Here at Verbicide we’re big fans of Portland, Oregon’s Typhoon. We named their 2010 LP Hunger and Thirst the number one album of 2010, and we posted a great interview with Kyle Morton last year. When I heard that the release show for their EP, A New Kind of House, was happening on Friday, I knew I had to be there to take it in.
The show was held at The Doug Fir Lounge, a lovely music club below the hip Juniper Hotel in Portland. The openers And And And and Brainstorm did a nice job warming up the crowd, who initially seemed more interested in hob-nobbing, sipping drinks, and looking cute.
Brainstorm, whom I first encountered at the Helsing Junction Sleepover in 2009, are one of my favorite Portland bands. They’re a singing duo that consists of a drummer, Adam, who also handles the keys, and Patrick, a guitarist who doubles as a tuba player. Their music has a syncopated, smiley energy, and they’re a great band to see live. I especially enjoyed hearing “Battling Giants” that evening — it’s such a fun, bouncy tune, and the guitar riff and vocal harmonies are awesome! Love it.
And And And was next. Compared to Brainstorm they looked like a huge band; several members crowded the stage (nothing compared to the overcrowded stage during Typhoon’s performance, but more on that later). This was my first encounter with them. I thought they did a good job, despite all of the complaining the lead vocalist did about the fact that their cassette wasn’t available yet to sell at the merch table. It was supposed to be ready, and it wasn’t, which was “bullshit” according to the guy, who was experiencing a self-professed “rage blackout” onstage. He worked out his rage by beating on a drum when his bandmate was singing lead on a track. One of the band members switched instruments several times, playing a clarinet, horn, and guitar. They have a kind of Dead Kennedys-meets-Pavement sort of vibe — it’s interesting.
The crowd set down their drinks and stood attentive when Typhoon finally came out. I counted 12 members present — never have I seen such a crowded stage! They all had to stand rather still — there were musicians, cables, and mics everywhere. After listening to their record for hours on end, I was curious as to how different it would sound live. The surprising answer is…not very different at all. I was amazed at how perfectly they were able to recreate the complex, multi-layered sounds heard on their album.
They began with “Mouth of the Cave,” a rousing song in which the whole band (not to mention the crowd) sings at the top of their lungs. Throughout the set, the group played songs from both their new EP and Hunger and Thirst. It was interesting to watch them in action; it seemed as though there were no bloated personalities or big egos on stage. Kyle Morton — lead vocalist and guitarist — was the obvious leader of the band, but he approached this role humbly.
Typhoon ended their set with a performance of “The Sickness Unto Death” and “The Honest Truth” that was nothing short of epic. At the end of “The Sickness Unto Death,” the music swelled to a big, beautiful crescendo, going on much longer than the album version, involving all members of the band. They then moved seamlessly into “The Honest Truth,” a song that concludes with lyrics and melody also found in “Mouth of the Cave.” This really brought their set full circle, ending it in the same fashion they began. After one of the more demanding cries for an encore that I’ve heard in a while, they returned to the stage for an emotional rendition of “Claws Pt. 1.”
It was a truly excellent show. If Arcade Fire can win top honors at the Grammys, I’m sure it’s not long before Typhoon finds international fame of their own, should they choose to pursue it. If they bring performances like this to the rest of the world, it won’t be long at all before they’re a household name. They deserve a bigger stage — literally!