Everyone likes to spend their New Year's Eve differently. Some people get dressed to the nines and hit the clubs; some people like to stay in and watch the ball drop on TV - but here in Portland, a select portion of the populace decided to eschew the champagne flutes and noisemakers in favor of 94/7's killer triple-header with Ages and Ages, Wild Ones, and Surfer Blood at Mississippi Studios.
Portland band Ages and Ages started the evening off with their unique brand of choral pop. With revival-style singing, massive multi-part harmonies, and a varied percussion section (I think I saw everything from a cabasa to spurs, accompanied by more handclaps than the Oscars), the band's sound manages to deftly straddle the divide between folk and pop, and in perhaps the most reflective moment of the evening, the band closed out their set with the title track off their new album, Divisionary, reminding the crowd to "Do the right thing, do it all the time."
Ages and Ages
The first time you see Wild Ones live, it's hard to pin down who they remind you of. Another graduate from the Joanna Newsom School of Voice? A cross between Dan Croll and Dresses? Maybe a funky version of Chvrches? Regardless what band you choose to compare them to, their talent is indisputable. (Later in the show, John Paul Pitts of Surfer Blood even paid them tribute: "Some say they're the best band in Portland; some say they're the best band in the whole world.") For their second NYE show at Mississippi Studios, lead singer Danielle Sullivan prowled the stage, tambourine in hand, singing with an intensity and focus that I've only seen matched by Polica's Channy Leaneagh. One of the definite highlights of Wild Ones' set was their cover of Drake's "Going Home", which was quite possibly better than the original.
Florida rockers Surfer Blood may hail from a different state, but they seemed just at home as their Portland openers when they took to the stage with the clock ticking towards midnight. Lead singer John Paul Pitts guided the crowd through an abbreviated version of their set that included hits such as "Floating Vibes," "Swim," and "Demon Dance," before jumping into the crowd, where he crawled and writhed on the floor, hammed it up for the photographers, and even kissed one very surprised Live Music Blogger on the cheek. After a pause for the requisite countdown at midnight, the band closed out the evening with a cover of the Pete & Peter theme and David Bowie's "Heroes."
It was a fitting end for 2013, I think, that 94/7 and the folks at Mississippi Studios chose to end the year with these three very talented and musically diverse bands. Some people say that how you spend New Year's Eve dictates how you will spend the coming year. I don't know if that's true or not, but if it is, the folks who were at Mississippi Studios are in for a killer 2014!