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!