Tag Archives: The Blow

LIVE: The Blow, Doug Fir Lounge, Portland, OR

By Hollister Dixon

As a live performer, Khaela Maricich (otherwise known as The Blow) is less of a musician and more of a performer. She gets on borderline empty stages, with her collaborator, Melissa Dyne, triggering the lights, projections, and music from elsewhere. Onstage, she sings her songs, but she also dances around and interacts with the audience and – and this is approximately half of every Blow performance – monologues. In freeing herself of the shackles of band and instrument, she is free to utilize a much different set of muscles when performing if she wants to create an engaging performance, lest she find herself relegated to the fate of being a “karaoke performer”. In a lot of ways, this is far more difficult, because every crowd and stage is completely different, meaning you need to figure out what you’re working with every single night, and then abandon that and learn something new the next night.

These are not the concerns of The Blow at this moment in time, and that is a very weird thing. Currently, The Blow are working with a new performance, which they’ve deemed “Unplugged”. For them, this means no laptops or projectors, which have been replaced with live instruments. However, those live instruments are Maricich’s keyboards, and an impressive array of modular analog synthesizers – the very same ones being used to produce The Blow’s new record – manned by collaborator/projectionist/song-triggerer Melissa Dyne. The big question: Does this work? We’ll get to that question in a little bit.

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Episode 53: Not Fade Away

Thank you to Mo Troper of Your Rival for coming on this week! You can listen up top, and download it HERE.

Topic:

  • The dearly departed: musicians who died too soon
  • What questions do they leave behind?
  • What would have happened if they had lived?
  • Who are the most tragic losses to date?
  • Do we over-glamorize these people?

Songs:

Bands Mentioned:

  • Mo Troper / Your Rival
  • Vince Clarke
  • Martin Rev / Suicide
  • Cevin Key / Skinny Puppy
  • Kanye West
  • Kendrick Lamar
  • Philip Glass
  • Soft Skills
  • The Moonshine
  • Katy Perry
  • Gwar
  • Iron Reagan
  • Whitechapel
  • Agalloch
  • Justin Bieber
  • Keith Moon / The Who
  • Kansas
  • Insane Clown Posse
  • Tony Lash / Heatmiser
  • Elliott Smith
  • Peter Ham / Tom Evans / Badfinger
  • Nick Drake
  • Beck
  • Darby Crash / The Germs
  • Chris BellBig Star
  • Buddy Holly
  • Frankie Lymon
  • Lorde
  • Kurt Cobain / Nirvana
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Janis Joplin
  • Jim Morrison
  • Amy Winehouse
  • John Lennon / The Beatles
  • Billy Joel
  • Evan Dando / The Lemonheads
  • Kind of Like Spitting
  • Gotye
  • Mark Linkous / Sparklehorse
  • Thom Yorke / Radiohead
  • Cliff Burton / Metallica
  • Jeff Buckley
  • Stone Temple Pilots
  • Freddie Mercury
  • Brian Jones / The Rolling Stones
  • Weezer
  • Tyler, The Creator / Odd Future
  • Marc Bolan
  • Dimebag Darrell / Pantera
  • Brian Wilson / Carl Wilson / Mike Love / The Beach Boys
  • John Bonham
  • Richie Valens
  • Chubby Checker
  • Jason Molina / Songs:Ohia
  • David Bowie
  • Lou Reed
  • Ian Curtis / Joy Division
  • Barenaked Ladies
  • Michael Jackson
  • Shy Girls
  • James Blunt
  • Ellis Pinker
  • Errata Note
  • Rufus Wainwright
  • Lucy Wainwright Roche
  • Martha Wainwright
  • Loudon Wainwright III
  • Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks
  • Elton John
  • U2 / Bono / The Edge
  • Fringe Class
  • Adventure Galley
  • Wildcat! Wildcat!
  • Passion Pit
  • OK Go
  • Watain
  • Abiotic
  • The Zombies
  • KISS
  • Linda Ronstadt
  • Modest Mouse
  • Deep Purple
  • Yes
  • The Replacements
  • N.W.A.
  • The Eagles
  • Link Wray
  • Hall & Oates
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LIVE: The Bones of TBA:13

By Hollister Dixon

One of the best ways to figure out what you’re getting into when you go to the Portland Institute for the Performing Arts curated Time-Based Art festival is to simply pick up a copy of their comprehensive guide to the festival: it’s a pocket-sized, glossy and impeccably bound little volume, one well-suited for keeping as a souvenir on your bookshelf. It’s a guide that you pick up and, immediately, you feel the weight of pure art. TBA has been going since 2003, and it has grown in its focus and quiet restraint since then, bringing in names like Antony Hegarty, Marina Abramovic, and HEALTH. On the musical side of things, thins are a little less poised, but looking at the lineups for any given year reveal that each and every musical act chose makes perfect sense. For TBA:13, the festival brought forward The Julie Ruin (Kathleen Hanna’s newest project, which we all missed), The Blow, and Kim Gordon’s newest band, Body/Head. Being our first year at TBA, we decided to dip our toes in but a few inches, and only experienced two bands. Next year, the real fun starts.


The Blow // Photo Credit: Yousef Hatlani

It’s easy to forget that the museum block in Portland is home to several different theaters. The magnificent Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall is the best in this group, but also included here are the Newmark (which I knew about), and the extremely small Winningstad, a room that felt, at once, like a James Bond set, and a westerner’s vision of a Chinese/Japanese concert hall. The room is filled with, more or less, the exact types of people who you would see at a performance art festival. “This is the whitest crowd I’ve ever seen,” said Yousef Hatlani, my cohost and photographer. And he was right: where my beloved MusicFest Northwest always felt like a delightful cross-section of the music fanatical community of Portland, this felt entirely different. Thus is by no means an insult to the community at large, but it was hard not to notice, as I looked at the people filing in around me.

As the lights dim, a solitary figure wanders onstage. Khaela Maricich (otherwise known as The Blow) makes her way to a mic stand in the center, staring out at the crowd like a deer in headlights. She lets out a shrill run, and then another, like a choir girl getting in one last tiny little bit of a warm-up, while unaware of the crowd that can see it. She then opened her hour with an a capella performance of the closing track from the new, self-titled Blow record, “You’re My Light.” The crowd watched her silently as she sang her quiet, strained love song, and the moment she finished, everyone burst into applause. Maricich is not a creature of half-measures; she spends her between-song periods rambling about the subject matter of the songs, and trying to wig out some of the squares in the audience, which is tremendously fun. At one point, she crawls onto a seat in the front row someone is still in it, trying to wiggle herself into the small crevasse between the two people before her, before giving up and just sitting on someone. She spends a lot of time dancing clumsily onstage, in a way that demonstrates that, although she is not a professional dancer, she’s well-aware of the fact that this is the best way to express herself. The Blow is a neat little comment on the nature of pop music and the things that come with performing it, and Maricich (along with her lights/music girl, Melissa Dyne) manage to play with those conventions while still making every note feel earnest.

The music itself is just as compelling, of course. The bulk of what is performed is from The Blow, and she brings a spark to each and every track that comes from that set of recordings, be it the propulsive and slightly heartbreaking “Invisible”, or the stunning, sweet “Not Dead Yet”, the album’s penultimate track. She plays with some of the tracks a bit while performing, adapting them for the stage, and it makes every moment truly shine. The performance only lasted an hour, and personally, I would have been much happier if we’d gotten just a little more out of her, as I was unprepared for the evening to end. She’s going to be back in town very soon, and you can bet that I’ll be there for that, too.

Body/Head // Photo Credit: Yousef Hatlani

Far out in the alphabet district in downtown Portland, you’ll find a lot of hip bars and stores, which bleed into the urban landscape that includes The Works. There’s no way around it: The Works is a warehouse. When you arrive at this location, you feel like your eyes are deceiving you: among all of the nondescript businesses, there’s this bizarre pop-up venue, with a massive food truck, a street poet typing out poetry to display live on a couple big LCD televisions, and, inside the warehouse, a long bar set up near a stage, which itself is located in the middle of the room. While it isn’t the strangest location I’ve been to, it’s hard to imagine music occurring here.

However, there’s something strikingly perfect about seeing Kim Gordon and Bill Nace, otherwise known as Body/Head, performing in this space. Kim Gordon is a fair distance removed from Sonic Youth at this point, but if the comparison were necessary, the din is something out of very early Sonic Youth, most notably Confusion is Sex. Whereas her ex-husband has been making late-era SY music with Chelsea Light Moving, Gordon has found solace in making simple noise. She commands the stage with a presence that is hard to replicate, and wails on her guitar with an incredible precision, making sounds that no human could even make on accident. Nace stands beside her adding to the whirlwind, but it’s incredibly hard to take your eyes off Gordon in this state. When you do manage to take your eyes off her, it’s to watch the strangely compelling visuals behind the pair, showing slow-motion clips of two people, separately and together; who these people are, I can’t be sure, but there’s a certain voyeuristic quality here, and it’s hard not to watch.

Body/Head is an incredibly bitter pill to swallow, especially if you never managed to completely immerse yourself in the music. Kim Gordon is a name associated with a certain style, however, and as such, the music she makes shouldn’t be viewed as over-the-top and sloppy, but should be viewed with a degree or reverence to her abilities. However, I wasn’t quite prepared for the performance itself, so the impenetrable wall of sound – and the late hour – meant that I left after about 40 minutes of music, although I could still hear the band playing from two blocks down the street. It was simply incredible.

More photos of The Blow can be found on our Facebook page here. Photos of Body/Head can be found on our Facebook page here.

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Episode 49: Noise

A million thanks to both Ron Mason Gassaway and Krist Krueger for stopping by! You can dig into this episode above, or download it HERE!

Topic:

  • Noise
  • What makes people produce noise, and what separates pure “noise” from noise music?
  • How does it bleed into other genres?
  • What are our own personal stories, when relating to a love of noise music?
  • What bands could have been considered “noise musicians” in their day, yet are completely normal by today’s standards?
  • When is noise too noisy?

Songs:

  • The Blow – “Invisible”
  • Ron Mason Gassaway – “Spider’s Kiss”
  • SNDTRKR – “Inglorious Finale”

Bands Mentioned:

  • The Blow
  • Kim Gordon / Bill Nace / Body/Head
  • Thurston Moore / Chelsea Light Moving
  • Lee Ranaldo / Sonic Youth
  • Jello Biafra / Dead Kennedys
  • Paul Simon
  • Art Garfunkel
  • Magic Mouth
  • Janet Weiss
  • Stephen Malkmus
  • Matt Berninger / The National
  • Scott Hutchinson / Frightened Rabbit
  • Lou Barlow / Sebadoh
  • Yo La Tengo
  • Sky Ferreira
  • Zachary Cole Smith / DIIV
  • Kurt Cobain / Nirvana
  • Courtney Love
  • Lou Reed / John Cale / Velvet Underground
  • Boston Foreigner
  • The Men of Porn
  • Ron Gassaway / Party Killer
  • Bob Dylan
  • Kenny G
  • Gato Barbieri
  • Dollar Brand
  • The Birthday Party
  • Public Image Ltd.
  • John Wiese
  • The Beatles
  • Wilco
  • Prince
  • Karlheinz Stockhausen
  • Merzbow
  • Phil Spector
  • Steve Albini
  • A Shot in the Dark
  • Krist Krueger / SNDTRKR
  • Self Group
  • India.Arie
  • Nels Cline
  • Peter Hook
  • Wild Bell
  • Drew Grow / Modern Kin
  • Phosphorescent
  • Savages
  • Indians
  • Father Strangelove
  • Wild and Scenic
  • Jake Bugg
  • Martin Rev / Suicide
  • Cevin Key / Skinny Puppy
  • Kanye West
  • Philip Glass
  • Rollerball
  • Last Brick Standing
  • The Hand that Bleeds
  • Yardsss
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Episode 48: The Avant-Guard

Big thanks to Sean Griffith and Matthew Sweeney for joining us today! You can listen above, or right-click HERE to download!

Topic:

  • Avant garde
  • What makes an artist “avant garde”?
  • What does an artist have to do to be considered avant garde even in a more mainstream genre?
  • What bands that are considered normal now could have been considered avant garde when they began?
  • What makes certain music weird?

Songs Used:

Bands Mentioned:

  • Win Butler / Arcade Fire
  • James Murphy / LCD Soundsystem
  • Jimmy Cliff
  • Bob Marley
  • Cat Stevens
  • Paul McCartney
  • Kathleen Hanna / The Julie Ruin
  • King Mountain Petrol
  • Julia Holter
  • Grouplove
  • Los Campesinos!
  • Belle & Sebastian
  • of Montreal
  • The Flaming Lips
  • Neko Case
  • Cody Simpson
  • Jack Johnson
  • Jesse McCartney
  • Cerberus Shoal
  • Hot Chip
  • On and On
  • Liz Harris / Grouper
  • The Blow
  • Kim Gordon / Body/Head
  • Animal Collective
  • John Lennon / Paul McCartney / The Beatles
  • Sonic Youth
  • Radiohead
  • Brian Eno
  • Stockhausen
  • Yoko Ono
  • Captain Beefheart
  • St. Vincent
  • Kronos Quartet
  • Philip Glass
  • Coldplay
  • James
  • David Bowie
  • Roxy Music
  • Steve Reich
  • Nurse With Wound
  • Agitation Free
  • Smegma
  • Draggin an Ox Through Water
  • Why I Must Be Careful
  • Bjork
  • Sigur Ros
  • Albert Ayler
  • Ornette Coleman
  • Eric Dolphy
  • Sun Ra
  • Last Poets
  • Natural Snow Buildings
  • Godspeed You! Black Emperor
  • Lonnie Holley
  • Cul-de-Sac
  • Bardo Pond
  • Talk Talk
  • Slint
  • Current 93
  • Stars of the Lid
  • Merzbow
  • Boris
  • Jeff Tweedy
  • Frightened Rabbit
  • The National
  • Peter Gabriel
  • Elvis Costello
  • The Roots
  • U2
  • Lovers
  • The Features
  • Porcelain Raft
  • Wound
  • J Mascis
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