Saturday, September 11
By Dan Lurie
Due to some prior commitments (spending all weekend surfing the net in my boxers), I only had time to catch one show at this year’s Musicfest Northwest. Logically I chose a bill featuring BOAT, Seattle’s feel-good pop heroes, joined by New Jersey’s own Titus Andronicus.
Going into the night my knowledge of the latter extended no further than the length of the lead singer’s impressive beard, which I’d seen previously in pictures posted across the world wide web. “Sure he’s very talented when it comes to growing facial hair,” I thought to myself as I stumbled into Backspace, a popular all ages venue located in the heart of historic downtown Portland, “but can this man also sing and play guitar?” The answers to this question and several others would soon be revealed.
Unfortunately I missed the night’s opening acts thanks to a hot date with a chicken pot pie. From all accounts, local bands The Globes and And And And both came correct, setting the table nicely for BOAT in the three hole. As the boys from Seattle took to the stage, a Gary Glitter-inspired introduction blared through the P.A. speakers much to the delight and confusion of the large steamy crowd.
BOAT is well known for bringing props on stage, and on this night their lone decoration was a life-size illustration of an unidentified member of the Portland Trail Blazers. I’m guessing it was a player from the early 90’s, perhaps Buck Williams. Someone known for doing the little things, like defense and rebounding. BOAT would appreciate those skills, right? Yes, I think so.
Back to the show. BOAT kicked off their jaunty set with the irresistible “Lately (I’ve Been On My Back)”, a catchy tune bolstered by a guitar lick so tasty I wouldn’t be surprised if its tablature is locked away in the same vault that safeguards Colonel Sanders’ Kentucky Fried Chicken recipe. The rest of the show followed suit, as BOAT’s startlingly consistent canon of loosey goosey pop songs succeeding in casting smiles from the front row all the way back to the endless line of ladies and gents waiting for the bathroom.
Once BOAT was done rocking the house, they packed up their Buck Williams cutout and turned the stage over to Titus Andronicus. I can not say enough about the beard. It is even more lush in person than on computer screen. But let’s get to the music. Titus Andronicus plays the sort of songs that can easily incite enthusiastic fist pumping in a live setting, though I’m not sure it’s something I could listen to in my living room while sipping tea reading the IKEA catalog. It seems these folks have pretty much one speed, and that’s full tilt.
Emotive scream singing, gang choruses and unhinged guitar solos provided the fuel for the fire, and while the enthusiasm was certainly admirable, there seemed to be a fairly consistent formula for each song that grew somewhat old as the set continued. That didn’t stop the kids up front from moshing and having a good ol’ time of course. So all in all, mission accomplished boys and girls.
Dan Lurie is a long-time Nada contributor. Check out his blog at http://erasablepen.blogspot.com/.