Author: Austin Rich

Austin’s Salem Mix-Tape Vol. 1: Summer Edition

A tip of the hat to Vic Hollywood for naming this one, and inspiring the idea for this article on MyFacester+ Twinstablr with a post he made about assembling a Salem Comp.  And why not? We are at a pretty sweet spot right now for local music, and there’s so much going on that it would be foolish not to document it. So here’s my first mix tape, that you should jam around town this Summer as you enjoy the sounds of rad local music. I should mention that all of these groups are playing between now and when...

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The 20th Annual World Beat Festival. Riverfront Park. June 23rd – June 25th

Now in the 20th year of operation, the World Beat Festival has taken over the Riverfront Park to bring a wide range of music and merriment to the Salem area.  Beginning Friday June 23rd and running through the weekend, this will be an incredible opportunity to see a wide range of acts that often don’t make it into the club scene because they are of the “world music” genre.  There’s gonna be food, a “Taste The World Promotion), and it’s an allages event, and it is put on by the City of Salem, which makes this one truly a...

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Giants in the Trees, Paste, Fools, and Paper Brain. June 30th @ 8pm at The Space

It won’t take long for this show on June 30th to sell out.  Krist Noveselic (of Nirvana fame) has a new group, and it is playing at The Space Concert Club with an incredible line-up of local acts, too.  Paper Brain, Paste, & The Fools will all round out this line-up, making this one of the most anticipated local shows of the summer.  Now, Giant In The Trees doesn’t sound like Nirvana, and frankly, this will not be an evening of music that you expect. But I can guarantee that what you will find is a new band to...

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BBQ. Your Backyard.

Let’s face it.  After Make Music Day, and all the other stuff that’s been going on, you’ll be wanting to enjoy the fourth of July this year with a party at your pad, to really soak in all the stuff this summer has been offering so far.  Just about every BBQ in this town will be bubbling with amazing tunes on the stereo, and that kind of musical gathering is probably something you won’t find anywhere else.  I can almost guarantee you know someone who is going to have bands in their backyard, and you can probably get a...

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Brutal. (Recluse, Witch Breath & Barghest @ The Space Concert Club 12 June 2017)

The older I get, the harder it is muster up the energy to go to a show on any night of the week, let alone a Monday Night.  There are so many factors in life that keep the inertia aimed squarely at where the kitchen is stocked and the couch is one I’ve passed out on before, that I just don’t see myself doing this very often.  But as someone with at least 10 Melvins shows under my belt, an undeniable love of Motorhead, and a stack of RABBITS albums I swear upon when I need to speak under oath, even the lightest wiff of a metal show gets me a little excited.   Clearly, I’m not the only one, because two touring bands from New Orleans I had never heard of – sandwiching an up and coming local act – was enough to get nearly all of the local die-hards out, and from the way were were all partying, none of us realized they had to go to work the next day.   Recluse (reclusenola.bandcamp.com) opened the gig, a truly athletic group that rode the fine line between hardcore and metal in a way that was both majestic and epic.  Leaping around while singing, the rest of the group had to deliver their tunes at breakneck pace just to keep up with the riffs, and with a crowd that...

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Showtigers (10 June 2017 @ The Space)

While they only opened the show last night at The Space, the recent EP release party (and the impending buzz around their show at the Ike Box on June 16th) is making Showtigers out to be one of the new acts to keep an eye on this summer. Last year saw them put out the “Passing Crowd” single, something they expanded upon with their “Smoke & Mirrors” EP this year, entirely recorded and produced by the band. For something this home-brewed, the production is very focused and mature for a group so young.  (None of the Showtigers are old enough to stay in the bar during the show, let alone to have the years of recording experience that usually produces audio like this.)   Even more impressive is the way these guys know their way around a stage. Not only do these kids have a sense of style and fashion that is aware of the last several decades and entirely speaks to their own interpretation, they also take their Garage Rock moniker fairly seriously, busting out riffs and jams that are not only referencing at least 50 years of rock music know-how, but percolate these sounds through a tiger’s filter.  Showtigers have an understanding of the relationship between performance and good chops, between song and audience. And there’s a wisdom to their words that seems beyond their years.  The line,...

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This Is Where You Belong

There are bars, clubs for dancing, places you take your drinking buddies, and that bar that you all go to after work because it is the closest thing to your office, and all of you need a fuckin’ drink, now. And then there’s the kind of place that is united by the family that pops up around the location, where the crew that run the place are as dedicated to each other as they are to the focus of their venue. Those spaces are fewer and further between as we retreat into our phones and MyFacester+ Twinstagramblr, and when we see them, it is certainly a majestic thing to behold. It is hard to ignore the kind of family feeling you get when you interact with the people who run The Space Concert Club, located “across the bridge” (in Lancaster Mall-speak). The bartenders and staff all offer a friendliness that makes even the most hipstery and stubborn music snob soften up when they descend into the back patio.  While this would be merely a bonus in any typical bar, this is a major benefit to a local club that hosts a wide range of acts and music events.  All of this was in evidence at the Crown Larks / City of Pieces double header last night (7 June 2017), where two expert groups offered a taste of the musical...

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Orchards – A Shallow Birth

I am a Taurus and a creature of habit through and through, and the moment the weather changes in the slightest, I am like Huck Finn, ready to put on my Man… Or Astro-Man? Records so I can rock the fuck out in the yard with a few beers and some friends.  What can I say?  Old habits die hard, and I’m such a sucker for loud Cheap Trick and grilled asparagus that it doesn’t take much for me to try and start arranging for a party on those days when work seems like bullshit anyway, and you know...

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Beef Kitchen – Evil Wizard Finger (Review)

The problem with Beef Kitchen is that I’m totally onto their game.  Their debut release is a CD, a single, 22 minute release titled “guided meditation.”  But what follows on the disc are a number of performances, many of which are drenched in effected guitar, accompanied by voice and drums, and presented as mysteriously as you can in this digital age.  In fact, I received a message saying that the album was available at Guitar Castle, and it was only in the time since that a digital version grudgingly appeared on Bandcamp. (beefkitchen.bandcamp.com).  Billing themselves as “desert psychedelia,” they mine equal parts Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd, the noise rock sound of the early 2000’s, and Spaceman 3’s Taking Drugs to Make Music To Take Drugs To.   But the catch is, they are trying to mask their chops in all the mystery and weirdness, and for that, I need to call them out.  “Had a friend and he was a wolfman,” they sing out, and in that “song” you can not only hear the guitarwork at its best, but the effects are spare enough to reveal how good these guys are.  The lyrics, while tongue in cheek and delivered as such, are actually getting at something at times, as if to make it appear as if any brilliance were an accident.  Near the end of “guided meditation,” there...

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April Fool’s Showdown #1: Summer Eyes, Black Delaney, and Hot Sheets @ The Fifty

I am a sucker for old-fashioned rock and roll bars, and the Fifty Pub n’ Grub fits that perfectly here in Salem.  This place hosts consistently great rock shows fairly often, and it is safe to say that if there’s a show happening there, you’ll enjoy it, no questions asked.  The inexpensive drinks and the typical barroom hijinx is the perfect ambience for loud rock music, and this show is going to be the soiree of the Spring.   Summer Eyes have that perfectly poppy seasonal sound that straddles many genres and manages to neatly carve out some territory...

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Purgatopia Filming Party • Friday, 3/31 @ The Space

The Space is knocking it out the park with their shows as of late, and Friday night’s has become something quite special in those hallowed halls.  To close out March, they are offering an old-fashioned rock and roll show, the likes of which covers so much ground that it is hard to contain everything in one venue.  The line-up is, as usual, quite fantastic.  Seattle glam combo Trannysaurus Rox is going to be delivering the perfect blend of New York Dolls and Hedwig & The Angry Inch, putting their trans lifestyle front and center in name, song and performance....

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April Fool’s Showdown #2: The Fools, Face Transplant, and Night Lizard @ The Space

Now, supposing you are more interested in something a little heavier, The Space has an incredible evening of old-fashioned psyche-rock that is guaranteed to blow the doors off your van.  The Fools are, without a doubt, picking up the torch lit by Blue Cheer and Sabbath, and are picking it up by way of Witchcraft and other modern stoner rock ancestors.  But The Fools seem to keep their bluesy, late ‘60’s roots in sharp relief, and are well worth seeing in their full head-bangin’ glory.  I’ve never seen nor heard Falcon, so I cannot speak to their virtues, but...

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Rock Shows Into the Stratosphere

Eagle-eyed Salem residents may have noticed that we’ve had a couple of shows that stuck out in the usual listings you’ll find in the area, and with good reason.  “Salem isn’t getting cool; it’s always been that way,” said Kati Geisler when I asked her about the DOA show last May, and the Agent Orange gig in November.  To someone who is still getting their bearings, they seem out of place compared to the usual Rock ‘n’ Roll that’s happening locally.  Usually, groups like that will hit Portland or Eugene due to the guaranteed draw in those places, skipping...

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This Must Be Thursday: Child P.M., Derek Johnson Love & Vortex Remover @ The Fifty Pub & Grub 9 February 2017

The adage about how difficult it is to draw a crowd on a weeknight might be well-worn at this stage, but over at the Fifty Pub & Grub, a small gathering of locals poured out to support live music on a Thursday night, in spite of rain, indifference, miniaturized computers in our pockets to distract us, and all other other reasons often given why we stay at home and watch Rockford Files reruns instead.   Over the river and through the difficult-to-navigate roads is a tiny Rock ‘n’ Roll Bar that is so welcoming that I was being hugged and treated to liquor within minutes of walking in the door.  The vibe reminded me of a hundred other bars and clubs I’ve been to, but there was a genuine friendliness that immediately won me over, and that is no small thing in this world of bitterness and mistrust.  The Fifty certainly wins out in that the prices are cheap, the food is fried, there’s gambling the the back, and as often as possible, music.   Up first were local heroes Vortex Remover, hot on the buzz of their jam-packed album release party that was standing room only, according to all reports.  Having pulled out all the stops for that performance, Rob debuted some new home-made percussive instruments build around a shovel and a pool cue for this show (to...

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Vortex Remover CD Release. Saturday, February 4th at 6:00pm at The Space

We would be remiss not to recommend this blowout of a show that is happening at The Space February 4th at 6 PM.  Not only is the Vortex Remover’s Album Release Party for their forthcoming Rawkward Phase – a release that is two and half years in the making – but this is going to be a crazy lineup of great local rock bands, with a touring group on the bill for good measure.  MARC & the Horsejerks, Summer Eyes, Saucy Yoda, Bullets or Balloons, City of Pieces and Hank porch with all all be playing, and will be...

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Mexican Gunfight Saturday, February 4th at 9:00pm at Governor’s Cup

Also happening this Saturday, February 4th is a rare appearance by Mexican Gunfight.  This Portland combo mines rock conventions and three chord structures to stake out new territory with songs that speak to a the heartfelt songs they often belt out.  Combining soaring solos, a Latin/jazz backbone to the songwriting, a driving piano and introspective lyrics that strive to tackle more than Person-Falls-In-Love ideas, Mexican Gunfight is perfect for anyone who might feel like they want to hang with a slightly older crowd on a Saturday night. Certainly, Mexican Gunfight might be courting a different demographic than a lot of...

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Center Mass String Quartet. Friday, February 10th at 9:00pm at Taproot.

Instrumentation speaks volumes about your group, and for some, the sounds of acoustic instruments is as – or more so – compelling than anything a rock combo can offer.  With that in mind, Taproot is hosting The Center Mass String Quartet, where the group is playing with The Jack Maybe Project.  Perhaps I spoke too soon by prefacing their sound with the word “acoustic,” because in their own words, The Center Mass String Quartet is “Folk-punk, Punk-folk, Deathgrass Acoustic,” and when you hear them wind-up at a pretty good clip and deliver songs like, “Blackbird” – as political a...

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The City Within a City

There are still a number of neighborhoods that are completely new to me.  I catch sight of the place The Ventures played, or the childhood home of Herbert Hoover, and I’m fascinated.  That fountain sculpture in front of the Capitol Building?  A hundred times more interesting than that gold statue.  Even The Carousel – a landmark that is known to most people outside of Salem – even that holds quite a bit of charm to this outsider’s heart.  I didn’t grow up in Salem.  But in the two years that I’ve lived here, I find something new to love...

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Bicameral Ammunition

Playing as part of the insane Vortex Remover Album Release party at The Space with Hank Porche, M.A.R.C. & the Horsejerks, Saucy Yoda, Summer Eyes, and City of Pieces on February 4th are Olympia Washington’s Bullets or Balloons, an almost DIY punk take on the prog aesthetic. The noise made on Binary Minds will be celebrated at their own  release party on January 27th, and will kick start a small tour that will take them to Eugene and back.   Since 2012 Bullets or Balloons have mastered a three-piece sound all their own, where complicated parts and smirky, moebius strip style lyrics snake around politically minded thoughts and abstract wordscapes without having to say too very much about anything specific. They are almost the heir to the throne of Schlong, save for their tendency toward original material and a prog over punk mission statement.   Certainly, the musicianship and production take center stage on Binary Minds, evoking a Don Caballero sensibility with songs that are never more than 2 minutes long.  “A walking fountain of opinions / knee-jerk reactions and decisions / who really needs more time / or additional information.”  Even the delivery sort of circles the drain of what might count as a joke, while being entirely serious, too.  (Don’t we all need to re-think the complexities of being able to say anything, anywhere, at any time?)...

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Dream Machines: John & Exene

The Salem music scene is a rather overgrown family tree, and the connections run pretty wide and pretty deep.  This point is brought into focus as we all filed into Tim Knight’s reopened Guitar Castle, a music store fixture that is well known and well loved among musicians and up-and-coming strummers alike.  Tim’s connections to Salem run deep – he and Kit opened Ranch together back in the day.  So it’s no wonder that for a kick-off party, he’d book some pretty incredible guests.   The fact that it was John Doe and Exene Cervenka of X is not only impressive, but illustrative of just how connected Tim is. There is something to be said for “in-store” performances, and in stripped down situations where performers are grabbing an acoustic guitar to belt out some songs… let’s just say it can be disastrous in the wrong hands.  It’s one thing to be on a stage with a full band backing you, monitors blasting your face off, several hundred people in front of you screaming and getting you pumped up.  Of course you’re ready to destroy.  But it can fall short in intimate environments.  Sometimes, it just can’t translate. Unless you happen to be, you know, Exene Cervenka & John Doe, who have been playing shows like this as often as the big gigs every chance they get.  John has an...

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