Report: Beach Fossils Live in Portland


An evening of
young bancs making indiepop magic: the Brooklyn upstarts, along with opener
Craft Spells, hosted a fine evening, May 6, at Portland, Ore.,
venue Berbati’s.


By Tim Hinely

This gig was apparently supposed to be at another venue, the
refurbished Star Theatre, but that was not ready for opening yet so it was at
Berbati’s (which stopped having gigs on New Year’s Eve but remains open as a
restaurant). To make it weirder, the gig was listed in the Dante’s ad (a club
across the street from Berbati’s), and to top it off the venue has been cut in
size by about a third since Voodoo Donuts began renting out part of the Berbati’s
space. Still, a decent-sized crowd ventured out on this rainy evening to catch
these two Captured Tracks bands (decent-sized, nothing; they sold out San
Francisco’s Slim’s, a fairly large club, the night before).


Openers Craft Spells hail from Seattle
and recently released a new full-length. One thing that’s striking about these
guys is how young they appear- the drummer, for example, looks as if he’s in
his mid-teens.  From the start they
exuded youthful energy, all dancing and bouncing all over the stage. Their
sound seemed to be about mid-‘80s UK (think June Brides minus the
trumpet, with a happier Ian Curtis on vocals). The guitarist was excellent,
while the vocals were a bit off-key at times, and the rhythm section was
consistently on. Still, good songs are good songs, and these guys are well
worth your time.


Brooklyn’s Beach Fossils hit the stage at 11:30 and leader Dustin
Payseur only had one guy remaining from the lineup that played here last year,
bassist John Pena. One significant difference: the drummer was seated behind a
full kit, whereas at the previous show there was a stand-up drummer with only a
snare, tom and cymbal. They, too, are full of youthful energy and moved around
on stage with a ferocity akin to a classic hardcore punk outfit.


The sound was a compelling blend of UK jangle here (Felt, The Cure,
etc.), some lo-fi bedroom pop there, a dash of surf guitar, and while their
self-titled record is strong, on stage the songs really comes alive. All of the band’s fan favorites were played
(“Daydream,” “Sometimes,” “Youth,” etc.), while a handful of the songs ended in
fits of feedback. Payseur also had some choice words for the crowd (“It’s
Friday night, right? Why are you people not dancing?! It’s okay to dance, you
know!”). This band is very good and one suspects Payseur hasn’t even really hit
his stride yet as a songwriter. Tonight’s show didn’t quite have the magic of
last summer’s Doug Fir Lounge gig – but hey, that was the best one I saw all last year
– and tonight was still a great evening out of young bands creating their own
magic, and succeeding.




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