Two Against the Rock
Are power trios doomed? 2Fest makes the case for the New Duos.
Sometimes people are like pets in the bedroom--you have to clear 'em out before you can do anything memorable. And since band life is tantamount to an orgy in the dog pound, a new simplicity is rising: rock-'n'-roll duos.
"Playing in a band is so often like having three or more girlfriends," Point Line Plane drummer Nate Carson says. "With a duo, you get more of a partnership."
Unlike solo acts, the New Duos trim membership without sacrificing volume or presence. Local examples abound: The Haggard's ragged hardcore, the Helio Sequence's enveloping psychedelic storms, the Hospitals' napalm rock...keep your ears unclogged and you can't miss the uproar. And so this weekend, Disjecta hosts 2Fest, a two-day (duh) mini-fest of two-human bands. Disjecta's Bryan Suereth explains: "I decided to do a duos show after listening to the White Stripes, Quasi and Bantam Rooster a few years ago (and, of course, being a huge Sam & Dave fan). I was delighted at the thought of two people making so much good noise."
According to the bands themselves, a duo's clearest advantage seems to be streamlined songwriting. "It's much easier for two people to agree on a song or a part or whatever," says Chelsea Mosher of the Formless, an animalistically minimal new outfit. "We can write songs infinitely faster," concurs Merrick Foundation stringbuster Steve D.
Nimble twosomes also avoid the logistical thorns of larger ensembles. Gig and practice scheduling, for instance, ceases to be a game of remembering who's working, who's in jail and who's in rehab. As for touring, the trend could crash the market in used Ford Econolines--just cram the drums in the trunk, toss a guitar amp in the backseat, plug in a godheadSilo cassette and aim the buggy toward California. "There's something so appealing about touring in a pickup truck with a camper shell," Carson says. "All of a sudden, traveling the country at 20-plus mpg is possible."
Then there are the infamous debates that break up touring acts from coast to spit-stained coast: Whose turn is it to drive? Which of you bastards stole my last Camel? Who farted? In a duo, you know. Says Steve D, "At least you know whose feet you'll be smelling."
And Carson points out one final, uh, hygiene benefit: "It's a piece of cake for two people to find a place to crash after a gig. How many people want a four- or five-piece band sleeping on their floor or jacking off in their shower?" John Graham
2Fest--eaturing C-Average, Fiery Cubist, The Formless, The Hospitals, Nice Nice, Nudge, One Human Minute, Pegasuss, Point Line Plane, Polkadot Chokalot and Project Perfect--happens this Friday and Saturday at Disjecta, 116 NE Russell St., 335-6979. 8 pm. $7 per night, $12 both nights. All ages. See Music listings, page 39, for more 2Fest band previews and HeadOut, page 48, for each night's lineup.
Break Out the Acid, Kids! Daddy's Going on Tour.
Why skeptics should give neo-hippie godfather Trey Anastasio a chance.
Trey Anastasio--hero to some, demonic Jerry Garcia wannabe to others--launched his third coast-to-coast solo spring tour last night in Seattle. Tonight, the former Phish frontman's showcase visits Salem for an evening of experimentation that may pleasantly surprise longtime detractors of the famed, temporarily defunct Vermont jam band.
Anastasio's new band ditches much of Phish's trademark silliness--there will be no trampoline jumping or vacuum-playing on this tour. To judge by last year's evolutionary tour, however, Trey's new mates may well be having more fun than Phish ever did.
No doubt, Salem faces an invasion of Phish fans tonight. But there are good reasons for even the most inveterate Phish-haters to hit I-5 tonight, and here are three:
1. You don't need to be on drugs to enjoy this band.
Unlike Phish, Anastasio's new band is not concerned with abetting hallucinations via onslaughts of extendo-jams. His 10-member backing band brings a cornucopia of musical influences and backgrounds to bear; check out the salsa-inspired "Alive Again" or the orchestral "At the Gazebo."
Anastasio's band includes a smashing horn section, filled with musicians plucked from relative obscurity. Among them are youngsters Andy Morol, the too-cute trombonist, and trumpetess Jennifer Hartswick, whose sultry vocals lend fierce soul to live versions of "Money, Love and Change." Look for them to bring youthful energy to bouts with older sax men Dave Grippo and Russell Remington, both of Giant Country Horns fame, and newest addition Peter Apfelbaum.
3. Like it or not, Trey Anastasio is a goddamn rock star.
The man can play guitar. At times he veers into egomaniacal chaos--and his work with his new band is no exception--but it is orchestrated chaos. Anastasio is a master at putting audiences under his spell; "I love watching people have a good time," Anastasio said recently as he was preparing to head west from Vermont. By all accounts, his new musical partnerships have rekindled an artistic flame that was dying toward the end of his 17-year run with Phish. Kim Colton
Trey Anastasio plays the Salem Armory, 2320 17th St. NE, Salem, 378-6923. 7:30 pm Wednesday, May 22. $35. All ages.
NIGHTCLUBS, MUSIC, FUN
HISS and VINEGAR
FUNNY? SAD? OR SOME UNSPEAKABLE COMBINATION OF THE TWO?
This Sunday night, Dustin Diamond performs stand-up comedy at Dante's (1 SW 3rd Ave., 226-6630). You may remember Mr. Diamond (and perhaps wish you could forget him) from his role as Screech on TV's Saved by the Bell. As a bio provided by promoters notes, Diamond "has become synonymous with his television persona." Something to aspire to, kids. Adding a little salt to this anchovy is the fact that, just days before he does stand-up at Dante's, Diamond is fighting the actor who played Horshack on Welcome Back, Kotter. Yes, fighting: The pair square off for a bout on Fox's Celebrity Boxing 2 on May 22. We are not sure what any of this says about the human soul, but we thought we'd pass it along.
AT LAST, A CANDIDATE WE CAN SUPPORT
Exciting political rumbles in New Jersey: It seems a shadowy committee is attempting to draft Bruce Springsteen as a third-party candidate for the U.S. Senate. The Boss has made no comment on the effort, which involves some of the same folks who convinced Jesse Ventura to run for governor in Minnesota. He is thought to be cool to the idea. However, you can't stop us from dreaming, or thinking that a Senate that included Springsteen would somehow be more authentically American than one that includes Jesse Helms.
LEVEL: ALSO WORKS AS AN IMPERATIVE VERB
Hiss & Vinegar established a new personal best (hmm, shades of that yummy Mariel Hemingway movie, boon companion through so many lonely teenage nights) for getting in and out of a new nightclub last week. Level, the just-sprouted appendage of the Babylonian Lush, opened in the old Star Theater on Northwest 6th Avenue. It took only about 30 seconds to determine that whatever we may be (and some of you readers surely harbor opinions), we are not part of Level's "target demo." The old cabaret's vaulted ceiling is cool, though we fear this aesthetic asset is wasted in a room reconfigured to feel like a corral. Perhaps that's intentional--after all, big bro Lush is nothing if not a meat market, and last weekend's DJ schedule promised "more progressive pelvis pounding." In any case, after an abortive attempt to reach a bar (we're sure one was back there, in the cavernous purple-black depths), we hit the eject button. But we have no worries about Level's future prospects (only questions about how its mindbendingly banal name came to be). Fleshpots seem to be the wave of the future in Old Town. Hurrah, hurrah. Bring on the progressive pelvis pounding.
New albums soon from Systemwide, The Decemberists, Hutch & Kathy, Bella Fayes, The Joggers (formerly known as Stateside) and Dolomites...Rumor has it that the Rolling Stones may skip Portland during their current tour of American arenas and rest homes. Damn...Rumor has it that a certain washed-up rock star visited a certain downtown nightclub last week, and that certain bartenders intentionally overcharged this rock star for his drinks. Now is that any way to treat a has-been?
If you got the dope, we got the papers. Email your smutty little tidbits to firstname.lastname@example.org.