For the final night of the Works, a pair of Portland rock bands played, one well known, the other nearly lost to memory. Quasi opened the evening with a thundering set of old songs and new, proving once and for all that they are an infinitely better band once Sam Coomes gets off the synthesized piano and straps on a guitar. Fortunately, he brandished the axe for the last two-thirds of the set, even briefly throwing himself into the crowd at one point. Bassist Joanna Bolme appeared to be suffering a foot injury—sprained ankle or something—so she sat on a stool for the duration of the set. Prior to cracking jokes about heroin (ha! Heroin is hilarious!), Sam said they were unused to playing under such bright lights, but that he hoped it looked good from the audience. And it really did.
Bugskull followed, playing meandering, stoner rock that breezily sailed without causing too many ripples. Their music was at all times pleasantly hypnotic, even causing a few brief moments of transcendence. A new song and a Pink Floyd cover aside ("Fearless"), much of their old material was unfamiliar to the audience, a symptom of their being overlooked and on ice for so long. Indeed, Bugskull's inactivity seemed obvious at a couple points, but if they become an ongoing concern again—and I hope they do—there is no reason why, with a bit more practice and tightness, they won't quickly become one of the best bands in town. They played in front of a charming collection of stock footage, which ranged from instructional filmstrips to surf flicks to arty dance film to stop-motion animation. It was tough to look away.
A word about the performance space at Washington High School: It's fantastic. Once PICA's lease runs up, it would be a shame to have it fall back into years of disuse and neglect. For the past 10 days, it has been the best place in town to see a show. So here's hoping, that by some avenue, it will host more shows, please—music, theater, otherwise. Hopefully Buckman neighbors will realize what a gem it is and allow plans for a community center—centered around a prolifically used performance space—to gain traction.
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