You might be wondering what in the world is going on in this picture of Gary Smith, flamboyant frontman of Seattle punk group Partman Parthorse, his distaste for the cigarette giant in plain view. But if you’re keen to the Seattle scene, you’re most likely not surprised at the antics of one of the city’s most thrilling live acts.
Turns out this act of defiance was in reference to the sponsor of a show the band played at the High Dive in February of 2007 (read Philip’s lively account here), where they shared the stage with another explosive and talented local band, The Heavy Hearts. The company’s mobile advertising/survey system was definitely all up in peoples’ grills that night, and I recall thinking, “Wait…people still let Camel sponsor their shows?” I didn’t give it much more of a passing thought than that as I enjoyed the strong musical lineup. However, in a health-conscious city with an indoor smoking ban—in effect since January of 2006—it’s anyone’s guess as to why Camel would still be able to subsidize shows without the names ‘Nickelback’ or ‘Puddle of Mudd’ on the marquee. But I suppose, despite what we may prefer, American corporations still have some clout in this world, even in the seemingly detached enclave of the Seattle music scene.
Unfortunately, that clout has once again reigned supreme, as PMPH, scheduled to play that same High Dive this coming April 26th for their pals the Heavy Hearts CD release show, have been unceremoniously booted from the bill. Obviously, Camel didn’t take too kindly to the anti-smoking message Smith was flaunting last time around, and decided to rectify the situation. I guess I’m not all that familiar with how a conglomerate like Camel comes to sponsor a particular event, but I suspect record labels and club owners and their relationships come into play. Word on the street was that the HH asked PMPH to play the show, only to succumb afterwards to the political whims of the show’s sponsor, and the equine-obsessed band was promptly ‘86ed. Now, who actually succumbed, I’m not sure, but the simple fact that this happened pretty much…sucks. The Hearts appear to be genuine, hardworking musicians, so I can’t imagine they made the final decision. Maybe the High Dive has a hard-on with the unscrupulous backer? Considering the show is free, that may not be too far off the mark.
I’ll be honest, I’m not a cigarette smoker; I think it’s quite possibly one of the most short-sighted, albeit addictive, habits one can engage in. Yet I also believe in free will, so smoke ‘em if you got ‘em, ya know? But when it comes to the sanctioning of certain bands over others based on the preference of well-heeled, crooked cigarette pushers, you’ll forgive me if I find that repulsive.