Wedding Present at Portland's Doug Fir
lexicon for lovelorn loyalists
disinclined toward excessive efforts in the arena of writing this
month, I thought I might just plug in a few entries from the Aural
Befuddled (adj.): This correspondent swaggers up to the
Doug Fir Lounge's door, proffers ID and wrist, then steps inside
to ask the ticket taker if he has the list. Whoops! It's out at
the box-office window, heretofore undiscovered territory for the
Report. There, personal confusion ensues as the closest name match
is for Kirk Dunk. Being extremely rabbity I argue that it's not
me until they forcibly flag me through.
Wedding Present at the Doug Fir Lounge: Songs of self-deprecating
heartache never were so empowering.
Disappointed (adj.): Late as usual for much lauded neo-blues
'n' country croaker Tim Fite, playing in twin jumpsuits he and a
DJ are, with a huge Buck Rogers glittery boom-box. After procuring
the necessary pint I arrive on the floor only for Fite's mandated
encore, a slow and mournful solo prayer with simple guitar.
Transfixed (adj.): The audience, absorbing Fite's encore,
upon the completion of which the DJ (who's been packing his gear
the whole time) looks up with a wholly disingenuous, "wasn't
that amazing?" grin. We agree.
Unsalvageable (adj.): Sitting alone at the bar between sets
I think how I'm happy right now not to be making the rounds, not
that there's ever much of anybody for me to chat with. I note one
or two other solos scouting the room for a friendly ear. At best
they look overeager but a little hopeless. At worst they probably
look like I usually do.
Genuine (adj.): David Gedge, the angst behind the Wedding
Present, betrays slight concern during the opening number, after
mentioning that power to his side of the stage disappeared halfway
through the song. The band seems unwilling to do the whole song
again, but no, he says, just the last bit because it's the loudest
he gets to play during the set. The redux, of course, also enables
them to move straightaway into the next tune as rehearsed.
Gedge: the angst behind the Present.
Towering (adj.): That old TWP sound, melodies that hew to
the pop grain while maintaining a surprising intelligence and unpredictability.
The band, eerily lit in green (a sweet contrast to the woodsy tones
of the Fir) becomes something bigger as the players give their unmitigated
all to each song. Songs of self-deprecating heartache never were
Bludgeoning (adj.): Of course, the main facet of the Weddoes
aesthetic is the bludgeon. If a rhythm has a certain tempo, then
the note value can be doubled. That's why anytime Gedge finishes
a verse he seems to double over in a concentrated St. Vitus fit,
sawing at his hollow-bodied electric guitar like a kid who believes.
Usually he's just playing one or two chords, but to the absolute
degree. It's also why he has a wicked-cute guitar tech swapping
and tuning for him every other song.
The seminal 1991 release elicits a strong response.
Lanky (adj.): The new band, two slim lads from The Isles
who look as though they come from British Punk Band Central Casting.
Play like it, too. Nice. Nice also is the bassist, a good singer,
solid foundation, and dead ringer for Carrie-Anne Moss. Whoa ...
Savage (adj. n. tr.v.): The Present, with a predilection
for picking canny covers, unleashes its version of "Falling,"
the "Twin Peaks" theme song. Slow like a lava flow, the
crushing mounds of distortion that pile up attest to the fact that
TWP has tapped into a wholly different vein of power than that of
the Badalamenti original.
Fountain: The 2005 release might ensnare a new cadre of
Nostalgic (adj.): Though newly invigorated by a passel of
neo-classic numbers from the 2005 album, Take Fountain, TWP
elicits the strongest response with songs from the seminal albums
Bizarro and Sea Monsters. I guess that's what happens
when you fold up your tarps for a few years; the loyalists end up
retreating to the happy place: 1989. We hope Take Fountain
ensnares a new cadre of lovelorn thinkers who want to pogo.
Curious (adj.): Some good-natured heckling from Gedge, aimed
at one lass trying to sneak out during the last number, is ultimately
followed up by the Present's traditional, firm and unsentimental
"we don't do encores" announcement. Then they're gone,
and we only have ringing ears to keep the memory.