep!”) it startled a belly-laugh out of the crowd.
The Broadsides closed out their set with a song about Cap’n Tightpants himself. “We’re going to teach you the song,” they said, “and the words you need to know are this: Nathan Fillion (Please Take off Your Pants).”
Naturally, the crowd sang along at the tops of their voices.
The Thundering Asteroids took the stage in cosplay: Minn in overalls as Firefly’s Kaylee, Scott as a Ghostbuster, and Skolnik as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. The only exception was Christian, of the PDX Broadsides, who joined them on drums for the second set.
They warmed us up with a punk medley of video game themes from the 80s and 90s before explaining why I Don’t Want to be a Superhero, confessing that I’ve Got a Thing for the Goblin King, and deciding to Nuke This Site From Orbit.
Fan favorite Sexy Lamp comes from a quote by Kelly Sue Deconnick, who once said in a panel, “So, there’s the Bechdel test. I’ve got another test that works just as well. The Sexy Lamp test. If you can take out a female character and replace her with a sexy lamp, YOU’RE A FUCKING HACK.”
The Asteroids also proved once again their ability to get little kids dancing and moshing (seriously, last year’s moshpit-slash-whirlwind of kids in cosplay was amazing).
The audience then joined them in a summoning ritual to bring the PDX Broadsides back onstage: muppet flailing.
“We promised we’d turn it up a notch on Smile,” said Minn, “because that song needs a punk band behind it.” The bands then launched into a reprise of the PDX Broadsides’ song about street harassment, which was a highlight of the entire evening as the Asteroids helped bring out the anger and frustration underlying the subject matter.
The two bands in combination each brought something unique to the table. The Broadsides’ harmonies added depth to the punk songs, and the Asteroids added a kick to the folkish sweetness.
If the PDX Broadsides sound like your thing, be sure to hit up their GeekGirlCon panel Saturday (that’s today!) at 4:30pm, “an acoustic, unplugged sort of panel where you never know what’s going to come out.” They also have a signing on Sunday at 11am.