Judging a band by its name can be a dangerous, but fun, game. Let's try it on Wet Confetti. With a name like that, the Portland band could be a jam band. Or it could be a goth band. The trio has heard both descriptions, and more, even earning the joking title "hippie goth explosion" on KLCC in Eugene.
But when Wet Confetti plays live, the meaning of the name becomes clear. The band's bombastic noise pop whips up a serious party. At the PDX Pop Now! fest last month at Meow Meow, the band had 500 listeners crammed on their toes, bopping tentatively, hanging on every chord. The sweat beads shaking off the shoulders of the dancing revelers were that party's confetti.
The band formed three years ago when drummer Mike McKinnon answered a "musician wanted" ad in a local paper placed by baritone player Alberta Poon and guitarist-keyboardist Daniel Grazzini. The three became fast friends, playing out and recording almost immediately. This Saturday the band will celebrate the release of its second full-length, This Is So Illegal (Do It Fast), a record blistered with sonic indulgences that--no matter how good the recording--are only fully realized when the band takes the stage.
"We write really progressively," says Grazzini as the band takes in a Thursday-evening Beavers game at PGE Park. "But it's live where we get to tinker with the songs and develop them. The songs we play on stage are so different from the songs on the album."
Live, the band pushes its sound: Grazzini's keyboard methodically pulses, with McKinnon's muscular snare blasts filling in holes, and then Poon's low-end baritone lines snake around the song, until she moves to the high end, creating a squall of noise. The songs on This Is So Illegal are the framework for the band's live shows, forcing structure on what would otherwise be little more than noise jams, à la early Sonic Youth, a band to which Wet Confetti is frequently compared.
"We never wanted to be a noise band," Poon says. "Our sound is more structured. My favorite Sonic Youth songs are the most pop. And if we are like them, then I hope we are like those songs."
The Sonic Youth comparisons seem mostly cosmetic. Sure, Poon's speak-sing vocals recall a younger Kim Gordon, and, yes, the band does have an affection for intense guitar build-ups, but most of This Is So Illegal is purely Wet Confetti's. The band sounds its best on "Apple Disaster," where frantic drums and a nimble synth line are exploded by Grazzini's vocals, which crackle with electric intensity. The song's chorus almost sounds like Blink 182's hit "Dammit," if that song had been more about intense mental pain than lost puppy love. But Wet Confetti will never be mistaken for a set of clean-cut Southern California pretty boys. They're such a focused and furious band that anyone who sees them live can't mistake them for anything else.
"We named our band because [Wet Confetti] is not anything," says Poon, who shares vocal duties with Grazzini. "If you Google it, you find our band and that's it. We aren't going to get confused with anyone else." The name, she claims, sticks in your mind.
And the music sticks in your ears.
Wet Confetti celebrates the release of its album with the Kingdom and the Invisible on Saturday, Aug. 21, at the Fritz, 14 NW 3rd Ave. 9 pm. $3. 21+.