Wonder Ballroom, Portland
December 13, 2005
I know, I know - this review is ages in coming. Terribly sorry about that... I'm going to blame it on the time of year and the stupid illnesses I was dealing with since basically the beginning of December. The bottom line is that I'm finally getting to it, which makes me feel better. I'm sure it makes you feel better, too, right? Right?
December 13 was the welcome-home show, in a sense, for the two bands, as they'd been out on the road since mid-November. We were looking forward to seeing my brother, and frankly I was hoping we'd get a chance to see the folks we'd met in Los Angeles in mid-November. My mother had also driven the 2+ hours up to Portland, since she'd not yet seen The Out Crowd perform. I was not-so-secretly hoping my mother would get a chance to meet Courtney of Dandys' fame, if only because how many peoples' mothers get to do that?
We didn't get a chance to see Brother Caleb before the show, so when The Out Crowd took to the stage Mom and I walked over to Caleb's side just to wave and let him know we were there. Then we walked back to the mid-center of the hall to listen to the show. Unfortunately, The Wonder Ballroom has a seriously less-than-wonderful house soundman. (Or at least they did for that show.) It was so bad - indescribably bad. The band looked frustrated, and I was annoyed. They'd sounded so great at the L.A. show, and my poor mom didn't get a chance to hear that. Instead, the only thing that was coming through the house speakers was the bass (when my bass-playing brother heard that he said, "Oh, well, maybe the sound wasn't so bad after all..."). The vocals and guitars seemed to be coming only vaguely through the monitors, along with lots of feedback. We felt badly for the band, who clearly wasn't showcased in their best light - and after such a great tour, it had to have been a frustrating way to end things.
Brother Caleb on the left, and the whole Out Crowd on the right - plus one. Greek trumpeter Achilles joined the band onstage for a few songs at the end of their set. Apparently, he'd been doing that for awhile on tour.
After their set, Caleb came out and brought us backstage - which, in this case, was a downstairs hallway lined on one side with what looked like gym lockers. I got my wish, as Courtney walked past just then, met my mother, and stood around with all of us to chat for awhile. He and Caleb joked about the venue - although it's actually quite pretty on the inside, with interesting designs painted on the walls (its grand opening was just in the summer of 2005), the stage was rather small and it did have the overall feel of a high school gymnasium. Courtney and Caleb said that during soundcheck the two bands were talking about which one was going to win the Battle of the Bands that year.
Before the Dandys went onstage, we were ushered back upstairs into what turned out to be a much fuller hall. It was so full, in fact, that we didn't make it far past the backstage door. The Dandys, of course, have their own soundman, and so predictably their sound was fabulous. We didn't stay for much longer than 45 minutes or so (my mom had that 2+ hour drive home, and it was a Tuesday night), but I got to hear several of my favorite songs and my mom ended up liking the Dandys quite a bit. I imagine not many peoples' mothers do that, either.
The Dandys in concert.