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Oh the horror!

Sweeping Exits brings their blood-soaked glam to Olympia

Sweeping Exits don’t want to scare, just to drink your blood. Photo credit: Facebook

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My dad sat me down and showed me The Rocky Horror Picture Show on an old VHS tape when I was 12 years old. This is a fact that I love to throw in his face every time he questions any odd behavior. Still, as much as I lovingly tease him about exposing me to Rocky Horror's perversity at such a young age, I am ultimately so grateful that I got a potent dose of subculture weirdness, sexual ambiguity, and Meat Loaf while my brain was still a globulous bowl of toothpaste waiting for new information to penetrate its folds. I can't honestly say if I would've grown into the person I am without experiencing Rocky Horror, and then to again experience it several years later in its preferable live setting where I - as a "virgin" - was made to get onstage and take part in the ritualistic hazing that ushers a teenager into the life of the odd.

It's undoubtable that an entire generation was shaped by Rocky Horror, if indirectly. Sweeping Exits, a trio out of Portland, doesn't draw from that same flamboyant, ‘50s-indebted music, but they do embrace glam rock and its transfixion with horror and the grotesque. The cover of Sweeping Exit's Glitter & Blood: The Demos (early versions of songs from an upcoming album) is a shot of a plump pair of lips, appropriately, pasted with gold and dripping thick rivulets of hemoglobin down past red-stained teeth. Even without the lips immediately conjuring an iconic image from Rocky Horror, the notion of glitter and blood so succinctly evokes what is, in essence, an exceedingly silly movie, but one whose aesthetic has gained a very strong foothold in music and style.

Cheekily, Sweeping Exits credits all of their albums online as being from various years in the ‘70s: the aforementioned Glitter & Blood is said to have come from 1979, while Charming (Once You Realize You're Dead) is from ‘76, and Vicious Lie from ‘74. Fittingly, Glitter & Blood matches that move toward poppy punk that infected glam in the late ‘70s, while Charming (Once You Realize You're Dead) opens up with "Come to the Ball!", which evoked the reverb-heavy rockabilly riffs that counterculture rockers adopted in the mid-'70s.

Sweeping Exits - and talk about drama, with a name like that - is made up of Mira Glitterhound, Myrrh Oh and Shanley Narens. Like all good glam-rockers, they are more than a little bit interested in vampires, the sexiest of undead monsters. Blood and its acquisition is a running theme, but in that way that giving it up is not an act of surrender, but an act of giving yourself over completely to another. Tongues are firmly planted in cheeks, with Sweeping Exits saying things like, "We seek to create a giant queer party for all to enjoy," but that thrilling bit of danger keeps tingles emerging during songs that are high drama without bombarding you with sound and vision. These are smartly constructed tunes that eschew pomp in favor of cinematic songcraft - nearly every one of their songs could fit over the closing credits of a haunting movie.

There are some songs or bands that aim to scare you: in honor of the dearly departed Alan Vega, I recently re-listened to Suicide's "Frankie Teardrop," a genuinely terrifying classic that first scared the s#%& out of me while working nights at a motel. Sweeping Exits, for as obsessed as they are with horror, don't feel like they want to scare you; rather, they want you to join in reveling in the macabre, in drinking blood, and letting others drink yours. Who knows? There may be glitter on the other side.

Sweeping Exits w/ Close Encounter, Tender Age, Toxic Slime, Table Sugar, 9 p.m., Sunday, July 31, Cover TBA, Westside Lanes & O'Malley's Restaurant and Lounge, 2200 Garfield Ave. NW, Olympia, 360.943.2400

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