(Note: This is kind of long, so please be sure to click below to see the whole thing, including three videos from the show of Horse Feathers performing and one of the Sweet Harlots.)
I don’t know whether PDXchange Program organizer Henry Abel considers his inaugural show — Portland-based quartet Horse Feathers, Tuesday night at the Tower Theatre — to be a success or not. I know he was, understandably, concerned about ticket sales, and to me, it looked like the Tower was pretty full on the floor, but pretty empty in the balcony. I don’t know how that pencils out.
But I can tell you this: From the show-goer’s perspective, PDXchange’s first night was a smashing success. From top to bottom, everything ran smoothly, looked good, and sounded amazing. Horse Feathers, in particular, put on a stunning performance that I only wish had been a few songs longer.
When is attending a concert more than just attending a concert? When attending said concert may lead to other concerts by bigger and better bands down the road. That’s the situation Bend finds itself in tomorrow night with Horse Feathers at the Tower Theatre.
Don’t get me wrong, seeing Horse Feathers is reason enough to buy tickets to this show. They’re a great band, and you should want to see them perform. But they’re also the first installment of the new PDXchange Program, a concert series that organizer Henry Abel hopes will bring Portland-based indie-rock bands to the Tower for a long time.
Whether he’ll get his wish remains to be seen. A lot will depend on the success of his first two shows: Horse Feathers on Tuesday night, and The Helio Sequence, who’ll play the Tower on June 3.
Really, though, the Horse Feathers show — and more specifically, how many people show up to the Horse Feathers show — matters. Abel told me recently that other Portland bands are watching this particular date to see how Bend responds to having a Portland band with relatively limited name recognition playing at the Tower. I cannot tell you who these bands are, but believe me: You are much more likely to have heard of them than Horse Feathers. People in New York and Florida and California and everywhere in between are much more likely to have heard of them than Horse Feathers.
Now, there’s no guarantee that these mysterious bands will sign on to play PDXchange if Tuesday’s show is a success, with most of the Tower’s seats filled. But doing so will look a heck of a lot more attractive if that’s the case.
So there you go. I can only do so much. Abel can only do so much. Whether those seats are filled is up to you.
Enough of my rant. Time for you to study up. Hear Horse Feathers here. Read my feature on the band here. And below, read an interview with Abel about the roots of PDXchange and his hopes for its future.
Portland indie-folk band Horse Feathers kicks off the new PDXchange Program concert series at the Tower Theatre. I spoke with head Feather Justin Ringle, and here’s an excerpt:
In the past couple of years, though, things have changed for Ringle.
He moved from one part of Portland to another. He changed band members; both (Peter and Heather Broderick) left the band, replaced by Nathan Crockett (violin), Catherine Odell (cello) and multi-instrumentalist Sam Cooper.
Then there’s the confidence Ringle has gained in the years since he moved from Idaho to Portland and ditched rock bands in favor of acoustic music.
“Any types of changes you have in your life … usually find their way into what you make. There’s no way around it; even if you try for it to not be there, it will be there,” Ringle said. “I just tried to be sensitive to that, because my life’s changed quite a bit … and I tried to embrace some of those things that were happening in my life … in the music. I think that’s where the little evolution comes in (and) this record sounds different.”
I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but this is a terrific band, and I hope you’ll read the whole thing here and then catch them Tuesday in Bend.
Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars. Photo by Dean Guernsey / The Bulletin
Feedback returns this week and heads to the Tower Theatre to see Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars. It was a nice change of pace from rock bands in bars!
The All Stars play reggae and African music, so repetition — of guitar riffs, percussion parts, lyrics — was an integral part of the stew. Time after time, the band built a polyrhythmic bed that would make a dead man shake it, and the twin guitarists and a rotating cast of vocalists would decorate that bed with glorious ribbons of melody.
The highlight of the night, for me, were the cascading guitars on “Kele Mani,” a wonderful example of the African highlife style that brought to mind a dancing fountain; when one melody began to fade, another took its place, gracefully and right in time.
Other standouts included the slow-simmering funk of “Jah Mercy,” a ultra-bouncy pop tune called “Soda Soap,” and the murky, psychedelic feel of a song that’s named “P. Malontone” on the set list. For the life of me, I can’t seem to figure out its real name.
Elsewhere in this week’s music section: local rapper Mindscape holds a CD-release show, Runner Runner brings pop-rock to Silver Moon, Tribal Seeds will headline a big reggae show tonight, Mountain’s Edge will host five local bands and raise money for local dogs, Back from the Dead plays The Annex, Blowin’ Smoke makes NightSounds at the new Bend Performing Arts Center, and Jade’s Jazz Lounge rolls on in La Pine.
In case you missed it, the beautifully hushed, Portland-based indie-folk band Horse Feathers is coming to the Tower Theatre May 25 to kick off the new PDXchange Program series, which aims to bring the Rose City’s indie bands to Bend’s stately downtown stage, and pair them with local openers.
Horse Feathers’ new album, “Thistled Spring,” is out now on Kill Rock Stars, and it is a gorgeous piece of work. Principal Feather Justin Ringle pens some of the prettiest, most delicate music around, and I suspect this new album is going to raise the profile of his band considerably. Here’s a taste of “Thistled Spring,” available for free download courtesy Kill Rock Stars:
Tickets to see Horse Feathers (and opener The Sweet Harlots) are $15 (plus service charges) and are available through the Tower Theatre. PDXchange’s second show will feature The Helio Sequence and Empty Space Orchestra on June 3.
Attention, fans of indie rock: If you’re still hoping for additional Sasquatch-related shows to come to Bend’s Les Schwab Amphitheater over Memorial Day weekend, don’t hold your breath. I have a feeling that the May 30 Band of Horses / She & Him show is going to be it. (Mind you, “it” is pretty great: One show, but two headlining-level acts, plus the up-and-coming Dawes as an opener.)
BUT! Have no fear, Hankystar is here! Hankystar Presents is the promotional company of Henry Abel, a local music nut who’s set to introduce the PDXchange Program, a concert series that will focus on bringing Portland-based bands over to Bend’s Tower Theatre and pairing them with a local opening act. He’s just confirmed his first set of shows, and they’re a couple of doozies: the wonderful hushed-folk act Horse Feathers on May 25, and veteran electro-rock duo The Helio Sequence on June 3. Awesome!
Below are the posters for the two shows, with all the details except ticket prices, which are $15 for each show. Tickets will be available soon through the Tower box office and The Ticket Mill in the Old Mill District. Also, stay tuned for more on Hankystar Presents and the PDXchange Program!