Light of the Stereo

Light of the Stereo

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

About Last Night: Hairspray Blues @ Ash Street Saloon 05/12

Last night I fought the urge. You know the one, that nagging weariness after a long days work; the one that encourages you to bag your plans for a night on the couch and bed by 11. That urge of getting old. But I did it, tired as I was, I headed down to the Ash Street Saloon and I'm damn glad I did.

The crowd was spars for a Thursday night, but in hind sight I think we'd all agree that we count ourselves lucky. The dark rings beneath our eyes and the hangovers of the next morning were our badges of honor, gladly worn with pride. All worth it for the awesome feats of musicianship we witnessed the night before.

Starting off the night was a revved up opening set by Pitchfork Motorway. Busting strait out of the gates with a full frontal guitar assault, their high tempo gasoline punk took the room by force. Unrelenting the boys banged away with each song. Like a muscle car chewing up the miles, the band pushed through their set without even the slightest pause for breath. A perfect starter for the night, Barry Williams and is gang have a sense of showmanship that is wildly aggressive and speed lovingly fun. I've been following this band for 3 years now, but this was my first opportunity to catch them live. As I suspected they were awesome. Make sure you check them out yourself, you won't be disappointed.

Unfortunately what energy Pitchfork Motorway put out was quickly dissipated by the free-form psychedelic rock of Mega Dynasty 5. Jumbled together with elements of surf, funk and ball park organ grinding, this is the kind of music I imagine Morrison and the Doors might have gotten stoned to. An experimental blend of music that lacks any true cohesion, except that possibly contrived through the use of high levels of heavy narcotics. There were moments in which I would begin to enjoy a song only for it to disintegrate into auditory chaos from which the band was never able to recover. In addition, the band seemed so disorganized on stage that I felt I now understood why I couldn't find any information on the band prior to the show. I do feel the band might be able to make something of themselves, but there's a lot of work to be done.

Luckily, the night wasn't totally lost. As the Thundering Asteroids! took control of the stage, they quickly grabbed hold of the room and shook it back to life. Their exuberant energy is so powerful it resurrected the show in just mere moments of the band's set. I grow more enamored with this band with each show I see. Endowed with spaz-tastic energy, their stage show was awesome. Like Mario in hyper-speed I found myself bouncing along with Minn and the boys, thankful that their quick actions saved me from another assault of the nagging weariness from earlier in the evening. It was apparent to all of us in the audience that this band was having a blast up on stage. That fun and enjoyment spilled out into the room making us all giddy with punk wonder and ready for Hairspray Blues.

Admittedly, "ready" might not be the right word, as I'm not sure if anyone could ever truly be ready for the pure power of Hairspray Blues. From the first count off the the last explosive crash, this band rode a freight train of energy right through us. As though possessed by a tornado, the speed and fury of Leslie Stabile on Drums and Kyle Stabile on guitars was almost frighting to witness. Aggressive and violent they tore into each song like it owed them money or had screwed their best friend. A small part of me felt sorry for their instruments, but the rest of me just enjoyed the show with a sick sense of pleasure. Minn of Thundering Asteroids! phrased it perfect when she said " After a set like that I imagine they have some wild dirty, dirty sex." The only disappointing thing about the Hairspray Blues' set was stage banter that foreshadowed a break for the band. It's not fair, now that I'm hooked, how am I going to get my fix?

This show was awesome and well worth the next-day drag at work. Hairspray Blues, Thundering Asteroids!, and Pitchfork Motorway are, in my opinion, some of the best punk bar-bands in Portland. All are worthy of a must-see status. So if you catch word that they're playing somewhere in town, join me in fighting that urge. Believe me, you'll feel younger for it.

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