December got off to an explosive start when The Neighbourhood returned to The Crystal Ballroom on Sunday night to kick off 94/7's December To Remember concert series.The NBHD has played three sold-out shows in Portland this year, but this Sunday's show was by far their best performance to date. From the minute lead singer Jesse Rutherford started in on the first few bars of "Let It Go," the crowd erupted in cheers and applause - and their enthusiasm continued unabated until long after the last song was played and the roadies had begun clearing the stage.
In their previous two shows, The NBHD delivered energetic but sometimes uneven performances - just what you'd expect from a band that got real famous, real fast. But such slight stumbles were nowhere to be seen on Sunday - their Dec2Rem set was polished and darn-near flawless - rolling through hits like "Sweater Weather" and crowd favorites like "Everybody's Watching Me" and "Straight To Hell" with great aplomb. There's little doubt that the boys from SoCal have finally hit their stride, and they've set the bar pretty high for the rest of December To Remember. The only question is - can the other bands live up to the challenge? We're looking forward to finding out!
No other band from the grunge era has had both the longevity and cultural impact that Pearl Jam has enjoyed - they've become both a paradigm of modern alternative rock and an occasional target for parody (as many people remember from Portlandia's "Eddie Vedder tattoo" sketch). So when it was announced earlier this year that Pearl Jam was returning to Portland for the first time since 2000, I don't think anyone doubted that their show would be epic - but probably only a select few anticipated how positively Homeric their Black Friday concert at The Moda Center would be.
After an opening set by early grunge rockers Mudhoney, PJ made their way onstage. Although they took a few breaks, they wouldn't relinquish the spotlight for almost two and a half hours. During their marathon set, they played over 30 songs, including a cover of Velvet Underground's "After Hours", two impressive Pink Floyd covers, and almost all of their seminal debut album, Ten.
Everyone at Friday's show no doubt has their most memorable moment - for some, it might've been hearing them cover Pink Floyd or Velvet Underground. For others, it was probably watching Scott McCready playing the guitar behind his back during "Even Flow." But for me (and probably a large chunk of the audience), one of the biggest surprises came at the end the show, when Sleater-Kinney reunited for the first time since 2006 to join REM's Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey onstage for a massive jam session to Neil Young's "Rocking In the Free World."
With any luck, Pearl Jam will return to Portland some day (and hopefully a little sooner than they did this time), but no matter how many times they come to town, there's no doubt about it: this concert was one for the record books.