Sabertooth Micro Fest (Feb. 6 & 7)
By Cameron Crowell /// Arts Editor
Just from the name you get a sense of the existential dilemma that must be plaguing these Philadelphia dream-grunge rockers. Their sound embodied more of a Stranger rather than Sisyphus level of nihilism, although I am biased having gone into the show knowing that lead singer Dominic Palermo stabbed a guy while in his former band Horrow Show. Much like Camus, these guys were not for the faint of heart. Using a heavy-heavy distortion and an absurd amount of instrumental layering, it felt like the show was inside a thundering cloud full of headbanging disciples rather than the Crystal Ballroom. Because of the heavy instrumentation the lyrics were basically entirely droaned out, but at the same time they were basically obsolete in conveying the bands message. Nothing teeters in the land of uncomfortability much like bands like Naomi Punk and My Bloody Valentine. At one point I caught myself looking down at my shoes and felt way too cliche, but at least it was an honest cliche.
The Shivas opened Saturday night with a quick punching, 30 minute set that left me wondering how I have not made it out to see the Portland dirty doo-wop trio before. Their set was tightly executed, seamlessly blending fast-paced punk and 50s-60s garage psych. With stellar baselines and beautiful vocal harmonies, the band feels like the love child of Buddy Holly and Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill). Bangers like “You Make Me Want To Die” and “You Know What to Do” back me up in making large sweeping claims like, “They are at the forefront of PDX independent music.” They should be considered a cornerstone of the lineups on Gnar Tapes (Los Angeles, CA), as well as Burger (Fullerton, CA) and K Records (Olympia, WA).
I could not fight off the feeling that this band was familiar. I spent their entire set sipping away at my whiskey ginger, pondering if it was in this lifetime or three before (these dudes were kind of old), and it hit me. This band most definitely played my parents’ wedding. Okay, I know what you are thinking, “Cameron, you weren’t alive!” All I can say is that some things you just know. As far as their performance goes, I think my parents getting divorced explains it well enough.
Kurt Vile and the Violators
A living legend in the realm of modern independent music, need I say more? Well, since he was the headliner and I have to report about this event, I think so. Fighting back urges of becoming Wayne and Garth when they meet Alice Cooper, I was somehow able to stand underneath this man and photograph him as he came out wielding his guitar. He finished the Saturday night show by playing an hour and a half set filled with nearly all of his jams (unfortunately “Baby’s Arms” did not make the setlist cut). Vile was consistent in delivering seemingly simple poetics that just oozed with heavy feelings. Lines like “Better get your head re-screwed on,” were refrained and lingered much after Vile was finished singing. The 90s dance party happening in Lola’s Room below constantly fought for attention, understandable while The Minders were playing, but this was Kurt fucking Vile. Some people just do not understand.