Thursday, July 17, 2008

Port O'Brien at the Detroit Bar

The semi-infamous maraca toss at the MGMT and Yeasayer show at the Echoplex overshadowed the fact that Port O'Brien played an extremely tight set. It was unfortunate that a majority of the crowd was still stuck in the rain for their performance. Port O'Brien recently embarked on a mini tour of the West Coast with help from The Builders and The Butchers that included a stop at the Detroit Bar.

The Union Line

The local collective of The Union Line were playing as I walked in to the Detroit Bar. The Union Line are musically located a few houses down from the Cold War Kids and the Delta Spirit. Dixie Bruce (Vocals/Guitar) had a Gibson Hollowbody to coax out their reverb soaked bluesy tunes. They had a Nord Electro keyboard setup for a variety of organ and Rhodes keyboards. Jojo (Guitars/Vocals) had his own Gibson hollowbody to add their collective sound and shared some vocal duties. I only caught a small portion of their show but they will be back at the Detroit Bar on Oct 9th.

The Builders and The Butchers

The Builders and The Butchers hail from the musical hotbed of Portland. Their gear setup was minimal to say the least but they showed less is more with an intense performance. I was laughing before they even started as Harvey (Banjo/Mandolin) soundchecked the '80s cheesy arena classic "The Final Countdown" by Europe on his mandolin. Ryan Sollee (Vocals/Guitars) was singing like he was possessed as he frantically strummed his guitar. The Builders and The Butchers showcased a number of tunes from their self titled release. Their music reminded me of being at the Disneyland Country Bear Jamboree crossed with the speed of Space Mountain. Ryan also used an oil funnel and a megaphone to alter his voice during their set. The crowd ate up their set and demanded an encore that had some banjo as The Builders and The Butchers threw together one last song. I almost forgot to mention everyone from the bar got up from their stools to move in front of the stage after hearing only a few notes from the band.

Port O'Brien

A large wooden crate was mysteriously lying in front of the stage as Port O'Brien was setting up. "Whiskey Song" started the evening with a quiet note as Ryan Stively (Bass) was playing a handsaw with a violin bow for a spacey theremin like effect. Joshua Barnhart (Drums) was crouched on the floor activating his harmonium for a lush effect. Van Pierszalowski (Guitars/Vocals) was strumming his Takamine Acoustic to quietly introduce you to the world of Port O'Brien. All We Could Do Is Sing is Port O'Brien's latest release and is one of those albums that you need to listen to from start to finish, as it is a series of miniature stories cultivated into on book. "Don't Take My Advice" picked up the pace as Van was starting to really warm up his vocal cords. The electric guitars started to turn up during "In Vino Veritas" as the group encouraged the crowd to sing along to the hymn like song. The tune of "Fisherman's Son" was like a slow pressure cooker that would eventually boil over with high energy, as Van would lose his cap because he was rocking out too hard. Cambria Goodwin (Banjo/Keyboards) was fighting off catcalls from some drunken female patrons but didn't miss a note on her banjo. "Stuck On A Boat" turned things up a notch as Zebedee Zaitz (Guitars) recklessly hammered his Rickenbacker while Van thrashed on his Fender Telecaster. The wooden crate would be finally opened like Pandora's box revealing an assortment of metal pots and pans that enabled the crowd to assist in a raucous version of "I Woke Up Today" with the help of some members of the Delta Spirit. Port O'Brien will be back on tour with Bodies of Water in August before playing the Treasure Island Music Festival in San Francisco.

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