Two acts I'd never seen before out at the Flying M? One local, one out-of-state? That was all I needed to hear. It helped too that I liked the little bit of Cait Olds's music that I'd heard.
There were five people inside the concert-garage when Nathan Walker started getting the stage set up. The crowd would peak at about twenty-four or twenty-five. Not bad for a Wednesday.
Local musician Marcus Eugene opened the show. I took the image of Johnny Cash flipping the bird on the kick drum as a good omen. For the most part, I was proved right. Eugene came packing a clean, pleasant voice, some solidly constructed tunes and some thoughtful, well-turned phrases. Meanwhile, his drummer's quietly intricate fills gave the songs some good forward motion. Some of the drum parts could've used some tweaking, though, and both musicians seemed a little unsure of themselves. Nothing a few more gigs wouldn't cure.
Cait Olds played next. Between this Portland-based musician and Ari Shine, I'm tempted to institute a test for all singer-songwriter types: if you wanna show how good you are, write a song about a grandma (not necessarily yours, just a grandma). If you can make it warm, sweet and detailed but not overly sentimental, you get an A. Olds earned an A. She did well by junkies and homicidal anger too. Between her smart lyrics, her soothing melodies, her tender murmur and her bandmates' nice loping grooves, Olds was pretty much everything I wished Angel Olsen was. Two jokes from this set:
1) Two whales are sitting in a bar. One whale asks, "How're you doin?" The second whale says, "Ooooowaaahhhhoooowaaaahhhhooooohwaaaah..." And the first whale says, "Dude, you're drunk." (That got the folks at an Astoria brewpub to pay attention to them, Olds said.)
2) Why did the scarecrow win the Nobel Prize? Because he was outstanding in his field. (Olds's banjo player said he got that one from Garrison Keillor.)
|photo by Jen Patrick|
Newer songs dominated what I heard of the show. This included a droning, sinister number that featured some scathing slide guitar from Z.V. House and a big chunk of stuff from their upcoming second album Welcome to Anhedonia. I actually got the chance to listen to some rough mixes, and they sounded fantastic. They recently started an Indiegogo campaign to raise money for the pressing and mastering. If you'd like to contribute, go here. Trust me, it'll be worth it.
You can find info on these acts on Facebook and elsewhere online.