Sunday, April 7, 2013
Port City Music Hall, Portland, Maine
I got a message from my friend McKay inviting me to come see his Portland-based band Forget, Forget open for Family of the Year at Port City Music Hall. I really like Family of the Year’s 2012 album, Loma Vista, so I actually already had a ticket. I emailed the band’s publicist to see if I could use my swanky new camera at the show, and she responded immediately with a yes. So then I had two tickets—well, a ticket and a press pass. And then I won two tickets from 98.9WCLZ that I’d signed up for weeks earlier. Oops. One girl. Four tickets. I took a friend and tried (unsuccessfully) to find a taker for the extras. I failed. I hope it doesn’t affect my concert karma. Fingers crossed.
I made my way to Portland at 7:30 after a long day of driving for my dear friend Melissa’s ordination service. There was a small crowd when I arrived that essentially filled the VIP section at Port City Music Hall. James and I grabbed a table in the front near the stage so we’d have a good view for the show. McKay came out to chat for a bit before Forget, Forget’s set. I’d just read a revealing and helpful article about the band in the Bangor Daily News that they’d posted on their Facebook page. Apparently, songwriter and band leader Tyler DeVos works with people with mental illness and writes down the things those folks say. The band’s songs are filled with collections of the seemingly random and sometimes disturbing phrases. The background information really helped me appreciate what they’re saying.
Tyler is joined by six band mates that together make a powerful sound—McKay Belk (guitar/banjo), John Nels Blanchette (guitar), Aaron LaChance (drums), Patia Maule (violin/keys), Dominic Grosso (bass), and Johanna Sorrell (cello). Yes, that’s a lot of strings. Sometimes I couldn’t hear all of the parts during their set, but I heartily enjoyed their music anyhow. They are a cohesive unit with great harmonies and I found them captivating.
I would love to sit down with Forget, Forget’s lyrics, and hope to do so later in the summer when their album is released. Stay tuned for their Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to get their first album out. Tyler’s job must be really interesting, because the lyrics are fascinating—“I’m married to Avril Lavigne, Cher, and Olivia Newton-John/I’m scared one day they will realize/I’ve been keeping multiple wives.” Everyone in the band sang these lyrics in a lovely round—“The sound is loud/The wild people rejoice/Don’t remember/Never remember/Forget/Forget/Forget/Forget/Forget.” And finally (and quite poignantly), “Do you love me/the way I was loved/the way I was loved/before I got sick.” I am already looking forward to seeing Forget, Forget again. They were a great surprise.
I was underwhelmed with Family of the Year’s live show. I really like their upbeat, harmonic pop music. Their harmonies are great and they are so tight as a unit that they occasionally sound like one voice. I love good banter, though, and to feel like I’m part of a concert experience. The band seemed quite comfortable during their songs, but they were stiff in between and relied on talking to each other instead of actively involving the small, but attentive crowd in the show.
Lead singer and guitarist Joe Keefe sounded great. His brother Sebastian kept the beat going strong on drums and tambourine. James Bucky on guitar looked a lot like Paul Simon and kept a low profile. Alex Walker on bass was having an awesome time and bounced around and smiled a ton and was a pleasure to watch. I found keyboardist Christina Schroeter very distracting because she gesticulated like a rapper and even did some fist pumping. She reminded me a lot of Gwen Stefani, so seemed a little out of place at an indie pop show. She was kind to the crowd when it came to talking about their album, though. Christina told us that they’d love for us to leave with their album, so they were available as “pay what you can.” She said that the most important thing is that we left with the music. I liked that.
I liked every song Family of the Year played. You may have heard “Chugjug” a couple of years ago in an Advil commercial. 98.9 WCLZ (who promoted the show) is playing “Hero” regularly and it’s so good. I really liked “Buried” (which reminds me so much of Good Old War, who I love), “St. Croix,” “Living on Love,” and “Diversity.” They covered Richard and Linda Thompson’s “I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight.” I’m not sure what the last song of their set was, but they gave it their all and really rocked out.
Family of the Year left the stage and everyone clapped kindly for an encore, even though we were a small Sunday night crowd. I was really surprised that the band didn’t come back out for an encore. That rarely happens these days. In the rare instances when I’ve seen bands not do an encore, they’ve always said as much before leaving the stage. It was a little strange. In the end, I still quite like Family of the Year’s music, but their live show was not inspired. We all have off nights, so I’m willing to give them another shot. Have other people seen Family of the Year and loved their live show? Let us know! I’d be happy to be wrong about them.