Chad VanGaalen is on a rare tour this summer in support of his new album, Shrink Dust. Sunday night's show at Mississippi Studios included touring support from fellow Canadians Cousins and locals Big Haunt, who played first. This was the second time I've seen Big Haunt play—the first being last months' homecoming show for Mimicking Birds and Wake Owl, which was great. My first impression of them was good, and a second confirmed that their songs have substance, and their sound, while identifiable as "very Portland," is real pretty. One song in particular, the last of their set, is hauntingly honest. "I used you for your heat," they sang. Cousins were good, too; some songs at the beginning of their set were too slow and repetitive to be anything other than boring, leaving me initially skeptical, but the duo picked it up after that and were ultimately engaging on stage.
The sold-out crowd was full of anticipation for Chad VanGaalen's set—people talking about what songs they'd like to hear, wondering what instruments he brought. I heard several people mention how rarely he tours, and did you see him when he came in 2006? Sadly, there have been plenty of times I have tried to see him play over the years but, for one reason or another, could never make it happen. I was just as excited and curious as everyone else, and his short-and-sweet set didn't disappoint. His stage banter was a little bold (not surprising) and the overall sound—from a three-piece of drums, bass/vox, and Chad on guitar, harmonica, a few synths, and sax—was fantastic. They were obviously more prepared to play songs from this year's Shrink Dust. A lot of crowd requests were met with the simple fact that "some of that we just can't play." They did play a few stripped-down songs off of Soft Airplane, the album with which I first met Chad, like "Willow Tree," "Rabid Bits of Time," and "City of Electric Light." Those were clear crowd faves as well, with all the singing along.
Come back soon, Chad! Bring Banana Bread!
More photos after the jump!