IMAGE: Brian Lee
I was all set to bitch about Portland's chatty crowds this week's column, but, turns out, I may be putting (at least part of) a foot in my mouth.
My deep frustration with local crowds came to a head almost two months ago at an A Weather show at the Towne Lounge. It was a free show (the worst kind when it comes to be-there-to-be-seen-there attendees), and the audience was so rude during the band's lovely set of folk pop that I went home fuming. The crowd acted as if it were at a party with music playing in the background, acknowledging the performance only as peripheral entertainment. A seated gal even asked me to move from in front of her (citing the fact her boyfriend was in the band) and then proceeded to talk the entire time. On the way home, I had to ask myself: Are Portlanders really that self-involved?
But my plan was thwarted. First, the Long Winters (who played last Friday at the Doug Fir) confirmed a notion I had the last time Ladyhawk paid Portland a visit: When a band completely owns the stage, the crowd fades so completely into the background that Chatty McGee doesn't matter anymore. So I headed to the Towne Lounge—where I was sure to find talkative folks—for Cadence (melancholy folkist Mbilly's band) and brash-poppers Swim Swam Swum. But the crowd behaved respectfully, attentively listening and gabbing only at the set break (wha?!).
As Long Winters frontman John Roderick told The Believer in an '05 interview, "When God made big, loud-voiced men, he did it for a reason." This past weekend taught me that, though some of those men (and women) seem to exist only to annoy us, others use their voices to entertain us, and those are the folks we should be listening to. It'd just be nice if the Chatty McGees—I know you're still out there!—could get that through their freakin' heads, too.
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WW's trusty music editor.