The Whole Bolivian Army | Saturday, January 28
In Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the film ends as our heroes find themselves surrounded by the Bolivian army, with little hope of making it out alive. Thankfully, the movie cuts to credits before we have to see them get riddled with bullets. Tacoma mainstays The Whole Bolivian Army, however, have unambiguously survived their own insurmountable odds: formed in 1993, smack dab in the middle of the alternative boom in the Pacific Northwest, facing down waves of groundbreaking bands and hangers-on, releasing album after album in the face of a fickle music industry. Married couple Mary Beth and Matt Kite, founders of The Whole Bolivian Army, are the only ones remaining from the initial lineup, but their staying power is exemplified by their son, Gibson, joining the band as drummer.
Still, 30 years is a good, round number, and for The Whole Bolivian Army, it’s the perfect time to call it quits. Their show at the Spanish Ballroom is just one in a trio of shows, also hitting Seattle and Olympia, where the band will be bidding adieu to live performances. Of course, this leaves the door wide open for more records to be released, and with that being the case, The Whole Bolivian Army has just recently shown that they’re still going out on top, releasing music that sits comfortably among the best they’ve ever made.
Their 2021 LP, Scream, shows a band that hasn’t lost its step, delivering driving, atmospheric alt-rock that sounds as vital today as it did 30 years ago. Mary Beth’s haunting vocals anchor the band, while electronic textures and jittery percussion crackle throughout, at times lending vibes of early ‘00s Radiohead. There’s a tension at the heart of The Whole Bolivian Army, which is occasionally allowed to erupt in wildly satisfying bursts of catharsis.
If The Whole Bolivian Army are, as their fans say, one of the Pacific Northwest’s best-kept secrets, they are one to be cherished. Come see them off at the Spanish Ballroom and give them the heroes’ sendoff they’ve been dodging all of these years.
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