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Aural Report

The Wedding Present at Portland's Doug Fir
A lexicon for lovelorn loyalists
by Kurt Dahlke

eing disinclined toward excessive efforts in the arena of writing this month, I thought I might just plug in a few entries from the Aural Report Dictionary.

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.

The 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.

David 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 so empowering.

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.

Seamonsters: 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.

Take Fountain: The 2005 release might ensnare a new cadre of lovelorn thinkers.

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.

E-mail Kurt at orangeandorange@msn.com, and don't miss his previous reports.

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