Sunday, May 1, 2011

Dirty Beaches

I'm getting around to posting this a bit late, but I kind of decided that I need to stay on top of writing down my thoughts and experiences with music and shows and things, because I have a decent amount of them and think about it more than anything else, which has to mean something.

Anyway, I saw Dirty Beaches at the Holocene last Sunday. I submitted a write-up for the show to the Willamette Week which is kind enough to provide us with a weekly print publication telling the people of Portland about most of the interesting things going on in their city this week. They didn't print my write-up, so I'm going to post it here so at least it gets some readership... sigh.

[RUST-COVERED ROCK N’ ROLL] Dirty Beaches is kind of like your dad’s (or grandpa’s) VHS copy of Elvis Presley’s Blue Hawaii—it’s old and the tracking has nearly destroyed what was left of the movie, leaving only pieces of the soundtrack between the crackling, distorted fuzz. Dirty Beaches builds each song from loops of the obliterated remainders of that golden age of rock n’ roll, including the 50 years of decay that rusted out all of the old cars and wiped out all of the hair grease, leaving just enough to remind us why our parents liked all of this crap in the first place.

This show was a perfect example of the shows I always seem to find myself at here in Portland, specifically Holocene shows. These shows consist of a headlining band that was very recently thrown into some sort of spotlight, and they don't appear to have fully adjusted quite yet.

The shows are always reasonably attended, but not crowded, and the bands always seem to play only 6-8 songs and then usually leave the stage without playing an encore because they probably just don't have enough songs prepared to do so.

Tennis was this way. Baths was this way. How to Dress Well was this way. And Dirty Beaches was this way.

By no means am I complaining. I actually really appreciate the simplicity and casualness of it. I'm not sure if it just feels appropriate for the type of music I'm seeing or maybe just for my normal energy and excitement level for shows nowadays, in comparison to being, say, 16 and being so pumped to see Slipknot that the concert is all you and your friends talk about the week before and after, and you even considered trying to collectively skip school that day so you could concentrate all day on "how fucking amped you are for the show tonight."

That being said, the show was what I expected. I was happy to see that he was still playing solo with his samples and guitar and hadn't upgraded to a full band like so many other one-person bands in the past 2-3 years. And he played "Lord Knows Best" which I really like, and at one point he got his greaser snarl on and even pulled out a pocket comb and slicked his hair back, which everyone applauded for and which got me thinking about self-made gimmicks vs. hype-made gimmicks and how everyone (including myself) talks about Dirty Beaches in the shadow of either Elvis Presley or David Lynch or both, which sounds absurd if you have never listened to him, and a near perfect description if you have (although since submitting that write-up, I have been thinking more and more that maybe it is something more along the lines of the Psycho half of The Jesus and Mary Chain's Psychocandy.)

Additionally, I have been experiencing some sort of weird sense of Iowa pride every time I see a band in Portland that is in some way connected with Iowa, typically through the Night People Record Label as was the case with both Dirty Beaches and a band I saw at the Rotture a few weeks ago, Rene Hell. I don't know, maybe that isn't so weird.

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