Sunday, August 27, 2006

Live Music Review No. 3/The Upsidedown???

Terrible name for a band! I mean really, why not call yourselves the Underneath? Or the Insideout? Or the We'reupstairs? But I'll get to that later.

This show, at the Wonder Ballroom (great venue, nice big cavernous room, decent acoustics, three bars), was put on by the folks at Pyramid Brewing in Seattle. It was a benefit of sorts. Bring 2 cans of food, pay six bucks, feed the hungry, drink good beer, see some bands. Good formula, as far as I'm concerned. I grew up in a middle-class household, and while I wouldn't necessarily call myself middle-class at this point in my life (how many of you can?), I'm doing all right. I feed myself, I pay the rent. I really have nothing to complain about. And if my government won't use my tax dollars to help the less fortunate, well, I'm glad to help somebody who's down on his or her luck, especially if it means I get to see some local musicians flaunting their chops.

Anyway, I came to this show to see a band called Blitzen Trapper, who are great. One of the best bands in Portland, as of this writing. I've been hassling everyone I know lately to come see this band. They're that good. So I got to the Wonder, right at the same time as my friend Jon the architect. We went inside, Jon bought the first round, and we settled in to see some music.

This was at around 9:30, and Point Juncture, Washington were about halfway through their set. Now for those of you outside of the general Pacific Northwest region, there is no "Point Juncture, Washington." At least not so far as I know. It's not a town. It's a band. And a good one at that. I hadn't seen these guys, but I'd heard a fair bit about them, and everything I'd heard led me to believe that their music was etherial, mellow, dreamy pop. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they were so much more than that. They were etherial, and mellow, and dreamy. They were also noisy. Brash. Anthemic. I'd been prepared to be impressed. I didn't know I'd be wowed. But wowed I was.

I was sure the next band would be Blitzen Trapper.

The next band was the Jolenes. Now, according to the Willamette Week, and in paricular, a reviewer whose opinion I usually trust, the Jolenes are "like the Donnas, but better." They were not like the Donnas. And they were most certainly not better than the Donnas. They were...searching for the right word here...awful. Jon the architect will back me up on this. They were able to play their instruments. They were well-choreographed. They had a guy who did nothing but play tambourine (he was probably the most talented member of the band). But other than that, they were, at best, uninspired. Wooden is probably the right word. They looked bored, like they'd rather be picking up an extra shift at Starbucks. I'm sure they're wonderful people, but as a band they were a waste of everybody's time. That Willamette Week reviewer owes me a beer simply for the fact that I was in the same room as that band. And I've told her so. They were that bad.

I was sure the next band would be Blitzen Trapper.

The next band was the Upsidedown. A terrible name, as mentioned above. But names only tell you so much (I was in a very good garage band in high school called "The Unknown." Show me a worse name than that. We later changed it to the much better "The Young and the Useless"). What their name doesn't tell you is that these guys are the best Portland band I've seen in ages. They came out onto the stage, like they fuckin' OWNED it, six of them, dressed all in white, like The Polyphonic Spree minus the robes, french horns, and choral section, and subjected the crowd to a mericless three-guitar-attack that would put, um... uh... well, I can't really think of a band with three guitar players right here on the spot, but let's just say, for the sake of argument, Canadian rock gods April Wine. They would put April Wine to shame! And on top of that, they had a viola player! No sissy-ass violin for these guys, a motherfuckin' viola! If you live in Portland, you should check out the Upsidedown. And if you don't live in Portland, you should STILL check out the Upsidedown! They're that good.

And that was it. The show was over. I'd missed Blitzen Trapper all together! They went on before I even got there! I can understand how the Upsidedown could edge them out for the headlining spot, but the fact that these guys went on before the friggin' Jolenes is, to me, simply astounding. Well, go figure. Guess I'll just have to catch 'em next time around.


Anonymous Julie Ann said...

Well if Jon's an architect then we'd better trust him.

9:32 PM  
Blogger tommy said...

Ah, excellent, somebody other than my mom is reading these things after all! Good to hear from you, J. How's that baby treating you guys? Jon is an architect by training, but makes his dime mostly with finish carpentry, and by slinging java at his new coffee cart. But he's still pretty trustworthy.

3:21 PM  

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