Beacons in the fog

Wax Tablet
By PORTLAND PHOENIX MUSIC STAFF  |  May 12, 2014

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>> It’s not often you get to see the Fogcutters in full regalia — which makes sense. If you’re going to pull that many people together for a gig, it better be worth their while. Certainly, the Big Band Syndrome shows at the State Theatre, of which there have been three, have been worth it — for the audience and band both.

So, as you prep for a Fogcutters full-band gig at Port City this Saturday, you might want to grab Big Band Syndrome, Vol. 2, a live recap of the second big State event, with 20 tracks featuring a variety of local frontpeople doing rearranged versions of some of their best tunes.

Adam Waxman’s intro to the album is exactly what he does well. What a showman. For whatever reason, it seems as though big personality and voice has gone out of style in pop music, but his combo of Sinatra and King Kong Bundy is entertaining as hell. “Are You Ok?” with Anna Lombard is huge as well, swelling up and carrying her on a wave, to which her voice really responds nicely. And rapper Eyenine rises to the occasion for his two tracks, seemingly completely at ease with 20-odd pieces behind him, instead of a single DJ. The result is so much warmer than his album tracks.

In other cases, there’s a little bit of had-to-be there syndrome. “Walken” and “Sakura” play to Kyle Gervais’ strengths, showing him incredibly present and invested. The popping horns are like exclamation points appearing around his head. But the crooner thing for “Over” is kind of “eh” without being able to see whether he’s being a bit ironic or not. Still, with 20 tracks, there’s plenty of bang for your buck, and you’ll likely understand what the fuss is all about.

>> One of the weirder, messier music events to have emerged from this town’s artists, we’re pleased to see that Food Fight is back on the menu this year. The second annual event is a battle-of-the-bands comprised of workers at local restaurants, bars, and coffee shops, who endeavor to write and perform a set’s worth of original material over three competitive nights. A serious hoot; and one in which stakes are weirdly both high and low. Food Fight rests on the notion that a) most people employed in the service industry are artists of some type and b) working busy nights at local restaurants has the power to link and you and your co-workers on a cosmic, intuitive plane, which is ingredient numero uno for a great band. Does your bar function like E.S.P.-era Miles Davis? Trout Mask-era Beefheart? The period in Fleetwood Mac where everyone was sleeping together or getting divorced? Hear the labors of food service translated into sound over three competitive Sundays on June 9, 16, and 23, at Empire and Port City Music Hall.

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