Tag Archives: Roseland Theater

LIVE: Hot Chip, Roseland Theater, Portland, OR

hot-chip

By Hollister Dixon

Well over a decade – and six full-length records – on, London’s Hot Chip are one of the most consistent bands on the planet. Though their material isn’t always groundbreaking, it feels as though patience and love was put into the creation of each of their records. Though I didn’t give the band’s last album (In Our Heads) the time it deserved, I was more than happy to put their newest record, Why Make Sense?, on repeat since its release. As such, it made perfect sense to correct my long mistake of never seeing Hot Chip perform live, despite being hopelessly in love with them since The Warning was released nearly a decade ago. It was worth the wait. More on that in a minute, though.

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LIVE: Mastodon, Clutch, Roseland Theater, Portland, OR

By Hollister Dixon

I’m not really a metal guy, at all, if I’m being honest. However, one metal band I love and respect is Mastodon. I first heard the band in the wake of Leviathan, their beautiful and angular take on the story of Moby Dick, which wormed its way into the hearts and minds of just about everyone who heard it more than a decade ago. My love was taken even further with Blood Mountain, a towering work of brilliant but insane storytelling, packed to the gills with genre-bending riffs and stories about vision quests and cysquatches. There are absurdist elements in the mix, sure, but the band’s made up of true craftsmen. And, when they announced a tour with hard rock mainstays Clutch, it seemed like the best possible time to finally see how both bands worked live. So: how did they sound?

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LIVE: Belle & Sebastian, Roseland Theater, Portland, OR

By Hollister Dixon

On “Nobody’s Empire”, the first song from Belle & Sebastian’s newest record, Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance, Stuart Murdoch sings a very simple line: “Someone sang a song, and I sang along / ’cause I knew the words from my childhood.” For a lot of people who are interested in the wide world of indie rock, this is a line that works extremely well because it almost applies to the experience of seeing the band play live; not many of us have been listening to the band since childhood, but the band’s best work is comfortable enough – and feels lived-in enough – that is can feel like the sonic equivalent of a baby blanket. If any of this comes off as a back-handed compliment, it shouldn’t: Belle & Sebastian’s success for the last 20 years can be traced back to that feeling of sonic comfort, mixed with Stuart Murdoch’s witty, prep school dork songwriting and demeanor. All of these things have made the band one of the most consistent and thoroughly enjoyable pop bands of the last 20, which is something very few bands can claim. As such, getting to see the band after nearly a decade of fandom was an absolute no-brainer.

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LIVE: GWAR, Roseland, Portland, OR

GWAR!!!!!!

GWAR // Photo Credit: Hollister Dixon

By Hollister Dixon

While waiting for GWAR, the 30-year-old Metal institution, to take the stage, I had the following conversation with Yousef Hatlani, my dear cohost:

Yousef: You know you have to get drenched, if this is your first GWAR show.
Me: Fuck that, dude. It’s 38 degrees out right now.

Which is an ugly truth right now. We’re a month away from the beginning of winter, but a bitter, windy cold descended on Portland that day, and even layered up, the 10-minute walk to the Roseland was punishing. The last thing I wanted to do after that performance was walk out at nearly midnight, into that weather, drenched in fake blood and viscera. And yet, two hours later, I emerged from the doors of the Roseland, dazed and drenched in fake blood and viscera. What changed?

The answer: you can’t help but get into the spirit of things at a GWAR show.

It’s a sad truth that this was my very first GWAR show – “Oh shit, I forgot! I guess I’ll catch them next time, they’re not going anywhere” has been my accidental refrain every single time – and the band’s first Portland date since the tragic passing of the band’s frontman/head Scumdog David Brockie (aka Oderus Urungus) in March. Unsurprisingly, Brockie’s death resulted in a very ugly question: “Does this mean the end of GWAR?” And, for most bands, the answer would be “Yes”. But, GWAR isn’t most bands. And so, the band created The Eternal Tour, as a way to send Oderus off in a way that let everyone pay their respects. Brockie’s vocal duties were picked up by the rest of the group, including reinstated vocalist /vocalist Beefcake the Mighty, as well as two new Scumdogs: Blóthar the Berserker (bedecked with several thick pelts, an enormous set of antlers, and – because why not? – udders [which Blóthar referred to as his “bag of dicks”]), and the Scumdog assassin Vulvatron, with incredible blonde dreadlocks and massive blood-squirting breasts. It’s a testament to the importance of Oderus that three people were required to replace him (more, if you count everyone else in the band who performed a song or two), and even though everybody in the room was there to mourn the loss, the reception to Blóthar and Vulvatron was incredible.

The story that unfolds every night of The Eternal Tour is somewhat convoluted, but I’ll attempt to explain: at the top of the show, a projection of the band’s manager, Sleazy P. Martini, appears to ask the question on everybody’s mind: “But what about Oderus?” It turns out, he’s been sucked through a time vortex, to a time without rock. After Blóthar arrives to discover his absence, he decides to help lead GWAR, as well as attempt to manipulate a time machine into bringing back Oderus. In the first “act” of the performance, vocal duties are assumed by Blothar, as well as Bonesnapper (who performed “I, Bonesnapper” and got called a “ninja turtle” by Balsac the Jaws of Death) and Sawborg Destructo (whose giant sawblade arm spewed blood over the front row during “The Private Plan of Sawborg Destructo”), though everyone onstage agrees that neither of them quite fit.

GWAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

GWAR // Photo Credit: Hollister Dixon

Oderus never reappears, but the band does pull three things from their time machine: a future pizza delivery creature (Beefcake the Mighty wanted a pizza!), Oderus’ famed penis, the Cuddlefish of Cthulhu (“He must have mistaken the time portal for a gloryhole! I made the same mistake the first 200 times I saw it,” explains Blóthar), and the aforementioned Vulvatron, who lets the band know that a monster named Mr. Perfect has taken Oderus. In one last-ditch effort, the band attempts to lure him from where he’s been taken with the one thing that he cannot resist: drugs. This is where the show takes an almost absurdly dark turn, as a giant rock labeled “CRACK” appears onstage, as well as a massive pill and a gigantic syringe. It’s hard to imagine another band doing anything like this, especially considering Brockie’s death was chalked up to a heroin overdose, but – again – GWAR is not any other band. Near the end, from the portal, the massive and terrifying Mr. Perfect arrives, to tell everyone that he has stolen Oderus’ immortality and impaled him on his own sword. In an act of revenge, the rest of the band tears Mr. Perfect to pieces and beheads him, leaving him squirting blood from at least four different places. Dejected and leaderless, the band left the stage, only to return to the sound of “O’ Danny Boy”‘s haunting bagpipes, where the band did a rousing version of “The Road Behind”, as well as a cover of “West End Girls” by Pet Shop Boys, and an updated cover of Jim Carroll’s “People Who Died”. It was an incredibly poignant way to end things, and the crowd lapped up every moment of it.

Though few people will be talking about it, the performance was a testament to the power of both music and comedy as a way to heal. Oderus was the second member of the band to die in the last three years; Flattus Maximus (aka Cory Smoot) was found dead of coronary episode in November of 2011. And yet, against the odds, GWAR have put together a stage show perfectly designed to help the members work through the pain of losing another friend, despite having every reason to simply call it quits. They’ve done their best to soldier on and never lose what makes them a band that breeds the level of intense devotion that they’ve managed to cultivate for 30 years.

It’s hard to really imagine this particular show being any more fun, even considering the purpose of the tour. Despite staying firm that I would avoid any and all blood spray, by the end I was happily getting hit in the face by the cannons of blood being shot into the crowd during “People Who Died”. If you haven’t seen the band perform before, it’s easy to think you might not enjoy things, or that you won’t quite get into the spirit. But GWAR is a band that exudes raw, uncut charisma, and they put on a stage show like absolutely nobody else. The night may not have been as unhinged as it could have been (they abstained from beheading a celebrity, though they did have a beheaded security guard), but it felt right to take things down a notch in honor of their fallen friend. In the end, it would have been an insult to the memory of Oderus to not allow myself to be soaked in blood as much as possible. And, really, my biggest regret is that I didn’t wear a white shirt to the show.

Hail Oderus Urungus, and long live GWAR!

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PHOTOS: DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist – Roseland Theater – 10/07/14

The Renegades of Rhythm tour stopped by Portland last night, bringing a chunk of Afrika Bambaataa’s 40,000 LP-strong record collection to the Roseland Theater for one night only – in the hands of DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist, no less (choice quote from Shadow: “Please bear in mind, the music you will be hearing is not from just any copy. It is from the original copy that all [Bambaataa’s] recordings were made from.”)

The result was, without a doubt, one of the funnest shows of the year so far, as both DJ’s charged through countless crucial Funk, Electro, Disco, Hip Hop and Rock cuts, forming an aural representation of modern pop music history (and, as Cut Chemist pointed out at the end of the set, our own personal histories by extension.) Our very own Yousef Hatlani was there to document the night. To check out his full album, head on over to our Facebook page.

DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist // Photo by Yousef Hatlani

DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist // Photo by Yousef Hatlani

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LIVE: Franz Ferdinand, Roseland Theater, Portland, OR

By Hollister Dixon

Yes, Franz Ferdinand are still around.

The #1 question I got, when telling people that I was going to be seeing Franz Ferdinand, was this: “They’re still around?” The #2 question was, “Are they still good?” The answer to that question, without giving too much away, is also “yes”. Alex Kapranos’ band just celebrated the 10th anniversary of their eponymous debut, which launched them into the hearts and ears of just about everyone, helped in part with the damn-near-flawless “Take Me Out”, and also thanks to an innate ability to write kickass songs. Since then, the band has released three albums: 2005’s You Could Have It So Much Better, 2009’s Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, and last year’s Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action. Though I was pretty obsessed with the band’s first album, I never quite found it in me to offer the same love to the other three albums in the band’s catalog, despite thinking that they were still really quite good.

First, a moment to talk about the crowd: be it the draw of local radio, or the draw of mega-rad cool pop hits, or maybe it’s the fact that Alex Kapranos is very, very good looking, but it seemed that the crowd was inexplicably made up of 13-to-18-year-olds, some of which seemed to be at one of their first shows ever, if not the first. As I was upstairs for this performance, it was easy to watch these people react to the performances with genuine excitement and happiness. It’s somewhat rare to get to witness that these days, and it was very cool to see.

So, Cate Le Bon. She/they came on a few minutes before 9 o’clock and banged out a 30 minute set. It could have been fatigue, or it could have been the fact that I was feeling rather sick, but she/they really did nothing for me. This is a performer/act that puts her/their influences forward in a big way (see: Velvet Underground, Stereolab, Super Furry Animals), but none of it comes across as very original, or very vibrant. Throughout the performance, you could tell that there was a massive disconnect between the performer/band and the audience (who looked, to be honest, incredibly bored), and the performers onstage failed to recognize that. That, of course, brings up a big question: is it the responsibility of the performer to change their performance to engage the audience? In some ways no, but in some ways yes: Cate Le Bon simply continued to perform unphased by the steadily filling room, and it made it hard to come out of her/their performance with anything but disappointment and a lack of interest in giving her/them another chance.

For the first song of Franz Ferdinand‘s set, I felt a little bit like the above: boredom and disappointment. In hindsight, this was definitely brought on by fatigue, because the moment the band started playing the Franz Ferdinand track “Michael,” I couldn’t help but be incredibly excited to see this band. This continued through Tonight‘s “No You Girls,” and especially into “The Dark of the Matinee,” which whipped the crowd into an impossible frenzy – myself included. All said, they played seven songs from that first record, including the moody “Auf Achse” to the very elongated “This Fire” – all of which felt as potent as they did a decade ago.

I bring up that first album because it’s one that I have long accepted as a minor classic, though it’s one I forget about. Franz Ferdinand blew up around the same time as bands like The Killers and Kings of Leon and Kasabian, among a ton of other bands that have possibly not aged all that well. Hearing their name can, to some, feel like a throwback to a decade ago, when those bands were fresh, and huge, and everywhere. However, watching the band perform “Take Me Out” for possibly the 5000th time, it was incredibly clear why the band has aged well: they’re treating every show like it’s their first, and like it’s their last, all at once.

Hearing all of the songs that I wasn’t familiar with brought to mind something said about The Fall: “Always the same, always different.” That’s something that can be said about Franz Ferdinand, and it speaks to their longevity, and their consistency. That second most common question about the band? “Are they still good?” Before seeing them perform, it wasn’t such a silly question – but afterwards, it almost comes across as blasphemy. Watching 1000 kids dancing like the world was ending to “Bullet” and “The Fallen” and “Fresh Strawberries” was a wonderful reminder that, though I may forget about them, they’re still around, never changing their sound, but instead perfecting it. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Always the same, always different. 

And so: if you’ve been sleeping on Franz Ferdinand: wake up, and start paying attention.

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LIVE: Drive-By Truckers, Roseland Theater, Portland, OR

By Hollister Dixon

If I’m honest with myself, I can admit that Drive-By Truckers isn’t a band that I should like. Its just a fact of my own tastes: a lot of Southern rock bands, where those roots go deep, just don’t work for me a lot of the time. It’s a slight musical prejudice I’ve grown to live with. Alright? Alright. Now that that’s out of the way: I love everything about the Athens, GA band. I love Mike Cooley’s deadpan voice, and Patterson Hood’s raspy falsettos. I love their all-on guitar assaults (see: ” Where the Devil Don’t Stay”) and their gentle meditations (see: “Daddy Needs A Drink”). I love their flawless storytelling, and their ability to keep even their most balls-out ambitious (read: long) albums wholly interesting. What’s more, I love that even their weaker albums are wonderful and arresting at their worst. And somehow, ten albums and 18 years in, DBT still have a better batting average than most bands.

I got the opportunity to see Patterson Hood at the tail end of a vacation-based residence at the Doug Fir Lounge at the beginning of the year, and it reminded me of how despicable it was that I’d never actually seen the band. Hood, as an immensely talented songwriter, is powerful enough to wrap an entire crowd around his finger, and I was more than a little excited to see what the full band can do.

But first up was Shovels & Rope, a husband and wife duo from Charleston, SC (as they made a point of mentioning no less than three times). At first, I wasn’t terribly interested in the band, who sounded – initially – to be a terrible attempt at a Dolly Parton/Carter Family pastiche, with no payoff. Michael Trent, the duo’s guitarist/drummer, sat astride a drumkit made up of a bass drum and a singular snare on his left, and two cymbals about five feet to his right. This came off as incredibly gimmicky and unnecessary… and it’s possible that it is, but watching him reach out to graze the hi-hat with the tip of a drumstick, I was reminded of why another cymbal gimmick exists: that of John Stanier of Battles, who does it to prevent reliance on those pieces of his kit. And so, with that in mind, I watched as the two (the other being Cary Ann Hearst, with a big mane of curly blonde hair, enough to really pull off the Parton vibes) traded guitar/drum duties, sometimes abandoning drums altogether, perpetually playing while facing each other, at the very front of the stage. At first, the crowd seemed to be on my side of things, with a lot of people who didn’t quite know what to think, but as time went on, the crowd fell in love with the two. I was seated in the balcony for this performance, so I got to watch as couples began spontaneously slow-dancing together in the middle of the crowd – something I’ve absolutely never seen at a show before. By the end of things, the word “pastiche” didn’t fit anymore, and it was clear that they were channeling those old country acts in the best way imaginable. Shovels & Rope were keeping it alive, and hats off to them.

And so came Drive-By Truckers. Watching their set, I was reminded of how little I really know about the band’s catalog, as I’ve spent most of my time focused on only two of their albums (The Dirty South, completely unrepresented here, and Brighter Than Creation’s Dark, which was represented in the form of “3 Dimes Down”), and how I desperately want to get more familiar. The love for DBT was immense in the packed crowd, and you could hear people hollering left and right for song requests (the loudest of which being about 30 feet from me, who was adamant about hearing the beautiful, reserved “Sands of Iwo Jima”, one of the best cuts from The Dirty South). But, no matter what song was played, the crowd went insane every time Mike Cooley and Patterson Hood started to strum a song – including all seven of the songs from their two-month-old English Oceans.

Looking at the setlist from the last time the band was in town, two years ago, it strikes me that (other than the new songs), the setlist is very similar. This is by no means a criticism, and in fact makes the love in the room all the better. I’m not sure if the Roseland was sold-out, but it was still very packed, and it was packed with people who were just as excited this week to hear the band play “Box of Spiders” and “Zip City” and “Hell No, I Ain’t Happy” as they likely were the last time the band stopped by. These days, a lot of people look down on bands who don’t vary their live sets enough, and who spend too much time “playing the new stuff” (yes, this is a criticism I’ve heard multiple times). But, getting to be in a crowd with people who don’t care what gets played, only that it gets played, is incredibly special. Really, it’s something that doesn’t quite happen enough these days.

And, after that performance, I can see myself being one of the people chanting “Cooley! Cooley! Cooley!” in between songs, the next time they come around. This is a band that has built something great, and they deserve that fanaticism.

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LIVE: Action Bronson, Roseland Theater, Portland, OR

BamBam0001Nameless opening DJ // Photo credit: Zack Perry

By Hollister Dixon // Photos by Zack Perry

So, hip-hop nerds are going to be reading about this one a decent amount in the next few days. This is, essentially, what happened: during the wind-down of Blue Chips 2 track “Amadu Diablo,” a song built off a sample of the iconic riff from Tracy Chapman’s “Give Me One Reason”, a fan threw a joint onstage. Bronson is, of course, not the kind of person to look a gift horse in the blunt, he took the opportunity to take an on-stage smoke break. This is where things get messy: what Bronson didn’t realize was that smoking onstage – especially since weed, since it’s still illegal in Oregon – is somewhere in the vicinity of really goddamn illegal. This prompted one member of security to make an attempt at either removing the joint from Bronson, or remove Bronson from the stage. It’s hard to really tell, because the security guard (who was roughly half the size of Bronson, who is by all accounts a mammoth) tried to grab him around the neck and seemingly attempt to put him in a choke hold. This prompted Bronson to give the man a very hard shove. And then another, knocking him on his ass. At this point, the venue blared an incredibly loud alarm, and the show ended. Very fast. It was an ugly, ugly scene.

Or, at least, I imagine it was. It was downstairs, where I was when it happened. Right as the opening strum of “Amadu Diablo” began, I was walking down the stairs to use the bathroom. By the time I came out, the whole thing was over. That’s right: this incident, and the show’s swift end, took about as long as a quick pee break. I only know what happened because of a couple of videos, and from the eyewitness account of Michael Mannheimer, who is apparently a wandering spirit that sees every show in Portland. He gave me the breakdown outside the Roseland, near one of the older members of the Roseland guard, who was issuing his gratitude via walkie-talkie to another member of staff for leaving him alone outside, in a public display of sarcasm the likes of which I haven’t seen in years. This was also after I had been screamed out of the building by security (not me personally, just everyone inside), and had listened to more than a few people chanting “FUCK THE ROSELAND!” outside. I watched a well-put-together man very clearly struggle with the urge to punch someone on staff because he would not be getting his $25 back. They’re animals, Padme.

BamBam0010Action Bronson // Photo credit: Zack Perry

Just one quick note before we go on: this tour is getting a little rough. Last night, at Seattle’s performance, a kid ran onstage directly after “Amadu Diablo”, prompting Bronson to toss him back into the crowd as though he were a small sack of potatoes. It’s interesting that the song was present at both events (though the Seattle show kept going after), considering the refrain of the song’s source material: “Gimme one reason to stay here / and I’ll turn right back around…”

Let’s back up a few paces, though: this show wasn’t without its hiccups. As I learned from an unnamed security guard who is always very pleased to see me, Bronson/Supplies showed up at 8:15pm for a show that started at 8. The onstage DJ – I didn’t catch his name – filled up the time playing a somewhat-okay-but-mostly-boring hour-long set of mixtape flare, lackadaisically clicking at buttons on his laptop. He was no dummy, though: “I know y’all are bored as fuck!” he said to the crowd at one point. He wasn’t entirely wrong. Following him, Party Supplies, the wonderful producer behind Blue Chips and Blue Chips 2, worked his jukebox magic for another full hour – he may be the only DJ I’ve seen play Billy Joel’s “For the Longest Time” followed by Frankie Lymon’s “Why Do Fools Fall In Love?” followed by “Earth Angel”, without seeming hokey or kitschy – and despite the quality of his work, it was hard to not feel insanely bored by the whole experience, partially because the crowd knew who they wanted to see, and partially because it was clear that there was some definite time-filling going on.

Two hours in, Action Bronson took to the stage. No matter what anybody says, Bronson is a beast on the mic, and though he may not have the same flair other rappers have, he makes up for it with true stopping power. He blasted through 45 wonderful minutes of material, including a great performance of “Strictly 4 My Jeeps”, and his verse from “NaNa”, from last year’s unstoppable Acid Rap mixtape by Chance the Rapper. If the malaise and boredom of that two-hour wait had hit the rest of the crowd as it had hit me, you couldn’t tell: the crowd ate up every minute of the performance, as Bronson stalked the stage, lacing his hands with people in the crowd, directing gay slurs at a security guard, and – yes – smoking some weed. They even ate up Supplies’ truly painful Lil’ Wayning during one section of a song, as he left his table to pick up a guitar and make sounds happen with a guitar (I phrase it like this to make it clear that he is not good at guitar).

That’s all we got, though: we got 45 minutes with Bronson, an insanely short amount of time considering the ticket price – $25 isn’t that much money, but it’s definitely too much for two-hours of bored-but-well-meaning DJs, 45 minutes of the star of the show, and a minute-long blast of violence, aggression, and confusion.

BamBam0003Action Bronson // Photo credit: Zack Perry

And that violence is a problem. And I say that not to be obvious, but because it goes deeper than “violence isn’t the answer”. The show was initially meant to take place at Peter’s Room, the downstairs portion of the Roseland, but was moved upstairs to the Roseland proper, likely because tickets sold very well (the show wasn’t jam packed, but it was very full just the same). I’m not sure if the show downstairs was all-ages or not, but the all ages ticket brought an all-ages crowd, with a floor chock full of young faces – some of which, I imagine, were at the Roseland for the very first time. The abrupt and ugly end of the show provides a few problems:

  1. Those inexperienced kids walked away from that show possibly thinking that this is a normal occurrence in Portland (it’s not),
  2. The parents of those kids, having found out what happened, will possibly go into mild crisis mode, and will become incredibly hesitant about letting their kids go to another show alone again, and
  3. Anyone who doesn’t understand Portland’s hip-hop community, Portland’s concertgoing community, and Portland crowds in general, now have a picture in their heads about those three things, and that picture is incredibly ugly. And it doesn’t help the reputation we shouldn’t allow ourselves to have.

This isn’t us.

We’re not monsters, and neither are the people who work at the Roseland. Two parties made mistakes here tonight, and a big crowd of people had to pay the price for it. I may not have enjoyed myself as much as I would have liked, but everyone else clearly did. It’s not hard to imagine a massive amount of the crowd having their week’s ruined by this incident.

I truly feel bad for the kids who never stood a chance there. At the end of the day, those kids got inadvertently ripped off, and it may sour them to the scene as a whole. If you saw that happen, what would you think?

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