There’s really no better way to cap a Record Store Day (or just a beautiful spring weekend in general) than to go to a tiny club and see a great young band just rip through a set. We got that exact opportunity last weekend when we caught RIJR favorites The Men do a blistering one hour show at one of Portland’s great gems, Dante’s. And our enjoyment was certainly not only due to our kind waitress, though she certainly helped.
The night began with an anti-comedy duo that when Tim & Eric are ever properly brought up on charges for the terror they’ve inflicted on audiences will be presented as Exhibits (E) and (F). Needless to say, at our first sight of a dilapidated ventriloquist’s dummy we were all of a sudden no longer perplexed as to why tables were still set up but instead grateful. Grateful for the seating as well as the opportunity to procure various alcoholic beverages to make the “show” more “enjoyable” (for the record, since this is Portland, the beverages were IPAs and bourbons because we don’t believe in bullshit). The next act, Nasalrod, featured a frontman that was simultaneously late-period David Lee Roth (thinning hair and a gut) and early-period David Lee Roth (doing flying leg-kicks and stage-diving). I remember nothing specific about the music, except that it was loud, not-melodic, and full of energy, which was perfect for the setting. Gun Outfit provided a nice change of pace, with actual songs, and now I am reminded that I should probably look up more of their stuff because they were quite good.
We had caught The Men before at the very same venue during MusicFest NW last fall, but with a new record out we were anxious to hear how different their set would be. Whereas last time New Moon featured heavily and allowed the band to stretch a bit, including an extended-version of “I Saw Her Face” that opened the show, Saturday night was a take-no-prisoners run that went through the majority of Tomorrow’s Hits. For all the fans that bemoaned how the band had changed their sound to be, for lack of a better word, more “polished”, this performance was a stark rebuttal from the band. The Men upped the tempo, cranked up the amplifiers, and blasted through raucous versions of “Going Down”, “Pearly Gates”, and even the shuffling “The Dark Waltz”. And for those wondering how the band would replicate some of the cool horn parts, a couple of guitar pedals were apparently all that were necessary to recreate the fun stomp of “Another Night”.
Sure, the mix was a little off, with the vocals buried way below all the guitars and keyboards; if you were unfamiliar with the new material, the set would have seemed to just run together. Fortunately, it seemed that the crowd knew their stuff and sang along anyway. And yes, it was loud as fuck, but at a show like this, that’s a feature and not a bug; we were informed by our waitress Brittney that at soundcheck it was the first time they had to tell a band to turn it down a little bit, and perhaps they didn’t fully understand the request. It was a good thing we had worked out a system before the band took the stage so our drink orders were still heard.
Despite the crowd’s pleas for an encore, the band did not return, which makes the one that we received back in the fall a seemingly more unique experience, and the band’s surprise at our demand seem even more genuine. Everyone still left buzzed and in good spirits, and I was glad to shake guitarist Nick Chiericozzi ‘s hand and congratulate him on a great show (once he finished downing his shot of tequila). Let’s hope that this trend of quick return trips back to Portland continues.