There was a time when I would have paid to see Tapes ‘n’ Tapes, but that time is not now. And I have no love for Sons and Daughters. So the only band I was interested in seeing was Port O’Brien. Which was convenient, because they were the ones I was interviewing.
It was only a short, first-of-three opening set in a Tripod that went from empty to half-full as it progressed. Not really the kind of thing that can give a true impression of a band, especially one like Port O’Brien who are quiet twice as often as they’re loud and play a lot of soul-searching songs about the sea. It was good to see though.
The difference between Port O’Brien and every band that sails the ocean deep in their imagination is this: salmon fishing. Van Pierszalowski, who is the main singer and songwriter, is the son of a commercial salmon fisherman, and Van spends summers in Alaska with him. Being a skiff-man, whatever that is. Cambria Goodwin, who plays banjo (inaudible at Tripod but essential to the sound on record) and also sings, is a baker at a salmon cannery. When Port O’Brien write songs with nautical metaphors… they’re not metaphors. Well, they are. But it’s a level closer. It’s like the difference between a Hollywood actor doing an Irish accent, and an actual Irish accent, sort of.
Relating to the gig specifically, I’ll just say that even though the other three people in the band (Josh, Zebedee and Caleb) were straight out of Vetiver/a Californian medicinal marijuana supplier’s in appearance (flares and beards, basically), there is a distinctive Arcade Fire vibe about their live show. Part of it’s the chemistry between Van and Cambria. Part of it’s the energy of certain songs of theirs, not as developed as Arcade Fire’s by a long shot, but showing signs. I don’t know what the rest of it is, it’s just an instinctive thing on my part.
The gig didn’t do them justice, because they were cut short and the circumstances weren’t right. But if you follow up on one thing I say on this blog, make it this: click the Muxtape link on the sidebar, and listen to I Woke Up Today.