Show Review: The Corin Tucker Band at Mississippi Studios, Portland 1/22/11
This sinking ship of an economy is depriving many children of exposure to the arts. For example, in Portland, only three dollars per child per year goes to arts education. In Seattle, only seven dollars per child is doled out annually. The people who are behind Portland’s Pickathon Indie Roots Music Festival decided to do something about this — they organized Benefest, a three-show event in which all proceeds go to Buckland Elementary and the Portland Schools Foundation, to give funds to this worthy cause.
The first show of Benefest was held at Mississippi Studios, an adorably rustic little club in Portland, and one of the more intimate venues in the city. Minneapolis’s Zoo Animal started things off with a passionate set. They were added to the roster less than a week before the show, and unless you’re the type of person that’s really early to shows (or someone who follows Pickathon on Twitter) you might not have showed up in time to see them, as the doors opened an hour and a half earlier than you may have expected. If that’s the case, you missed out. Holly Newsom is a passionate performer, alternatingly fierce and fragile. The few of us who were there to enjoy her band’s set were not let down.
Next up was Old Light, a Portland band that has an interesting classic rock/jam/roots sound going on. John Dwyer from Thee Oh Sees has been quoted as saying, “It’s like Crosby Stills and Nash if they didn’t suck!” and I pretty much agree. Guitar, autoharp, and vocal harmonies filled the venue, and the small stage at Mississippi Studios was almost too small for the band! Their bass player spent the first couple songs of the set standing off stage in the dark. Later on, he situated himself on top of some amps on the far side of the stage. When he made the move, the crowd cheered.
The evening’s headliner was The Corin Tucker Band. Corin Tucker’s son is a student at Buckland Elementary, and during her set she gave multiple shout outs to members of the crowd that she knows from her son’s school — the principal, the teachers — and during her encore she dedicated a cover of Shiela E’s “Glamorous Life” to her fellow Buckland moms that were in attendance. “It’s a dance number,” she said with a grin.
Tucker’s voice sounded amazing live, and her band played with perfect precision. Sara Lund’s concentration as she beat the drums was unshakeable; she stared off into space, with a serious expression on her face for most of the set, never missing a beat. Seth Lorinczi was dripping with sweat, grinning like a child as he jumped from guitar to keys and then back again. They played most of the songs off of 1,000 Years, as well as a couple of new ones. Tucker became more and more warmed up as the set went on, and by the time they played “Doubt,” she was belting out the lyrics with her signature passionate bursts and whipping her hair back in forth in time with the music.
By the end of the set the crowd was cheering for more. For their encore, Tucker and Lorinczi came out and serenaded the crowd with the ballad “Miles Away” and the aforementioned Sheila E cover. Pickathon should sell copies of the recording of “Glamorous Life” on Bandcamp to raise more funds for the schools! It was truly a fantastic rendition.
Benefest will continue on February 4th with a performance by Caleb Klauder Country Band and Truckstop Darlin’ at The Spare Room, and on February 12th at 8:00 PM, Eric D. Johnson, Andy Cabic, and Richard Swift will play at The Woods. If you’re unable to attend, they’ll be streaming the shows online for a reasonable price, and all proceeds will go straight to charity. If you’d like to be more involved with the fight to keep arts in our schools, you can text the word “Arts” and your email address to 22333 to be signed up for the Creative Advocacy Network’s mailing list.