The Star Theatre in Portland, Oregon is easily one of the best venues I have visited. The size is perfect to have anybody from a one-person band, to a highly energetic five-piece like The Sounds.
The floor plan is perfect. The entrance leads to the top of the bar where one can see the stage in the nearing distance. Stairs and ramps lead downward toward the stage, allowing everyone from the top to the bottom to see and enjoy the band no matter the size of the crowd.
Strange Talk opened the show to the crowd's enjoyment. The frontman was confident and stoic as they played their enjoyable tunes to a crowd who mostly did not recognize the songs. Interestingly enough, they appeared to be more established than the following band, Blondfire.
That is not a dig for Blondfire. In fact, the band had a sizable group of people pushing toward the stage, yelling and hollering happily between tracks. Erica Driscoll, the frontwoman, was on point with her stunning vocals and despite her palpable shyness, was a crowd-pleaser.
Then came The Sounds. The stage is small. One would assume that Maja Ivarsson would not be as active as she was, let us say, at Jiffy Lube Live back in 2009 when the band opened for No Doubt. This was not the case.
The band opened with "Nobody Sleeps When I'm Awake" their lead cut from two albums ago, Crossing The Rubicon. The mid-tempo track was a wonderful opener and the crowd agreed. This led to "Song With A Mission" and the newer "Shake Shake Shake". The three tracks were lead singles off their respective parent albums, which meant that the crowd was pleased, to say the least.
Rubicon track "Dorchester Hotel" was interesting due to Maja smoking her first cigarette on stage. This is a departure from the No Doubt concert, where they later performed together with No Doubt and Paramore. The audience loved seeing Maja be the best badass version of herself. The more they wanted, the more she would shake her head, the more she stumped her legs, and the more badass she became.
"Painted by Numbers" was one of the biggest numbers of the night. The band extended the instrumentals and Maja asked the audience to participate as everybody uttered "na na na na na na na na na...". One could have thought the show, seven songs into it, was not going to last long and end soon after this. But that was not the case, for the band performed eighteen songs off their five albums in total.
The slow ballad "Wish You Were Here" blended swiftly into "Weekend" and "4 Song & a Fight". Then, they played "It's Not My Fault" and "Take it Wrong Way". Here, Maja smoked her second cigarette. At some point she threw the cigarette into the crowd (as well as an empty water bottle).
Thirteen songs into the show, they performed a track off their first set. The title song "Living in America" was a big pleaser and the audience, bouncing along to Maja, ate it up with gusto.
New single "Outlaw" followed as did "Ego". The band took a break and after a few minutes, returned for their encore.
"Tony The Beat" came and everybody just about lost their minds. The song was performed beautifully and everybody was feeling it. This led to "Rock & Roll". The ending track "Hope You're Happy Now" was loud, energetic and a great ending to a magnificent, and extremely timely show.
The band will keep promoting Weekend alongside Strange Talk, Blondfire and Ghost Beach for the coming months. This includes a stop by 9:30 Club on April 12th. Do. Not. Miss. It.
Films: OFIR (documentary) : Ne Te Retourne Pas (short) : Halina (short) : EK (short) : Despite The Gods (documentary) : Materica (short) : Lawrence and Hollowman, the movie : No Strangers (documentary) : Meth Head, the movie : Echoes (short) : Titans of Newark (short) : A Cure (short) : Precious, the movie : This Is It (documentary)
Music: The Sounds' Weekend : Austra's Olympia : KENN's We Killed KENN : VV Brown's Samson & Delilah : Sammy Crawford's Reality Sets In : Melanie C's Stages : Madonna's MDNA : Nelly Furtado's Spirit Indestructible : CocoRosie's "We Are On Fire" : Stephan Nance's A Troubled Piece of Fruit
Stand Up: Kevin J Thornton