As we were waiting for The Breeders to come on stage Thursday night, I noticed that the young woman in front of me was sporting an impressive tattoo of the old nineties-era MTV logo. Much like my concert neighbor's choice of ink, The Breeders show at Wonder Ballroom proved that while it's been over two decades since "Cannonball" came out, there's still a market for "classic" alternative rock, at least in Portland.
While I realize that it's both a little unfair and maybe even cliched to compare The Breeders to The Pixies, I'm going to do it anyways, because comparison is so telling. For better and for worse, the Kim Deal-fronted Breeders is everything that the Kim Deal-less Pixies is not (and since I wasn't old enough to see them in their heyday, it really makes me wonder what the latter band was like when Kim Deal was part of the lineup).
When we covered The Pixies back in February, my biggest complaint about the band was that their set was polished and honed to the point of being antiseptic and occasionally underwhelming. By contrast, The Breeders are delightfully raw and play with a great deal of heart. There was more stage banter in the first five minutes of their set than we saw from The Pixies in an entire show, and both Kim and her sister Kelley cracked jokes all through their show. There's a downside to that, too: while some of the band's new music (another difference from the Pixies) was good, some of it fell completely flat - most notably the bizarrely-named "Blues at The Acropolis" (Kim quipped that Kelley didn't like the name... I'd have to agree with her) - and the band frequently pulled out their guitar tabs on the songs they didn't know very well. Despite the occasional missteps, though, hearing "Cannonball" live and watching them cover "Happiness is a Warm Gun," made me come to the conclusion - while they might have a less iconic discography than The Pixies, The Breeders are definitely a heck of a lot more fun to watch live.
Short and sweet was the order of the day last Tuesday, as the Doug Fir Lounge played host to three rapid-fire sets from a trio of up-and-coming bands.
Openers Adventure Galley played PetAid back in 2013, and while they haven't risen to prominence quite as quickly as some of their fellow PetAid alums (Hustle & Drone and Said The Whale, I'm looking at you guys), their stock seems to be on the rise, as of late. The Portland band, whose insouciant take on New Wave inspired music is reminiscent of The Bravery in their early (better) days, opens for two 94/7 shows this month - this one and My Goodness on September 23.
Little Rock band Knox Hamilton followed with a tight indie pop set - emphasis on the pop. There are some bands that find themselves in the indie/alternative spectrum (and by extension, on the pages of this blog) by virtue of their content, and they never leave. Although I'm sure Portugal The Man would be amazing in an arena setting, I don't think we're ever going to see them do a stadium tour with Drake. Conversely, other bands find themselves in the indie/alt orbit by virtue of their anonymity - as soon as they have enough cultural inertia, they tend to find themselves gravitating towards the pop market. There's nothing wrong with that, and that's exactly what I'd expect to happen with Knox Hamilton, if they make it big.
The final act of the evening, Colony House, also had a bit of pop edge, but one that seemed to resonate broadly with the crowd. Musically, Colony House sounds a little bit like a cross between Young The Giant and The Features; the latter parallel being especially apparent live, when they delve into more riff-heavy guitar work. Whatever their influences, they had the entire crowd clapping along by the time they got to their recent single, "Silhouettes."