Heading into the Shaky Hands and Mega*Church show on Friday night, I'd imagined a barn on Sauvie Island not far from the river, alight with lanterns, the shadows of the performers and audience cast against plywood walls. Maybe even a few fireflies. This was my vision and the main draw to the show, even ahead of the actual performers. Upon winding our way up Newberry road to the barn, my thoughtfully constructed visual was dashed when it turned out the "Sauvie Island barn show" wasn't even on Sauvie Island, but a road adjacent to it in the sleepy town of Linnton. Cue devastation—devastation that was just as quickly dashed after we parked and made our way towards the festivities a stones throw away just in time for the Shaky Hands to take the stage—or, more accurately, the floor.
Even though the Shaky Hands' Nathan Delffs has been subbing in for him on drums since the Mississippi Street Fair in July, Friday's show marked the official end to Colin Anderson's chapter as drummer for the outfit. There were several mentions of this throughout the five-piece band's set, and it seemed to be a big factor in the group's encore—and its decision to play so many older gems. Although a single song encore appeared on the setlist (as far as I could tell from the sweat-drenched sheets of paper under their feet), shouts from the crowd for one final song from Colin brought an awesome show closing rendition of “I'm Alive.”
Throughout the night I had the creepy crawlies, but would remind myself that I wasn't at my apartment where I currently have an ant problem. Had I suddenly devolved into the paranoia of a meth freak? Not quite. Those sensations were in fact not a figment of my imagination, but unfortunately, a reality for me. If I ever need proof other than my photos that I was indeed at the barn show this weekend, I can point to my mosquito bitten calf as Exhibit A.
While the Shaky Hands had a tail-wagging canine as company during its set, Mega*Church had a plethora of toys and lights as set decoration. The colorful quintet—who remind me an awful lot of Dan Deacon if he had a full backing band—played a rousing set that was more dependent on live instrumentation (drum pads, keyboards, bass and guitar) than the iPod I noticed on the side of the stage. There were enough raised arms from the band and audience alike to bring to mind an alternative Evangelical sermon, but Mega*Church's gospel seemed more a message of coming together to dance and have fun than God's teachings.
A high point of the set was definitely when the group tackled a cover of Scorpion's "Send Me an Angel." The announcement around that time that it was also the drummer's birthday lit the crowd up even further. To finish the night, the drummer came up front and center with a light-up tambourine, bouncing in tandem to the pre-recorded beats while the audience around her did the same. Upon that finale note of Mega*Church's music, the group put Abba's "Dancing Queen" on the speakers, and the crowd danced on in joyful revelry.
The Shaky HandSpace
Photos and words by Nilina Mason-Campbell