Good Kids Sprouting Horns, Theodore Treehouse, Marie Stella
May 27, 2011
SPACE Gallery was all a-twitter the last Friday in May as some of the Portland area’s best new indie-rock bands showed up to please the crowd and prove this wouldn’t be the last we’d hear from them.
Theodore Treehouse kicked things off in their whimsical fashion, seeming a bit like a Talking Heads cover band fronted by Bradford Cox (Deerhunter, Atlas Sound). First impressions fell fast as TT showed a great deal of depth and sustained an exuberance for their music that spread like an infection in the crowd. Every time it seemed like one member of the band was carrying the torch for the rest – be it Ian Ferrel’s yelpy vocals and knotted guitar lines, or Dylan Verner’s precision on the drum set – another would come to the forefront. This is one well-rounded pop vehicle.
The sonic hurricane that is Marie Stella came up next and pushed the energy to 11. The crowd was ready for it. Bryan Bruchman absolutely shredded while trading guitar lines with Matthew Erickson, Max Heinz whaled on the drums and Sydney Bourke centered everything with her no-frills vocals and bass playing. It was a real barn-burner.
The main attraction was Good Kids Sprouting Horns, who were celebrating the release of their sophomore effort, We Are Animals. The Kids seem to simultaneously embrace their now-retro-sounding emo influences and reject them in favor of a more warped and interesting guitar rock. Anthony Bitetti’s vocals scream Dashboard Confessional at times, especially when backed by the Casio mope of Jessamy Luthin. But Bitetti’s Modest Mouse-sounding guitar begs to differ. Luthin’s keyboard often filled in the lower registers, providing a bass-heavy dirge that echoed the dark, unabashedly pained lyrics.
It was a raw, open performance by Bitetti, who was able to balance the intensity of his performance with casual between-song banter. A forgotten drumstick became an entertaining anecdote, and what could have been a set-killing lull was averted. When an amp blew, the audience started a rhythmic clap/stomp circle, calling for more – to call them a receptive crowd would be an understatement.
The band has shown real growth since the release of its previous album. Not far beneath the drone and twang of their more mature sound are pop-song structures left over from their hyper-emotive roots. Their new batch of songs shows that emo pop and angsty rock can coexist.
— Anders Nielsen