I want my MFNW: Part 2

Monday, September 13th, 2010 | musiX, pdX

You mean there’s more? I’m running on three hours of sleep, pretending I’m 23 again. I’m not 23 again. Maybe I am 23 again, because I’m hell-bent on seeing cuddly blog babes Surfer Blood. These kids from West Palm Beach, Florida look like kids … except for the frizzy-haired cowbellist, who looks like John Oates circa 1977.

The band’s debut Astro Coast is still holding up well for me. It’s a great guitar record. I’m guessing many a fickle blogger has spat the band out since the record’s release in January. Maybe not. Live, the band sounded pretty true to the album, except noisier. Vocalist John Paul Pitts croons like Steven Patrick Morrissey. The songs are catchy and the riffs air-guitarable (though I don’t recommend it), and every now and then the members dived into Afro-Cuban rhythm breaks or ear-piercing, guitar freakouts. I talked to a couple of people who were bored by Surfer Blood, or compared them to Weezer. Impossible. The members of Surfer Blood are too well-adjusted to sound like Weezer. And they have a cowbellist who looks like John Oates circa 1977.

I’m faced with the difficult decision of choosing between seeing Shonen Knife or The Gories—why does life have to be so hard? I decide on the latter, knowing I’ll also get to see San Fran’s Thee Oh Sees, but also knowing that I’ll have to brave the line/claustrophobic conditions at Dante’s. And Haunted George. I make it through the line, and survive the doorman’s unorthodox system for letting people in and out. I think he’s stoned. The place is already packed. Haunted George is already playing and is essentially the one-man band of Steve Pallow, who bashes an old snare and kick drum with his feet while he chugs psychobilly riffs on a guitar. He’s got another guy playing the same psychobilly riffs behind him. It’s not really my thing. Maybe I’d like it more if I had a neck tattoo and a head full of pomade.

I saw Thee Oh Sees open up for Jay Reatard (RIP) last year, and they absolutely blew the place apart (and upstaged Reatard and his cronies). Former Coachwhip-former Pink and Brown-current Oh Sees frontman John Dwyer does not fuck around. The band’s spastic garage rock is as unmanageable as his thick coif—vocals heavy with echo, guitars that slice through like a laser, and songs that rarely follow the verse-chorus-verse format. Plus, Dwyer is a freak on stage (and for some reason reminds me of Crispin Glover). Simply put—I would never want to be the band that follows Thee Oh Sees …

… which is what The Gories are. The Motor City trio formed back in 1986, disbanded in 1992, and now find themselves again ripping through sets of blues-based garage rock. And they kick out one jam after another, opening with “Hey Hey, We’re The Gories” (note: bands with theme songs rule). I must say The Gories sound timid compared to Thee Oh Sees, and I secretly wish I could teleport over to Mississippi Studios for the Shonen Knife show. Then again, if it wasn’t for The Gories, Thee Oh Sees would not exist. Wrap your head around that one. As the set winds on, the members of The Gories are playing like kids again, while the faces of the audience-members become increasingly haggard … save for the two members of Surfer Blood I spot in the crowd—they still look like schoolboys. They definitely got an education tonight. Meanwhile I feel like I aged a decade over the course of four days. See you next year, MFNW.

Surfer Blood performing “Twin Peaks” at Wonder Ballroom during MusicfestNW

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2 Comments to I want my MFNW: Part 2

Michel Sargent
September 17, 2010

I am so happy you saw The Gories. Since you posted the first MFNW post I checked out the line-up and The Gories were at the top of my list of shows to attend (if I were living in PDX). Plus Thee Oh Sees were opening who are totally fucking amazing recorded and live (as you rightly pointed out). I would have also liked to see Sleep perform Holy Mountain. I found that record in a thrift store in Chico many years ago signed by original founding member and guitarist Justin Marler who just happened to be born in Chico (signed to his sister as a birthday present I believe). He left Sleep to become a monk.

Mark TDoLore
September 17, 2010

That is crazy! I didn’t know he was born in Chico. I wanted to see Sleep so bad! It was a matter of logistics that kept me from attending. Kinda bummed…

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