Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside - Will this Portland outfit continue the trend of showing off that city's ability to spawn some of the most creative bands in the country? Yes, it will. The band drew their line in the sand right off the bat with a surprisingly gutsy surf instrumental that was thick and quick and really rocked beyond the pale of the cliche. They pulled it back a bit, but retained a lovely reverb drenched lead guitar through much of the remaining set. Additionally they had drums, bass and Ms. Ford handling vocals and guitar. When the bassist switched to an upright, the sound reminded me even more of the Link Wray roots they have within their structure. They added blues twists and even though the roots are as old as rock music itself, they had some Gun Club in here along with other quirky modern pop moves. A Loretta Lynn cover was not at all a surprise late in the set as just about anything would work with this band. The sold out crowd tonight was definitely on their game as well as they picked up on the quality of this band they likely knew little about (as they are touring only their second album). I will be back in line the next time this band comes to town.
Thao & the Get Down Stay Down - Former Falls Church musician Thao Nguyen returned home from her new base of San Francisco and received a very warm welcome from the sold out crowd tonight. She performs the lead vocals along with guitar and banjo and her band adds bass, drums, keyboards/vocals, and an occasional guitarist who sneaks his way into a few songs. Like earlier, the mood is quickly established where I had to look around to see if Thao's acoustic guitar was making those strong distorted chords in the first number. As I figured that all out, the backing vocalist went into operatic mode turning a strong indie rock song into what I do not know. Whether it was surprises like that, or dynamic intra-song shifts of Thao's vocal range or changes in tempo or sonic space, this band always kept me guessing. And as I have stated many times before that is a powerful skill that will work when the artist and band hold things together by keeping their personal approach and structure on a secure foundation. Thao and her bandmates did all of that as they clearly pulled in the young indie fans and just about anyone else that enjoys creative rock music. Her energy kept things on the precipice, while the keyboardist kept changing sounds and adding great vocals (the selectively used harpsichord sound scores extra credit points with me every time). Powerful hour long set led to the encores and everyone should have gone home happy tonight, seeing two creative bands with plenty offer now and beyond.
Quote of the Night: Thao... "I remember playing every Potbellys one summer. It was $20 an hour--pretty sweet... and a sandwich. ... No, no milkshake."