Posts Tagged ‘Alternative

12
Feb
14

The Livitation Acts in the Crystal Ballroom by Floater

 

Floater at the Crystal Ballroom

Floater at the Crystal Ballroom

 

On my way to Seattle and after leaving my friends in San Francisco I thought it would be novel and fabulous to spend a night in Portland to take in this magical city. There are similarities of Portland to Seattle but I find the topography a little more intense, more compressed, with the different bridges spanning the various water ways and the mountainous terrain set against the modern city’s architecture offer stunning views. On my frist drive through I found it to be dramatic and picturesque. This being my second visit to Portland I wanted to lock on to the for the night. I decided settled in a downtown motel for the evening with my sights on tuning in on the local night life.

After a few hours of reconstituting myself in the motel room I decided to make my way out and explore downtown Portland. Being famished and restless I had fine dinning and entertainment on my mind. I’m sure I spent the better part of an hour crisscrossing the grid of Portland trying to get a sense of the city by sniffing out where the action might be. My conclusion on my party skills was, “I still got it!” The meaning of this statement is I can still localize and suss out the cool stuff on a whim, like radar. I settled on neighborhood that an urban grid, that also included random diagonals that cross streets amidst old brick buildings. There were quaint cafes, hipstery shops and groovy dive bars shine and glow with burning neon that’s engulfing the active street life. I circled the area till I found the right parking situation and I began the defining hunt for coolness in earnest.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

The area was perched on a slops of the city and as I rounded the corner I saw the first evidences of alternative culture. People were hanging on the sidewalks, bundled up in thrift store chic and alternative gear. They were smoking cigarettes and weed in small clusters, while a line lingered near the of a rather historic looking old brick facade. At the time I was unaware of the Crystal Ballroom, which has been a local bastion of entertainment, surviving for nearly a hundred years with the venue celebrating its centennial. I drifted down near the door. I was a bit famished but more interested in what was going on with the people so dutifully waiting outside the door of this grand old establishment. I asked a young lady with her mother what was going on. Without hesitation she declared they were attending a Floater concert. We had a short chit chat and she and her mother recommended I should attend in the most enthusiastic manner.  It so happened that the Crystal Ballroom was celebrating “100 Nights” as part of their centennial anniversary. Floater was playing the 82nd night that would lead up to the culmination of the hundredth show performance on January 21, 2014.

After clearing the Crystal Ballroom’s threshold I headed up 3 flights of stairs to the grand ballroom. It was truly grand! Smoochknob was delivery a rockus alternative blend of Punk and New Metal. They were working the scary tough look but seemed to be big ole sweethearts, as they delivered a fierce throbbing and pounding set drenched searing guitar riffs. The drummer was the singer and he held the center stage. He was big guy sporting a shaggy mohawk. He had a lot of presence for a drummer. They were a manic group, roaming the stage grouping and disbanding to incite the audience with classic guitar showmanship, while actively engaging the fans for a lively energized set. They powered through to the end, properly warming everyone up for the oncoming performance by Floater.

 

 

Floater, now being long in the tooth with a devoted fan base, enter the stage in a very professional focused low-key manner pulling on and messing with their gear. There was the shuffling and slow positioning of the band members to their spots after a number of fan outburst of roars and cheers. These flurries of anticipation peaked in pandemonium when lead singer Rob Wynia moved to the mic and fellow band mates, Pete Cornett and Dave Amador, broke into the beginning of their set, firing off with the song Cinema. Before all this mayhem broke loose I had befriended a gentleman named Doug Griffith. Doug was the ultimate Floater fan. He recounted, to me, seeing Floater over one hundred times. He filled me in on some details of Floater by enlightening me regarding the band’s musical style and history. What it didn’t prepare me for was the out of control antics of their fan base. I was close to the front and to my right of the stage, when all hell broke loose! There was wave after wave of human flesh struggling and flailing appendages coming in my direction. It was posing a problem for my photographing the band and receiving some potentially serious personal injury and camera damage in the process. I’m a veteran of the Hardcore Punk scene from the 80′s, so the violence wasn’t out of hand or malicious, just very physically enthusiastic! The band laid out solid alternative Rock that blew the Crystal Ballroom up from the first song. The new song called “Light It Up” rumbled and then softened to a flow that led the mid-tempo “In transition”. The first 3 songs kind of encapsulated Floater’s sound. Doug informed me that they were well known for drifting into etherial and moody slower placed breaks mid-song. This is clearly how Light It Up had moved in and out of different tempos. There was an ever so subtle homage to a Pink Floyd vibe in their instrumentals during these slower tempo breaks. Nothing you could put a finger on, but hinting to such an inspiration and an undertow. Unlike Smoochknob, Floater tends to be more aloof and mystical in an arty way. At the beginning of “An apology” the band engaged a mind blow laser light show that was occasionally bathed in smoke. The band continued through their set with fan favorites like: Ghost In The Making, Weightless, Plastic Baby, Matadors and Danny Boy. The crowd ate it up and savored every song to move like marionettes toFloater’s charged mayhem with the intense songs and hypnotically swayed to the ethereal moments.  The band retired the stage amongst the howls and cheers. These howls and cheers grew louder daring Floater to return and lay out some more jams. The fans weren’t disappointed when Floater reentered the stage to bring things to a ferocious conclusion with a medley of Helter Skelter/Five To One bringing the house down!

It was an amazing  night in a great city of the North West. I finished the evening off downstairs and a little further down the street and around the corner where I entered Ringlers Pub. I finished the night with a tasty post concert beer and a rather delicious burger. It was all low-key delivered with a North West Alternative no worries attitude that turned out to be a surprising joyous exclamation mark to a very cool entry to Portland’s night life. A great band and a vital city that hit it on all the right notes!

Floater Photo Gallery at the jump Continue reading ‘The Livitation Acts in the Crystal Ballroom by Floater’

31
Aug
11

Butthole Surfers Rolled Out Saturday as Sunset Junction Shimmers Away

As Sunset Junction melted away on a Wednesday afternoon, as much as, the prospect of my blogging and photographing of the event dripped away that day as well. Of course, there was a constant running dialog within a tight circle of friends on the Topic of Sunset Junction with it’s very much anticipated line up for Saturday and Sunday. This year’s line up was to be the  best and most concentrated ring of talent to have ever grace the streets of Sunset Junction in my memory. As the prospect of this inclusive weekend event broke into smaller fragments spreading amongst the various Eastside clubs, businesses and even local homes, I got a life line from my friend, Chris, who desperately wanted to see the Butthole Surfers and Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah. Sadly, only one was to come to pass. Chris invited me to review and photograph the Butthole Surfers at the Echo Plex with the lure of dinner and drinks. This was an easy sale!

Come Saturday, we planned to get together and as the plan developed we nested at Taix, which is within spitting distance of the Echo Plex. The week had been hectic and chaotic for me with moving and travel, while putting a video package, EPK, together for artist and one man band “Ricky Lee Robinson” at a special party and showcase Heidi Margot Richman put together with a group of music publishers. Fatigued, exhausted and hilariously immobilized by an accident earlier in the week I managed to joined Chris for our drinks anyway. We started our Rock N’ Roll quest by ramping up the fun level at Taix with drinks and gossip. We started with a round of beers and a shot of whisky followed by another round of beers and then finished up with the same and one last shot of whisky a piece. Our Taix waitress managed to serve some rather large shots. We were both very afraid of those shots and happy about it at the same time. So we delayed gratification by sipping gingerly the whisky presented and continued talking about music. Chris is an exhaustive collector of tunage, who’s interest spans from the early Seattle scene, exotic Pink Floyd releases, Peruvian Psychedelics and a host of alternative bands of note. His interest is more perfectly represented in his eBay Store Vinyl Piper. So our conversation was peppered with obscure and trivial details about music and the music business.

We had agreed upon a strategic hit at the Echo Plex, thus avoiding local favs, 400 Blows. This is not the British 400 Blows of the late 80′s who’s focus was experimental: cut and paste found sounds, beats and noise delivered with social conscious grooves. I have the greatest respect for their work. The British 400 Blows had a brilliant adaptation of Charles Manson‘s interview with Tom Snyder; which was a supreme twisty mind fuck. This LA based 400 Blows preform boring, dullish and unimaginative rock n’ roll fare: always to be avoided!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Chris and I easily scooted through the line of the Echo Plex to enter in to the “Sold Out” land of the Butthole Surfers! It was nice to run into Bert Ferguson and Iris Tower-y to pow wow for a minute before the show got started. During my exploits I ran into Anthony Ausgang, Marialyce Pedersen, Amanda Sherren and the lovely Satanica Batcakes as the evening progressed. The crowd moved with urgent zeal as the band took the stage for a very anticipated show. By this time I had completely lost Chris, who was eager to see the Butthole Surfers, for the first time, as I was for this Texas based band. The fans were entrenched, vacuumed sealed, you might say, as I tried on a few occasion to drive deep to the center to get better photos of the band as they performed. I should say I’m far from being a devotee, my impressions of a Butthole Surfers’ performance aren’t that of a manic band or a high energy ensemble, but more of a band that is jammy and thinky by nature. They’re as much performance art as Laurie Anderson. The Butthole Surfers show consist of slides and snippets of sub-pop counter-culture collages-images and video installations. This propel the lyrical narrative with spliced psychedelic Dadaist approach to words/images, using hypnotic trance flavored tonal rock that puts them in a category and in ideologically alignment, with ideas and thinking that is more in line with Sonic Youth. Although, Sonic Youth is very different musically than the Butthole Surfers. I dipped into my Butthole Surfers brain trust of devotees, Marialyce  Pedersen and Satanic Batcakes to get a read on the performance. Marialyce was cooing the praises of the Butthole Surfers magical set. Satanca had a very different perspective of the Butthole Surfers show. She pointed out that the sound mix was sub par and muddy. She also claimed that the Butthole Surfers were best when two drummers were playing. This round King Coffey, only one drummer this round, was with the band as Satanica pointed out. She said the Butthole Surfers were best when two drummers were present, which included the drummer Teresa Nervosa, as the Butthole Surfers had had in San Francisco at the Filmore in 2008. The sound was muddy on the parameters of the crowd and in the pit the sound appeared to clear up: meaning there was a sweet spot. So there was poor sound design by the sound man at this show. The Butthole Surfers played there mid 90′s hit “Pepper” that faded between being the recognizable hit and defused oblivion, bringing home Satanica’s take on their performance. Other songs covered in the set were, Hey, The Shah Sleeps In Lee Harvey’s Grave, Creep in the Cellar and they encored with 22 Going on 23. The show had it’s compelling moments, but because Gibby spent most, if not all, of his time at the Vox and that static presence tended to created a stillness in middle the stage. Paul Leary and Jeff Pinkus had their volleys of action on either side, yet I found it hard for them to peak the stage energy in a synergistic way with Gibby’s Vox monolith between both. This lowered the overall energy of their set. I found I could hear in my mind where they wanted to go, but on a few occasions I couldn’t figure out with my ears where they were ending up. For true fans and devotees this a was a truly great performance. Hitting lots of high notes, digging deep from their older catalogue to the fan’s satisfaction. That all being said there were few defectors from the crowd at the Echo Plex during the performance: all lingering on every last morsels of delivered dosage by this siminal ground breaking post punk neo-psychedelic band. You can sign me up for another trip when the Butthole Surfers roll around again.




Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 8 other subscribers


%d bloggers like this: