Monday, June 2, 2014

HHH Day 2 band review

Boo and I camped the 9th annual Horning's Hideout Hootenanny (HHH) over Memorial Day weekend.  We had a blast (see So Starts Camping Season 2014).  Here's our review of the 4 bands who played on Sunday.

Vivid Curve
pulled from myspace, but its Vivid Curve
Imagine this scene.  It's the morning of day two after a late night of music (past midnight) and unofficial partying.  From the main stage, a long low drone rolls up the concert bowl to those sleeping in hammocks and tents until finally they slowly drag themselves into the morning light.  With the approaching march of the zombies, Vivid Curve starts up a set dressed in bathrobes and toasting the crowd with mimosas.  Upon the conclusion of this comical intro, Vivid Curve erupted in a psychedelic frenzy under-pinned by a didgeridoo and a talking drum played by a chap in a viking helmet.  Rhythmically supported by an Okee on a drum kit and a tie-dyed mountain-man on a washboard, the seemingly mild-mannered lead man leaped around with his acoustic guitar entertaining us with spoken word and melodies.  Boo and I were blown away.  These guys were amazing.  Their set flew by, and we loved every minute of it.  We will definitely seek these guys out.  By far, Vivid Curve was the biggest pleasant surprise of the weekend.  They simply crushed it.

Joy Tribe
Joy Tribe was interesting.  Following Vivid Curve wasn't easy to start with, and the beautiful sunny morning started to disappear as they took the stage.  None of that helped.  Adding insult to injury, the lead vocalist's main vocal range was squarely in the same range of notes and close in tone to what the guitarist and trumpet player were doing.  As a result, you couldn't make out anything she was singing.  I think they purposely had the vocal and trumpet lines match, but the mix was not quite right.  They tried to compensate by boosting her vocal near to the point of feeding back the mic, but I think the guitar needed to be quieter or the whole band needed to focus on dynamics: play quieter while she's singing.  The lead vocalist played sax and flute, exposing how multi-talented she is.  Unfortunately, it wasn't easy to engage with the band because of the loss of fidelity of the vocals.  Like a couple of the bands on the first day, I'd probably stay at a venue if they showed up and started playing, but I wouldn't seek them out.

Lewi Longmire and the Left Coast Roasters
rain? what rain?
Lewi Longmire is a Portland icon.  I'd never had the pleasure of seeing him play, and now I look back on those years with regret.  He and his band were fantastic.  They found that careful balance between energized and professional that neither Wood Knot nor Blue Lotus could find the day before.  They reminded me of Derek and the Dominos in terms of vibe and sound.  While the rain poured down.. and then sprinkled... and then poured... and then sprinkled, their sound slowly drew folks out from under their tarps into the sand pit.  By the time they finished their set, there were multiple pop-up canopies and 40 people dancing in the rain.  Powerful stuff.  Lewi was probably the best start-to-finish band of the weekend; most professional and arguably the most magnetic.  I will definitely seek Lewi out.

Garcia Birthday Band
I hadn't seen the Garcia Birthday Band for years.  Since then, it seemed like just about everyone in the band has changed.  I know Jon's been there since the beginning and I recognized him, but no one else.  I knew my old friend Steve had stopped playing keyboards for them years ago; it didn't matter, though.  They are still the Portland-area Grateful Dead cover band, so if you want a taste of that shuffle beat, they are the only game in town.  They're much tighter than they were when I saw them play on the lawn in Troutdale way back when to celebrate Jerry's birthday.  Still, I think they made a mistake booking a week full of shows prior to headlining the closing night of the Hootenanny.  They didn't have much energy.  It felt like they were tired, and wanted to rock, but just couldn't.  There were flashes of "here comes something", but that wouldn't last.  I'll see them again, and I won't wait as long.  Turned out, we waited less than a week and drove the whole gang out to the Rock Creek Tavern in Hapy the wonderbus.  The bus drove great and the band played much more energetically.  Boo and I were talking about going to their Fest in August, but its adults-only, and we have the full brood that weekend.  For those thinking about it, look to see what other acts they're bringing (I suggest Vivid Curve and Wood Knot :-)) and whether they're playing 5 straight nights before it.

Monday Morning
Unannounced and without pretense, there were two last artists performing on Monday morning while folks woke up, cleaned up and packed out.  First, someone made their way to the center of the concert bowl and played "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes.  Well executed, and, once completed, whoever it was disappeared as quickly and quietly as s/he arrived.  Second, a guy with long blonde dreadlocks and a Cello set up under the canopy where the Hillwilliams had played late the first night.  He had a couple of effects pedals routing his sound through the small amp he was sitting on.  With that simple set up, he created basic loops on top of which he then solo'd.  He was joined at points by a woman on a cajon.  It was almost spiritual how the Cello cut through the morning dull.  When the morning sun broke through the clouds, a younger woman would compliment the music with free form dance behind the musicians and a screen, casting a willowy shadow.  It was a very cool effect.  I don't know who they were, unfortunately.  I'll update if I find out.  Regardless, it was a very foggy-morning-after way to end the festival.

That's it for the HHH reviews.  We had a blast and are ready to reserve our spot for next year.  I hope some of you can tear yourselves away from your typical Memorial Day traditions and help create a bus-zone under the trees at Hornings next year.  Thanks for following along.  Maybe I'll have more bus content next time.

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