On a random Wednesday night in the middle of October, the last thing most people would expect to do is to see a four-band punk show. Nonetheless, the Vera Project hosted just that, with bands from Seattle and across the country. The lineup included 3 Washington bands—Miss Prince, Sailing Camp, and Shudder—and the New Jersey trio, Shred Flintstone. Though the crowd was small, each band brought their A-game, powering through high-energy (and high-volume) sets that had everyone in the room bobbing their heads, cheering loudly, and eventually, moshing.
The night began with Miss Prince, a five-piece band that came straight out of the 90s grunge scene. With long hair blocking their faces, Miss Prince delivered a set of punk-infused hard rock tunes with solid melodies and organ solos, bringing a psychedelic vibe to the performance. Though the crowd left an awkward amount of empty space around the stage, the band wasn’t fazed, jumping around with happy faces and an undeniable aura of pure confidence. Miss Prince’s performance certainly made an impression on me; after their set finished, I kept an eye on Instagram to find out when they’ll play next.
Next was the Bremerton quartet, Sailing Camp, raising the room’s energy to a new, angrier place. Gone were the catchy melodies and smooth organ solos of Miss Prince, having been replaced with breakneck tempos, screaming, and lyrics about “hating the government and f-ing Satan.” It took around four songs for a mosh pit to finally open up, but even then it wasn’t sustained, the crowd quickly returning to stand and head bob in place. For Sailing Camp, a band that typically plays punk houses and other DIY venues, the crowd was an obstacle; they’re probably used to huge, energetic mosh pits. The band only addressed the crowd a few times, and the vibe from the stage seemed awkward at times. On the other hand, Sailing Camp’s actual playing didn’t suffer, as they curated a setlist on the spot—something difficult for most bands to do.
After a lengthy break, Shred Flintstone, currently on tour around the western U.S., took the stage. I highly anticipated their set after checking out their music, which I thought was highly reminiscent of the Seattle trio Naked Giants. Danceability seemed to be the name of the game for Shred Flintstone, something that didn’t seem to be a consideration for the other bands playing that night. Though Shred Flintstone’s music was noisy, it also had a clear groove that drew the crowd in. The audience had thinned out, but the energy peaked as the three musicians played in perfect tandem with each other, navigating through in-your-face-loud sections, melodic and quiet numbers, and guitar solos that soared perfectly over the tight drums and bass.
The night’s closer was Shudder, a punk trio from Federal Way. Though it would have been easy to play a low-effort set, considering the late hour and dwindling audience size, Shudder played one of my favorite sets of the night. Taking the punk sound of Sailing Camp and fusing it with the grooviness of Shred Flintstone, Shudder immediately had my focus. Instead of leaving dead space between their songs, Shudder chose to ring ear-piercingly-loud feedback through the PA sound system; annoying though it may sound, it helped make their set more cohesive than the others. Shudder’s performance only lasted around 20 minutes, but it felt more complete and less haphazard than some of the other sets. Like Sailing Camp, Shudder would have been served better at a different venue with a more energetic crowd. Nonetheless, they handled themselves better than Sailing Camp, never seeming to lose any of the thunder with which they had started.
The night was a great way to check out the Seattle music scene, but the venue detracted from what some of the bands are really capable of. Being a more formal venue than most in the punk scene, the Vera Project doesn’t always lend itself well to bands that play at houses or DIY outdoor spaces. The bands all played sets worth seeing but seemed a little lost when the audience didn’t reciprocate their energy. Nonetheless, each group’s confidence and artistic identity was clear, and I would highly recommend seeing any one of them if you get the chance. Seattle’s burgeoning music scene has never gone away, and this night was a powerful reminder of that.
Shred Flinstone, Sailing Camp, Shudder, and Miss Prince performed at the Vera Project on October 12, 2022. For more information see here.