For a variety of reasons — from real-life responsibilities to a dead camera battery to general fatigue — I cut my Bend Roots Revival experience a bit short on the event’s final day.
So apologies to Eric Tollefson, Blues Quarter, The Dirty Words, The River Pigs, Moon Mountain Ramblers, Kim Kelley and the other acts I missed. I’ll catch you all soon enough. Apologies also to Lisa Lepine, the Portland-based marketing consultant who did a workshop on the music business inside Parrilla on Sunday afternoon. When the schedule came out, I thought that was one of its more interesting listings. But I just couldn’t make it down there.
Did any of you musician types go hear Lepine talk? How was it? Learn anything helpful?
I prefer to think of my Bend Roots Sunday not as shortened, but as a high-quality coda to a wonderful weekend. I saw only three bands, but all were quite good.
The first one, in fact, kind of blew my mind.
The Autonomics are one of Bend’s current wave of young bands (teens, early 20s) that have contributed a fair dose of indie-rock to the scene over the past year or so.
They’re also one of the most muscular of the bunch. Not literally, but musically. The trio — Dan Pantenburg and twins Vaughn and Evan Leikam — rock hard, drawing more influence from, say, The White Stripes than Death Cab for Cutie. Pantenburg pounds his guitar, power-chord style, and leaves the plinking and plunking around to others.
He’s also one of the wittiest, most naturally entertaining local musicians I’ve seen in my years in Bend. The guy had a moderate crowd at Parrilla Grill laughing in between each song with his endless self-deprecation. (Points off, though, for calling Pearl Jam “aged.” As a confirmed Gen-Xer, let me just say: Ouch. Of course, Pearl Jam the band has been around almost as long as Pantenburg, so it’s hard to fault him.)
Frankly, The Autonomics wowed me. I felt the same way I felt when I discovered how good local rockers the Space Hoax are a couple years ago, or when I finally saw Tuck & Roll earlier this year. My face carried an involuntary smile.
That’s the smile I make when I realize there’s another band in town that I think is great at what they do.
The Autonomics are great at what they do, which is straightforward, rugged rock ‘n’ roll. There were times they were almost punky, but more often they reminded me of Canadian indie superstars Wolf Parade. Live, their songs sound looser and rougher than the versions on their MySpace, and that’s a good thing.
The band did several originals, plus a cover of Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues.” Throughout, Pantenburg spit his vocals as if they were pushing their way out faster than his mouth could move. The twins ably held down the rhythm section as their frontman wailed on the guitar, bouncing up and down like an oil well pump.
The folks at Parrilla ate it up, and even called for an encore. The Autonomics obliged with a cover of Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel.” Good choice. That is a classic tune.
Up next on the Parrilla main stage were the Brothers Young, and while they set up I went and watched a tae kwon do demonstration from students at Acrovision Sports Center in Bend. It was a fine way to spend 30 minutes. The kids broke boards and stuff, just like on TV.
Soon enough, though, Brothers Young were ready to go over at Parrilla. They were a lot of them, enough to field a basketball team plus a couple of subs. Maybe the hippest basketball team ever, too. Also probably the least intimidating.
The band is led by three brothers who grew up in Bend — Dustin, Michael and Dillon Young — and is rounded out by a few other non-brothers, at least biologically. They are brothers in melodic indie-folk, I guess. Using a variety of noisemaking things (banjo, shakers, something that looked like a VCR mounted above a keyboard), Brothers Young traipsed through a lighthearted set of serious pop-meets-folk, with everyone singing at times, but often just two of the brothers singing in unison.
Unison singing by two guys with relatively low voices makes for a pretty cool effect. Here, it seemed to fit the music perfectly.
The Brothers Young set was a perfect soundtrack for sitting in the sun at a D.I.Y. music festival. They played songs; I don’t know their names. Presumably some came from their brand new album “The Sun Says He’s God,” which the band announced it hoped to sell for gas money back to Portland. I wanted to buy one, but had no money of my own. (You can hear the band here. And if you’re interested in funding the band’s trip to Bend, you can buy the CD here.)
I could’ve taken a sundrenched nap, but I thought that wouldn’t reflect well on my reporting skills, and I wanted to skip over to the Victorian Cafe to watch Sisters singer-songwriter Anastacia Beth Scott play. I’ve been covering her and her music for three years, and this was the first time I had the opportunity to watch her perform.
I must say, she had the gang at the Vic’s main stage eating out of the palm of her hand. Backed by an all-star band (Aaron Miller/bass, Mai Hyman/guitar, Shireen Amini/drums), Scott played her ethereal songs with infinite charm and passion. And earthiness. She was earthy. Or literally Earthy. One song was themed around eagles, and one around quicksand and one around wild rivers. I made a note to bring my telescope next time so I’d be prepared for a song about the moon and the stars.
It was here my camera’s battery died, so the cell phone cam will have to do the trick.
Once Scott’s set was done, it was time for me to go run a couple of those real-life errands I mentioned, and then I ended up at home. I never got out again. But I feel like I got my fill of the Bend Roots Revival. I really think this thing is one of the best events in Bend, and I can’t wait to see where it goes next year.