There is something very specific about this venue and the Portland Jazz Festival. I have only been here to see festival shows. Last time it was Antibalas and the True Loves opened which was really fun. Tonight it was The Soul Rebels bringing New Orleans to Portland.
Night two of the PDX jazz festival. This time I was seeing a classic jazz quintet at the Jack London Revue. I’ve seen Mel Brown B-3 Organ Group numerous times in the recent past since I got to Portland. He is quite the celeb in the jazz world around here. In fact before the world went to shit with covid he had a regular Thursday night gig at the Jack London Revue. Since covid his regular gig stopped and he’s played only occasionally. Tonight was one of those rare occasions of him playing and to a sold out crowd.
I don’t remember if the PDX Jazz Festival happened last year or not. Doesn’t matter. I knew it was happening this year in February. I was excited about many of the shows. I think 6 or so. I ended up getting tickets to only three during the festival and they where all right in a row starting with Eric Krasno + Son Little at Aladdin Theater.
Second day of the PDX Jazz Festival for me and I was out seeing more live music. This night it was Antibalas playing at a new venue I had never heard of, Stage 722. Unlike the night before I didn’t over sleep and made it was plenty of time to see all the acts performing that night.
First time at this venue and checking the site they don’t book many shows. A newer space based on the construction. When you first walk in it is lined with food stalls to the right serving all sorts of food. This is also where some benches are to sit. There is a huge bar in the middle but it’s difficult to get to. The bar also have this huge weird drywall all the way to the ceiling which just looks out of place. In the back is another small bar. Never made it to the second level to check it out. Looks like maybe some stools or maybe bar tables up there. The stage is along the entrance wall and the floor is polished concrete.
First up was POPgoji who started at 9pm on the dot. Not my type of music. They reminded me a lot of this band that opened for George Porter Jr. that I believe was from New Orleans. POPgoji had a lot of bass drums which didn’t fit every song. Lots of horns. Just something I had a hard time getting into.
The True Loves who performed next I was excited to see yet again. It was not till this time around that I recognized Skerik whom I saw as a part of Garage-a-Trio. Most recently in Seattle for a three show reunion run. I have seen The True Loves a few times so I’m surprised it took me this long to figure it out. This is also the closest I’ve been to the band so I could see his face. Another good set from them that night. A few covers but a good amount of energy. At the end of the set they plugged their after party performance at Jack London Revue which I thought was in poor taste. Sorry not everyone at this sold out show for the Antibalas was there to see just you guys.
The Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe show the night before was over before Antibalas even took the stage this evening. I was not sure how long they would play but I knew it was going to be a late night. I was glad it was a Saturday and the venue close to my apartment. They played till almost 1am and it was an amazing show. I love the afrobeat rhythms from them. Played some of their earlier work and from their new album that just dropped, Fu Chronicles.
Well before the end of the night people started dropping like flies. I know it’s late but it was sold out and Saturday night. I feel more people should have stayed till the end. Only real disappoint was no encore that night. Try as we might we couldn’t get the band back for another song. Maybe it was the thinned out crowd.
At the end of the set Amayo made a similar speech like Karl did the night before. I don’t remember the exact words but it was a group chant he starts that I have heard at a previous Antibalas show. Something like “love will overcome.” The point was more love from everyone in this world. Something we can always use more of.
An interesting venue to say the least. I can honestly say I have never seen a design quite like this one. Certainly a good multi use space for all types of events. Not really sure how well it works for a music venue but I would come back. I will skip POPgoji next time, not my thing. The True Loved kicked ass and Antibalas brought the house down with their African rhythms.
Saturday, February 22nd 2020
Stage 722 – Portland, OR
POPgoji from 9pm off at 9:41pm
The True Loves from 9:56pm off at 10:47pm
Set 1 starts at 11:16pm
- Song played on the radio I recognize
- Another one I know but not the name
Set over at 12:50am
The PDX Jazz festival 2020 stared on Wednesday and first up was Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe at Crystal Ballroom. Regular watcher of KDTU who plays some great funk and soul. Karl is a busy man so it’s always a pleasure seeing him swing through town.
I took a nap before the show that night and almost slept through it. I set an alarm but that didn’t matter. I eventually got hot and remembered I was still in my jeans and then quickly realized it was for a reason. I left my house at 8:45pm and drove as fast as safety would allow to the Crystal Ballroom. Thankfully it didn’t take long to get there and I found street parking close to the venue. I would normally walk but time was critical.
Getting into the Crystal Ballroom was much quicker this time around. This time the line didn’t wrap around the block, it barely made it out of the lobby. Still one at a time through the metal detector but this time just way fewer people than when seeing Yonder Mountain String Band in January. The line should have been an indication, the place wasn’t very busy. It was close to show time and I had no problem getting a prime spot in front of the stage. Even as the show started there was plenty of room to move around. You couldn’t go wild but certainly there was enough room to groove.
A really good set list even if I thought it was short one. I missed the opening act so that is certainly one reason I wished KDTU played longer. Good mix of some old songs and new stuff from Gnomes and Badgers. Such good funk, soul and groove. The band members really jell well together.
It seemed as soon as the set started it was over. The penultimate song I’m Your Biggest Fan led into what would be the final song of the show. As the groove got going on the segue it started to sound familiar. Very quickly I realized it was Jessica by the Allman Brothers Band. Nailed it! They played that song so well and gave it a great KDTU twist with all the horns and fat grooves. For Boogaloos we got a dance show as well.
It was such a high energy show that night. Karl ended the show with a small speech about the times we live in. He said something that stuck with me and I have repeated to many people already. It’s not important to be right but correct. We need to talk to each other in a civil way. When we do that we can solve any challenges we face.
While not as long a set as I would have liked it was an amazing night of music. I walked out of there and had such energy from the set. My soul felt better as well. It was filled with love and confident we could come together and make peace. The power of music really amazes me.
Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe
Friday, February 21st 2020
Crystal Ballroom – Portland, OR
Set 1 starts at 9:26pm
- Shake It
- The Bridge
- What If You Knew I’d Let You Down
- Everybody Knows That
- Under My Skin (?) >
- drum solo >
- Under My Skin (?)
- Change My Way
- Brother’s Keeper
- I’m Your Biggest Fan
- Jessica *
11:07pm set over
Encore starts at 11:08pm
House lights at 11:15pm