Witch Gardens, Aan at Bunk Bar
Bunk Bar has just begun booking shows recently (the past 6-8 months), and it has already become one of my favorite venues in Portland, although a big part of that might be due to how close it is to my house and how easy it is to bike to their shows.
I have seen a number of great local bands there already, and they have booked a number of touring bands as well, such as Mister Heavenly (you know, that band with Michael Cera in it), and Handsome Furs, although that show sold out and I ended up just watching through one of the windows, which was surprisingly close to the stage, and they opened up the doors to the venue, so the sound carried outside pretty well. I shared the window with some people from Nebraska who said they had heard of Ames, IA when I told them the story of seeing Handsome Furs at the M-Shop there and Dan Boeckner telling the audience the story of walking around campustown earlier that day and someone in a big truck driving by and calling him a fag, despite the fact that he was walking around with his wife, and I'm pretty sure the entire audience just kind of nodded and thought to themselves, "Yup, that's Ames." And then 3 minutes after telling this Nebraska couple that story, they just kind of started making out right in front of me, which felt kind of strange and mid-conversation to me, since it was one of those we don't know each other so we only say something every minute or 2 but I still consider us in conversation type of conversations.
This show wasn't anything like that, though, and it was part of Bunk Bar's Free Tuesday Shows thing they have been doing pretty consistently for a few months now. I had never listened to Aan, and all I knew was that my roommate told me she had listened to them on myspace earlier that day and that they weren't very good, which is sometimes a really good indicator that I will like it, although this time I thought she was kind of right.
They were pretty cool, and they spazzed out a lot after playing really quietly for a few minutes, which I liked. But what didn't help their case is that when we got there, a different band was playing, and since I had never heard Aan before, I just assumed that the band playing was them, but it turned out to be Witch Gardens from Seattle who were way good and had me thinking they would be a great opener for Times New Viking, who are one of a few incredible upcoming shows at the Bunk Bar, including White Denim on May 29th and Damon and Naomi (from Galaxie 500) on June 1st.
Prescription Pills, Ghost Animal at Holocene
There were additional openers for this show (Period Romance, and one other that I can't remember), but I missed them because... well, because I was baking a strawberry rubarb pie.
There was a very sparse crowd for this one, which must be kind of rare for Holocene shows, because the bands seemed to be kind of doing that tongue-in-cheek type of performing that I take as them just kind of pissed off and fucking around, because they were expecting more people to show up. I could be reading too much into it though.
I felt kind of bad for Ghost Animal in particular, because it was their 7" release show, and I think they are a well-known Portland band, so they were probably expecting more people to be there for it, and the guitarist seem kind of pissed off about something, and that could have been it.
They were great though. Just really simple fuzzed-out pop made with only a guitar, a floor tom and a snare drum. And they did a really great cover of, what I think was, Ceremony by Joy Division (or maybe its New Order), but I only know it because Galaxie 500 covered it as well on one of the bonus tracks for On Fire.
City Center, Swimsuit, Secret Twins at some house show
I saw an address for this show on the City Center blog about a month ago, and I was pretty excited about it, and then the night of the show I decided to see if I could find any more information about it online, and I saw a few websites that listed the same address I saw previously, except in Seattle, and I started to wonder if this show was actually happening in Portland or not. So, I drove to the address and stood around on the street in front of the house for about 20 seconds before I heard a guitar strum coming from the backyard, which seemed to be a pretty good indicator that I was in the right place and that the show was in Portland.
The whole show was bands from the Life Like label (not to be confused with Life Like Records), who primarily just release cassette tapes, which I and I just don't think I am that into the cassette tape thing, but every time they do release a record or a 7", it tends to be really great.
Unfortunately, I missed Swimsuit, and arrived in the middle of the Secret Twins set. The show was in a backyard, where a bunch of people were standing around trying to break this surprisingly resilient wooden chair apart so they could burn it. The bands played in a garage that was filled with bike parts and a bunch of creepy stuff that I'd expect to see as background props for a Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie or maybe that movie Wrong Turn--like axes and buckets filled with weird colored liquids and a mannequin head with a knife stabbed into its styrofoam skull.
City Center played last, but the guitarist, Fred, started the show by saying that the drummer had quit the band to attend medical school, so it was just him and he was going to play a really mellow set, which was still pretty cool although you could tell he hadn't really figured out how to play solo yet, so I don't think he played many songs from their new album Redeemer, which is pretty reliant on having a drummer, and he seemed really sad about the whole ordeal, which sucks.
City Center (along with bands like Baby Birds Don't Drink Milk) is a really weird band for me, because I just think they are so great. Like favorite band great. Or at least favorite album great (City Center by City Center and Eek Shriek Beak by Baby Birds Don't Drink Milk would probably both be in my top 10 if I ever wrote one out). But they don't seem to get that much attention, or at least not as much as say, Animal Collective for Feels or, like Neutral Milk Hotel for In the Aeroplane Over the Sea which would also be on my top albums list. So, after this show, when I met Fred from City Center and I was buying his new record, and I told him I had been looking for a download of it online, but couldn't find one, he said, "It hasn't leaked yet, because no one cares about it," I had this strange feeling because, to me, this is one of my favorite bands, and he probably doesn't have people reacting to his music that way very often (or at least not as often as say, Animal Collective), he probably has kind of this weird feeling toward it--of trying to be really proud of it, but receiving little recognition for how good it really is--and it kind of makes me wonder if they just think I'm full of it when I say, "Hey, such-and-such is one of my favorite albums ever."
I hope not.