Back when both things were first being a thing, I never thought of grunge & shoegaze as having all that much to do with each other. Grunge was a bunch of dirty dudes in flannel stomping on big muff pedals & shoegaze was a bunch of pasty British dudes politely tapping delay pedals, with a female bass player who pretty much just stood there & looked really cool. I didn’t know what stuff was or where stuff came from, I just liked the stuff that I liked. Now all the punks are wearing flannel again & have a bunch of effects pedals & I still don’t know what’s going on.
Less than ten years removed from The Year Punk Broke, Climber were delivering solid sets all around town & pulling in good crowds, & not just because the drummer guy was that guy from MU330. Their 2001 “Sparkomatic Sound” 2-song 45 shows the band mining the same territory that bands like Velocity Girl or Jale had mined just a few years earlier, with strong & clear female vocals over a heavy & spacy wall of guitars, never quite rocking out, but never dissolving too far into the ether either. Side two’s “Lullaby Chicago,” especially, is the sort of low key duet that one would expect to find on a Slumberland Records B-side. Some of the Climbers went on to form Bagheera, who have just started playing shows again after a few year hiatus. Check ’em out. And okay, I’m the only person who remembers Jale.
Newly arrived back to the area from Chicago, male-female instrument-swapping duo The Funs, too, have one foot in grunge & one foot in shoegaze, though the shoes they’re gazing at are probably covered in leftovers from the vegan potluck that happened in the punk squat house they’re playing the basement of. Their recent “Concrete/It’s Strange I’m Here” 45 meanderingly churns along, always seeming like it’s on the verge of going out-of-tune or off-tempo, but always managing to pull it together. It’s clear that they know what they’re doing, & if I wish they would cut loose & get noisier or faster at times, that’s probably just because I never know what’s going on.
None of the songs from the 45, but happy to find some Climber online nonetheless…
The Funs: “Concrete”