Monday, August 29, 2016


Artist: Belly
EP: Slow Dust
Song: "Low Red Moon"
[ listen ]

A few months ago I became awfully excited when I saw that Belly would be appearing at The Crocodile here in Seattle. I went to the venue's website to buy a ticket but then discovered that this is the artist I would be going to see. I felt silly. The Belly I wanted to see had disbanded 20 years ago. How had I been so easily fooled into thinking they were suddenly back together and playing a show in Seattle?

Fast forward to just a few weeks ago, when my friend Adrien told me over a vegan breakfast that Belly had gotten back together again and they would be playing a show in Seattle! He said they would be appearing at The Neptune at the end of the month! Now I hadn't been out to see a musical performance in nearly four years, but I figured I had to go. If Belly could come out of retirement, then so could I. 

I first encountered Belly when I came across their 4-track "Slow Dust" EP on CD at an alternative/indie record shop in Orem, Utah back in 1992. Still collecting all things 4AD at the time, I snapped it up and took it home, eager to hear the music behind this deliriously colorful cover. Here's the artwork from the CD, which has a slightly different layout than my vinyl copy, pictured above.

I hadn't yet heard that Tanya Donelly of Throwing Muses and The Breeders had left both of those groups to focus on writing and performing her own songs in a new band she'd started called Belly. (It takes a while for this sort of news to reach Orem, Utah.) But once I realized who was in the Belly, I was an instant fan. The music is so dreamy and delicious.

Fast forward 24 years and there I was last Thursday morning on something they're calling "the internet," purchasing my ticket to see the better Belly performing in Seattle! I was actually able to see the group perform from afar once—in the mid-1990s at an overcrowded warehouse venue filled with a motley throng of dim-witted Green Day enthusiasts. But the last time I'd been in close proximity to a Tanya Donelly performance was in Salt Lake City back in 1991, when I took my shitty and entirely unreliable camera to a Throwing Muses show on the front lawn of the University of Utah. The group was touring on the heels of the release of "The Real Ramona," the last LP Tanya recorded as a member of the band. I only got one good photo of the show (well, two actually...but one was just of Tanya's shoes. My flash didn't go off for the others, so all I ended up with was a photo set of handsome silhouettes). But the one picture that did turn out is this one of Ms. Donelly. 

I waited around after the show in hopes of mingling with The Muses, and I got someone to take a photo of me with Tanya. Have I mentioned that my camera was a steaming piece of crap?

I've lightened the image with Photoshop, but it's still not entirely clear that I'm with Tanya Donelly. Let's face it, that could just as well be Suzanne Somers or even Carol Channing from what we're able to see here. Anyway, I remember asking her if she'd written "Giant" (I knew she had), after which I confided that it was my favorite song by Throwing Muses.

Okay, fast forward again—25 years this time. I arrived way too early at The Neptune last night, so I ended up front and center with some free local-arts reading material I'd picked up to keep me occupied until the performance began. Fortunately I've since replaced my horrible camera with a multi-purpose telephone, so I've interspersed the artwork images from the back of Belly's debut EP with my photos from last night's show. Tanya and her Belly were fantastic. Down-to-earth, glittery dynamite. You can read more about Belly here, go here to visit their website, and here's more information about Belly bandleader Tanya Donelly.

[ Belly, circa 1995 ]

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