Phantom Buffalo, Marie Stella and Turn Down Day at Geno's, March 28
Turn Down Day opened with a song that hovered almost entirely on the A chord, only breaking with it for a slight G on the bass to distinguish the verse from the chorus. It was a bold statement for the youngsters who have already won over Portland's 21+ scene as Modern Syndrome. The monotony of the song structure forced us to shift our attention fully to the singer, whose lazy off-key attitude was matched with an enviable literary lyricism. Word on the street is that these kids sound a lot like the Walkmen, and I'll give them that, but as their set unfolded there was a direct and obvious harkening to Neil Young, and also Bob Dylan. If soul really has been sucked from rock, then Turn Down Day seem to purpose a very exciting alternative.
Marie Stella may well be in contention to be our city's best new act. Sydney Bourke leads the group by covering the highest and lowest of ends: she sings with a sweet and haunting falsetto while her bass guitar is set to a slightly overdriven tone that brings a sharper edge to what would be otherwise seemingly sweet indie-rock songs. The guitars also provide a dissonance, while Ethan Boardman does what he did so well in Citadel — keep straightforward tight rock beats. However, we had to listen through poor sound quality in order to really catch the richness that this band has to offer, and lucky for everyone it shone through.
Phantom Buffalo finished the evening with a stark contrast — their stage sound was flawless. Their first song was more or less a minute long, one of their older pieces that has been resurrected for their upcoming release. I sometimes forget how extensive their musical catalog is, but on this night the band traced their progression through their colorful selection. They started with close to perfect indie songs, then showed more '60s rock influence, and lastly, floated beautifully into an ambience sound that also contained more technically rigid musical concepts. Perhaps we have already said everything we can about one of our best local bands, but on this night I felt really lucky to be able to call them my own.
: Live Reviews
, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Sydney Bourke, More