Live Review: Wax Fingers and Patterns, Wednesday, Aug. 26 @ Holocene
The Portland psych-rock trio (plus a computer bassist) Wax Fingers play with time signatures like a cat toys with twine. One minute accessible, the other playing with haste in some distant realm, the band challenges its listeners, who fight to find a rhythm they can consistently bob their heads to. For much of the crowd, it seems to be like listening to jazz for the first time. The conventional, grounded individual may see these departures as impurities. But the band's stylistic tinkering, spastic expression and impulsive direction is what makes it work.
The group's development has been swift and encouraging. Reading each other with added clarity these days, the members of Wax Fingers don't just play off one another anymore, they feed off one another. Any past hesitation—expressed through quieter inter-song lulls at shows long past—is out the window. Media still plays behind the local Krautrockers, but it's less evident, blurred by explosiveness of the band's own electric melodies and trouncing drums. Lyrically, the band seems somewhat ambivalent, with frontman Pete Bosack's vocals falling spectator to his jammy guitar speak. But that's also a plus: Bosack creates a full-bodied, single-minded series of notes all escaping a single player—a harmony of mouth and hands.
Patterns followed the Fingers on Wednesday, performing a clean set of sticky beach bum rock. Singing duties are shared almost evenly within the group, the majority of vocals appearing as bouncy “oohs” and “aahs” that frolick behind feathery, early Rock ‘n' Roll lead vocals. On Wednesday, Patterns provided the parachute after Wax Fingers assertive set, petting the crowd behind the ears with their sparkling, slaloming brand of lo-fi rock. It was the perfect lullaby as the moon peered in.