Words: Sean Moore/ Photos: Derrick Rossignol
Real Estate’s music is the perfect soundtrack to a summer evening in Portland, so it was especially nice that the band came back into town on their brief summer tour, after taking about a month and a half off. They had played Portland back in April of 2018, in support of their most recent album, In Minds, which is a collection a gorgeously arrangement “dream-pop” songs in the same vein as their major influencers, The Feelies. They also would fit in nicely with another indie band called Turnover that writes similar guitar melodies. Real Estate has now been a band for a little over a decade and have delivered four consistently good albums, which is evidenced through their live show. For their stop in Portland, they seemed to steer away from the most recent album, In Minds, perhaps because they’ve grown tired of playing those songs over and over since they’ve been touring behind it for the better part of nearly two years. Instead, with these recent shows, they’ve been inserting new songs.
When a band plays newer songs that haven’t necessarily been released, they are taking a risk with the crowd. Obviously, the fans want to hear the songs they know, but on the other hand, there’s something special about being a part of something new, and hearing a band flesh out newer songs and debuting them live is part of the fun of a live show. Clearly, Real Estate’s new songs have been gestating for awhile and they fit nicely within their setlist. They are a band that found their sound early on and has not really deviated from it, although a couple of these new songs have a bit more flair and “pop” in them. One of the new songs is aptly titled, “The Main Thing,” which bassist Alex Bleecker kept referring to Portland as their “home away from home,” since most of the band members are from New Jersey where “the lobster just isn’t as good or that good at all,” Bleecker admitted early in their set. He went on to explain why everyone in the band was wearing J’s Oyster hats, “we traded some Real Estate t-shirts for these hats and promised to wear them on stage, so here we are.”
Their Monday night show was a mellow offering in which the band played four new songs, including the aforementioned “The Main Thing,” as well as potentially titled songs “Friday” and “November.” The crowd was appreciative of these new songs, but it was also difficult to get a proper read on the crowd’s feelings throughout the evening. The majority of the crowd simply stood in place, nodding their heads along to the rhythms of each song, clapping at each one’s conclusion. Only a handful of people were dancing, and several people were having conversations through the band’s songs. Were they disinterested in the band’s selection of songs or was this just a summer Monday crowd? It was hard to tell, until nearly the end of Real Estate’s set, when they pulled out “All the Same” and “Suburban Beverage,” both of which are extended jams, surpassing the 6-minute length and really showcased what the band can accomplish together. The audience loved both of these songs and broke out in wild applause at the end of each song. Everyone loved hearing “Darling” from In Minds, but the band veered more towards songs from Atlas and Days for the evening, which was fine because those are some of their finest work and really hit the nostalgia button for folks old enough to appreciate the bubble of smooth, melodic indie rock from the ‘90s and early ‘00s era of music.
It was a rather brief set, lasting only about an hour and fifteen minutes or so, but they delivered a set of old tunes mixed in with soon-to-be released songs that hopefully whet the audience’s appetite for the new album. Overall, it was a pretty decent summertime show from a band that can write brilliantly melodic songs.