Pickpocket Eloquence, Coldfire, and Just The Tip – Live at the Black Forest
Last Friday found TCC back downtown for some more local live music, this time at the Black Forest (see Spotlight review at the end of this column). Three bands hit the stage:
This quartet from Salem opened the set, featuring Kale Walker on drums, Adam DeBates on bass, Jason Dandridge on guitar and vocals, and Tristina Furgison on lead vocals. With a nice pop rock feel that refreshingly did not sound like every other band with a female lead vocalist, the musical performance was decent and Tristina’s stage presence was top-of-the-line. They had some nice audience interaction as well, and of course I’m always happy to see bands with a female vocalist play – there are still too few of those around and about. Jason (who reminds me of Jim Adkins in appearance) does a good job running guitar riffs, and Adam’s bass was smooth and solid. The only glaringly obvious lack I saw was the drums were not as tightly meshed with the guitars and vocals as they could have been. It was also difficult to hear Jason’s back-up vocals, and Tristina’s lead vocals, while pretty strong throughout the set, tended to slide below the guitars in the low range, and sounded not quite but nearly screechy in the upper range. She’s so cute, tho, you really didn’t mind! The club patrons talked loudly through most of the set which was rather annoying, so evidently the performance wasn’t all that captivating. My favorite song of the set was “Peculiar Feeling” (I think that’s the name of the song – can’t find it online!!) – all the individual band members shone on that song! Find them on Facebook, ReverbNation, and of course their pickpocketeloquence.com page!
Fitting five guys on one tiny stage (including a special non-performing guest – Sesame Street‘s “Animal“ stood proudly center stage), it was tight quarters! Featuring twin brothers Dan Trent on drums and front man Adam Trent on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Justin Hopkins on bass, Aaron Williams on guitar and synth, and Derrik Vuylsteke on lead guitar, this Eugene band put on an excellent performance, opening with “Tap Me Out – Put Me In” followed by “Mother Earth’s Pride” (a solid hard rock song with a serious punk edge). During our live video interview (which you can catch here) Adam mentioned that folks have often told him he sounds like David Byrne – I’m not sure I heard that, but mostly because their style of music is so unlike the Talking Heads. His lead vocals are growly but nice and clear – tough to do but he nailed it.
A really tight band, Adam’s lead guitar wove very nice riffs, and Aaron’s keyboards on “Tap Me Out” were a nice accompaniment. His switch to lead guitar for the rest of the set was smoothly balanced. Justin’s bass was awesome, and Dan on drums absolutely pounded. “Nails” (written by Danimal himself) was a really pretty number, with all three guitars blending sweet. The club patrons paid a lot more attention to this set, with much less talking but many more heads bobbing and feet tapping! All of their songs have difficult tempo changes throughout that swung back and forth without losing cohesion (this may be one of the signature features of this band), especially on “Our Life.” “Fire On Ice” went back to their punk rock roots – I really liked how Adam would intro every song with a brief exchange with the audience. “Nature” used full storytelling in the lyrics, and he loves to add gestures to accent the story. “Dawn To Dust” was followed by “Belly Drop” (based on a 19-second youtube video, but fortunately it runs a bit longer than that!) got them completely funky, with Justin’s bass popping and snapping lively – folks finally got up and danced! “This World” also had some fun time signature changes in addition to the tempo shifts, which were all really well done. “Pomaroy” closed the set, bringing it back to solid rocking guitars with steady drums and bass. A really nice performance by these guys – be sure to catch them (if you run fast!!) – they have an EP forthcoming, as well as several local gigs lined up. Find them between shows on their Facebook and ReverbNation pages.
Just The Tip
While the crowd had definitely thinned as the closing band set up, more folks wandered in (and out, and in, and out) throughout the set. This is another local five piece Eugene band, with a full-length CD out called “Hero’s Journey.” Lead man Jay Schroeder told me their music is best described as “rock funk” and I can definitely see that. All the guitarists share back-up vocals with Jay’s lead vocals, and all of the guys (except drummer Sammy Wayne of course!) literally bounced, jumped, head-banged, and gyrated on the tiny stage. They definitely put their hearts into this performance – it’s a shame the audience was probably too tired (and several more than slightly inebriated) to give them the response they should have received. Eric Lee’s bass kicks with Sammy’s drums. I love Justin Grado’s judicious use of a wah wah pedal on his lead guitar runs.
The house sound could have bumped Jay’s lead vocals a bit (and brought down Justin’s back up vocals the same increment) – some of the lyrics got a bit lost in the guitars. When Jay and Eric pulled off their shirts, it got everyone’s fast attention – there was some serious ink (and a few body piercings) in full view! The vocals were strong, but I would have liked to hear a bit more imaginative use of harmonizing rather than straight singular lines between the lead and backup vocals. I really liked “Beautiful,” with an awesome drum solo opening and Eric’s bass coming in layered with sweet guitar riffs by Justin. “One Way Road,” dedicated to the city of Eugene (go figure!), was pure funk fun – there really should have been folks dancing at the front of the stage (or back of the tables… somewhere). The song included a nice showcase of solos by each musician that I thoroughly enjoyed.
On a less than positive note, you could call their music “stoner rock” and not be far off the mark – some of the songs got a bit sloppy as they got more enthusiastic in their performance (here’s a “tip” guys – you may want to wait to celebrate until after the set perhaps?). Their cover of Pearl Jam’s “Alive” was well done – I so wanted to fall in love with this band, and could have with stronger (more complicated) vocal harmonies paired with tighter work between the guitars and drums. But they definitely weren’t putting me to sleep (despite the fact it was 1:30 a.m.)! As well, it was kinda hard to pay attention to the band, with one guy sporting a red dress walking past me every five seconds, and folks at the table next to us knocking over their beers into each other’s laps… ::sigh:: Call it a late night – right? Their close with Rage Against The Machine’s “Killing In The Name (Of)” was excellent tho – I’d be interested in seeing these guys play live again for a second take. =) Find them on Facebook, ReverbNation, and Myspace.
Spotlight on: the Black Forest
(50 West 11th Street, Eugene, OR)
An intimate little club in the heart of downtown Eugene, this was the first visit for TCC at a show in this venue. We were warmly greeted by Jason, BF’s booking manager, bartender, and bar back. One of the first things I noticed was there were no girls there – at least not until we walked in. Fortunately, several other ladies wandered in throughout the sets so we had a good representation! As we had showed up (relatively) early, we had our pick of seating arrangements (I recommend the table just in front of the sound booth) – you want to get there early as the club fills up fast! I also liked the HUGE aquarium behind the bar, and of course photographer Jeanice immediately noticed the yummy scents drifting from the kitchen (their menu is extensive, featuring breakfast and lunch specials, and dinner selections that all sounded so wonderful it was hard to choose). The stage is tiny but all the bands seemed to make it work for them, and the house sound (sans monitors and subs) was surprisingly well balanced between vocals and musicians. There were some slight technical difficulties at the opening of the first set but those were speedily addressed. There is no dance floor in front of the stage, but that didn’t stop some adventurous folks from cutting it lively anyways!
We had a great time, and I highly recommend you make this club a must for your downtown Eugene live music experience! Regular weekly events include karaoke Mondays and Wednesdays, Roosters Blues Jam Tuesdays, and live music every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with upcoming shows featuring Live Punk with Sigaw and Cheaper than Speed this Thursday, June 30; Live Metal Friday July 1 with Pantheon, Transient Messiah, Crimson Guardian and Otiose Being, and Live Music Saturday July 2 with Three Guys That Paint, Dave and Confused, and Eastman Band – you know we’ll be there for sure Saturday!!