Music seen at Geno’s + SPACE Gallery, April 4 + April 6, 2008
Early on in Cult Maze’s all-too-brief tenure as Portland’s best indie-rock band — probably when they were still called the Funeral — I offered to buy Joshua Loring, one of the band’s guitarists, a beer before his set. He (quite uncharacteristically) turned me down, saying something like, “Maybe after we play. These damned songs are too hard.”
If Loring and the band’s hazy-eyed but still blistering final performances this weekend are any evidence, Cult Maze got used to the rigor of their brisk tempo changes and intricate guitar interplay, going so far as to play a covers medley at their “secret” show at SPACE Gallery on Sunday (“All Along the Watchtower”/”Tears in Heaven”/”Hunger Strike”). Moreover, they grew more comfortable in their skin by the month; frontman Jay Lobley learned how to deliver an anthem with range and passion, and the band fused their two main virtues — indelible, anthemic guitar licks and appropriately labyrinthine instrumental passages — into the bold, cathartic formula that pervades their last album, 35, 36.
In the two years the band dominated my local concert-going and -suggesting schedule, I’ve never failed to describe them poorly, except as “Portland’s Wolf Parade.” So let me elaborate. Like the venerable Montreal indie band, Cult Maze’s foreboding synth lines (Peet Chamberlain), militant drumming (Andrew Barron), and often angular guitars worked in tandem with lyrics that were at once jaded and passionate. Accustomed to the state of things and still ready to rattle the bars or enjoy the scenery for a second, theirs was a zeitgeisty take on apathy somewhere between Bruce Springsteen and Joy Division's Ian Curtis. It’ll be missed.
While you're blubbering in your bedroom, Miller Lite in hand, get excited about these side projects, because Cult Maze are about to divide and conquer: Metal Feathers | www.myspace.com/metalfeathers | An Evening With | www.myspace.com/aneveningwith | Brenda | www.myspace.com/brendabandband
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