Saturday, April 21, 2012

Finn Riggins, Pontiak and Red Hands Black Feet @ the Linen Building (4/20/12)

Here was a no-brainer.  Possibly my two favorite local bands playing on one bill?  Of course I'm gonna go check that out!

You couldn't have asked for a better day to go see a live show (or do anything else that involved getting out of the house)--clear skies, weather warm enough to make you break a sweat but not enough to get oppressive.  I spent a few hours before the show walking around downtown, taking pictures, people-watching and rereading part of Michael Azerrad's superb 80's indie-rock study Our Band Could Be Your Life (seemed appropriate).  Finn Riggins say it best in one of their songs: "Thank God it's Springtime."

First up for the night was Red Hands Black Feet.  Their performance didn't reach the Valhalla-storming level of intensity that their Treefort set did, but that's just as well: if they tried for that every time out, they'd probably give themselves heart attacks.  Anyway, the mellow, casual feel of their set this night both established the party-like tone of the show as a whole and gave them a chance to display their ever-growing assurance and rapport.  Jake Myers and Eric Larson added some nice little flourishes to their guitar lines and stretched out occasionally into some Thurston Moore/ Lee Ranaldo noise.  Joseph Myers' basslines sounded more impermeable than ever.  Jessica Nicole Johnson tempered the primal force of her drumming with an impressive grace and finesse.

Next up was Pontiak, an alt-rock power trio from Virginia.  I must confess to a small chuckle as I watched them go through their soundcheck.  These guys looked so much like each other, it was downright trippy: they had the same slim build, the same pale complexion, the same thin brown hair with the same bald spot and beards with varying lengths but the same polite scruffiness (they are all brothers, actually).  Once they started to play, though, any cheap cracks about Southern inbreeding were washed right out of my mind.

Listening to Pontiak's music was like wandering around in a classic-rock radio DJ's subconscious: hard-driving drone flowed into Black Sabbath sludge flowed into funk flowed into Zeppelin-esque stomp and on and on.  It was hard at times to tell where one song ended and the next began, which was probably the point.  Amazingly, Pontiak's shifts in tempo, groove and riffage never felt forced, which was a testament to their skill as musicians.  As were their simple, solid melodies and elegantly rough guitar solos.

This was Pontiak's first show in Boise, they announced at the start.  They certainly made a good first impression.  Hopefully, they'll come around these parts again.

Headliner Finn Riggins closed out the show with a playful, sometimes flat-out goofy set that included an early song I don't think I've heard before (good stuff--sounded just like the Minutemen) and a jokey birthday tribute to a friend in the audience (punchline: "Stephanie came out of a vagina.").  Their playing was relaxed but not sloppy: drummer Cameron Bouiss stayed firmly on point, Eric Gilbert sang and tinkled his synths in evident good spirits and Lisa Simpson tossed off her usual killer riffs, vocals and distortion-drenched vamps.  It was almost like they were just hanging out and jamming in your living room, only without the cops breaking down your door because of the noise complaints.

So, there you have it: one darn good discovery and two great local bands doing their thing.  Not a bad way to start the weekend.

(Sidenote: Manning the Linen Building's soundboard this night was Clint Vickery, the leader of the utterly charming local indie-pop band Spondee.  They're playing at the Flying M coffee-garage out in Nampa on 4/28.  Go see 'em if you can: as far as I know, this'll be their first gig in at least two years.  Cover's only $5, show starts at 8 pm.)

You can find info about all of these groups on Facebook.

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