One of the first rock concerts I ever saw was Franz Ferdinand. It was 2005 and the Glasgow rockers, fresh off the success of their debut album, were playing the Roseland Theater to promote the impending release of their sophomore effort, You Could Have it So Much Better. At the time, the band's body of work was compact enough that they were able to fit almost every song off of both albums into their set. Almost a decade later, things came full circle when Franz Ferdinand returned to the Roseland on Saturday night, and their show proved that while they may no longer be the fresh-faced lads I saw in my youth, where showmanship is concerned, some things never change.
Saturday night's performance at the Roseland was a showcase of Franz Ferdinand's typical high-energy performance style and flare for theatrics. Before their set, a large curtain shrouded their equipment, pulling away to reveal the stage setup just moments before the band came on stage, opening with "Bullet" and "Michael" amidst a storm of strobe lights and screaming fans. The rest of the show went the same way. For close to an hour and a half, the band tore through one crowd favorite after another with the madcap energy that you would expect from a much younger band. Franz Ferdinand's stage presence doesn't always translate well to full-length albums (I would consider myself to be a pretty decent fan of the band, but I confess that it's been probably a year or two since I've dusted off my copy of You Could Have It So Much Better or Tonight), but live, they are a revelation.
Although you wouldn't know that most of the band is in their late thirties and forties, there are moments when you can tell that Franz Ferdinand isn't quite as young as they once were. Although he's still quite athletic in his performances, lead singer Alex Kapranos doesn't jump quite as high or quite as often as he used to, and more importantly, there were a couple of times where his voice seemed to quaver a bit - after years of touring, he can't hit the high notes the same way he once did. All in all, though, the band seems to have deftly channeled the energy from their wild, sweaty club days into a more polished but no less energetic brand of showmanship. And showmanship really is one of the most notable things about the band - they seem to eschew many typical concert conventions: probably 85% of their setlist was from their first two albums, and they seemed much more concerned with the flow of the set than rationing out crowd favorites one at a time. There was no forcing the crowd to wait until the encore to hear "Take Me Out", here - instead they closed out with the more thematically appropriate "Goodbye Lovers and Friends" and an old-fashioned curtain call.
Franz Ferdinand may not be the young upstarts I saw a decade ago, anymore - but Saturday night definitely proved that they've made the transition from post-punk princes to rock royalty, just fine.
Some of my earliest memories of 94/7 involve Queens of the Stone Age. Back in 2004 and 2005, it wasn’t uncommon to hear “Go With the Flow” sandwiched in between tracks from Interpol, The Bravery and Elefant (yeah… remember them?). A decade later, those other bands may have faded into obscurity, but as Tuesday night’s show at Keller Auditorium proved, QOTSA is still going strong.
The evening started off with an opening set by the rather unappealingly-named Moistboyz. The band’s R-rated lyrics and gnarly punk/metal riffs didn’t seem to resonate with the crowd, but the band’s set was notable in that their current line-up features former QOTSA bassist Nick Oliveri (which presumably explains why they were tapped to open). Oliveri would later join QOTSA onstage during “You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar, but I Feel Like a Millionaire,” the first time he’s performed with the band since 2004.
When Queens of the Stone Age came onstage, they were starkly backlit by a massive video screen that displayed a steady progression of visually-striking, apocalyptic animations throughout the course of their two-hour set. Musically speaking, the band did not disappoint, either – over the course of twenty-odd songs, they rocked through hits such as “No One Knows,” “Little Sister,” and “Go With The Flow.” The near-capacity crowd seemed to know the intro chords to every song, and cheered accordingly.
Lead singer Josh Homme also proved that he can still rock out with the best of them, even a dozen years after the release of Songs for the Deaf and in the wake of a near-death experience in 2010. Admitting early on in the set that he was already a little under the influence, he proceeded to drink and smoke cigarettes (!) throughout the set. When he performs, Homme often seems lost in his own world, averting or closing his eyes and singing with an almost-contemplative look on his face; but in the next instant, he’ll be back to the swaggering, sauntering frontman role.
A lot has changed in the past ten or twelve years, but Tuesday night proved one thing – Queens of Stone Age still sounds as edgy and subversive as they did the first time I heard them on 94/7. And that’s a good thing.
I'm not sure that crowd response is the only way to measure a band's popularity, but lets assume for a minute that it's a decently valid one. If so, then I've got some news for you. Move over Lorde. Move over Bastille. You know who Portland really loves? Chvrches. And nowhere was that more apparent than at the Crystal Ballroom on Thursday night.
Portland's latest 94/7-sponsored show kicked off with a head-banging, floor-rattling opening set by local band Summer Cannibals, making their first appearance at the Crystal Ballroom. The band has a sleeker, more polished sound than they did at their MusicFest NW appearance last summer, although frontwoman Jessica Boudreaux proved that the band is still pretty rock n roll, jamming out on "Take Me Out" and knocking over part of her drummers kit with her guitar at the end of their set.
While the crowd had been enthusiastic during the opening set, once Chvrches came on stage, the screaming and cheering started in earnest... and didn't really let up until the band left the stage at the end of the night.
The Scottish synth-pop act has come a long way since they first played the Wonder Ballroom a year ago. Kicking off their most recent US tour at the Crystal, the band played a finely honed and nearly flawless set, taking breaks between hits like "Gun" and "Recover" to joke about being dissed by Linkin Park and the fact that only Portlanders scream at their gigs.
While band has definitely grown into their newfound stardom, there may be a downside to fame - after a year of relentless touring, the band seems a little tired, and they've traded some of their neophyte enthusiasm for deft professionalism (which is not a bad trade, mind you). The crowd didn't seem to mind the trade-off, though - giving the band a riotous send off on their way to Coachella and further cementing their place in Portland's music pantheon.
The Colourist spent the day charming their way through Portland last Saturday, with sets that delighted fans at both Mississippi Studios and Wonder Ballroom.
For their 94/7 Session at Mississippi Studios in the afternoon, the Costa Mesa indie rockers played a tight, largely plugged-in set that sound remarkably similar to their appearance at December to Remember, last year - proving that they can rock small and large venues with equal abandon. At the end of the set, frontman Adam Castilla got to display a little diversity on their one unplugged song, an acoustic rendition of their song "Stray Away."
Later that night, The Colourist's debut at the Wonder Ballroom (which Maya Tuttle noted was the largest venue that they've played on their tour) was preceded by two sets from equally talented but wildly different acts. Texas duo The Wind and The Wave started the evening off with a wonderfully haunting mix of indie folk, country and southern rock - the sort of music that makes you feel like you should be nursing both a beer and a broken heart. The enigmatically named Night Terrors of 1927 followed in a slightly jarring change of genre, switching out The Wind and The Wave's southern twang for dark, brooding synth pop. (It's probably worth noting that the band's lineup includes former Rilo Kiley guitarist Blake Sennett.)
When The Colourist came on stage, the crowd greeted them with a level of enthusiasm that came very close to rivaling Chvrches' reception, last week. As a headliner, something becomes readily apparent about The Colourist: while Adam Carilla may be the most visible member of the band, Maya Tuttle is obviously the backbone of the group - most of the band's songs are carried on the back her drumming and her breathy, Of Monsters and Men-like vocals. After setting the tempo (both literally and figuratively) for most of the show, Maya joined Adam in a brief scover Slayer's "Reign In Blood" before closing out the evening with their hit single, "Little Games."
While The Colourist may not be big enough to snag larger venues outside of Portland, their visit on Saturday proved that their fan-base in the 503 is alive and well.
Dan Croll was one of the first bands we featured on Thoughts From Last Night, when the 23 year-old Liverpudlian and his band played to a tiny crowd at Holocene during their first US tour. Now, almost exactly six months to the day after their last visit, Dan Croll and company returned to Portland to play the Aladdin Theater on Monday night.
Fresh off an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel and the release of his first album, Dan Croll is a man in transition: big enough to command marquee space at The Aladdin and national television appearances, but as he jokingly pointed out, not big enough to actually fill the venue.
The small crowd that showed up, however, was treated a wonderfully light, intimate performance. Amidst songs like "Compliment Your Soul", "Home", and "From Nowhere", the honey-voiced singer took time to banter and joke with fans between almost every song. At the end of their show, the band hopped off the stage and sat in the front row with their fans arrayed around them campfire-style, and then proceeded to do a beautiful, completely unplugged rendition of "Sweet Disarray" that moved a couple of audience members to tears.
If Dan Croll's ascendant trajectory continues, it's unlikely that we'll see him in such intimate surroundings again. But for his fans on Monday night, they had an opportunity to experience one last, almost magical night in close quarters with a rising star.
While The Neighbourhood's visit to The Roseland may have garnered more press, just a few blocks away, Portland music aficionados at the Doug Fir Lounge were treated to a killer set with The Ecstatics and Bear Hands on Thursday night.
Local band The Ecstatics are quickly building a reputation for themselves as one of Portland's hardest-working and most in-demand acts, having opened for Wampire, Sheppard, and Bear Hands all in the space of a week - and their set on Thursday did not disappoint. Although their demographic tends to skew younger than the 21+ crowd at Doug Fir (not surprising, since frontmen Eli & Quincy are barely voting age, themselves), The Ecstatics rocked their brand of indie dance/pop with their trademark enthusiasm and even managed to coax a few members of the crowd (who they jokingly referred to as "you old people") into dancing along to their set.
Writing about Bear Hands is a fairly challenging task, partially because it'd be way too easy to riddle this article with bear jokes and ursine puns (I promise I won't make make silly jokes about them "mauling the scene" or anything. I'm pawsitive.) and partially because their influences are hard to pin down; they come as fast and furious as their riffs. The end result is superb, however - a percussion-heavy sound that meshes lush, dreamy guitar work with edgy, rapid-fire verses. The band showcased their grittier side with songs like "Bonedigger" and "Peacekeeper," and their rendition of their hit song "Giants" actually sounded better live than it did on the record, which is no mean feat. The only downside to their performance were the sound problems that hounded them throughout their set - but if they decide they want a do-over, I'm sure that Portland would be more than happy to oblige them!