Last Night Two Cow Garage left everything but a severed limb and the kitchen sink on Dante's stage. For those of us who braved the cold, bore witness to one of the greatest rock shows to roll through Portland in months.
Starting off the night was the blue coller rock of Portland's Truckstop Darlin'. I love the work ethic of this band. There was no messing around. Using every second of their 45 minute slot John Phelan and the boys played every song they could fit. This is how every opening band should be. Plowing through their set list with a systematic focus Truckstop Darlin' is sure to have please their fans and won some new ones. A perfect introduction into the night, there salt-of-the-earth set lead wonderfully into the aggressively raw performance of fellow Portland favorites I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch In The House.
The boldly aggressive rock'n'Roll of Micheal Dean Dameron and the irreplaceable crew of SOB is some of the best damn music you will ever hear and this goes twice as true live at Dante's where they hold home court advantage. Last night was a particularly amazing show even as short as an opening slot in a four band line-up. A perfect balance of the flesh pounding force and heartbreaking vulnerability that is SOB at its best, Dameron's gravel raw vocals seemed more poignant than ever. The band was also in rare form, as though re-energized from a long hiatus and chomping at the bit. The concussive rhythm of Flapjack Texas's no nonsense drumming and the punctuating precision of Mole Harris's bass poured from the stage with a true physical presence. While the playful guitar flairs of Jon Burbank and harp mastery of David Lipkind gave even familiar songs new life. As the minutes clicked away I have to admit that I felt a little cheated. I could listen to these guys all night but thankfully the best was yet to come.
Like a punk rock machine gun The Copyrights' followed with a rappid-fire delivery that was unrelenting. Undeniably this band has a hand on that great punk rock energy that can spill from a stage a excite an audience. What they don't have is songs that sound different. Their performance on stage was powerful and fit wonderfully in the mix of the bands. Unfortunately, half way through their set it felt as thought they were playing one song the whole time. The one redeeming factor of their show was that their no breaks delivery maintained the momentum of the show and spring-boarded the night in to the mind blowing performance of Two Cow Garge.
And what a performance it was. Bounding across the stage with uncanny punk rock dexterity Shane Sweeney and Micah Schnabel flew about like balls of rock'n'roll fury. It's been a long time since I've seen a performance this unyieldingly powerful. Fueled with an energy formulated from one part small town frustration, one part artistic hunger and a good helping of pure joy to be on a stage in front of a crowd that loved them; there was no stopping these boys. Driving through one song to the next, the crowd howling along the red hewed walls of Dante's never felt this familiar. Near Primal, Two Cow Garage gave there all and we loved every moment of it.
Combined these bands gave one of the best concerts I've seen and reminded us beyond party lines what America is really about.