Posts from September 2013

Third Shift Perfect Playlist (9/30/13)


Blind Melon "No Rain"
The Bravery "Time Won't Let Me Go"
Shiny Toy Guns "Rainy Monday"
Capital Cities "Center Stage"
Alt-J "Breezeblocks"
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Snapshot of Passport Approved (9/30/13)

Satellite Stories "Campfire" (Finland)
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Everything is Illuminated :: The Lumineers at Memorial Coliseum :: 9.22.13

If you live in the Portland area and have a love for alternative & indie rock, that love may lead you to some interesting places. You may see bands in basements (Doug Fir), in upstairs ballrooms (Crystal Ballroom), or even in sandwich shops (Bunk Bar). And once in a while, if a band has enough mainstream appeal, you might find yourself making the trek to one of Portland's twin arena venues: Memorial Coliseum and the newly re-christened Moda Center. And for the masses of screaming fans that crowded into Memorial Coliseum on the 22nd, that pilgrimage ended when Denver's own The Lumineers took to the stage in a blaze of lights.

But before we dish on Wesley and the gang, let's talk openers. Fellow Denver native Nathaniel Rateliff kicked off the show with a short, low-key set. While Rateliff's particular brand of folk rock is very pleasant to listen to, it's so understated that it runs the risk of being unmemorable. Second act Dr. Dog kicked it up a notch their brand of indie rock. With their two front men sharing the singing duties, Dr. Dog almost sounds like some sort of Bob Dylan / Tom Petty side-project - although interestingly, they don't sound anything like Dylan & Petty's actual real-life side project, The Traveling Wilburys. They treated the crowd to a solid cover of Architecture in Helsinki's "Heart It Races," and their songs "Lonesome" and "Jackie Wants a Black Eye" are both pretty catchy.

(Turn up the lights - The Lumineers live at Memorial Coliseum.)

Although crowd response had been fairly enthusiastic during the open acts, it was nothing in comparison with the almost-frenzied excitement with which concert-goers greeted The Lumineers when they finally came out, and it continued unabated through all of their set.

The idea of "arena folk" is a concept that I've always found interesting. How do you convert a musical genre that's known for its mellow nuances into a sound that can fill a ten thousand seat venue? Some bands aren't equal to the task, but The Lumineers handle the translation deftly. Although lead singer Wesley Schultz's foot-stomping promenades on stage take a little getting used to, his vocals are clear and strong, and piano player Stelth Ulvang pounds at the ivories with an intensity worthy of Little Richard or Jerry Lee Lewis (except without, you know, the weirdness).

The concert itself kicked off with the band's most recent single, "Submarines" and followed it up a few songs later with the song that catapulted them to stardom, "Ho Hey." Although they stumbled a little on "Ho Hey" (they seemed like they might be just a wee bit tired of playing it) the crowd didn't seem to notice, and the response was equally enthusiastic for "Stubborn Love." However, in this writer's humble estimation, where The Lumineers really shine is in their lesser-known work. In addition to their brilliant cover of Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues," the band killed it on songs like "Slow It Down" and "Flowers In Your Hair," and one my personal highlights was their new, not-yet-officially-titled song, "Falling", a sweet, old-fashioned duet that brilliantly showcases cellist Neyla Pekarek's vocal talent. (You can find concert footage of this song online, but if you watch it, you'll probably wind up cursing the fact that it's not available as a single, yet. Don't say I didn't warn you.)

It would be easy for the more alternatively minded among us to dismiss bands like The Lumineers as merely fodder for television drama soundtracks and teenage Facebook status updates, but that overlooks the reason that The Lumineers became famous in the first place - they're amazing entertainers. Their style is simple, accessible, and honest. In an era where arena shows have been dominated by glitz, posturing, and overproduction, it's refreshing to a see some old-fashioned showmanship take center stage, once in a while.
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Third Shift Perfect Playlist (9/27/13)


Alt-J "Something Good"
Blind Melon "No Rain"
Empire Of The Sun "Walking On a Dream"
Young The Giant "Cough Syrup"
Cage The Elephant "Shake Me Down"
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Snapshot of Passport Approved (9/27/13)

John Newman "Cheating" (North Yorkshire, England)
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Double Features

Tennessee natives The Features rolled into town last Saturday for a pair of back-to-back shows at Mississippi Studios and the Doug Fir Lounge. Although they've been performing for well over a decade, and have opened for acts like Kings of Leon and Manchester Orchestra, The Features have only recently started garnering attention in the Pacific Northwest, thanks to their recent single, "This Disorder."

(Mississippi Studios)

For their 94/7 Session at Mississippi Studios on Saturday afternoon, they played a raucous five-song set that was exceptionally energetic for a free show - and they brought the same intensity to the second half of their "double feature" at Doug Fir Lounge that night. (Once in a while, you'll see a band phone it in for a free concert or a pre-show appearance. With these guys, they seemed to devote the same level of attention to both shows, which was refreshing.) Musically, a lot of their songs sound like early Kings of Leon (not surprisingly, since they both cut their teeth on the Tennessee music scene in the early 2000s): gritty, southern-infused indie rock that's amazingly good, albeit somewhat uniform. Tracks off their most recent album (the eponymously named "The Features") show a little bit more sonic diversity, however - "This Disorder" has a more mainstream sound (I could almost see Young The Giant doing a cover of this song. Sameer Gadhia, if you're listening to this suggestion: you're welcome.) and "With Every Beat" has a haunting melody that reminded me of Beach House.

(Doug Fir Lounge)

Despite their talent and years in the industry, The Features' name belies that fact that they're still operating under the radar, at least for the time being. Prior to their 94/7 Session at Mississippi Studios, the band was milling about at the back of the  venue, and when the doors opened, several eager show-goers practically ran over the band members in their eagerness to secure choice spots by the stage.

While there's something mildly ironic about people ignoring you on the way to see you, I suspect that such anonymity will be short-lived from here on out. If The Features keep turning out catchy tracks like "This Disorder", the next time they're in town, people are definitely going to know who they are.
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Locations : Tennessee
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Third Shift Perfect Playlist (9/26/13)


Capital Cities "Safe & Sound"
Metric "Help, I'm Alive"
Walk The Moon "Anna Sun"
Goldfields "Dark Again"
Death Cab For Cutie "Soul Meets Body"
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Snapshot of Passport Approved (9/26/13)

Dan Croll "Sweet Disarray" (Liverpool, England)
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People : Dan Croll


Bastille ::: Doug Fir ::: 9.20.13

Bastille Day came twice this year for the City of Roses. However, instead of storming a French prison, Portland music lovers descended in full force upon the Doug Fir Lounge for Bastille's sold-out show on Friday night.
Anticipation was understandably high when the first opener of the night, the rather unusually named Nightmare & the Cat took to the stage. The English/American band is fronted by Sam & Django Stewart, sons of Eurythmics musician David A. Stewart (yeah, I know it's cheap to mention people's famous parents, but that tidbit may just help you out at trivia night someday, so bear with me). Although some of their songs are catchy, their sonic identity seems unfinished - as though they haven't quite decided if they're going to rock out or embrace a more folky sound. And while I'm sure their looks of disaffection are a practiced move on their part, it contrasted sharply with the enthusiasm of the two acts that followed. Speaking of which...

(Little Daylight)
So if I wasn't sold on Nightmare & the Cat, I definitely can say that I had no such reservations about the second opener, Little Daylight. This Brooklyn-based trio quickly won over the crowd with their all-too-short set. Combining modern synthpop beats with eighties inspired vocals, Little Daylight sounds a little bit like Chvrches would if they were fronted by, say, Belinda Carlisle - and it works. Their sound is polished and catchy, especially on songs like "Name in Lights" and "Glitter and Gold." Hopefully we get to see these guys back in Portland, before too long.
Once the openers finished their bit, Bastille quickly took to the stage, and it took about one glimpse of frontman Dan Smith for the crowd to go nuts, especially when he led them in a drum-pounding (Portlanders really love lead singers with a drum - Imagine Dragons, I'm looking at you), floor-stomping rendition of "Things We Lost in the Fire," followed shortly after by an awesome cover of City High's "What Would You Do." 
At first, I wasn't entirely sure what to think of the London-based group - while they've garnered a lot of press recently for their tongue-in-cheek covers of artists like the aforementioned City High, Miley Cyrus ("We Can't Stop"), or even TLC ("No Scrubs"), their sound is definitely more pop-oriented than it is alternative, bringing to mind comparisons to other crossover-bound artists such as Coldplay or The Fray. Mark my words, it won't be long before we start hearing "Pompeii" on Top 40 Radio, and I suspect Bastille's next tour will be hitting much bigger venues.
However, in spite of these reservations, I was quickly won over by their performance. Despite his grousing about being "a pretty ******* awful dancer," Smith has an amazing stage presence, and he led the crowd on a rollicking, high energy joyride through their set, culminating when he waded into the crowd during "Flaws."

(Dan Smith of Bastille)
Mid-way through their set, Bastille played a song called "Haunt" wherein Dan threatens, "I'll come back to haunt you." If the crowd at Doug Fir was any indication, I think they'd tell him that he was welcome anytime.
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Third Shift Perfect Playlist (9/25/13)


Death Cab For Cutie "Stay Young, Go Dancing"
The Airborne Toxic Event "Strange Girl"
Muse "Starlight"
The Killers "From Here On Out"
Toad The Wet Sprocket "AllI Want"
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