As any rotten child with a mouthful of bile can tell you,sometimes Christmas is a shitty shitty time. Upon arrival at the Wonder
Ballroom (after a stopover at Rontoms for a few songs of Team Evil), we were greeted with the polite instructions that all press must get in line like all the other Proles. Too bad the line stretched around the block. Britt Daniel was just ending (see Molly's blog) and Built to Spill was going on next. Some
bitter MFNW-ers were walking away from the Wonder in bewilderment. Some clueless dumb-bummers were dubious that they couldn't get a ticket to the show at the
door. Wasting no time, we rode fast and furious to Backspace, downtown, to catch The Rainy States.
The Rainy States try to make their awkward case for
indie-rock. A small crowd of non-dancers watch the band. Ninkasi is on tap and
in bottles at this place, so we're set. The Rainy States get better as the set
progresses; the lead vocalist appears to be shy, politely reminding people that
"We have CDs in the back, if you're into that." We meet up with Ben
Moral (of The Morals) and he makes the best suggestion of the night: White Fang
at Satyricon, just a block over.
Satyricon is the John Henry's of Portland. We drink Hamm's
in the bar area. My attorney/therapist recommends I go interview the Monotonix
guys (who will be at the WOW Hall later this month). But they look busy and I'm
too livid and limp, a sorry sack of an excuse for a music journalist. Plus, the
Hamm's. The Hamm's. 'Nuff said.
White Fang is absolute fucking anarchy. Two drummers and a
vocalist who put all their energies into a moshpit-centered songs that last,
for reasons of safety, one-to-two minutes. There are more photographers at this
gig than a blind man can shake a stick at. The Monotonix guys walk through the
floor, get shoved a bit, and keep walking, with smirks on their mustachioed
faces. They are moving their gear into the Satyricon for what I think will be
the most blazingly amazing show I miss out on (for the lame-ness that will be
TV on the Radio later in the night, more on that later). White Fang's show ends
with a destroyed drumkit (from a flung bongo drum, naturally) and someone
receiving first-aid from a bartender (who asks in all seriousness, "Do you
have insurance? You might need to go to the hospital."). Outside the
Satyricon, it appears that someone dropped off a couch on the sidewalk and then
proceeded to bomb it with TNT, tear it to shreds with a crowbar and torched it
with a blowtorch. We walk the block back to Backspace.
We talk to the guys of The Rainy States and discuss the
possibility of coming to Eugene to play a Showcase of Portland Bands, possibly
curated by the Eugene Weekly and KWVA (more on that later, I hope). Typhoon
start up and I put in my earplugs (bought for a buck at Satyricon, much
needed). Typhoon have played Eugene before, but mostly at house shows. I write
in my notebook: "Chanting. Rock. Thrash. Crowd is stoic but singing
along." Backspace is packed as it's 9:30 pm and things are finally picking
up at MFNW.
Against every grain in my body, I decide to check out
Vampire Weekend at the Crystal Ballroom. We are whisked through the doors,
flashing our bulldozers, grab some McMenamin's and go to the press box, right
near the stage. I talk with two women on the fan side of the fence. They say
they just got a wristband today and might plan to see other bands later. So
basically they just paid over $50 each to see Vampire Weekend. I have to find
out what's so hot about this band. Turns out, the band knows how to write
catchy pop songs. Like Del the Funkee Homosapian (who said he wrote the
Gorillaz hit, "Clint Eastwood," after reading How To Make a Hit
Song), VW churn out catchy tunes that mine the same African rhythms that Paul
Simon dabbled with on Graceland. I'd call it college rock (all the duded are
Harvard grads) or Beach Bunny Rock/Pop. The Crystal is filled to the brim (I'll
upload pix on Sunday or Monday). At 11 pm we escape to the streets and return
to the Roseland for TV on the Radio.
TVOTR are sold out and the line stretches around the block.
Thankfully the door people wave us through, we get our bags checked (not as
thoroughly as at the Del show) and grab some good floor spots front and left of
center. My first thoughts are this: TVOTR kind of suck as a live act. They have
an intricate sound that is hard for them to replicate as a live act. Lots of
fuzz and feedback. The crowd takes awhile to respond. Also, the Roseland just
has piss poor acoustics, so that kind of brings them down. But about halfway
through the show TVOTR pick up steam, or maybe it's just that lots of people
leave the venue, opening up the possibility of dancing or moshing, that finally
gets the crowd worked up. I push my way to moshers front and center and for a
minute or more it feels like TVOTR have lived up to its hype. Then the show is
over and it's time to filter out the door.
I check out Builders and the Butchers at Berbati's
Pan. There is mass-migration to this show, the last of the night, and an
atmosphere of drunken douchebaggery pervades the space and the B&Bs music
turns into jock jams. Yick. I escape outside where I buy a peach fritter at
Voodoo Dougnuts and a carton of milk at a gas station. It's time to ride home.