fire within: Dante's features a hearthside barstool with Kurt
Dahlke's name on it.
of the Year & Voyager One at Dante's
Inner ear meets outer space
Every time I want to head into outer space -- quite
frequently, actually -- I know I can find a dark corner, slap
on the Walkman, er, MP3 player, and listen to Yo La Tengo or Spacemen
3 with eyes closed. No matter the band, the stuff to which we
listen in order to get that warm, faraway feeling exhibits a common
motif: set up a riff and stretch it like taffy.
Now some, they do it to trounce you with a wash
of sound. And some, they do it as a pop put-on. In between those
poles lie Man of the Year and Voyager One, bands that know the
value of a good four-note figure repeated for two minutes straight.
of the Year
Man of the Year, the April 28 headliner down at
Dante's, wields a pop stick, while opening act Voyager One tries
to recreate the sound of amniotic fluid.
And suddenly there is just enough time to flag down
another pint before the West Burnside bar is overwhelmed by sound
... Slick and sleazy (in a good way), Man of the
Year starts out like the Archies -- if they'd evolved a few years
and got hooked on Laudanum. The first song is a languid, grinding,
major-key rave-up. Sounds like an oxymoron but it's a great combination.
The down-tempo rhythm matches nicely with the upbeat melody.
Singer/guitarist and general Man of the Year Todd
Morrissey is decked out in tight, brown T-shirt and corduroys.
Or is it an orange T, brown denim jacket and cords? No matter;
Morrissey's a long way from his days with Nero's Rome. The artifice
of those days gives way to the casual ease with which he now throws
out Portland-style Brit-pop tunes. He strums a loose pop chorus
in languorous manner, while Brenna Sheridan plays a greasy, looping
figure on the Moog. Lance Kreiter's drums propel everything into
Kelly Simmons' bass. I'm lulled into a groovy stupor.
But the set gets more energetic with the very next
song -- and doesn't stray too far thereafter. Playing stripped-down
psychedelia with singalong choruses at a good clip, Simmons and
Morrissey creak out some pretty nice harmonies. I look forward,
however, to some three-part harmonies including new keyboard player/utility
musician Sheridan; I'm sure she could fit it in between cycling
moog-bloops, chord-beds and thrashing out occasional backing guitars.
Man of the Year doesn't get quite as overwhelming
as I like my psychedelic tunes to be, preferring to tread lighter,
catchier grounds. They keep you at a low boil -- adherence to
true pop form holding back most of the roiling you'd expect from
a band on Loveless Records, the shoe-gazers paradise. But if that's
what a well-written pop song does to acid-rock, then it's worth
Voyager One, however, does whatever it takes to
obliterate any semblance of reality other than its own. The stereotypical
opening gambit of twin-guitar noise-attack almost instantly wipes
out everything in the room with its gargantuan size. As they settle
into a Cocteaus-Valentine-Loop-inspired groove. I give thanks.
Gigantic space-sounds tower o'er me, the twin-wah
affront during an instrumental break sends solar flares out toward
the crowd. The group's menacing, trip-inducing cover of the Velvet's
"What Goes On" surpasses the original in disorientation,
while maintaining the intent. Sadly, the band chooses to go out
in a whimper this night, with a slow, quiet, ethereal Beatles
cover -- and loses audience attention. Good tune, bad placement.
Especially considering the number of Voyager's own powerful tunes
available as a closer.
Voyager One and Man of the Year represent two ends
of a spectrum: narcotic sensualism to Cap'n Crunch bop. Do I know
what I'm saying anymore? Not sure, really. It's time to get out
of the smoke and let the white noise in my ears form its own songs
for awhile. If you like to listen to the noise inside your ears,
too, you'll find something to love from these Loveless bands.
See Man of the Year in Portland:
June 8: Ash Street Saloon (w/Sugarboom)
July 23-Aug. 1: The band plays several California dates