I got a concert invite last night from a friend with a spare ticket, and without knowing a thing about the band—nor necessarily trusting my friend's taste—I said yes. Why? The show was at El Corazon, and I realized I'd never gone there in my three years in Seattle.

As far as I've been concerned, El Corazon is the all-ages black sheep to its better-publicized sibling, the nearby Vera Project. I've bused and driven past El Corazon dozens of times to see teens lining up at 5 pm on a weekday, only to look the headliner up, see that it's a ragtag punk/rockabilly band, and smirk  condescendingly.



Would last night's show change my mind? Not thanks to the bands. I arrived in time for the middle band of the three-act bill, a Portland blues-roots duo called Hillstomp (above). They reminded me of the scene in Ghost World when a concert turns sour because of a shitty "blues" band full of privileged, hair-rock white guys. Hillstomp's lead singer (above) looked like a reject from the Von Erich wrestling family, all curly, blonde hair and big, blue eyes and a carefully cut beard, and he spent most of the show grimacing "sexily" and sticking his tongue out while dropping trou on R.L. Burnside's blues-rock grave ("this here song's a trance-boogie number," the drummer yelled before the band launched into something with neither trance nor boogie elements). 

The headliner, The Devil Makes Three, took a no-nonsense spin on bluegrass-tinged pop—nothing I'd buy on CD, but I appreciated their approach.

The thing is, when I looked away from the stage, I found myself surprised—and a bit electrified—by the crowd. Maybe the teens couldn't hold their liquor, or they were celebrating their spring break kickoff, but it seemed like everyone in the room was his or her own pilot light, exploding with heat and dancing and screaming and sing-along allegiance. It was a rare sight in a music scene I usually associate with polite applause.

I want to start a band just so I can play El Corazon and have someone scream that much for me for an hour.