Forget, Forget/ VanDammesel/ Mirth
By: Sean Moore / Photos By: Damon Loucks and Ben Kramer
Last night’s show at Portland House of Music featured three excellent local bands, with a diverse enough sound amongst them to please the crowd that showed up on the cold, Thursday night, as each band played a solid 40-45 minute set. The room was filled with synth pop and loud, buzzing guitars, and great beats from great drummers. The crowd danced and waved their “finger lights” all night.
The first band of the night was the duo Forget, Forget (band moniker for Tyler DeVos and Patia Maule), and for the evening, they brought along a drummer and another multi-instrumentalist to help fill out the band’s sound. Tyler plays the guitar and even threw in a few choreographed “dance” moves during a couple of their songs, while Patia plays the synthesizer and handled the programming machine. They share vocals, trading verses and choruses in select songs. They certainly knew how to get the crowd moving and on their feet with songs like “Seashells” and “Public Places,” which reminded me of the dance party atmosphere that bands like Talking Heads or New Order created, clearly influencing Tyler and Patia with their often layered, intertwining instrumentally parts. I also enjoyed the introspective and reflective lyrics on many of their songs, may songs lyrically sound like poetry and made me wonder if that’s how the songs were birthed. I have always been a fan of the indie synth-pop scene that includes bands like Mates of State (another duo), and what I found as a self-description from the band “If Max Martin produced a Beach House album.” Could not agree more. Forget, Forget have been making synth-pop tunes since 2013, when they put out their first album “We Are All” as a 7-piece band. Over the years, they’ve seemingly decided to scale down the size of their band, but with the synthesizer and programming, they’ve worked out a way to still sound like a full band that can rock.
Van Dammesel, the band I had the pleasure to interview last week, were up next. They were the band I specifically went to hear/see and was excited for the new songs they spoke enthusiastically about during our conversation. I was also interested in seeing the new version of their band. I have to say, Brendan on drums was “into” it during every song. He was very entertaining to watch as he vigorously pounded out the rhythms with a look of equal intensity and enjoyment. I could not help but recall what front-woman Angie had told me about the band’s sound being “similar to Eisley” when she sang “Patience,” “Looking Glass Logic” and “Lately” all from their first EP Heartbeat (released back in 2015). The group of like-minded musicians held their own and played tightly together, transforming old songs into something new and fresh for fans who’ve known and followed them since the beginning (when they were formerly known as The Living Daylights). With the new tunes, like “Friends Say,” Van Dammesel has not abandoned their fans, but they’ve also grown and added a bit more of a rock element to their sound. I especially found myself drawn to Justin’s guitar playing during many of the songs. I could not help but remember that he’d told me that he’d been a fan of harder music the likes of The Dillinger Escape Plan et al, or bands known for writing complex rhythms and time change signatures throughout songs. There was definitely an added element to these guitar parts, in the live setting and I loved it. Their set made me anxious to hear the new album, coming soon.
The “headliner” of the night was a three-piece indie rock band named Mirth, also calling Portland home. They’ve been together since 2016, crafting a nice mix of their favorite bands and influences into their own indie sound that reminded me of everything from Nirvana, early Arctic Monkeys, lots of Cursive (minus the cello), Defeater, the heavier/faster tunes of experimental-phase Brand New, and I love reading their own and seeing an old local favorite of mine- The Cambiata on their list, too. Their set was heavy and fast-paced, even though a few of their songs seemed to end, but then, took a surprising breakdown and continued on, leaving the crowd sort of guessing when to cheer and applaud, but that’s the fun of the game of a live show. They don’t seem to have too much music out there for you to absorb, but definitely check out their self-titled EP and get a taste of what their live show brings, then you should definitely check them out for yourself, because this crowd was into them. I love that the band’s description is simply “Nice Guy Music.” Seeing another local three-piece band in the same vein as Weakened Friends get more attention would be great for the local music scene. Here’s hoping these nice guys don’t finish last, because they’ve got a great sound that really works.