Mama, I'm Swollen
What a great night I had last night. I rode to Portland with my friend Brian and we talked film and geek stuff and arrived at the venue a few minutes early. The staff was very professional and better than some other venues who's names I won't name. The show started on time and the first band was the Box Elders.
Portland has a reputation of concert goers being fashionably late and it was no exception last night. The poor Box Elders played to sparsely populated room. That didn't stop them from giving it their all and I respect them for that. I wasn't really that into them, it's just not my thing though the crowd was digging them.
The sound is similar to the Thermals but with a folk and garage influence and while it wasn't my thing, I do have to mention that I was quite impressed by the drummers ability to play one handed and play the keys at the same time. A rotating Leslie speaker organ at that. Most impressive.
The Mt. St. Helen's Vietnam Band was really good, I picked up their EP and album in anticipation of the show and was quite excited to see them perform and I was far from disappointed. There was significantly more people present while they played a fairly long set for an opening band and had a few things worth mentioning during the course of their show.
But first, a slight description of the band. I would best describe them as "Cursive plays a little math rock". HUH??? While the Tim Kasher melodrama of Cursive is not present, I do get the feeling that these guys are influenced by the DC sound like Cursive, but even more so, hence the math rock.
Ok, with that out of the way I must mention the highlights. First off, I developed a mini-crush on the female element of the band as she was cute, energetic and charming. She had (see above) something that I can only describe as "broomsticks with tambourines duct taped to them". She would raise them to the sky and bang them on the floor while dancing. She played percussion and even a glockenspiel while doing some backup vocals. All of this lead me to believe that she must be one awesome individual and really made the set for for me. I must sound like a stalker. I'm ok with that.
One more thing of note, they were throwing tennis balls at a floor tom and bouncing them into the crowd. That is so damn cool.
And finally to the Cursive set. Tim played a Les Paul special the whole night and their other guitar player switched between a 12 string hollow body and a regular Les Paul. The keyboard player also played trumpet and a flugelhorn. Now that is something you don't see everyday. I was probably the only person in the crowd that realized that it was a flugelhorn. Cursive's new drummer is from Engine Down I hear and he was solid.
They played a good mixture of tunes from Domestica to the new one, but nothing older than that. I was surprised to see Tim using a capo on some of the new material, I never thought he had it in him.
The songs were played rapid fire, oftentimes without so much as an acknowledgement to the crowd at all. One song after another almost sounded like it was DJ mixed. The fast songs seemed like they were played a little faster and the slow songs seemed a little slower. When they played "What Have I Done", I could have sworn it was Tom Waits had possessed Tim Kasher especially when he sings "The gods must be laughing down at me". I actually googled the lyrics thinking it might be a Tom Waits cover. Yes I know I should have recognized it. But in my defense, it's the last song of the newest album, give me break. OK?
All in all they played a fairly long set and also played an encore of 3 songs, so when you go see them, be sure to stick around after they say goodnight when you see them on one of the dates below. Be sure to buy some merch because it's reasonably priced and I don't think anything was over 20 bucks.
LP / CD / MP3
LP / CD / MP3
LP / CD / MP3