We here at Rust Is Just Right are big fans of Bully’s debut album, Feels Like, and we jumped at the opportunity to catch this exciting young group in action. They stopped by one of our favorite Portland venues over the weekend, delivering a tight and energetic set at Mississippi Studios this past Saturday night.
It is always strange when you see a headliner touring behind a single album, since you already know what the set will be. There are only a few potential variables, namely whether or not any songs will be stretched out or whether any covers will be thrown into the mix, but beyond that everything else is known. Considering Bully’s quick and punchy songs, there was almost no chance that we would see an extended jam session, but we did witness a couple of covers (which after some research seems to be “Black and White” from the dB’s and “Who Was in My Room Last Night?” from the Butthole Surfers), plus an impromptu “Happy Birthday” sing-along with the aid of the crowd for a member of the opening band.
As for the regular set, the band faithfully recreated what we heard on the record, and captured the spirit of the album. Leader Alicia Bognanno’s yell was in perfect condition, and she also showed a nice delicate touch with her vocals during some of the softer moments. Though they have only been touring behind this album for a few months, Bully sounded like a group of old pros.
Openers Dead Soft were a perfect fit for the bill, with their sound covering similar 90’s indie rock territory as Bully. Heat was an intriguing second band, as they mixed several different influences from various eras of rock (including a strong Velvet Underground vibe in their first song). However, their frontman could use a little more practice in doing some crowdwork, as he came off a bit standoffish when there was little reason for it.