Monday, April 25, 2011

STRFKR, Champagne Champagne and Land of Pines at the Vera Project 4-23-11

Saw a great Saturday night show at the Vera Project with an interesting variety of local (or nearly local, STRFKR is from Portland) musical approaches and a sell out crowd.

STRFKR has been around for a few years now and went through some attempts to re-name themselves before ending up back roughly where they started, except they removed the vowels from the name. They have been getting a progressively louder buzz with a recent SXSW show and plenty of write ups in the local weeklies.

Their popularity locally is through the roof; the venue could've sold out on pre-sales alone, but they cut off sales in order to leave a few tickets for cash customers. Enough cash customers showed up before 6:30 to sell it out completely; the crowd was early and excited.

I wasn't signed up to volunteer but I ended up helping out a bit as they got the large happy crowd into the venue in time for the first act - Land of Pines.
Land of Pines competed in this years Sound Off at the EMP (I missed it, though) and had an interesting approach with male and female lead vocals swapping off from song to song and some nice backing vocals. Two guitars, keyboards, bass and drums - gave them a reasonably nice full sound, in this video the instruments tend to back off a bit during the vocals which makes it easier to hear - nice dynamic, unfortunately the flickr video cuts off too soon.

Good rock guitar oriented rock approach, well structured songs, I enjoyed Land of Pines and hope to get chances to see them again.

Next up was Champagne Champagne, a hip hop outfit with two vocalists and a multi-instrumentalist providing accompaniment on keyboards and on guitar.
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They had an interesting sound with some good hooks. I like the repeated bit in this video "Drop down..."

Good crowd participation in the clapping rhythm too. The dude with the longer fro pogo-ing in this video definitely got the crowd going too:

Champagne Champagne had good catchy tunes and knew how to keep a capacity audience bouncing, yelling and sweating - fun set!

Next STRFKR took the stage for the headlining set.
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They took a bit to setup their gear and get the monitor levels set, so they were running about 15 minutes behind schedule. While that's not usually a big deal, I had to catch the last bus home so I ended up only seeing three songs before I had to head out. Too bad, what I saw was fun and had the audience dancing and surging all over the place.

They had a dance oriented groove with audio playing between the songs that they sped up and slowed down, giving things a little bit of a DJ in a dance club feel, and the audience totally ate it up. Lots of vertical motion in the crowd and side to side surges, haven't seen that kind of action in a small club much recently, I associate it more with festival shows at bigger auditoriums.

Fun set for the part I got to see, I wish I could've seen how it progressed and what they chose as their finale or encore. I'm sure they'll be back, but not as sure that they'll play the Vera, they seem to be blowing up big time and easily sell out a smaller club like the Vera. Hopefully I'll get a chance to see them again either at the Vera or at one of the Summer festivals.

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