Sounds of Summer

7 Jun

Summer concert season is approaching and we’ve got a few tickets stashed away. But despite the great bands headed to town, I’m still hung up on some of the shows we’ve been to in the past couple months.

The first to unexpectedly blow us away was Half Moon Run at The Media Club in Vancouver. They’re an immensely talented trio with a sound that belies their age and experience (they only put out their first album in March). They’ve got a complex sound that’s all their own, but hints of The Temper Trap come through in some of the tribal-sounding drum rhythms.

The Boxer Rebellion played at the The Biltmore to the most mixed crowd I’ve ever seen: young, old, sweater-vested, scantily clad, punk rock, hipster…it was weird.

I love a show at a small venue, especially when the band fills the stage with their presence and sound so much that they seem bigger than where they’re playing – like seeing Pearl Jam at The Commodore. I can no longer remember who opened this show, so they must not have been fantastic.

In contrast, I remember and loved all three bands from the show we went to at the Doug Fir Lounge in Portland, OR. We spent May long weekend in Portland and were pleasantly surprised by the lineup for a Sunday night concert. Opening was Whispertown, second was Dinosaur Feathers, and last was Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s. I love when bands can employ the steel guitar without sounding too twangy. Ray LaMontagne often uses the steel guitar straddles the border between folk and country, but I always love it.

I caught on video an excellent pared-down version of their song “Broadripple Is Burning.”

Most recently, I saw The Arkells at The Vogue. I went with a good friend, who’s also my old concert buddy from high school. It was funny to reminisce about some of the shows we’ve seen at The Vogue, and how it’s so different now: no lining up to be the first ones inside; no entering the mosh pit; no sneaking photos with the disposable cameras we snuck inside in our shoes; no running on stage and getting tossed out into back alleys (me at one of the millions of Matthew Good concerts we went to sometime in high school). The times, they have changed.

Neither of us knew much about the openers, The Maine, but they were pretty good. A little too pop-rocky for my taste, and the lead singer sounded a bit like Jacob Hoggard of Hedley, but they were good performers. The Arkells were excellent – you could really tell they were happy to be there, not like some of the jaded performances that ooze that feeling of, “Let’s just get through this.”

The best part was at the end, when The Maine joined The Arkells back on stage with a couple members of Said the Whale,  and all three bands covered The Beatles’ “With a Little Help from my Friends” and “That Thing You Do” from that awesome movie about the ’60s band.

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