Walking up to a club where the Seeds are playing “Pushing Too Hard” is strange… this piece is as good a candidate as any for the ultimate anthem of 1960’s garage, it divides hip from hippie, contains proto-punk DNA, and retains rebellious, street-smart swagger decades later. The Seeds were one of the California bands that got harder, louder, more intense, and evolved into psych-rock. Who knew the Seeds were still around? And what is this “60’s punk” idea, anyway? When I started seeing compilations of early garage bands with that label, it seemed odd, the way something called “50’s Psychedelia” would. But that was before I grokked Garage as an aesthetic (as opposed to just a place to play) and now I can sort of smile and go along with the conceit that punk was happening in 1965, even though surely noone knew it at the time. It’s kind of fun.
Along with bands such as ? & the Mysterians, Them, and Link Wray, the Seeds poke their way above the surface of a cult genre where most of the bands are prized for their obscurity as much as for their primitivism and attitude. What I heard walking in was pretty good, and my! how well preserved they were. Then I realized that most of the band weren’t even alive in 1965! Led by the wizened old singer Sky Saxon, what are now the Seeds are a bunch of young droogy dudes with a retro fixation…imagine yourself as an ultimate Yardbirds fan, to the point where you get to join a reunion, and it turns out its mostly other young music nerds in the band!
The scenester-thick crowd wasn’t hung up on this aspect, and were enthusiastically rocking out. The Seeds laid down an infectious set of short but intense tunes, with electric piano and organ nicely standing out. Sky Saxon’s voice had lost it’s adolescent insolence, but he was looking resplendent in his psych-era finery, as if he had just left the Haight-Ashbury yesterday. “I’m waitin’ for the flying saucer!” he croaked…would his young bandmates be willing to join him? An “ample” young lady danced with him onstage, and the old time-traveler appeared willing to stay put on the terrestrial plane just a bit longer, so long as her plump posterior remained within his lizardlike grasp (weirdly, almost the exact same thing happened when I saw ? & the Mysterians!) While he got comfy, the new Seeds kept on churning out the singles, getting loud n’ dirty on a cover of Blue Cheer’s “Summertime Blues”, and downright freaky on “Tripmaker”. I noticed people were jumping around, almost slam-dancing to the louder songs. Sixties punk…who knew?