When you toy with time signature changes as much as Wax Fingers
do, it's hard for a fan to keep up. Three head bobs is all you get before your downward nod has switched from the accent to the offbeat. Realizing this and eager to keep up, the Wax Fingers faithful have invented a dance I'd like to call “The Catch Up.”
The dance involves helpless flaying, air drumming, and a fish-out-of-water move that matches the Portland trio's frenetic psych-rock stylings. Imagine the Tasmanian Devil on one of his dizzying trips, minus the destruction
. This is the scene now more than ever, as Wax Fingers are producing their wiliest, most creative work to date.
While the vocal mic was low at times, the band's multi-part instrumentation more than made up for it. It was their first performance at Mississippi Studios and they introduced themselves with familiar tracks like “Strange Mammals” off the Ones and Threes
As collective comfort levels rose, new material emerged. Busy in the studio, Wax Fingers have a new arsenal to draw from, and it's some of the smartest music in the present Portland circuit
. Built out of the same math-rock backbone, there's a new layer of tempered chaos. There's percussion all over the stage, from where it's expected on the trap set to electric guitar neck plucking and rhythm guitar hammering. It's as though Yes were reunited and asked to cover Animal Collective's Feels
With more intricate loops and complex vocal structures that match, there's added professionalism to Wax Fingers. And with experience comes the ability to be daring without sacrificing your musical personality. With a stage covered in pedals, the band still relies on its signature sweltering effects and mercurial pulse. But as it demonstrated Saturday, its now offering that with heightened unity and imagination. Compliments also go to Brainstorm
, who followed Wax Fingers with a strong set of bluesy, punky Americana, and headliners the Prids
, who always kill it.
Cell phone photo by Mark Stock