at the Bunk Bar in Portland,
Ore., one long-standing indie
icon and one relatively new one showcased some beautiful tunes.
By Tim Hinely
Bunk Bar is a fairly new room in town, spun-off from Bunk
Sandwiches. It’s decent-sized as well
though if you get stuck behind the big pole you’re done for. For the current tour, Damon & Naomi and
Amor de Dias have been switching off the headlining spot and this was the
former’s night to open.
I had seen them many times over the years, but it had been several
years since the last time. Damon and Naomi both sang while Damon played
acoustic guitar and Naomi played keyboards. They had a sax player as well. Their
sound isn’t completely different than what they were doing in Galaxie 500
though this is more tinged with psychedelia and is whispier and folkier. They
focused mainly on songs from their last two records, Within These Walls (2007) and this years’ terrific False Beats and True Hearts. The songs
flowed nicely and after all, how can you not like Naomi Yang’s gorgeous voice?
de Dias is a new band, but these folks are not new musicians. Alasdair MacLean
is in The Clientele (both groups are on Merge Records) while Lupe
Nunez-Fernandez was in a band called Pipas (who had several charming records on
the Matinee label). They, too, played as a trio, adding a cello player and the
three played sitting down. They performed nearly everything from their Merge
debut Street of the Love of Days and
ended with a Rolling Stones cover.
Speaking of gorgeous pipes, Lupe has a lovely voice, both
strong and vulnerable at the same time and she and Alasdair’s voice melded
perfectly together. The set was unfortunately marred by a pissy P.A. that was crackling,
popping and hissing through different parts of the set. The band could have
acted like entitled musicians (like so many do during these kinds of problems)
but instead showed true class by soldiering on and playing their songs through
the fireworks (musically speaking), even making jokes. Alasdair is hilarious; at
one point, when the soundman came on stage he quipped, “Oh darn, we were just
gonna do our Dead Kennedys medley.” The
songs are rich in sound and with Alasdair’s bossa nova tinged guitar lines (and
those voices), perfect for any occasion, but mostly crisp Autumn nights – or in
tonight’s case, a rainy Spring evening.