Vendetta Red: Rock by numbers

Vendetta Red
Smith Memorial Student Union
Jan. 25, noon

I guess I should be more excited that there is someone from Seattle representing at PSU this Friday. Since moving down to Portland and to this school, I have been showing a local pride I never felt before – wearing more Seattle-inspired clothing, listening to Seattle-area music (I’m thinking more Botch than Brad) and reminiscing up a storm about that city. I’m not some kind of super-scene hipster, but, let me tell you, I’ve been to a lot of shows and I could point out every member of Waxwing in a crowd of Votolatos.

It is strange to me then, poring over photographs of Vendetta Red on their Web site, that I don’t recognize these young men at all. While my mind has spent the last six months on Seattle’s streets, at shows and parties, I have never once come across one of these faces.

Sure, I’ve heard the band’s name thrown around. They were always brought up with an affectedly casual air, “So, anyway, what do you think of that band Vendetta Red?” And as far back as I can remember, it was always assumed that they would take the path that they are on. They never seemed to be a part of the city – the scene, if you will – and Seattle seems to be nothing more to them than a point in their favor on a press release.

Inspiring the At the Drive-In comparisons that have become so fashionable, Vendetta Red’s music is a passable, if uninspiring, attempt at bringing a quote-frenzied-unquote sound into a mediocre pop-rock formula. Their songs are evidence that a catchy, familiar chorus can make up for a lack of other aspects, such as craft and ingenuity. Their last record, White-Knuckled Substance, for Loveless Records, makes one wonder just how easy it could be to get signed to Epic if you just stick to the approved formula.

The record’s title, ironically, outlines the band’s main flaws, these being a complete lack of substance or “white-knuckled” excitement. There is a formula for everything. If I squeeze my hand into a fist and press it really hard against the palm of my other hand, my knuckles are white for about a tenth of a second, approximately equal to the length of time that a listener is impressed by the manufactured frenzy of Vendetta Red.

With an upcoming record on Epic, whose headquarters are based not in Seattle but somewhere in the burning depths of hell, I would not be surprised if any identity that the band had will soon be wrung out by producer Jerry Finn (Sum 41, blink 182) and discarded along with any chance for lasting relevance.

If bands like Vendetta Red learn anything from At the Drive-In, it should have more to do with how they have stayed important and exciting so long after they’ve broken up than with copying a formula that the band never really followed itself. A good band follows inspiration, not math, and, as a result, those bands leave a lasting impression.