I’m sitting in the garden* of the Doug Fir and my friend’s just texted me saying that Andrew Savage is 20 yards away, sitting by the fire. We’re not usually reduced to text messages and hushed whispers, but for a few brief moments tonight we’ve become shy, giggling schoolgirls. This is because Andrew Savage is no regular Singer In A Band. He’s one of the few rock polymaths of our generation, masterminding lo-fi pop-punk in Teenage Cool Kids and experimental psych band Fergus & Geronimo before leaving Denton, Texas, for New York City, forming Parquet Courts and becoming one of the most talked about musicians in the country. It’s Parquet Courts that he’s brought back to Portland for the second time in six months tonight, and the buzz around the Doug Fir is proof that their star has risen significantly since the release of their magnificent debut Light Up Gold.
* Editor's note: I think this is English-person for "patio"?
Before all this though, there’s Naomi Punk, whose set usually caves in on itself before it has the opportunity to make any sort of impression. Tonight, however, they are a different animal. Tighter and more refined than normal, tracks like "Voodoo Trust" and "Burned Body" hit twice as hard, their bluesy dissonance sounding more terrifying than simply monotonal. Much of this can be attributed to Nick Luempert, whose canon-like drumming dominates the set, and allows Travis Coster and Neil Gregerson the freedom to plunge their guitars into the sludge. Naomi Punk’s embrace of their more technical side could prove to be their secret weapon and, on this showing, the potential that they demonstrated on debut album The Feeling may be realized.
The room is packed by the time Parquet Courts reach the stage and, with all the swagger that’s come to be expected from them, launch into a new and unheard song. In many ways it’s the perfect showcase for their talents, as the guitars of Austin Brown and Savage carelessly play off one another while the rhythm stays hypnotically consistent. Sure, the room is visibly shaken when the magnificent “Master of My Craft” blares out of Brown’s lungs, the sardonic refrain of “fuggedabouddit” chanted back in a manner that can only be described as odd.
With the release of MCII early last month, it became clear that Long Beach export Mikal Cronin had crafted a record that infused the garage-rock prototype of his peers with more heart than many of them could manage in a career beneath all the bluster. Whether or not they were favorable (they were, actually, always favorable), the comparisons with his friend and collaborator Ty Segall had grown tiresome in the two years since Cronin's self-titled debut, and his emotionally fraught old soul has finally come to be lauded in its own right. All of this is justified. MCII is is one of 2013’s most accomplished releases, a joyous combination of heart-on-sleeve indie rock and psychedelia that reveals its creator as one of the most paradoxically self-assured authors of self-conflict in his generation.
All of this is in evidence before Cronin even steps towards the microphone at Mississippi Studios. His long hair draped over the shoulders of his tie-dye T-shirt, Cronin looks like a more charming, fresh-faced Jimmy Page and his smile is half embarrassed, half ecstatic. Then, as if it was the easiest thing imaginable, he sings the a cappella introduction to "Is It Alright," originally a rich harmony, completely on his own without missing a note. Calling him shy—as so many critics have chosen to—seems hasty. The modest confidence that underpins his set can be seen in the punch he gives to "Get Along" and the swagger with which he bleeds into "Apathy," wheeling away to Emily Rose Epstein’s drum kit and throwing himself head first into another solo.
British band Foals came through Portland last Wednesday on the tour for their new album Holy Fire, their third full-length album. It makes sense that Blondfire, an electro-pop duo from LA, was on the bill with Foals; their sounds are compatible and definitely speak to the same crowd. Surfer Blood, on the other hand, were confusing at best. I could have been 14 watching them open for some band like Bowling for Soup or All-American Rejects. Actually I never would have gone to that show, even as a teen, and I would have preferred to not hear their set at all on Wednesday night. It was that bad. Maybe if they had a little more "surf" or "blood" in their sound (...shark attack?) they could be a mediocre time-filler, but damn. Never again.
Foals were well worth the wait—they always put on a fantastic live show. Full of energy and charisma, they're fun to photograph and babes to boot. Most of the songs they played were from the new album, but a few songs from Antidotes—their first album (and best, in my opinion)—were obvious crowd favorites. It was also nice to notice that they had developed some of their earlier songs a little more. They weren't carbon copies of the recording, but had been added to and finessed. The floor of the Crystal was definitely bouncy. For once I was actually happy about the "first three songs only" photo rule, so that I could dance too.
More photos after the jump!
[Editor's note: The Mercury attended a couple days of Sasquatch! along with our pals at Seattle's The Stranger, who just KILLED IT with their complete coverage over the weekend. Here's our outright thievery of The Stranger's excellent reporting; the links below will take you to their fine music blog, Line Out.]
The Stranger's Sasquatch Team of Excellence Oh Thirteen is pleased to announce: WE WENT TO SASQUATCH SO YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO!
HERE'S LITERALLY ALMOST EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENED:
- The road to Sasquatch is littered with fine reading materials and confusing/enticing car paint.
- It's windy, but the first three minutes of (S)asquatch look great!
- What rhymes with shmacklemore?
- Friday Digest: Telekinesis, Macklemore, and fancy-boy jingle rock... WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO LOSE?
- Derek Erdman experiences the strewn bindles and cosmik debris of Rose Windows, Anna Minard sees RA Scion at the unpronounceable stage, Bree McKenna considers sexy hoods at Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.
- Anna Minard on Akron/Family's improper name slash and otherwise satisfactory music.
- Josh Bis takes proper proper photos and marries them with proper words!
- Look at this Michelle Obama jacket!
- Derek Erdman befuddles teens, feels he can now retire. But not before he gets to the bottom of Sasquatch's foodies.
- Important port-a-potty update and Barfsquatch!
- Anna Minard ponders Andrew Bird's whistling abilities while I swoon over Tilson XOXO's matching outfits.
- Something happened and Tame Impala had to postpone their set and move stages. Cannibalism almost ensues.
- Sean Nelson's festival bra and Tallest Man on Earth makes girls cry.
- A taste of Pop Chips, bad interview questions, and some band no one cares about.
- Josh Bis does it again: Saturday photos of Devendra Banhart, Nick Offerman, the xx, Sigur Rós, and more!
- A row-boat has to fix the sign every time it blows over.
- Nick Offerman takes a pro-cornbread stance on technology.
- WAKE UP CAMPERS!
- Sometimes there are festival pictures you just can't bring yourself to take.
- Speaking of questionable fest photography: put a boob on it.
- Bree wants to know what's up with early crowds and summer sausage fests.
- Josh Bis caught Earl Sweatshirt, Killer Mike, Ronald Reagan, and more!
- Kelly O got down with Danny Brown!
- The Sunday digest: Elvis Costello, Kingdom Crumbs, Grimes, and a cute dog in someone's car > Mumford & Sons.
- This year, RAP RULED and indie rock drooled!
- Primus 3-D is the #1 thing at Sasquatch 2013!!!
- Azealia Banks, who makes up 50% of the women allowed to play Sasquatch, has cancelled.
- In the press hut: this hot pretzel decoy had our hopes up all weekend, and no one has any real paper.
- Sin Dawg's are definitely available in Ephrata, WA.
- Sasquatch gets soggy, Tig Notaro makes Anna fall over, and Mike Birbiglia notices that Edward Sharpe fans look exactly like Edward Sharpe.
- Josh Bis is a true American hero who stayed for the Postal Service, even thought it wouldn't stop raining!
This is a tale of two rappers, one clever and suave, the other punishing and incendiary, sharing the stage at the Roseland for the Portland stop of their "Life Is So Exciting" tour. As an aging hiphop fan attending an all-ages show featuring two aging rappers, I struggle to muster much of my own excitement as Pusha T's DJ begins warming up the crowd with time-proven exclamatory verbalizations accompanied by an array of bomb and siren sounds.
I find myself wondering where either Pusha T or Fabolous will be in 10 years—the popular transition from rapping into acting represents a foreboding challenge for both: Despite his tremendous charisma within the confines of 16 bars, Fabolous is surprisingly shy and awkward in music videos and skits. And Pusha T is far too menacing a persona to get cast for anything but long-departed gritty prison dramas such as Oz and The Wire.
Not every band can turn a concert into an impromptu underwear party, but Magic Mouth did just that as headliners of last Friday night's Langano Bash 2013. After performances from Smoke Rings, Tiny Knives, and Havania Whaal, the gritty and danceable four-piece took to the floor-level stage for a sweaty, kinetic performance that quickly led to the disrobing of audience and band members alike. After a full set full of throbbing baselines and crowd-surfing to boot, Magic Mouth closed out their midnight set with their soulful and smoky take on Pet Shop Boys' "West End Girls," allowing everyone to catch their breath in the very humid air.
Lots more skin—I mean photos—after the jump!
Sun Angle held their debut album release party at Mississippi Studios last Friday. With Like a Villain and Nice Nice on the bill, there was plenty of celebration. I feel extremely lucky every time I get to see Holland Andrews play: her amazing solo project Like a Villain is a thing of power and beauty. Using a clarinet, glockenspiel, loop pedals, and her flawless voice, Andrews seems like a celestial being full of raw emotion one minute, and your most intimate friend the next. It's really quite magical. Nice Nice brought the dancing and carried the show into the much anticipated main event!
The men of Sun Angle are all extremely talented musicians with very broad musical tastes and influences. Mark Lore detailed the creation of their album Diamond Junk last week, and it's no secret how busy these guys are. I admit that Sun Angle is by far my favorite of Papi Fimbres projects—the energy that he brings to all his bands is mirrored in singer Charlie Salas Humara, and together they are electric. Marius Libman on bass is definitely the glue of the Sun Angle chaos, cutting through the frantic guitar and drums to keep everything grounded; grounded, but dancing. His bass lines have always reminded me of Mike Watt. I imagine that if the Minutemen had escaped tragedy, dropped some acid, and time traveled to 2013 they would sound like this album. Crazy good tunes from crazy good dudes, congrats!
Can't wait for the next show, and check out the new album! Lots more photos after the jump!
The KPSU Kruise took off around midnight on Friday to a series of cheers and whoops. It's safe to say that everyone had been imbibing for a few hours, enjoying the unseasonably warm evening breeze off the Willamette. The crowd was certainly celebratory, buying raffle tickets, drinking champagne, and hanging out on all decks of the boat.
Grandparents played to a packed room as the Portland Spirit lazily floated from St. Johns to Sellwood, under the bridges of Portland. Onuinu started close to 1 am, serenading his audience with his electronic disco-groove beats. Almost as soon as everyone found their sea legs, the boat docked, and the sailors left one buoyant party to find another.
More pics after the jump!
Hit the jump for more!
Sequestered in a minute area stage left, directly facing an array of rapid-fire, high-power stage lights, and allowed only to photograph the first three songs, I mustered what I could. Then I spent the remainder of the show watching the crowd take photos four inches from Alice's face with their HD phones. I imagine this is what the horseshoe maker felt like watching the construction of a freeway.
In fact, at the start of last night's late show—which began relatively promptly, not long after 11:30—with the Roseland's interior walls freshly painted purple for the occasion, the noise of the cheering crowd almost drowned out the sound coming from the stage, which wasn't exactly quiet. Bedecked in a skintight black-and-white shirt and a small, fuzzy fro, Prince appeared at the front of the stage as 3rdEyeGirl's sludgy, slow remake of "Let's Go Crazy" came from behind the curtains (did you know the Roseland even had curtains?), which parted as the song launched into gear. It was the "pinch me" moment of the show, with everyone in the crowd not quite believing that, yes, this is actually Prince, and yes, he's actually playing this song, and yes, you are actually in the room with him.
More photos after the jump!
As far as I was concerned, British band Alt-J had two strikes against them before performing Monday night at the Roseland—one strike being a particularly flaccid gig that I'd caught in Paris over the summer and the other being a friend's comment that they sounded like Adam Sandler covering Yeasayer, a comparison almost too true it pretty much wrecked the band for me. However, to balance out those two strikes, the songs on their debut album An Awesome Wave could perhaps count as 14 marks in their favor? With a Mercury Music Prize under their belt, a song on the Silver Linings Playbook soundtrack, and a continued string of sold-out shows, I ventured forth to see if their live show could further justify their recorded output.
More photos after the jump!
More photos after the jump!
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