The eclectic night of music began after the official announcement of the 2008 presidential election results and a viewing of Barack Obama’s acceptance speech.
The concert kicked off with a performance from Portland musician Thanksgiving, a musician best known for his beautifully crafted folk music. He surprised the crowd of roughly 25 people with his uplifting performance.
For almost the entirety of his set, he was bent over his laptop, playing tracks of syncopated beats and mumbling incoherently into the microphone. On the rare occasion when he picked up his guitar, he showed the audience his true musical talent and sang with passion. While his performance was out of form, he never ceased to be entertaining, with spontaneous bursts of erratic dancing and jumping jacks.
Thanksgiving was then followed by the Portland punk-rock trio White Fang, an electrifyingly energetic band that turned the small crowd into a full-on mosh pit. Its raw, unbridled energy quickly spread throughout the crowd, transforming the tepid, toe-tapping audience into a group of hardcore head-bangers.
The band’s exuberant, in-your-face rock was a refreshing change from the night’s earlier performance. The lead singer and guitarist ran freely throughout the room, unconfined by any stage, and frequently ran into each other and other members of the audience.
The lead singer was in true punk- rock front man form, shooting his fists into the air, falling to his knees and sporadically writhing around on the floor. White Fang’s music embodied the essence of teenage rebellion and basement-born punk while bringing in new elements like trumpets and horns, proving that it wasn’t just another group of screaming punk kids.
Next came the three-piece, experimental, noise-rock band Gowns. Its eerily psychedelic music was paired perfectly with the haunting voice of lead singer Erika Anderson. Prior to the set, she admitted to “drinking a bit of celebratory whiskey” after Barack Obama’s success. Still, this did not keep Gowns from delivering an impressive set of music.
Violinist Ezra Buchel’s screeching, paired with Anderson’s hypnotic humming and droning, created a cacophony that, when you closed your eyes, was more peaceful than chaotic. The Berkeley-based band is notorious for being inspired by experiences with narcotics, which was apparent in stream-of-consciousness songs such as “White Like Heaven,” in which Anderson sings over the building symphony of chaos with lyrics like, “It was like the time that we were in your car, I was sick, I was on drugs, you were smoking pot and we were driving … and I saw the world break open,” her voice eventually disappearing into the noise and confusion.
Gowns’ performance was as captivating to watch as it was to hear. Buchel, who was barefoot throughout the set, went from playing his violin to destroying it, shredding the strings of his bow. Anderson’s voice was filled with raw emotion and intensity, but was still intimate and fragile.
The night’s headliners, Brooklyn’s Parts and Labor, performed last. The group, fronted by Dan Friel (keyboards and vocals) and B.J. Warshaw (bass and vocals), performed some songs from its most recent album “Receivers.” Its upbeat noise-rock songs were filled with experimental, computer-generated sounds, electrostatic and the wail of the electronic keyboard paired with the brash vocals of Friel and Warshaw, who took a minute to remind the audience about how essential it is to vote.
It was a historic day in American politics that was celebrated with a night of underground music that truly did “rock the vote.”
Filed Under: A & E