The Drew Grow and the Pastors’ Wives CD release show’s resemblance to a wonderland of intense musical muppets was uncanny. It was wild and crazy; the performers danced insanely, instruments broke frequently, and bizarre howling duets happened (more than once). For those of you who enjoy music that messes with your mind and toys with that bit of childlike anarchy still lingering in our souls.. I hope you were at the show.
First to the stage that night went Head and the Heart, a group folksy rockers hailing from Seattle. They were the perfect start to the evening. I loved the raw percussion sound mixed with the piano and violin. The stings countered the jovial percussion with a somewhat hauntingly pleasant contrast. And then there was the physical element of it; the clapping, the stomping… Kenny William’s pounding down on the piano, his head drooping, shoulders hunched, torso bobbing up and down over the keys as if he were on strings.
Next came Fences, also Seattle based. The music was sad and twisted. And oddly fitting. They were dark, total opposites of Head and the Heart, with melodies that had you cringing with discomfort. As I stood there listening, I felt that it was a desired effect. There was something in the extremity of their music which harked vaguely of “Margo and The Nuclear So and So’s”…meets “Death Cab”. They were dark, and they wanted it that way. The contrast between bands was drastic, and kind of cool. I’m curious as to where I’ll see Fences in the next few years. There was something standoutish, and it made me want to tesseract directly to their next thing.
Finally the Pastor’s Wives came. Incredible. Drum sets crashing. Pianos smashing. People screaming the lyrics at the top of their lungs. Drew Grow, grinning intently out over the audience, (oddly similar to a young Neil Young), began what was a soul shaking set of rock music, with a sweet folky twist. And then the howling started. Sometimes a song would begin with just a simple howl. The howl would turn melodic, then someone else would join in, and suddenly music was filling up the room, like a Gospel indie-rock choir. At one point, Drew began this howling bit, and just before he stopped, someone in the audience began to mimic the howl. And then another, and another until we all had it down, and as we howled, Drew sang a chorus. I spotted the members of Head and the Heart dispersed throughout the audience, and realized that they probably gave the initial queues. Even so, it was a genius tactic, unlocking the crowd with a wonderful cathartic effect.
Mid set, we had a nice little (BIG) surprise. Onto the stage went Grand Hallway’s (and Levee Breaking beloved) Shenandoah Davis. Portland Cello Project’s Douglas Jenkins having previously infiltrated the group. To top it off Kelli Schaeffer suddenly appeared amidst everyone else, singing along to “Do you Feel it.” The intensity just kept growing. The Audience loved them. It was all so beautifully raw. I can’t help describe it without some sense of lunacy. The Holy Roller vibe was certainly present at this show. what with the screaming, the dancing, the foot stomping and, well, with the way Drew Grow kept smiling with that broken grin of his. It was Gospel music, but it had in it a bit of good old Mad Hatter crazy: alarmingly charming. It was an incredible show. I hope you were there.