Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Port O'Brien Played Union Hall - Pictures, Review

It's no secret that we've been digging on Port O'Brien's latest, Threadbare, so we were pretty amped up for their show this weekend at Union Hall. Suffice it to say, we were not disappointed. The band, sporting a brand new SF-heavyweights lineup, delivered a show that was packed with energy, delved skillfully into the new material, and most importantly left the audience begging for more. In short: totally killer.

The show, as is often the case with the band, started out on the mellow side. The band (as we mentioned) has a new lineup, but you wouldn't have known it: they were totally tight and on the mark, even in spite of a smallish amount of space on stage. The band's new lineup is nothing if not experienced: Tyson Vogel of Two Gallants has taken over percussive duties, and Gram Lebron of Rogue Wave has taken over a multi-instrumentalist role. Combine that with the band's existing lineup, and you have yourself a damn solid live act.

The really nice thing about the show was that the new material integrated extremely well with the old material: there was no vibe of "old song-new song" in the set. Rather, the set had a natural momentum of its own that built over the course of the hour or so that the band played. It also wasn't hurting things that they were playing to a crowd that was clearly packed with fans of the breadth of the band's material.

One of our favorite moments was "Calm Me Down", from the new record. The tune had a gradual buildup that was simply stunning. Apparently the band hasn't played it that much live. Well, HAD pro tip: they should! It's a brilliant tune on record, and even better live.

The band wrapped the show with their classic "I Woke Up Today" group participatory act, and we have to say it really worked. The last time we saw them it had been feeling a little tired, but on Friday it had a vitality and newness that felt completely exciting and fresh. To our ears, that vibe was indicative of a larger renaissance for Port O'Brien. With their new record and new lineup, this is a band that went through the wringer and came out on the other side the better for it. If you haven't seen them live (or even if it's just been a while), now is clearly the time to do so. Take our word for it.

More photos at the HAD Archive. Port O'Brien is on tour now.

mp3: Port O'Brien - Calm Me Down


Anonymous said...

i was at this show and it was SICK! you should see port o'brien live if you have the chance. the lead singer is mesmerizing and super-human.