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April 30 • Southgate House

By Brian Baker · April 23rd, 2010 · Sound Advice
You have to give emotionally mature props to Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss. The once married couple has been playing together in some form for the past two decades; it took me nearly half that long just to talk to my ex-wife on the phone without experiencing tightness in the chest and a twitchy eye. Coomes and Weiss were a couple when they formed Motorgoat in Portland, Ore., in 1990, self-releasing a pair of cassettes and a 7-inch before calling it a day in 1993.

In fairly rapid succession, the duo began recording as Quasi and divorced; amazingly, the band survived the end of the relationship. After self-releasing a cassette and CD, Coomes and Weiss signed with Up Records and released their indie label debut, 1997’s R&B Transmogrification, followed by 1998’s Featuring “Birds” and 1999’s Field Studies (the latter two releases were supported on the road with Quasi opening and serving as the backing band for singer/songwriter Elliott Smith, Coomes’ former Heatmiser bandmate).

After signing with Touch & Go, Quasi released a trio of acclaimed albums — 2001’s The Sword of God, 2003’s Hot Shit!, 2006’s When the Going Gets Dark — featuring their sonic signature of upbeat melodies and tempos balanced against dour lyrics of heartbreak and dissolution (which Coomes and Weiss both insist haven't been influenced by their personal break-up for a good many years).

Quasi added bassist Joanna Bolme, Weiss’ bandmate in Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks, as a permanent member in 2006. Coomes and Weiss remain pathologically busy outside of the band, he with his solo project Blues Goblins, Pink Mountain and Built to Spill, she with Sleater-Kinney (on “indefinite hiatus” since 2006) and the Jicks.

American Gong, Quasi’s just-released album and debut for Kill Rock Stars, injects more fun, psychedelic guitar histrionics, acoustic musings, distorto-Blues and Beatlesque avant Chamber Pop into the proceedings. They haven’t been a couple for more than a decade and a half but, with Quasi, Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss make crazy beautiful music together.

(Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.)



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