AU Backspace Beirut Bobby Bare Jr. Crystal Ballroom Doug Fir Gardens and Villa Imaginary Scoop J. Mascis Lake Lemolo LP Mbilly Menomena Mississippi Studios Moonface Passion Pit Pioneer Courthouse Square Reignwolf Tallest Man on Earth The Hawthorne Theatre The Helio Sequence The Melvins The Roseland Theatre Those Darlins Young Turks

Must-see picks for Musicfest NW {9/5 – 9/9}

As you wind down from Bumbershoot weekend next week, don't forget that a mere 48 hours later (yep, we're talking about next Wednesday, folks) there is whole 'nother festival getting underway midweek: Portland's own Musicfest Northwest. Boasting an impressive lineup of both local and national headliners, it's difficult to decide who to see — we feel like we've changed our schedules a million times already! So, pack some walking shoes and check out some of our picks to help keep the venue-hopping as easy as possible. Make sure to check out the MFNW site to get exact set times and to make your own customized schedule.


The first night of the fest is seems decidedly easygoing: open your night with a passion-filled set of powerful vocals from LP before catching the first night of dance-heavy pop at Passion Pit's two-night stint at the Crystal Ballroom. If you are thinking you need something to do before 9pm, head to the Mission Theater and see Don't Follow Me (I'm Lost): A Film about Bobby Bare Jr. at 7pm, then catch the man himself playing the Doug Fir at 10:40pm.

7:00p :: Don't Follow Me (I'm Lost): A Film About Bobby Bare Jr., Mission Theater
9:00p :: LP, Crystal Ballroom
10:00p :: Passion Pit, Crystal Ballroom
10:40p :: Bobby Bare Jr., Doug Fir

Runners up: The Minus 5 {Doug Fir @ 9:00p}, Sloan {Doug Fir @ 11:00p}.


Thusday is really the first full day of shows, and man, is it packed. If you're following our lead, we think there's really no excuse not to miss Reignwolf since he's the first show of the night — those screaming guitar solos and blues-laden vocals are a great way to start! Stick around and hear high-energy punk from Those Darlins before heading up to Mississippi Studios, where you can check out Portland's Mbilly before you are utterly mesmerized by the dreamy pop sounds of Lemolo. That's where we'll be!

7:15p :: Reignwolf, Roseland Theater
8:00p :: Those Darlins, Roseland Theater
9:00p :: Mbilly, Mississippi Studios
10:00p :: Lemolo, Mississippi Studios

Honorable mentions: These United States {9:00p @ Aladdin Theater}, Quasi {10:00p @ Hawthorne Theater}, Old 97's {10:30p @ Roseland Theater}.


The trifecta of seeing Menomena, Beirut, and The Helio Sequence in one night really can't be topped. Menomena and The Helio Sequence are both coming out with new albums in the near future, and Beirut's spectacular 2011 album The Rip Tide is still on heavy rotation — can there be a reason not to go? If there is, we can't find it. Make sure to get to Pioneer Courthouse Square early for Gardens & Villa, who are sure to please with their synthy sounds. If you have a gap in your schedule between 8pm and 11pm, catch the sweet dreamlike sounds of Lake or the latest lineup change-edition of the Melvins, Melvins Lite at Backspace and the Hawthorne Theater respectively.

5:30pm :: Gardens & Villa, Pioneer Courthouse Square
6:30pm :: Menomena, Pioneer Courthouse Square
8:00pm :: Beirut, Pioneer Courthouse Square
9:00pm :: Lake, Backspace
10:30pm :: Melvins Lite, Hawthorne Theater
11:00pm :: The Helio Sequence, Crystal Ballroom

You might want to also make room for: These United States (if you missed 'em the first time) {9p @ Aladdin Theater} and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart {11p, Star Theater}.


Here's our take: kick off the formal start of the weekend with AU and their spacey, multi-instrumental tunes at the mainstage, and then make sure to catch Young Turks for some hardcore rock before heading to the Roseland Theater for J. Mascis and his beautifully constructed guitar melodies. Then, close out your night with Tallest Man on Earth's sparse folky tunes at the Crystal Ballroom before you head to the Doug Fir for some indie rock with Moonface. Pow!

6:00pm :: AU, Pioneer Courthouse Square
8:00pm :: Young Turks, Backspace
9:00pm :: J. Mascis, Roseland Theater
10:30pm :: Tallest Man on Earth, Crystal Ballroom
12:00pm :: Moonface, Doug Fir

See also(s): Girl Talk {8:00p @ Pioneer Courthouse Square}, Typhoon {10:00p @ Aladdin Theater}, Sebadoh {10:00p @ Roseland Theater}, Big Freedia {11:00p, Branx}, Milo Greene {11:00p, Mississippi Studios}, and The Builders and the Butchers {12:00a @ Bunk Bar}.


Finally, an easy night of choices: the only place to be of the last day of the fest is Pioneer Courthouse Square to see Atlas Genius, followed by School of Seven Bells showing off their synth-pop tunes before the final act of the night (and of the fest itself), Silversun Pickups

5:30pm :: Atlas Genius, Pioneer Courthouse Square
6:30pm :: School of Seven Bells, Pioneer Courthouse Square
8:00pm :: Silversun Pickups, Pioneer Courthouse Square

Tickets are still available for purchase, and you can read all about your options here.

We'll see you down in Portland!

Doug Fir Imaginary Scoop On The Road Pickwick

Recommended show + free tickets: Pickwick, PDX edition {1/13}

{Pickwick / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

***UPDATE: Only two more days left to enter to win!***

It's a whole new year with a fresh round of shows to get excited about — and to kick of the ticket giveaways, how about a pair for one of the PNW's new favorite local bands? Pickwick will be playing at The Doug Fir down in Portland next this Friday, January 13th, and you can enter to win a spot +1 on the guest list!

In case you haven't had an ear to the ground these last few months, Pickwick is taking the world by storm at pretty much every turn: a ginormous success of a show at the Neptune, followed by some time in the studio slated to birth an album that half of Seattle already has on their 2012 top-ten list; placing at number nine on KEXP's best 90.3 of 2011, firmly sandwiched between Beirut and Adele with a scant EP; and gorgeous, seemingly effortless videos that keep surfacing like Sound on the Sound's Doe Bay Sessions and the now-famed UW reading room rendition of Blackout.

Ready for a road trip? Just send an email to tig {at} threeimaginarygirls {dot} com with the subject line "PickwickInPDX" anytime between now and noontime next this Wednesday, January 11th. The winner will be notified by email by Wednesday evening, which is plenty of time to come up with a reason to call in sick for Friday and drive down early to spend the day in Seattle's sister city.

Good luck!

{Bryan John Appleby and Jessica Dobson open. 8p doors / 21+ / $10 adv. purchase available here. Photo of Pickwick at Sonic Boom by Victoria VanBruinisse.}

Crystal Ballroom Doug Fir Imaginary Scoop Laura Veirs Menomena On The Road The Builders and the Butchers The Decemberists The Head and the Heart The Mynabirds The Woods

MFNW recap: the weekend edition — Decemberists, the Head and the Heart, Menomena

The Decemberists / by Victoria VanBruinisse

{This is part three in a series of recaps about Musicfest Northwest 2010 — make sure you check out Thursday’s and Friday’s coverage too!}

The Builders and the Butchers:

The Woods / by Victoria VanBruinisse

The Builders and the Butchers / by Victoria VanBruinisse

Saturday at MFNW was chock full o’ rad, with bands around every corner and all kinds of PDX-style awesomeness abounding. The day started off with an excellent lineup at funeral home-turned-venue the Woods, courtesy of KEXP: The Mynabirds, The Builders and the Butchers, Typhoon, and several other bands took the stage from 1pm on for our listening and viewing pleasure. The station crew did a massive amount of taping and shooting, so keep an eye out for words, video, and stills over at their website — the BatB set was beyond epic and set up living-room style, almost microphone-free on a rug in the middle of the crowd — and we’re quite sure the fine folks of KEXP captured the performance with excellent result.

The Decemberists:

The Decemberists / by Victoria VanBruinisse

The Decemberists / by Victoria VanBruinisse

The Decemberists / by Victoria VanBruinisse

The Decemberists / by Victoria VanBruinisse

The Decemberists / by Victoria VanBruinisse

The Decemberists / by Victoria VanBruinisse

The Decemberists / by Victoria VanBruinisse

The Decemberists / by Victoria VanBruinisse

The Decemberists / Laura Veirs set was the big headline draw of the day over at Pioneer Courthouse Square, where an eager all-ages crowd packed every available seat and standing spot there was to be had. Some old favorites earlier in the set (“Billy Liar,” among others) set a perfect, positive-but-not-overly-upbeat vibe to match the falling dusk, and the Decemberists gladly sang us off into the nighttime with a few guest stand-ins from the lovely Laura Veirs to round out the sound.

The Head and the Heart:

The Head and the Heart / by Victoria VanBruinisse

The Head and the Heart / by Victoria VanBruinisse

After that wrapped, it was straight over to Berbati’s Pan for the Head and the Heart’s most recent post-Seattle-scene-explosion show, and the entire SEA camp that showed up — imaginary and others — were curious to see how the buzz had filtered down to our sister city. As they took the stage, we turned around to the people behind us who were seeing the band for the first time. “Get ready,” we said. “You’re about to meet your new favorite band.” And true to form, our new favorite band didn’t disappoint. They did their magic, modern, heart-bursting brand of hope.indie.folkcore like only they can, and had the entire room rocking along by the time a few minutes had passed.

Seriously. There was dancing.


Menomena / by Victoria VanBruinisse

Menomena / by Victoria VanBruinisse

Menomena / by Victoria VanBruinisse

The HatH power set bled perfectly into our journey across town to the Crystal Ballroom, where Menomena annihilated a sold-out crowd as the end to an amazing night. There’s not much else to say in the way of all things Menomena so far as adjective and verse go, because their sound and compositions are like no other — and if you’ve seen or heard them, you already know. They’re a wall of sound, full of crazy fresh beats, soul-yanking lyrics and the occasional saxophone. (While we’re on the subject of not being able to describe them with due justice — in the even that you haven’t heard the two most recent albums, go get them. Now. And join the fold.)

{Believe it or not, there’s still more pictures from the weekend on the way! While you’re waiting for more MFNW photobliss, you can click on over to see the rest of Saturday’s shots here, and stop and say hello to Thursday and Friday while you’re at it. Viva MFNW!}

Bobby Bare Jr. Crystal Ballroom Doug Fir Imaginary Scoop Okkervil River On The Road Tallest Man on Earth The Builders and the Butchers The Cave Singers Thee Oh Sees

MFNW recap: the pre-weekend edition, part II — Okkervil River, Tallest Man On Earth, Bobby Bare Jr.

Okkervil River / by Victoria VanBruinisse

Day two at MFNW: also known as Friday, September 10th. With tons of shows all over the city to choose from, we chose to spend our imaginary day with the folks over at KEXP for a series of kick-ass in-studios, and to focus on the highly anticipated Okkervil River / Bobby Bare Jr. and Tallest Man On Earth / Cave Singers sets that night.

Friday morning at the Doug Fir, with Bobby McHugh:

Doug Fir / by Victoria VanBruinisse

Bobby McHugh / by Victoria VanBruinisse

Doug Fir / by Victoria VanBruinisse

Bobby Bare Jr. and his de-lovely band, in-studio for KEXP:

Bobby Bare, Jr. / by Victoria VanBruinisse

The Tallest Man On Earth, in-studio for KEXP:

Doug Fir / by Victoria VanBruinisse

Tallest Man On Earth / by Victoria VanBruinisse

Underslept and over-caffeinated, we took to the Doug Fir for early performances by Bobby Bare Jr., The Tallest Man on Earth, and Thee Oh Sees. BBJ’s big-guitar, Americana-ized indie rock (as in indie.rock ‘n roll) jangled our insides awake, giving us a glimpse of what we could expect at the opening set later that evening over at the Crystal Ballroom. The Tallest Man On Earth’s power mini set — a good six songs or so — followed shortly thereafter with an entire band’s worth of sound, crippling our wide-awake hearts with sad stories and achy chords. And Thee Oh Sees’ jangly, yeller.surfcore antics took us out on a high note — their mega-upbeat songs with a little bit of noise and a little bit of B52’s-esque male / female counterpart vocals had us bouncing out the door looking forward to the rest of the night.

Bobby Bare Jr., live at the Crystal Ballroom:

Bobby Bare, Jr. / by Victoria VanBruinisse

Bobby Bare, Jr. / by Victoria VanBruinisse

By the time the Okkervil River show rolled around, we were coming out of our skin with excitement. Good as it was, Bobby Bare Jr.’s set earlier in the day proved to be only a mild, pared-down morning version of everything he was capable of bringing — as he started up the last song of his pre-OKR set, we were dancing along saddened, hoping that it wasn’t time to end his performance yet. His guitar work was enormous, the songs were fluid and transitioned well from one to the next, and the stage presence of the entire group translated fantastically. According to the chatter around me in the pit, there’s a documentary on BBJ in the works — so fans of his world will definitely want to stay tuned.

Okkervil River’s headlining set at the Crystal Ballroom:

Okkervil River / by Victoria VanBruinisse

Okkervil River / by Victoria VanBruinisse

Okkervil River / by Victoria VanBruinisse

Okkervil River / by Victoria VanBruinisse

Okkervil River / by Victoria VanBruinisse

Will Sheff and company finally took the stage after another twenty minutes or so passed, and proceeded to put forth one of their best performances we’ve seen to date. Happy — and actually enthusiastic — about performing, they had it up at 11 for the whole show, playing songs that were better than any hand-crafted fantasy set list we could have come up with on our own. They opened their slice of the night up with “Black” (a traditional closer / end-of-set song on the 2008 tour) and managed to keep the momentum up for about ninety minutes straight — songs like “Red,” “Plus Ones,” “Lost Coastlines,” “Black Sheep Boy,” “A Girl in Port,” “A Hand to Take Hold of the Scene,” and “Unless It’s Kicks” literally had the room bouncing along and / or standing stick-straight in reverent silence, depending on what the tone called for. It was hands-down the best performance of the weekend — so much so that if we were to see no other shows until rOctober, we would have done so fully satisfied.

The Crystal Ballroom / by Victoria VanBruinisse

There’s so much more to tell about Friday, like the stellar Tallest Man On Earth / Cave Singers set at the Doug Fir, the late-night Builders and the Butchers show, and all the amazingness that went on during David Bazan and Rocky Votolato’s performances on Thursday. You can read all about the latter (and everything else that went on throughout Thursday’s sets) here.

{We’ll have more photos and commentary from Friday — including shots from the Tallest Man On Earth’s Doug Fir nighttime show — up soon, so stay tuned! In the meantime, check out the imaginary flickr pool for more of Thursday’s and Friday’s photos.}

Bobby Bare Jr. Crystal Ballroom David Bazan Doug Fir Imaginary Scoop Okkervil River On The Road Rocky Votolato Tallest Man on Earth

MFNW recap: the pre-weekend edition, part I — David Bazan, Rocky Votolato, and more!

David Bazan / by Victoria VanBruinisse

Musicfest, Musicfest Northwest, M-F-N-Dubs, Baby SouthBy — whatever you want to call it, this past weekend’s slew of shows down in Portland were nothing short of an absolute blast. We ran rampant through the quadrants for four days straight, shooting every show we could get our hands on, swooning exponentially more as each night passed. Here’s just a fraction of what went on for the first half of the fest, during Thursday’s and Friday’s sets.

Rocky Votolato at the Doug Fir:

Rocky Votolato / by Victoria VanBruinisse

The big knock-it-out-of-the-park set on Thursday was David Bazan / Rocky Votolato set over at the Doug Fir. After the stage was properly warmed up all day with KEXP in-studios from the likes of the Cave Singers and Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Rocky took the spotlight (after what was likely a gorgous set by Joshua Morrison, that we hit town a little too late to catch) and the room over for a good forty minutes, with a set that pleased both rabid forever-fans and fringe-fans alike. There was something almost infectious about his performance, as he surpassed the standard singer/songwriter storyteller vibe and instead delivered each song with a repectful, earnest, homage-y vibe that struck the major chords of our very own indie-lovin’ heartstrings.

The forever-fans sang along gleefully, word-for-word, elbowing each other during standout lines, chatting about summers past and how his songs had composed the very soundtracks that they’d lived by. The newer fans and never-heard-of-hims in attendance couldn’t help but get caught up in all the love, smiling from ear-to-ear at the energy the fans and Rocky seemed to be co-generating, helping to fill up the room with goodness. Much more than just an opening set for Bazan, Rocky Votolato’s slot was a standalone performance in it’s own right, and with endless choices on the dance card that evening, very much worthy of the time given.

David Bazan + Band at the Doug Fir:

David Bazan / by Victoria VanBruinisse

David Bazan / by Victoria VanBruinisse

David Bazan / by Victoria VanBruinisse

David Bazan / by Victoria VanBruinisse

As previously stated, it would seem as though the most recent incarnation of David Bazan (+ Band) can do no wrong. Every set that passes seems to get more cohesive, songs off of the newest album (Curse Your Branches) get better and better with each live listen, and any older, unearthed pre-solo Bazan work gets more polished and evolved-sounding every time the band takes a pass at it. Case in point: seeing something like “When They Really Get To Know You, They Will Run” on a non-Pedro the Lion setlist would invoke a fearful cringe from any number of long-standing PtL fans, as no cover version or reworked lineup could possibly do the original a fair amount of justice. However, it’s appearance on the DB+B setlist brought nothing but waves of joy to the imaginary camp in attendance, especially for those post-touring PtL fans present who thought they’d never hear it performed live in their lifetime.

That solid perfomance, coupled with Bazan’s signature anthematic chord progressions and a packed house, made the DB+B set the best of the night.

condiment heaven / by Victoria VanBruinisse

Thermals, kinda / by Victoria VanBruinisse

toasty / by Victoria VanBruinisse

Low-key mayhem ensued after the Doug Fir set, including (but not limited to) band sightings at one of the many Portland food-cart compounds, and much late-night geek-out-ery about the evening’s performances and everything that was coming up for Friday — most notably, Okkervil River’s headlining set at the Crystal Ballroom. Read all about that (and everything else that went on throughout Friday’s sets) here.

{We’ll have more photos from Thursday — including shots from the Thermals’ Crystal Ballroom show — up soon, so stay tuned! In the meantime, check out the imaginary flickr pool for more of Thursday’s and Friday’s photos.}

Ash Street Saloon Berbati's Pan Black Whales Derby Doug Fir Hey Marseilles Live Show Review Rocky Votolato Say Hi The Dimes The Long Winters Viva Voce

MusicFestNW – Mid-September Music Madness in Portland – Photo Essay

Imaginary Chona and I tag-teamed MusicFestNW with her resident reviewer, RJ, recently. I covered the first few days and she hit the last few days due to some circumstances of her being “cursed” until Saturday. Somehow, she broke the curse and I believe has photos posted on the site. Hey Marseilles

I made it down to Portland just in time to see Hey Marseilles a few songs into their set at the Ash Street Saloon. Apparently there were some sound problems early, but they were cleared by the time I arrived. The boys told me that they felt that the performance was a bit lackluster at first, but they made an unspoken group decision to just “rock the fuck out” for the rest of the set…and it turned out to be fantastic. The crowd really took to the Seattle Seven and promptly complied when lead-singer, Matt Bishop, asked them to get closer to the stage.

The Black Whales

The Black Whales followed and kept the crowd from thinning out too much with their well crafted poppy sound. I’ve seen these guys a few times now and am excited to check them out again. I am eagerly awaiting their upcoming release.

Derby at MusicFestNW 2009

The rest of the night consisted of Derby and the Dimes, who were good, but the crowd had abated by the time they started and I’d hit my limit of working, driving, shooting all day.

The Builders & the Butchers at MusicFestNW 2009

On Friday, I went down to the Doug Fir to catch some of the KEXP live broadcasts. Unfortunately, the Arctic Monkeys set was closed, and Sunny Day Real Estate had to cancel due to illness. I still had a chance to catch the Builders & the Butchers and Chairlift. After those sessions was an early evening show at the Wonder Ballroom with the Arctic Monkeys, with opening act, the Like. Sadly, even my super-duper press pass and photo pass was not good enough to allow me in with my camera to this show, so you’re stuck with the really cruddy cell phone pics that I was able to take. The Like are an all female band from Los Angeles who had some pretty fun songs, but might be hard to take for 40 minutes straight. I’d throw their stuff into a mix and shuffle, once their album is released.

Arctic Monkeys

Say Hi at MusicFestNW 2009

The Arctic Monkeys on the other hand, kicked ass. They are one of my favourite bands and they played for over an hour. Alex Turner and co. had the crowd wrapped around their fingers as they played decidely loud renditions of their songs. One curiosity I noticed was that they had nearly a dozen guitars with them, and would often switch them out between songs. They ended their pre-encore set with my favourite of their songs, “Do Me a Favour” that ends with the line, “perhaps fuck off might be too kind”. I had to jet at that point to get across town to my next show… The Long Winters, Viva Voce, Rocky Votolato and Say Hi at Berbati’s Pan.  Say Hi played a solid set, and seemed to win over some new fans.

Rocky Votolato at MusicFestNW 2009

Rocky played a fairly stripped down set, solely on acoustic guitar and harmonica.

Viva Voce at MusicFestNW 2009

Local to Portland, Viva Voce seemed to light up the crowd the most. Kevin Robinson taking to smashing his guitar on the stage near the end of the set.

John Roderick and Eric Corson of the Long Winters with Justin from Menomena at MusicFestNW 2009

Sadly, I was so exhausted by this point, I reluctantly retreated for the door to head back to the hotel. However, right outside I ran into John Roderick and Eric Corson of the Long Winters. After apoligizing that I’d be missing their show, they posed for some candids along with Justin of Menemona for me. And with that, I headed back with my travel companion leaving the rest of the weekend to the no-longer-cursed Chona.

Department of Eagles Doug Fir Imaginary Scoop The Cave Singers

Ticket giveaway madness continues: Win more Department of Eagles prizepacks (Seattle and Portland varieties available)

***we got another couple prizepacks to giveaway since we originally posted this – see extended entry deadline below*** 

Department of Eagles are headed to the Pacific Northwest with Cave Singers and we are excited to have a Seattle prize pack and a Portland prize back to give away to a couple imaginary readers.

This is more than just a ticket giveaway. Each winner of a prize pack will get a pair of tickets to see Department of Eagles and the Cave Singers, but each winner will also get a Department of Eagles 7" record: "No One Does It Like You" b/w "Too Little Too Late" (an awesome JoJo cover).

Enter to win now!

***Portland prize pack***
Win a pair of tickets to see Department of Eagles / Cave Singers at the Doug Fir on Tuesday 1/27 AND the 7" record.
To enter to win, email tig @ three imaginary girls . com (with a subject line of DOEtixPDX) by noon on Friday 1/23.

***Seattle prize pack***
Win a pair of tickets to see Department of Eagles / Cave Singers at Neumos on Wednesday 1/28 AND the 7" record.
To enter to win, email tig @ three imaginary girls . com (with a subject line of DOEtixSEATTLE) by noon on Friday 1/23.

Here's a video for the song that is on the special 7" that is part of both prize packs, "No One Does It Like You."


Chop Suey Dead Confederate Doug Fir Feral Children Live Show Review

Photo Essay: Two Mind-Blowing Nights with Feral Children and Dead Confederate

I created the opportunity to see Feral Children and Dead Confederate at the Doug Fir in Portland Tuesday night, then saw them again Wednesday at Chop Suey. Back-to-back shows on weeknights are always grueling, but this lineup, which also included Apollo Sunshine, was more than worth it.

The Doug Fir’s small Tuesday audience was not terribly receptive as Feral Children bashed out a powerful set that included tempting new songs “Castrato”, “Group Home” and “Kid Origami”.

photos: Amelia Gydé

Feral Children remind me of a litter of adorable feral kittens I once encountered in the woods near Eugene, Oregon. Both are skittish if approached too quickly; feral kittens scamper away and feral music (in my experience) overwhelms. Both are intriguing, though and once familiar, the payoff is immense. Kittens are cute and Feral Children’s elements, once sufficiently absorbed from a distance, meld into something much greater than the sum of each contributor’s efforts, as they did Tuesday night.

Wednesday’s set at Chop Suey was better, at least in part due to the appreciative audience that gathered early. The difference between the two nights illustrated how important crowd response is – none of the bands were given enough from the audience in Portland, but Seattle’s crowd kept the energy going, giving Feral Children back as much as was dished out as favorites “Jaundice Giraffe”, “Zyghost” and “Spy/Glass House” were offered and most willingly consumed.

Dead Confederate is an amazing live band. Masters of buildup and payoff, they drew me in with gorgeous songs like “Wrecking Ball” and “Get Out” that took me back to warm Georgia nights when I would sometimes sneak into a downtown Augusta cemetery with friends and wander forbidden among headstones in the dark. Dead Confederate conjured the same hair-raising tingles I experienced looking over my shoulder for ghosts or security guards and the same stolen elation every time we got away with it. Live, their songs creep in like the mist that hung in ribbons over the small graveyard stream until they suddenly explode in searing brilliance.

The Doug Fir held a small but attentive audience that included a few stoic front-rowers more interested in their video footage than the unbelievably good band right in front of them.

The crowd warmed and grew as the set progressed and the last songs including “Tortured Artist Saint” were well received.

Chop Suey’s crowd the next night was ready for Dead Confederate. “The Rat” and “Heavy Petting” were met with enthusiasm and energy that was given right back, fueling an intense set I’ll not soon forget. Come back soon, Dead Confederate!

Doug Fir Head Like A Kite Live Show Review Subtle The Trucks Wonder Ballroom

A Portland Excursion: Farewell to The Trucks (again), plus Head Like a Kite and Subtle

I was dealt a double-blow last month when I learned The Trucks and Pleasureboaters, two of my favorite local(ish) bands were both breaking up. At least in The Trucks’ case, I was allowed a chance at closure, as they had three final shows scheduled – one each in Seattle, Portland, and home in Bellingham. Pleasureboaters did not give their fans the same opportunity.

The Trucks’ last Seattle show on October 11th was among my favorites this year. “Awesome” and A Gun That Shoots Knives joined them at Chop Suey and were so amazing that I wish I could turn this into a rambling trip back through that night as well, but must stay focused.

I thought I’d made peace with the fact I’d never see The Trucks again until they took the stage, and by the time I’d made my way out of the venue I’d decided to travel to Portland for one more show.

I planned to kill several birds with one stone by staying in a hotel that is close to the very cool Wonder Ballroom (where The Trucks were to play), just a few blocks from my favorite Portland restaurant (Old Wives Tales’), and adjacent to the Doug Fir Lounge, a venue I’d wanted to check out but had never been to.

By wonderful coincidence, local favorites Head Like a Kite were playing the heavily-timbered and perfectly-sized Doug Fir that same night about 150 feet from my hotel room. Convenient.

I began my night in an unfamiliar venue with a band I’ve seen several times. I love Head Like a Kite, and my inability to capture any essence of their music in photos is frustrating, especially since their huge sound is difficult to describe. I think they sound like musical time travelers, spinning through decades and bringing back and squishing together the best of all they experience.

Photo: Amelia Gyde

Head Like a Kite draws you in, and at the Doug Fir I saw that literally was true as people drifted down the stairs and gathered at the stage, filling that weird empty-space stage bubble that sometimes occurs early at shows. Even though Seattle HLAK shows often feature lively guest appearances and the occasional group of brightly-colored dancing creatures, favorite songs like “Listen Young Stunners” and “No Ordinary Caveman” were at least as captivating coming from just Dave and Trent.

Photo by: Amelia Gyde

If you close your eyes at a HLAK show, you’ll be tricked into believing a hundred people have joined them onstage and they are all pitching in to create a wave of intoxicating, tightly controlled sound. Open them, though and you’ll find something like this:

Photo by: Amelia Gyde

Head Like a Kite is a great live band and were hitting hard and true. I nearly forgot about The Trucks, until…

Near the end of HLAK’s set I felt a sudden sense of urgency, and knew my careful planning was about to be undone. I somehow felt The Trucks’ posted set time was a horrible lie and they were going to start early, so I tore myself away and dashed upstairs to grab a cab. The Wonder Ballroom was just a few miles away, and I was quickly there, walking in the door as The Trucks were being introduced, indeed early. Their first song began as I reached the stage, where there miraculously was an open spot right near Marissa.

Photo by: Amelia Gyde

The Wonder Ballroom held a larger audience than I’d seen at any other Trucks show, and the Siren Nation celebrants cheered the lovely ladies of The Trucks, dancing and singing along through the entire knockout set.

I saw The Trucks five times total, which was not nearly enough. They pack a surprising punch live and are sweet and vicious and funny and they rock. Favorites “Titties”, “Zombie” and “Shattered” left me satisfied and much less sad than the Seattle show, able (hopefully) to make peace with the loss of this irreplaceable band.

Photo by: Amelia Gyde


Photo by: Amelia Gyde




Thank you, The Trucks, from all of us who love your music. And thank you for going out in style and with respect to your fans, giving us a few last shows to cherish.

As I wandered out to the sidewalk, I realized it was early enough for me to potentially catch Subtle if I quickly returned to the Doug Fir, so…

Back to the Doug Fir Lounge and past the kind door guy that believed my earlier wrist-stamp had been over-stamped at the Wonder Ballroom. As I descended, Subtle started their lively set, sounding to my then-tired ears like cracked-out Red Hot Chili Peppers meets Xiu Xiu, so of course I loved them.

Adam 'Doseone' Drucker is a fascinating frontman, with a super-fast tongue and a prowling way of exploring the stage as he checks audience members’ jugular pulses, inspects the inner workings of plastic statues, and borrows cute purses.

Photo by: Amelia Gyde

Had The Trucks started as scheduled, I would have missed Subtle’s Portland show and I needed it as a prelude to their set at Nectar I was seeing the following night. They’re a lot to digest and are incredibly fun so I was more than up for seeing them twice. Their Portland show is a bit of a blur at this point, so I’ll take that chance the second show gave. More later on Subtle.

Doug Fir Head Like A Kite Her Space Holiday Imaginary Scoop Lymbyc Systym Mush Records Point Juncture WA The Animals at Night The High Dive

Head Like A Kite to tour with Her Space Holiday

Head Like a Kite by Michael Alan Goldberg

Seattle electro-rock due Head Like a Kite are going on a mini West Coast tour with new Mush Records labelmates Her Space Holiday. Exciting!! You can catch the band in the coming week in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle.

Check out the specific dates below, and shine up your best dancing shoes…

WED, April 23 | LOS ANGELES | Troubadour (8PM)
w/ Her Space Holiday and Lymbyc Systym

THURS, April 24 | SAN FRANCISCO | Bottom of the Hill (9PM)
w/ Her Space Holiday and Lymbyc Systym

SAT, April 26 | PORTLAND | Doug Fir (8PM)
w/ Point Juncture, WA and Lymbyc Systym

SUN, April 27 | SEATTLE | High Dive (7PM)
w/ Lymbyc Systym and Animals at Night

To get ready for the dance party, watch this groovy video for "No Ordinary Caveman" from the band's forthcoming release, There Is Loud Laughter Everywhere (Mush Records).