By Joe DeBonis
It is not often that I fly across the country and get to see one of my favorite up and coming bands for free, but my last trip to Portland was highlighted by what seemed to be a random BADBADNOTGOOD show at Reed College. The whole experience was very surreal, right up until the first note and after that I was carried away along the music. Venue wise, where Reed decided to have the band play was not ideal. They set up in what kind of looked and felt like a high school gym, with seats going up like a movie theater’s seats on one side and a make shift stage on the other. The crowd initially started sitting down but as soon as the band began playing and me and other enthusiasts rushed to stand as close as we could, the sitters had no choice but to jump up and join us at the front.
Everything I ever imagined about BBNG was even truer than I could have hoped. Three white guys from Canada should not have as much swag as BBNG did and they rocked out this high school gymesque place as if it was a sold out Madison Square Garden. They had this energy about them that was 2 parts swag and 3 parts just musical technicality that gave them this elevated status as musicians because it is so rare to find such classical talent willing to turn up the way they did. The fact the band was so humble about everything, from the rabid cheering from the about 10 diehards to how freaking good they are at what they do really raised them higher as musicians and people.
And the songs. The songs they played hit closer to home the farther into their hour and a half set they got. From tracks off of BBNG III to covers I didn’t know they did, the crowd progressively got more and more into it until drummer Alexander Sowinski finally came out and asked us to mosh. We as a crowd were more than willing to and for their cover of “Buggin” by TNGHT the crowd went nuts. It was one of the better moshes I had ever been in, just enough violence to get the people going, but no one out just looking to hurt someone. The stage was even low enough that I was able to put my glasses down and go extra hard not having to worry about a wayward elbow knocking my glasses into the fray. By the end of the night they had playing “Pretty Boy Strut” by Flying Lotus and “Lemonade/Bastard” to go along with their TNGHT cover and that “Lemonade/Bastard” cover was a whole new level of crazy. There was about 40 of us slamming around by the end of that song and Chester Hanson even jumped in to mosh a little with us too
I had just seen Joyce Manor the week before and had not been able to mosh at all due to the crowd, so seeing a band I had no idea we would be allowed to mosh for actually encourage us to go crazy was awesome. Not to mention seeing such wonderful musicians up close is not something I experience at most shows. Frankly the kind of music I normally listen to does not lend itself to having such technicality or improvisation in the songs, so BBNG was a special treat in that regard.