After seeing Rush, Facebook threw in my face that The Dear Hunter was touring, and their 2nd stop was the Hawthorne Theater in PDX. NO FUCKING WAY! I grabbed two tickets, found a friend who wanted to see them too, and away we went. That type of small venue show is an incredible contrast to the mass consumption of mainstream commercial acts in a stadium.
In short, it was awesome. A more detailed show report is here.
As luck would have it, the very next weekend Dredg was playing! The ticket was Dredg, Fair To Midland, The Trophy Fire, A Tale Through Audio.
A Tale Through Audio was interesting enough to take a listen to online; this was their first tour (and this was the first show of the tour) and they were thankful for the crowd who had come out. The Trophy Fire was really good. This judgement had been made before the drummer took his shirt off halfway through the set; afterword it just seemed all the better, but that wasn't why we bought CDs.
And Fair to Midland... uh... wow. A great deal of the crowd had come out to see them. They give the term "progressive rock"--that catch all category where you throw groups that perform advanced mixology maneuvers with their musical styles--a run for it's money. Are they alternative rock, metal, neo-psychedelic, or folk?
All of the above and more. The lead singer Darroh Sudderth is... energetic... to say the least. I would have sworn he was tweaking hard, but a quick perusal of interviews and what not has him claiming they are not a party band, no drugs, etc. Seriously? Because his moves are... you'd think inexplicable without massive amounts of strong stimulants. He's Keith Richards, James Brown, and Brad Pitt's character from 12 Monkies thrown into a blender set to PUREE. My overall opinion was mixed, but curious enough to look 'em up. His vocal range is stunning, and I'm warming to them.
He certainly sent the crowd into a frenzy. The energy was amazing. A bit of a mosh pit formed at center stage, which put the friend I was with on edge; we were at the edge of stage right, only about 2-3 people away from the activity. The crowd jumped up and down in rhythm, and the old battered floorboards of the Hawthorne, a century old building, bowed and flexed as if the structure had a heartbeat. A stunning moment of epic clarity, washed in joyful hedonistic pleasure, firmly plants itself in my list of peak experiences.
My senses swooned in non-alcoholic intoxication.
Then... it was time. One last reset, and the show was ON. We stood at the very front because The Big Ass Fan wasn't on and I figured if we were going to sweat to death, we might as well do it right up front. (Luckily it was turned on later, and people would turn it every now and then so we got a fair share.) A very nice woman tried to squeeze up on the rail; I let her in but jokingly said, "Look, I've let three bands I DIDN'T come to see sweat on me, I'm not moving." A guy turned to me and asked where I was from; they were up from Cali, as this was the first show of this tour. He was amazed; he'd paid $15 to get to stand just inches from the band, when he'd been paying much higher prices to see them in larger venues with more security down south. He asked my thoughts on the new album, and I honestly said, "Like the last one... I hated it at first. But a few listens through, and I started to warm to it."
And while I now really like The Pariah, the Parrot, the Delusion, this one... I feel really similar to how this guy does. Something's missing. And with a few of the quips Gavin made during the show... he might be a little tired. And to be tired on the first show of a tour...
But regardless... they started with Another Tribe. And I was a little worried... my first thought was, "Oh, wow... this guy gets a lot of help in the studio." His voice was weak, a little thin, a little off. But no, he was just cold, because by the third song he was warmed up, energetic and it just built from there. 17 songs in the set, and by the end the crowd was singing so loud you could clearly hear them over the amazingly blaring sound system. Lots of goodness from old albums, and a few from the new.
The band put a great deal of energy into it, and the fans loved them for it.
After midnight (we'd gotten there a little after 7) we left, drenched in sweat and buzzing both due to energy overload and good old tinnitis. The evening was capped off with some food cart foraging at the 12th Street pod. We tried the PB&J frittes (a Thai peanut sauce with a berry-chipotle jelly) that was jump-up-on-the-table-and-scream-will-you-marry-me good, and a savory pie from Whiffies (brisket and moz). I'd slammed down two glasses of the home made ginger soda from the pizza cart in an attempt to sooth my shredded vocal cords, then moved on to lemonade from Whiffies.
My head hit Jon's futon at 1:30; my ears ringing so badly it seemed as if my whole cranium was vibrating. Madness threatened to overcome me, the sensation was so strong. Exhaustion trumped madness before too long. It seemed but moments before the iPhone blared its alarm, misset for 5am instead of the luxurious hour of 6am when we had to rise, find Jon's dive gear, and drive up to the Salmon Creek area to meet up with Dan for a day trip up to Sund Rock.
The company was good, the diving was very good and the completeness of the weekend, constructed together through a yin and yang of experiences, was epic. Yes, I'll use that word. As deliriously blissful as I was amidst the cacophony of energy and stimulation at the show, the deep sense of calm, serenity and one-ness I found in the water that day was so powerful it made me weep.
Yes, at one point I found myself crying underwater, for no reason other than life is so goddamn beautiful.