Nerding out: Discs of Fury and WE @ The Crocodile 01.23.10

Did you ever wonder what would happen when the Dungeons & Dragons dorks you knew in high school grew up and traded in their 20-sided die for six-stringed guitars?

Me neither. But I found out Saturday when Discs of Fury told the epic tale of Marvin Laser before a near-capacity crowd at the Crocodile during a theatrical rock opera for the ages.

Sure terms like “epic” and “for the ages” are a bit cliché, but really when you’re watching the spectacle that is Discs of Fury these are very appropriate words considering DOF is more or less a big, dorky, talented and rocking cliché itself.

In a nutshell, Discs of Fury is a band built specifically for telling the story of Marvin Laser. His story takes place in a realm of elves, warriors, bat princes, damsels in distress and other fixtures of make believe lands like Middle Earth and Eternia. More succinctly put Discs of Fury’s rock opera is like He-Man meets Beastmaster except the ferrets are replaced with guitars, there is a warrior drummer named Ravenwood and an elfish keyboarder who rocks a Tom Selleck mustache.

The opera’s story involves the shirtless and muscular Marvin Laser as he attempts to rescue the land from the evil Bat Prince. Along the way he befriends a thief, a mage, a drunken washed-up warrior, a princess and many other clichés of fantasy worlds. The story is told by a hunchbacked, warted narrator who explains the parts of the tale that can’t be explained by song but most of the storytelling is done through the group’s epic powers of rock.

The sense of humor, which pokes fun at rock operas, cheesy fantasy worlds from 1980s movies and the band itself, was spot on and the story itself was as kitschy as could be expected from a full-blown rock opera produced by a group of musicians who were likely the victims of many atomic wedgies back in the day. It does lag a bit during the second half, but so do all the cheesy 80s films it parodies and the action picks up right after the obligatory training montage, which is highly appropriate given the source material.

Of course this all wouldn’t mean much if the music itself wasn’t good, but as much as fantasy farce the story provided it was clear the actors/musicians took their instrumental roles very, very seriously. There is some serious progressive and classic rock vibes happening throughout the operatic tale that features musicianship as mighty as Marvin Laser’s gargantuan sword. Half the time I didn’t know whether I should be breaking out a deck of Magic cards or throwing up the devil horns and this was a good thing for both me and the sea of geeks filling the venue. Speaking of the crowd, if Discs of Fury never returns to the stage again Jan. 23, 2010 may go down in Seattle music lore as the Friday night the PAX crowd invaded Belltown and I will be happy to tell anyone that I was one of those geeks in attendance.

Seriously though, Discs of Fury provided a fun musical experience I won’t soon forget. I’ve seen quite a few unforgettable sets at the Crocodile and Disc of Fury’s outlandish rock opera ranks right up there with some of the best shows I’ve been privy to witness at the historic club on Second and Blanchard. I walked in not knowing what to expect and I left grinning from ear to ear and that is something that doesn’t happen to often to this concert-hardened critic.

I won’t spoil all the details of Disc of Fury’s glorious tale because the story of Marvin Laser begs to be told during a several night run at a community theatre (which apparently has happened) or during a residency at a local club, but needless to say the prophecy was fulfilled and in the end all that was left to do was rock. Hopefully Discs of Fury will play shows more often and not limit its production to one-off concerts. Marvin Laser and his merry men need to ride again in this town and if the mythical rock gods do exist they will make sure that this happens.

We Wrote the Book on Connectors opened the show with a set of equally geeky rock that fit perfectly with the evening’s bill. If you’re unfamiliar with WE, they are unabashedly dorky and sing songs about universal subjects such as cake and kickball (and they wrote the Ear Candy theme song). They are also the inventors of “mustache rock” even though none of the band’s four members have facial hair.

We Wrote the Book on Connector’s outrageous gospel church intro was practically worth the cost of admission alone. Dressed in choir robes, the band churched-up its theme song (yes, they have an actual theme song) and went on to play ridiculously catchy songs with titles such as “Gothic Dance Party,” “Torso, Bloody Torso,” “Mimosa” and other crowd favorites took center stage with a lot of the set leaning on material from Ride It Out Like A Turbo Horse. If you enjoy getting your geek on as much as you enjoy getting your rock on then We Wrote the Book on Connectors are your rock ‘n’ roll saviors.

By the time WE winded things down with “Gonna Eat Some Cake Tonight” it appeared as if Marvin Laser had a rather herculean task in front of him if he were to best WE’s infectious mustache rock. Of course the mighty Marvin Laser prevailed (thanks in part to a hilarious cameo by WE involving a robot) and all was once again set right in the universe.

Unfortunately, since Discs of Fury doesn’t perform often there is no telling when the world will see Marvin Laser again, or where he disappeared to after the 90-minute performance. My guess is that he rode into the heavens on an invisible Pegasus that was likely tied to one of the bike racks outside of the club, and is now waiting to be called into battle the next time evil threatens the dorky music lovers of Seattle.

*** For a better look at what the Discs of Fury experience is all about, head on over to Sound on the Sound where they used actual cameras, not camera phones, to capture the show.

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