The music world is still reeling from the sudden (if not completely unexpected) death of singer Scott Weiland, with many musicians, critics, and fans expressing sorrow over the loss and paying tribute to his work in Stone Temple Pilots, among others. It is worth taking the time to read old interviews with Scott, including these pieces from Esquire, Alternative Nation, and Popdose.
If you have never been to a !!! show, then you are truly missing out on one of the best live acts of the past fifteen years, and should take immediate steps to correct this oversight. Every performance is a blast, and Wednesday night at the Doug Fir was no exception, as !!! turned the basement lounge into a bumping dance club.
With backup singer Meah Pace
The show marked a complete 180 from the last concert we saw at the Doug Fir, as !!! and Low are about as diametrically different as can be, though it was just as excellent. !!! has always made catchy, hook-filled dance-punk, but the music takes on an added dimension when performed live. The band does a remarkable job of establishing fun and infectious grooves, providing the groundwork for frontman Nic Offer’s stage antics and wise-cracking vocals to help loosen up the crowd. By the end of the night, even the notoriously dance-phobic Portland crowd loosens up and shows off a move or two. After all, when you watch Nic perform some of the corniest moves possible up on the stage, it really takes away all the pressure of trying not to embarrass yourself.
The crowd was glad that backup singer Meah Pace made the trip out west for this string of dates, as her vocals added an extra dimension to a lot of the new material, and the interplay between Pace and Offer was quite entertaining. The setlist was a mix between old and new, with their latest album As If blending in well with the old standbys. The show even ended on a new song, a stretched-out version of “I Feel So Free (Citation Needed)”, complete with audience interaction.
The band opened for themselves as a Stereolab tribute band, “Stereolad”.
Though not everyone was in on the joke at first, !!! opened up for themselves as “Stereolad”, a Stereolab tribute band that included Offer sporting a dress and a ridiculous French accent. It was a nice segue from the opening act The Lower 48, who kicked off the show with some infectious straight-ahead garage-blues rock. Hopefully we will see them at more local shows.
When the news of the EL VY collaboration first appeared a few months ago, we here at Rust Is Just Right did our due diligence and learned that this was not the first time that members of Menomena and The National had collaborated. Danny Seim and Bryan Devendorf had teamed up with Dave Nelson to form the group Pfarmers, and released their debut album Gunnera earlier this year. The record had a low-profile release, and it became clear that in order to secure our own copy of the album we would have to get in touch with the record label and order directly from them. We put in an order, and waited for our copy to arrive, hopefully in time to compare it to the release of EL VY’s Return to the Moon.
Unfortunately, it seems our order got misplaced, and for a couple of months we did not hear back from the label. We sent an e-mail to the label, informing them that our copy had yet to arrive, and that we would like an update on the status of our order. Thankfully, this prompted a quick response from the label, and soon enough we had Gunnera in our hands only a couple of days later.
Not only that, but the good people at Jurassic Pop more than made up for the delay by sending us a bunch of free CDs and other fun stuff. We appreciated this display of overwhelming generosity, and enjoyed listening to new albums from the likes of Helvetia, Reptar, and J Fernandez that we otherwise would have overlooked. It is this kind of thoughtful gesture that ensures that customers will keep coming back for more.
So, kudos to Jurassic Pop, and remember to check out what they and other independent music labels have to offer!
Before we went on our holiday break, we were fortunate enough to catch one of our longtime favorites at Portland’s best venue, when Low came to town to play the Doug Fir basement. It is always a treat to see Low play a show, but we were especially eager to witness one of the best albums of the year performed live. The band indulged us by performing a setlist that heavily featured their latest album, Ones and Sixes, and we are glad to report that the new material sounds just as great live as it does on record.
Taking advantage of a break in the crowd.
The show started off with the one-two punch of the glitchy “Gentle” and the deliberate “No Comprende” that kick off their latest release, which segued nicely into the menacing and electric “Monkey” from The Great Destroyer. While it seems that most critics had forgotten about Low’s previous album, it was nice to see that the band had not. The main set included a run of The Invisible Way tracks that showed off many of the band’s best assets, from Mimi Parker’s gorgeous vocals on “Holy Ghost” to the distorted dissonance of Alan Sparhawk’s fiery guitar on “On My Own” to the group’s sense of irony and humor in “Plastic Cup” (with Steve Garrington ably shuffling between bass and keys throughout, a key if underrated part of the band’s sound).
The group held off from any stage banter for most of the night, before Alan praised the city near the end of the show. At one point, the crowd began to clap when only the slightest shuffle could be heard from Mimi’s drums, and those close enough to the stage could hear her remark to Alan that “they don’t even know what song it is yet”, but on the whole the band let their music speak for itself. The main set ended with the epic “Landslide”, just as we had predicted from our review of the album, and it was just as amazing as we had hoped. Though the encore did not end up including a couple of our old favorites, many in the crowd were ecstatic to hear “Words” from their early album I Could Live In Hope, while “Murderer” from Drums and Guns proved to be a perfect closer.
A colorful view of the band
Unfortunately, we missed nearly all of opener Andy Shauf’s set, due to Portland’s complete stupidity when it comes to creating a reasonable parking system. It is difficult enough parking on the East Side on a Friday night, but with many spots blocked off for the shooting of the television show Grimm, it made it impossible to find a spot anywhere near the venue. However, from the one song I heard, it seems that Shauf’s spare and haunting sound was a good fit for the main act.