Friday, December 16, 2011

Fever, Dead Ship Sailing; 12.14.11 Ella St. Social Club, Portland, Or.

Been getting into a good flow, making music and producing records during the day, hitting the streets at night, getting the chi moving, getting my head clear. Meeting other musicians, watching tons and tons of bands, a continual flow of new ideas, perspectives, approaches, and i return late in the night frothing at the mouth, ready to take on the next batch of challenges.

Arrived late at Ella St., (as usual), missed a set from Pale Tourist, which is unfortunate, as a few were raving, and it was apparently their last show, due to transpersonal conflict. The singer seemed assured that they would rise from the ashes.

Fever must've named themselves after the Nancy Sinatra song, they were a white hot blast of dripping southern heat in the spidery Northwestern chill. They sounded like Marc Ribot's solo on 'Jockey Full of Bourbon' dragged from the vinyl, and extended over 45 minutes. There was nothing mutant about their soul; they were just a tight, powerful five piece, festooned in black. Dare i say, classic? The Amy Winehouse comparisons are probably inevitable, with the shadowy tattoed presence of front-woman Natalie Valentine, but she seems less tattered; more Grace Slick than Janis Joplin. Her voice was clear, pure and strong, even if the lyrics were hard to understand, and it was perfectly ornamented by the impeccable mood and tone of the musicians; the barbed-wire surf twang of Timothy Valentine, the sexy bass-throb from Dhananjaya Zakheim, and even an organist in a pork-pie hat, as the icing on the fucking cake. Fever are straight up soul revival, not trying to re-invent the 45, and they had me swaying like Audrey Horn in the back of the room.

Last, but not least, Dead Ship Sailing, from Seattle. This was apparently their first show, ever, and i see interesting things for this band. They sort of sounded like Jesus and Mary Chain jamming with Suicide, two of them on guitars with an invisible drum machine clanking out vintage beats. Backlit by scathing white light, the pair cut a striking duo of silhouettes on-stage, becoming androgynous angels of rock 'n roll. Stream-lined, stripped down, sleek and barbituated; urbanity in its most guttural.

During their set, i was kicked back in the corner, reading James Joyce's 'Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man'. There was an endless rampage of infernal imagery, as a young Joyce fears and trembles for his mortal soul, after discovering the filthy joys of sex. Images of blackless caverns of never-ending despair, heaps of the damned, writhing in filth and flatulence, as i squinted in the dim light of Ella Street's antiquated light fixtures. That's one of the things i love most about this venue, is they can rock out, but you can also just chill, have a conversation, read a book. They play sweet music during set-breaks. The people are nice there. It doesn't tend to be too crowded, and the jukebox does not overpower conversation. It is a perfect spot for me to get out of the house, get some thinking and some writing done, and hear consistently fucking awesome music.

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