Monday, June 15, 2015

You got some 'splainin' to do!

Meet Madame Torment's Erin Elizadeth!

As many of you know, I am a big fan of the Portland tribute band scene. (So much so that I am writing a book about it.) I have caught shows at a number of venues. My love affair began a couple of years ago at a show at The Hawthorne Theater. Sadly, unless the band members are friends, this last Saturday night might have been the last time I will venture into that establishment. The bands were great...but you would not know that if you relied on the sound board operators (they should ALL be fired!).

Elsa Faith has some amazing vocal chops...find a sample and hear for yourself!

This was our first time seeing Madame Torment, and all original female band that really kick ass. They have a sound that is equal parts 80s metal and punk rock. They put on a great performance despite a CONSTANT feedback hum that drowned out a lot of sound. Also, turns out that Elsa Faith has some killer vocal chops. (We listened to them at home on Sunday and will be adding these girls to our "must see" band list.)

My new rock star crush, Camille Denny.
The drummer was frenetic and my wife gave me permission to have a rock star crush on her. (Don't worry, she still has me beat two drummers to one...Denise swoons over the drummer from Motorbreath, the Metallica tribute band, and thinks that the drummer from Poison'us has the most dreamy eyes in the world...see for yourself later.) A quality set was hamstrung by shoddy (I am being kind) sound board work.

Up next was Same Ol' Situation, a Motley Crue tribute band that we have seen before and really enjoyed. This set was delayed over 30 minutes while the crew tried to figure out what was keeping the light show from coming on. I do hope it was not the single cable that we could see dangling from the center piece of the lights mounted above the stage. In any case, they NEVER did figure it out. Even better, the sound system actually seemed to get WORSE.

That did not stop the band from busting their collective asses to try and put on a helluva show. Being in front, at least we could sort of hear the vocals. The feedback loop remained and added a steady low-frequency hum to the ENTIRE set in addition to the vocals being almost impossible to hear.

Me, "Vince" and my buddy Dwight in the background.
By the time Same Ol' Situation wrapped up the set, you could hear the rumblings in the crowd. People were wondering what the hell could be wrong. It had to be fixed by the time the final band took the stage. One of the stage hands was even heard saying that "the problem was fixed."

The closing act was Poison'us. We love these guys and have seen them several times. The entire band has been made better by the addition of Roger Jamie on bass as his energy is visibly contagious. (More on him in a bit.) Sadly, the problem was not fixed. Eventually, front man Will "Brett Michaels" Barnes had reached critical mass. He stopped the set; by this point, the hum was creating a tingle in my feet and now you could not hear the guitar of Eric Vanderwall (as C.C. DeVille). The feedback was actually getting worse. Add in the fact that the band could not hear themselves on their monitors, and it was beyond a problem at this point.

For those not in the know, bands need the monitors, which are speakers aimed their direction, to hear themselves in real time. Otherwise, they would be waiting for the sound to bounce off of the back wall and timing would vanish. No, that loud volume YOU hear is not the same source they use when they play. But, on with this review...

One of my wife's favorite performers...but he ain't flashing that usual smile. Why?
I got a message from Will Barnes the next day actually apologizing for his "outburst". I wish my "outbursts" were as calm as his was that night. Personally, I think it was tame as well as LONG overdue. Will and the band did like those before them and soldiered on as the crowd just continued to trickle out due to the ineptness of the sound crew at the Hawthorne. They had to improvise when Will's acoustic guitar was not patched in during "Every Rose Has Its Thorn", and yes, the hum remained.

A Poison'us glue.
Bass player Roger Jamie took on the role of anchor during this show. He gave the band something solid to hang on to as he kept his flamboyant energy at maximum throughout the entire performance. His jokes, witty remarks and banter with not only the audience, but his fellow band mates kept things from hitting the rocks. Every band should have a Roger Jamie. During his time with Poison'us, we have seen the band transform and become more incredible as his energy is contagious. This guy has a full plate as Gene Simmons in Dr. Love, the KISS tribute band here in Portland, as well as being a professional wrestler. 

To all three bands...we thank you for a show that you put on despite the poor sound and stage work by the crew at Hawthorne Theater. We will remain fans (as well as become fans in the case of Madame Torment). We will see you next time and the time after. To you, Will Barnes, it is not you who owed the is/was the people of the venue. We love you guys.

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