On the limp musical evidence presented July 22 at Portland’s Doug Fir Lounge, perhaps it’s time
to go back to the drawing board for the over-hyped British band.
By Tim Hinely
Opening act Unknown Mortal
Orchestra is a trio of New Zealanders who now live in Portland, At least one,
leader Ruban Neilson, used to be in the Mint Chicks. They came out and had a
big Yuck banner behind them leading me to wonder if the headliners were indeed
playing first. They weren’t. U.M.O.
played in total darkness and only ever uttered “Thanks” a few times. Mysterious
figures shrouded in mystery on the Doug Fir stage. The rhythm section rumbled
along, wanting to bowl over anyone in its path while Neilson, on guitar and
vocals, mumbled out words and scraped and clawed away at his guitar. At times
he sounded like Tony Iommi while at others like Steve Howe (from Yes) and while
the rest of the crowd was cheering wildly I wasn’t as impressed. Updated Pink
Floyd isn’t my idea of a good time.
Speaking of not
impressing: Yuck came on next and while I appreciated the drummer’s amazing
afro, musically it was all a bit limp. They played songs from their self-titled
debut, a record that I really enjoyed, but live it seemed like there was no
passion or inspiration, just four British youngster politely playing songs from
a heavily hyped record.
Songs like “The
Wall” and “Get Away”, a few favorites from said debut, sounded just like they
do on record, which is fine, but the band seemed to be going through the
motions. Both guitarists, Daniel Blumberg and Max Bloom had enough pedals to
make J Mascis jealous, so they’ve got that going for ‘em, and honestly, I’m not
100% sure what I was hoping for (the set certainly wasn’t awful or anything). But
whatever it was, I didn’t receive it.
The best part of
the evening was Bloom’s rendition of happy birthday on his guitar since it was
the female bassist’s birthday (lots of balloons all over the stage). Back to
the drawing board?