A Day in the Life

Punk, Pride, and Pickled Eggs

A historic day with local band Rachaels Children.

By Sophie Grossman September 9, 2022 Published in the Fall 2022 issue of Seattle Met

From left to right, Otto Barry, Meer Williamson, Fox Whitney, and Ariel Burke seated in the breakfast nook at "the Palace."

On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, fracturing a right to bodily autonomy for millions around the country. Meer Williamson, software developer at Fred Hutch and guitarist for burgeoning post-punk quartet Rachaels Children, felt heavy. Instead of their usual morning wading through thickets of code and Excel sheets, they take a mental health day at the encouragement of their supervisor. Across the city, the other members of the band are waking up to the news. Much of their music swirls around rage and resistance—against the patriarchy, capitalism, colonialism, the many links in a chain that keeps us tethered to the status quo. Their show tonight at the Sunset Tavern, where the band is opening for Biblioteka’s album release party, must go on—not just in spite of the news, but because of it. 


After a fortifying pickled egg and a few hours of rest, Williamson rendezvous with singer Ariel Burke and the band’s manager, Nellie Albertson, for a meeting. They discuss the nuts and bolts of Rachaels Children’s upcoming festival tour and the recording sessions they have planned for the end of August. Meanwhile, drummer Fox Whitney is working from home as the artistic director for Velocity Dance Center. 


Well, shit. It’s Pride Weekend, and Crybaby Studios, where the band rents practice space, is in the heart of Capitol Hill. Eleventh Avenue is already fenced off to make way for the festivities, and so extricating their gear turns into an Ocean’s 11 situation. Burke, Williamson, and Albertson drop everything off a few blocks away at a lightly dilapidated manor on the Hill affectionately dubbed “the Palace,” where Whitney, bassist Otto Barry, and their four roommates live. They add their amps, guitars, and other equipment to the living room, a crush of color with a brilliant-yellow-painted brick wall, a red velvet love seat, a stuffed llama that’s nearing life-size, and a coat rack piled high with sparkly and fur-trimmed outerwear. 

Getting ready to go on stage is a swirl of activity.


Burke and Williamson part ways for a few hours to attend to their pre-show rituals. Williamson gives themself a mani-pedi. Burke does some vocal warm-ups. She’s been singing since her days in middle school choir, but the wailing, howling vocals that help render the band’s sound distinctive are a new frontier for her.  


Everyone converges on Whitney and Barry’s house for load-in. By some miracle of physics, they manage to fit everything into a single dark blue Rav4 before they’re Ballard-bound. 


After dropping everything at the Sunset, the band wanders off to scrounge for food before sound check.


“Fuck you!” These are the sample vocals Burke uses to test the mic. It’s crucial that this sounds right; it’ll be a refrain.


Everyone is getting ready to go on, and a spark of nervous static tingles in the air. There’s some discussion about a costume change. Should Burke go with the black dress she’s already wearing or the babydoll dress? It’s settled by majority opinion: the black dress. Williamson ducks out into the alley behind the venue for a smoke. 


Burke opens the show with a call for catharsis. She invites the audience to scream along with her. To cry. To rage. Whatever feels right. 


Spokane-based Itchy Kitty takes the stage with explosive, howling energy. Back in the green room, Rachaels Children take a breather before returning to the floor to watch Itchy Kitty and Biblioteka perform. 


It always takes the band a solid 40 minutes to make an exit, not because of their cumbersome gear but because of the droves of friends waiting to greet them. Kim West, of the Smokey Brights, comes up to Burke to tell her that this was the energy—furious, frustrated, funny, downright combustible—she so desperately needed today. 

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