A full house was on hand March 21 to see Brooklyn’s Yellow Ostrich rocket the Doug Fir Lounge. Led by frontman Alex Schaaf, the singer-guitarist was backed by the relaxed, tight musicianship of drummer Michael Tapper, bassist Zack Rose and singer-keyboard-guitarists Jared Van Fleet.
Yellow Ostrich featured seven songs from this year’s new release, Cosmos, during their 60-minute set. After quickly greeting the crowd, Schaaf launched into the pulsing, bass-driven groove of Any Wonder, and sang romantically about the vastness of the universe. The band kept the space adventure cruising, shuttling into two more songs from Cosmos, the spinning, yearning dark emotion of Neon Fists, followed by the edgy psychedelic intoxication of Shades, and its ringing guitar melody.
During a brief pause, Schaaf excitedly chatted with the crowd about the new songs and album, and their source of inspiration, Carl Sagan’s 1980 PBS series, Cosmos, and the coinciding release of their album at the same time of the new FOX TV series, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.
In a recent interview Schaaf related, “Something I really like about the Carl Sagan way of thinking is how it’s a very unironic and sincere amazement at how the world works. One of the main things I was thinking about in writing this album is how to take that viewpoint and bring it into real-world life. But trying to inject that pure amazement into day-to-day living in a big city is something completely different.”
Schaaf captained the space odyssey on a detour and drifted back to their 2012 release, Ghost, playing the hauntingly soft ballad title track before bounding off into the inventive, syncopated musings of Here Today.
Yellow Ostrich then returned to Cosmos, seamlessly moving through more tunes, starting with the celestial contemplation of Things Are Fallin’, then the solitary reflection of My Moons, with its lyrical dialog orbiting into an interstellar guitar solo. Concluding the trio was the floating, amazed exclamation of In The Dark, with its moody synths elevating the track into the infinite solitude of the cosmos.
The band returned to earthly sentiments and finished the regular set with the aquatic admiration of Whale, and crossed the finish line with the triple-step workout of Marathon Runner.
A rousing cheer of delight called the band back for more. Yellow Ostrich returned to the stage to finish the evening with a two-song encore, the joyous animal acknowledgement of Elephant King, and the ode to the endearing, mystical seer, Mary.
The evening was opened by the high energy set of Thumpers, along with an adventurous 10-song synthonic set from the ever artful Pattern Is Movement. Andrew Thiboldeaux and Christopher Ward’s creative experimental synth and drum powered signature featured numerous songs from their up coming, self-titled release coming out April 1 --- no foolin’! The amiable Ward professed their pleasure of being back in Portland. Along with the reserved Thiboldeaux, the band mates covered an inspired arrangement of songs from their catalog that even included a soul-synthed version of D’Angelo’s How Does It Feel, as only Pattern Is Movement can. It doesn’t get much more astronomical or adventuresome than an evening with Yellow Ostrich and Pattern Is Movement.
Be sure to keep up with bands & musicians playing the Portland Music Scene by clicking on the Subscribe tab at the top of the page. Thank you for your support!