We’ve long considered ourselves to be “concert pros.” We always try to show up at a venue well before the rest of the crowd does. Once inside, we make a bolt toward the front of the stage, waiting even through terrible opening acts so we can maintain our place at the front and center. Before you think we’re completely crazy, we have plenty of proof to back up our method. We’ve had the Cult’s tour bus pull up right in front of us, with Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy walking up to us for a chat. We’ve handed an album to one of the Psychedelic Furs’ members in good confidence and had it returned with every member’s signature. We met the entire Alice Cooper gang and watched the show from the front row: loving every minute, every blood spray, every song. Sarah even bit someone’s arm over a drumstick. But that story’s for another blog post — you’d better just click that subscribe button to the left!
So what happened in Portland when we tried our method? Well, we showed up early and there was no one else there. Chinatown was completely dead; just us, a handful of hobos, and rarely a car in sight. Apparently, Portland doesn’t always show up early for shows?
We started deliberating long and hard about dinner, figuring that we could walk down some nearby blocks and possibly come across some food truck haven. No luck: just gyro carts galore. Neither of us were really in the mood for a gyro and fries.
To make a long story short, we spent a couple hours wandering the streets and were still able to return to the venue with no sign of anyone else. Just before the doors opened, a few people began to appear and a polite little line formed. Once inside, we were overjoyed to discover that they serve real food at the Star Theater. The fellow who took our order even used to work in Colorado Springs at the Broadmoor. We ate our macaroni and cheese with sun-dried tomatoes and spinach on the outside patio. We weren’t the only ones grabbing a bite. Not but a few feet away, the March Violets were having their dinner as well! I first noticed them only when Si, their lead singer, asked me if I thought the food was any good.
After eating, we joined Si and Tom Ashton (the guitarist) around a gas fire pit and chatted a bit. At some point, Rosie Garland came out and we had a lovely conversation about traveling to Portland and the various things one could see and do in Oregon. She has such a natural charisma about her. Sarah says she’s a beautiful mix of David Bowie and Katherine Hepburn. It is always nice to find a band you enjoy is fronted by extremely genial individuals. Everyone willingly signed our Natural History LP that we’d brought along with us. One thing we had all been talking about was people who download music rather than buying. Our album was proof positive that we were not of the free-downloading variety of fans.
Inside the venue, we claimed our places at the front as the venue started to fill up. Portland seems to have a healthy goth scene that’s actually centered around goth music. This particular night was miraculously free of EBM, industrial, or whatever you want to call it. One of the opening acts, Dead Cvlt (Dead Cult), seemed to be taking a lot of cues from Skeletal Family. We both said to ourselves, “They should consider a new name,” as it’s certainly a little too close to Death Cult (the second incarnation of the Cult).
The March Violets hit the stage full force. Their newest tracks were interwoven perfectly with all of the older material. Rosie and Simon both sounded fantastic together on vocals. The band was in good form and once they fiddled with a few minor sound issues, they had everyone who was on the floor dancing and singing along with an incredible catalog of songs. Unlike some of their contemporaries (Sisters of Mercy, anyone?) the March Violets aren’t hiding behind a cloud of purple smoke and songs they wrote ages ago. The Violets have returned to the stage with confidence and swagger. Their new material is brilliant (buy it here), with poignant lyrics and those same electric drumbeats that had you grooving in green, back when people actually bought albums.
Take a listen: