Eugene Weekly : Music : 8.4.11


There Goes the Neighborhood!
Whiteaker Block Party Preview

This weekend marks the 5th annual Whiteaker Block Party — a mini-festival of sorts, attended by thousands, right in the heart of our artsy outdoors city at the best time of the year. If you just got back from that road trip, this is a great welcome home bash. And if you are looking to celebrate the summer that took forever to arrive, this is the what’s up with the get down.

Music, beer, wine, vendors — you simply couldn’t ask for a better gathering of goods to partake in. Below EW has highlighted some must-see performances by local artists at a few of the many stages. We hope you like to dance.

Populist Punk, Whiteaker Style

The Dead Americans’ sound is as diverse as the Whiteaker neighborhood itself — inspired by but not limited to punk rock, country, indie, progressive rock and ska. Drawing inspiration from punk-legends like Crass or the Dead Kennedys, the Eugene five-piece mixes social commentary and performance art with plain old in-your-face rock’n’roll. But whatever genre they dabble in (don’t count out spoken word), the Dead Americans are known for shreddin’ it live — aiming to smash the state while getting you to shake your ass.

Leading the group since 2003 is sultry and seductive chanteuse Kyra Kelly (a self-proclaimed art freak/feminist/punk-rock-poetess). She could easily stalk the arty New York stages of the ‘70s and ‘80s with Patti Smith, Lydia Lunch and Nina Hagen — or front a ’90s northwest riot grrrl group like Bikini Kill. Backing her up on vocals and guitar is Zac Johnson — his flat monotone recalls indie-rock greats Calvin Johnson or Jonathan Richman, but his always-crunchy power chords are pure Northwest grunge. 

On top of it all is a tight and aggressive rhythm section, never letting you forget that good punk rock should be for, of and about the people. 

The Dead Americans play 8 pm Saturday, Aug. 6, on The G-Spot Stage at Whiteaker Block Party. 

William Kennedy

Yo Ho Ho and a Hell of a Show

If 18th century pirates listened to Dropkick Murphys, then gave up looting and plundering on the high seas to play music for the masses, Man Over Board is what they’d sound like. That isn’t an exaggeration; there are songs this band plays that can make you forget you are in the age of iPads and breast implants. 

Moving between vintage acoustic sea-faring ballads, Celtic tones, wake traditionals, nautical battle hymns and hardcore punk fusion à la Gogol Bordello, Man Over Board can thrash in the modern day or just plain get medieval on your ass. Mandolin, tin whistle, guitar, drums, bass and fiddle are melded together in a fashion that would make the saltiest sea-dog spill his bottle of rumbullion.     

Even better, Man Over Board has a stageshow to match its musical onslaught. When lead vocalist Alika Inocencio starts to shiver the timbers and belt out lyrics with Daman De La Paz blasting drums, audiences are transported to someplace between crazy and cannon fodder. Musicians Johnny Kyllingstad, Chris Leland and Dana Lowry create the rest of this motley crew’s sonic tapestry, which is sure to have the Whiteaker neighborhood feeling like someone knocked the bottom out of Davy Jones’ locker. 

Man Over Board plays 3:30 pm Saturday, Aug. 6, on the Parking Lot Stage at Whiteaker Block Party. — Dante Zuñiga-West 

Skankin’ the Summer Away

Necktie Killer has a sound that is something out of the late ‘90s, in a good way. Think funk, mixed with alternative and ska — heavy on the ska. Reel Big Fish, 311 and older Red Hot Chili Peppers albums are good comparative sounds; toss a little bit of Sublime in there, too. This band sounds like it should be playing the soundtrack to a swagged-out skate video filmed somewhere in So Cal, though almost all its members were born and raised in Central Oregon.

  Andie Edwards on trombone and Katie Edwards on baritone sax blend with trumpet player Peter Coughlin to create the hoppin’ horn section that compliments the hearty stage presence of vocalist Ben Mann — who can also rock the trumpet.

Though it is rumored that former guitarist Steve Miller rejoined the band, Necktie Killer has been juggling different guitarist and drummers during their recent plunge through the indie music industry. It will be exciting to see what form of the band emerges this time around when they take to the stage, as their core group is already so versatile and talented. 

Necktie Killer is a perfect addition to the Whiteaker Block Party, because the band possesses an aesthetic that is made for outdoor stages on summer days. It will have you skankin’, screaming, jumping and grapping another cold beer.  

Necktie Killer plays 4:10 pm Saturday, Aug. 6, on the Ninkasi Patio Stage at the Whiteaker Block Party. — Dante Zuñiga-West

Not Just for the Homies

They sound like Modest Mouse and your favorite high school garage band had five illegitimate sons — polished but gritty and full of a genuine youthful exuberance. Plus it’s like they were named after a dinosaur or an endangered sea mammal. Rare Monk, having just finished recording the new album Astral Travel Battles, is returning to  Eugene to play the Whiteaker Block Party as the first show of a killer tour. They are in the eye of their own perfect storm.

Winners of this year’s local contest, “Bandest of the Bands,” Rare Monk won a recording session, which the group used to lay down the drum track for A.T.B. 

“The time we won from Bandest of the Bands set the stage,” says drummer Rick Buhr. “We got a really good drum sound.” Which, according to guitarist Jake Martin, is quite a feat, as drums are often the most challenging instrument to record well.

Martin, Dorian Aites (vocals and keyboard), Forest Gallien (bass) and Isaac Thelin (violin and sax) all recorded their parts later, whenever the group could piece together enough money for more studio time. 

“The amount of money you need to promote an album is ridiculous,” says Gallien. “And we’re not even going big!”

A.T.B. consists of seven songs that range from the upbeat and catchy “Shoot Me Down,” to the instrumental “Mama Bear.” Rare Monk’s sound is evident and yet difficult to categorize. Aites’ clean vocals are reminiscent of Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock, punctuated by strong beats with an endearing tendency towards repetition. The overall sound is aggressive, but the violin adds finesse and keeps things from crossing into screamo territory. 

“We’re just stoked to play to people who aren’t our homies,” says Gallien. 

Rare Monk plays 5 pm Saturday, Aug. 6, on the Ninkasi Patio Stage at Whiteaker Block Party. — Natalie Horner