Since seeing the Antibalas open for MMW so many years ago at the 9:30 Club I have wanted to see them again. If I am correct they are from Ontario so east coast is harder for them to put a tour together. I lucked out when I moved to Portland and caught their stop at the Wonder Ballroom on their recent swing through the northwest to ended their winter tour.
The show didn’t start till 8pm and for some reason I thought Antibalas would go on at 8 and play two sets. Instead they had an opening act and they played one long ass set. My timing was perfect when I arrived. I rolled right up into the place and within 5 minutes the 1939 ensemble was taking the stage. Needless to say I got really close since no one was in the place that early. These guys were really enjoying themselves on stage and into the music. They did some serious pre-game and where spot on for the night. An interesting mix of instruments and music.
After a short break Antibalas took the stage and killed it. Well with the exception of the first song or two, something like that. The start was just a little weird, you had to be there but after that hiccup they where off like a rocket. Because I arrived so early I was really close till the encore so I had a great view of the band. It was amazing to see all these guys on this tiny little stage playing their hearts out.
The flow of the music and the rythm all night where great. The crowd was really into the music and it was weird but at times the music was very relative to whats going on today. It seemed like a political rally at times, it was great. Marcus kept getting the crowd to chant between songs about love. The world could certainly use more peace and love. Such a great show and performance by the band. Very happy I was able to make it that night.
This tour was in support of their new album. Living in the pacific north west I hope I can see them more regularly then when they happen to release a new album. Such energy and a vibe from the band and crowd. The two that night where in perfect sync.
Thursday, March 15th 2018
Wonder Ballroom – Portland, OR
1939 ensemble opened
Show starts at 9:12pm
2. Dirty Money
5. Gold Rush
Set over at 10:50pm
Encore starts at 10:52pm
House lights at 11:14pm
Dark Star is another band that I haven’t seen in a long time and living out west now when bands I love come through town I make it a point to see them. I get to keep up with my favorite bands, explore the city I live in and start checking out the local music scene. So when Dark Star Orchestra announced two nights at the Roseland Theater I was execited. I don’t know how long its been but to long.
Night one was Friday and a co-worker of mine and I went to the show. We planned on a late night of drinking and no driving. We got together at 6 and headed to The Upper Lip for a few glasses before heading to the show. This was a great second story place Derek found. A quite and low key place but a great curated selection of bottles and draft beer. I loved it for the selection but also just the atmosphere. Not a lot of hustle and bustle, you could still talk to your friends and the decor was great. Wood and brick all over the place.
After a few drinks we headed to the venue for two sets. I was hoping for a cover performance but Friday ended up being an original set which was good. The venue is oddly designed. It’s two stories with the main stage on the second floor. There is a small balcony that rings the stage as well. On the first floor is a smaller stage, a big bar and a general area to relax during the show and get away for a few minutes. The stage is only a few feet off the ground too. Seems very small and intimate when you are there but it is loud as all get out because of the small size.
The show was really great with a good mix of songs and styles. Derek and I kept getting beers during the first set and milling around in the back where there was a little more space. Since we arrived late neither of us felt the need to push our way through the crowd. Set break came and we needed one too. The venue was hot and muggy so we stepped outside for a smoke and to chill with everyone else. I love smokers, such friendly people.
Set two was just as good as the first. I for one was done drinking that night. We worked our way up pretty close to the stage for set two. We posted up in the back again and I got to dancing. It was the weirdest thing as I was dancing all of a sudden a woman’s starts dancing with me. She even kissed me and just like that she was gone. Strange folk here in Portland. It wasn’t long after the second set started that Derek had to head home for the night. I honestly wasn’t that far behind him. As the set went on I was getting more and more tired. All the alcohol was starting to catch up with me. I went down stairs for a few minutes but eventually decided to walk home. Unfortunately security took my cannabis on the way in so I didn’t have anything to smoke but it was fine. The weather was good and I needed the fresh air.
Unfortunately I drank to much that night and was sick all day Saturday. Like so sick I never got out of bed and slept through the second show. I was dissappointed I missed it but this just reminds me how much I don’t like to drink to excess.
Despite being sick all day Saturday and missing the second night, the Friday show was still a great one and so much fun. The beer was good, the music was good and the company was good. Don’t know how I feel yet about the Roseland Theater but I will certainly see DSO again when they roll through town.
Dark Star Orchestra
Friday, February 9th 2018
Roseland Theater – Portland, OR
The Wheel >
Johnny B. Goode
Passenger Mission In The Rain
Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues
Mama Tried >
We Can Run
Man Smart (Woman Smarter) >
Touch Of Grey >
Throwing Stones >
Terrapin Station >
Gimme Some Lovin’ >
Other One (tease) >
I Need A Miracle >
Standing On The Moon >
Viola Lee Blues
Not my first show in Portland but still a pretty memorable one. A year ago at this time I was actually here in Portland to see KDTU at Aladdin Theater. Just like then it was a part of his west coast winter tour. Last year I wanted to do some traveling and hadn’t seen the family in a few years so thought it would be a great opportunity to travel. This year Karl upgraded the venue immensely and it is only four blocks from my new home. My what a difference a year can make.
The show was on a Saturday so I planned to explore my own city like I would any other when I travel to see concerts. For a winter day the weather wasn’t that bad so I took the opportunity to hike. I packed a few essentials and headed north to Lark Press for some letter press. The last few months are pretty heavy in terms of birthday cards. I was out and needed to stock up. The food up north here is pretty interesting so I made a point to stop for lunch while in the neighborhood.
Thankfully I didn’t have to stray far from N Williams Ave. to find something to eat and drink. Right around the corner I found Lompoc Brewery and their Fifth Quadrant location. This is the actual brewery operations. Typical modern brewery facility with tall ceilings, concert and wood everywhere. The food was really good but neither of the beers blew my doors off. In fact I couldn’t even give them average ratings. Having said that I would go back. Good atmosphere, food and plenty of other beers to explore on the menu.
Being a mini-vacation I took a very relaxing nap in the middle of the afternoon. This being KDTU I knew it was going to be a later night. Portland seems to be pretty liberal on their late night parties so I knew it would go past midnight. Another pre-game event was dinner at Danwei Canting to fuel the body for a night of grooving.
Revolution Hall is a new place for me but I was super excited to see the show here. Four blocks from my house is hard to pass up. I can literally stumble home. I can walk home before an Uber will pick me up. This just amazes me. I knew before I walked in the place it is a renovated school. Some of the school has been carved up for office space but the old theater has been transformed into a concert hall. Complete with lockers on the outside walls to store your crap in. All retail and fans co mingled in the halls which is an interesting experience. Its crowded just like my old high school was.
The Dip was actually pretty cool and opened for the band. Another soul and funk kind band right in line with KDTU. I have been pleasantly surprised by the quality acts I am seeing as openers these last few shows.
By the time KDTU took the stage I was so relaxed and ready to just groove. For part of the show I just sat in my chair and grooved to the music. The entire nights performance was great with a lot of energy from the band and the crowd. I do think the change of venue lifted the bands spirits which allowed them to play that much better tonight.
As I expected it was almost midnight before the houselights came up and it was time to head home. Being how things are all located I stopped at Voodoo Too for some donuts before taking a very long and very well deserved nights rest. Sunday was going to be a day of recovery for me.
Karl Dension’s Tiny Universe
Saturday, January 27th 2018
Revolution Hall – Portland, OR
Start time at 10:38pm
. Allman Brothers cover
The Bridge (really amazing jam in the middle of the song)
Melville (? off the new album)
Set over at 12:29am
Encore starts at 12:32am
House lights at 12:40am
I regularly get emails from bands with their concert schedules and will often plan trips around these tour schedules. Things started to align when I got emails from The New Mastersounds and LCD Soundsystem. The New Mastersounds where planning on hitting the pacific northwest with a show in Portland and another in Seattle. LCD Soundsystem got back together after a few years of being on hesitates and did a pretty long tour over summer and fall of 2017. For a while I have been trying to see them but my last best shot was them coming to DC after I was gone. Then I saw a show in Denver on a Saturday that wasn’t yet sold out. I compared that date to the New Mastersounds schedule and said fuck it, I’m going on vacation.
LCD Soundsystem was playing in Denver on a Saturday which is a totally doable show from Portland. A quick and cheap flight over for the weekend and back home for work on Monday. I then thought I could see the New Mastersounds mid week in Portland, travel to Seattle to see them on Friday and catch LCD on Saturday. Because I was afraid LCD would sell out I got that ticket first and then the New Mastersounds. It was at this point when I realized New Mastersounds was playing Thursday in Seattle, not Friday. Oh well that just meant an extra day off and a full day in Seattle.
My trip started coming together and this was going to be a doozy, even for me so follow along. Thursday I decided to the take Amtrak from Vancouver to Seattle. Unfortunately my train was a little late but once we got going things where great. I took an Uber to the station so I didn’t even have to worry about getting there. I splurged for a first class seat since I was only going one way. I had a nice leather seat with plenty of room. So much I could cross my legs. There was even a power outlet and decent wi-fi access as a bonus. It was a little over 3 hours to get to Seattle. Unless time is of the essence I would rather take the train to Seattle then fly. Just a better experience all around.
Thursday I didn’t have much of a plan besides seeing the show. I was hungry so started making my way towards downtown to find some food. It was pretty late in the afternoon so the city was quite. I found Blueacre Seafood. Good stuff but I thought overpriced for what I got. Good selection of beer and seafood. I found severalkick ass stationary stores and even a spot to grab a cupcake. Cupcakes Royale not nearly as good as Cupcakes Actually. Sometimes I miss the things from home. I found myself down by the water and stopped by Pike’s Place Market.
That evening I wanted something good to eat near the Neptune Theatre and found Big Time Brewing Co. for some local craft beer and food. I had a craving for tacos that night and ordered some pretty good ones. They where simple and filling and the perfect thing to fill my belly before rocking out to another night of The New Mastersounds. The beer was pretty good as well. I had the Coal Creek Porter and Skosh, both above average beers for me.
The band kicked ass again that night. Even though I just saw them two nights before in Portland it was another great show by the band. The crowd was energetic and the theater is rather spectacular. A converted single screen movie theater the place looks really good with all the art deco and classic turn of the century theater styling. Less then a thousand people can be seated in the place. No dance floor, all seat. Really nice place I would certainly see another show here.
Friday was a full day in the city so I was excited to get started. I got a decent start to the day with breakfast at the hotel before heading downtown to the Seattle Art Museum. This place was amazing. A truly great museum with all sorts of stuff in their collection. New, old, lots of western, sculptures and plenty of open spaces to get lost looking at art on the wall or in front of you. After walking around the museum I worked up an appetite and found Shawn O’Donnell’s which was pretty good. It was late afternoon and the place was dead. I was just happy they where still serving food as several other places I found where closed.
With no real plan I just kept walking around the city and getting further and further into south Seattle, a new place to explorer for me. Its mostly a warehouse district that appears to be going through a transition at the moment. Seapine Brewing Co. was an awesome find out here in the hinter lands. A huge traditional brewing operation in my opinion. Lots of tables and high tops in the front with the bar covering the brewing operations in the back of the warehouse. The Hefeweizen and Mosaic Pale both received above average ratings. A great selection and I would definitely come back here to try their other offerings. No food but I can live with that. After a great day in Seattle it was time to make the long walk back to the hotel for a good nights rest. Saturday was going to be a rather busy day for me.
I had a late morning flight from SEA to DEN which would get me to Denver with plenty of time to check into the hotel, bum around for a bit and then head to the show in Broomfield. That was the only problem was the show was in Broomfield and it ended up being a nightmare getting to and from on public transit. Everyone is trying to be green and it just overloaded the system that night around the venue. I eventually gave up taking the bus and got an Uber instead. Coming back I almost didn’t make it onto the bus. Another thing that ticked me off was my room wasn’t ready in time. I got to the hotel and dropped by stuff off but I had to come back later to actually check in.
Denver has no lack of breweries but because of time constraints I ended up going back to Wynkoop Brewing Co. I knew they had food and good beer from one of my other visits to Denver. They didn’t disappoint then and not this time either. I had some wonderfully filling food and good beer to get me ready for the LCD show. They was some weird DJ that opened and he sucked. My ticket was in the general admission seating at the back of the venue. The place didn’t sell out and while the floor was sell out it was pretty empty all night. I felt disconnected from the show I was so far way from the stage, honestly it was kind weird sitting there watching the show. The ticket was already expensive but I should have upgraded for a closer view.
Two hours after they took the state I was out the door trying to make it back to downtown. There where so many people and so few buses. I almost didn’t make it and really didn’t want to pay $60 for an Uber if I didn’t have to. Eventually I got back to the hotel after a long day and crashed. My adventure wasn’t over just yet, I still had to get home. I had a late afternoon flight combined with a late check out which was perfect. I got some breakfast and then wrote letters while watching Sunday Morning. Next I headed to Commons Park for one last cigar before my flight.
In the end I used cars, bus, train, plain, metro, light rail and walked a ridiculous amount of miles. Even for me this was one for the books. That night when I got home I didn’t do anything but grab some food and go to bed. Monday was going to come early and I wasn’t prepared. I forgot to take my mandatory vacation after my vacation.
The New Mastersounds
Thursday, November 9th 2017
Neptune Theatre – Seattle, WA
Kung Fu opened
Set 1 starts at 10:21pm
Set over at 11:47pm house lights
Encore at 11:48pm
House lights at 11:59pm
Saturday, November 11th 2017
1STBANK Center – Denver, CO
Set 1 starts at 9:16pm
1. Oh Baby
2. Daft Punk is Playing at My House
3. I Can Chang
4. Call the Police
5. Get Innocuous!
6. You Wanted a Hit >
9. Someone Great
10. Change Yr Mind
11. Tonight >
12. Home >
13. I Want Your Love
14. New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down
Set over at 10:41pm
Literally a piss break.
Set 2 starts at 10:47pm
1. Yr City’s a Sucker
2. Dance Yourself Clean
3. All My Friends
House lights at 11:11pm
This weekend I planned on heading to the burbs in a great adventure to find a Christmas tree. I knew I wanted something real and figured I would just find a potted plant like I did last Christmas and not think about it again. When I was over at Bobby and Tracy’s earlier watching the Skins they mentioned going to Mt. Hood to cut their own trees. Anyone can do it. All you need is a $5 permit and your good to go.
The weather was challenging all day on the mountain. The weekend prior was pretty warm but this weekend was much colder at elevation. As soon as we left Vancouver for the staging house it was raining. Once we got to above 3300′ or so it was all snow. In fact it snowed the entire time on the mountain.
About half way up the mountain we came across this Subaru on the side of the road. You could see the skid marks as the car lost control. Lucky for the two passengers it stayed on the road but just barely. The car had settled on the frame and one wheel. We where in a group of overlanders heading to cut trees so the perfect group you want to run across when you need to be pulled off the side of a mountain. Bobby was second in line with a winch and assisted pulling the Subaru out.
By this point it was already getting into the middle of the afternoon. The constant snow, cold, and wet was getting to me. Bobby was already not feeling well and the kids wanted nothing more then to play in the snow. We got to the top of the mountain and things feel apart rather quickly within the group. I quickly found my tree but Tracy took a little longer to secure her family tree. She kept wanting these 15′ and taller trees which we couldn’t cut. With our tree loaded on the truck we meet everyone further up the trail. It was so cold and wet I couldn’t get a fire going for warmth. It wasn’t long after this we all abandoned the mountain and headed for home. Mt. Hood has beaten on us all day and we had had enough.
None of us felt like doing much, least of all cook dinner. A nice bowl of pho was in order for everyone. Healthy, tasty and warm soup was the perfect thing to end the day.