Ghost Mom at Valentine’s Dec. 16

Bummed I missed the 1st two bands, but after having seen what I did of the Mountain Goats I wouldn’t have missed that show for anything.

I ask the door guy if there’s any music left & he tells me there’s one band yet to go on. It turns out they’re called Ghost Mom, which cracks me up, because friends of mine/people I deeply admire: the awesome local theater troupe Action/Adventure Theater just did a serial play called Fall of the Band about the fracture & dissolution of a fictitious band & the name of the group in the play was “Ghost Dad” in homage to the Cosby celluloid masterpiece. (SRSLY, how the hell was it that Sidney Pointier “directed” that?) What they specialize in is a 4 week long run, with each weekend being a different “episode” exploring wacky hi-jinks & advancing the serial plot. This recommendation may sound like a TV Guide listing (I know, how retro-cool, right?) but trust me, hilarity *will* (& inevitably does) in fact ensue. The plot is very very loosely scripted & so is mostly improvised by the talented member of the troop. If you live in Portland & haven’t seen these guys play yet, WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU? Get thee to a theater, right now! Or…you know, when they’re actually in season. Whatever. SRSLY though. You won’t regret it.

Anyhow, I perch myself up in the balcony in time to hear the. 1st song. It’s reverby, w/ a great middle cacophonous chorus. Has a real surf-poppy feel to it. Amazing to get that much sound out of a 3 piece. The lead singer has a great stage presence, banters easily & good naturedly. In addition to this, she has real vocal dynamism, able to move from coarse belting into sweet crooning and back with comfort. She also has a rugged confidence that is contagious. There’s also a bass & a trap-kit drummer.

2012-12-16 23.59.57

2nd song, is more sing-y, with a bit of La Sera/Vivian Girls feel to it, then it turns a corner & picks up.

3rd song is working a bit of a garage-drenched 50s do-wop thing.

4th. Singer apologies, since it’s the first time she’s played this on guitar, she usually sings. Has a real pounding Theme From Peter Gunn vibe opening before expanding into some wonderfully noisy crash pop

5th song is called “Forget You”.  A slower & more sedate song, yearning with teenage sweetness that’s been Ramone-ed up a bit. The song is about giving out fake phone numbers when out at a bar. Up in the balcony, the girls watching along the front row are doing various impromptu & semi-coordinated late 50s/early 60s go-go dance moves. The light-hearted good feeling in the room is palpable & it’s a pleasantly large but not overbearing crowd for a Sunday night. Now that the Ella Street is closed, Valentine’s is now easily the best music venue in town, by which I mean the place where you’ve got the best odds of catching some tiny local act surprise you at how talented your neighbors are; that guy you saw dancing up a storm at the Holocene or the lady you saw reading Sartre at a bus stop in the rain can also play music that stops you in your tracks & you go, “whoa!”.  There’s times when this city/town feels woefully small & then there are times like this when it feels just the right size & that everyone here is secretly (or sometimes not-so-secretly) doing something AMAZING & is totally willing to show & tell you all about it if you just stop to ask.

The 6th song has a rougher start to it, but settles down into some gritty pop sweetness.

7th song didn’t really jump out at me, but it was enjoyable.

8th has the drummer taking over duty on the guitar & the lead singer walking around the room w/ the mic & a tambourine. It’s a slower, very croony song w/ that gritty edge of a Gretch-style guitar through some Fender distortion. This song really showcases the lead singer’s range & ability to belt. Make sense why they closed with that one: it was their most emotionally resonant song, at least it seemed that way to me on first (& only) listen.

Leaving, I get a look next door at Berbatti’s, Ted’s…whatever the hell they’re calling it now & am surprised to see…goths. Goths! They still make goths! I love those guys! Who knew?

I have to fight off the urge to run up to one of them & hug them & say, “I didn’t know they still made you guys! You guys are awesome!” but being:

A) A deeply reserved person despite my rampant wordiness
B) Always afraid that my overwhelming enthusiasm & sincerity will be mistaken for sarcasm
C) Wicked tired from a long day

cooler heads prevail & I head home for the night, with a lot of really great music ringing in my ears.

-Mr. F.

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