I am a bit of a music snob. What I mean by that is when I see live music I like to be within a few feet of the band so I can get the full experience. I am not going to pay a lot of money for seats in the attic when I could get that experience listening to a CD at home. No, I want to see them sweat.
And I have no tolerance for bands who suck live. I don’t want you to sound all produced like you do on your CD, but you’d better have some stage presence and know how to play those things you call instruments.
As an actress, I know how it feels to be really good but never make it. No one will ever know you’re any good if they never get the chance to see you work your magic. It is the same in the music industry. Plenty of great bands never get heard.
There is a local DJ named Greg on 94.7 KNRK. On a recent trip to the UK he came across a band called The Twang, and somehow convinced them they should come visit Portland. Take a vacation! Come see the beautiful Pacific Northwest! So they did. Not only did they come to Portland on vacation, but they played a FREE show at The Woods (a former funeral parlor) in Sellwood, and they used borrowed instruments. And this was their first real show in the U.S.
I got to The Woods at 6pm on Friday when the doors opened, and found a line had already formed. I showed my I.D. (yes, they carded everyone), got my wrist stamp, and immediately procured a cocktail from the makeshift bar: a card table adorned with a bottle of vodka, gin, tequila, mixers, and a metal cash box. I had had a very stressful afternoon at work, and had been looking forward to a vodka and soda with a lime since about 4pm. I took a long draw on the straw, took a look around and waited for my friends to arrive.
The stage area was at the far end of what must have been the room where services were originally held when the place was a funeral parlor. In fact, the stage was right where the casket would have been had we all been there for a viewing instead of a concert. Creepy in a cool way.
My friend Peter was the first of my friends to show up, and I dragged him straight to the front of the “stage” and set my purse down right next to one of the amps.
“You’re such a groupie,” he said.
“Hey, you’ll thank me later,” I said, somehow knowing this band was going to be good, really good. “Mark my words. This is the last time you’ll ever see them in a venue this size.”
You see The Twang play to stadium-size crowds in the UK. They play at festivals and open for bands like Oasis. And here we were, seeing them in the “living room” of a funeral parlor for free!
The room quickly started to fill up. Right around 7pm, Greg (from KNRK) came up and introduced the band. The crowd crushed up, the band started to play, and I knew from the first bar that this little concert was going to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
My friends Joe and Jeff showed up somewhere around the second or third song and said they were the last two people to get in. They had started to turn people away at the door. The place was packed.
I’m not sure who to compare The Twang to, but Elvis Costello and a few other bands come to mind.
At one point someone in the crowd yelled out, “Do a Beatles cover!” to which the lead singer Phil replied, “How about if I just cover you with my fucking beer?!”
I love these guys. They are The Twang from Birmingam, England. The CD I bought at the show was well worth the $10. Go see them if you get a chance. As they say in Birmingham, fucking brilliant!