It was my sincere pleasure to attend the 5th annual Chicks Kick Ash show at the Ash Street Saloon. I had been looking forward to this show for the previous month as it did, in fact, fall on the same date as my birthday. You bet I was excited.
This was my first time at The Ash Street Saloon. The cover was $7.00. The doorman was cordial when I told him it was my birthday and I asked if I was on the guest list. He did note that I was drawn to see the group known as Stabitha. Is this how they decide how much each band gets paid? My first impression of the Ash St. was that it has a fantastic location. I arrived around 9pm, which is well enough before the beginning of the first performance, and found the area just inside the door to be quite active with at least 40 people already there.
Quickly covering the menís bathroom, Iíll note that the toilets worked, and the facilities seemed clean enough to use comfortably. There was soap in the dispenser but the towel service was out of order. However, the bathroom was relatively small considering the potential amount of fans that could pack this place. I will score the bathrooms a 6.5, with deductions for size, the non-operative towel unit, and no partition between the commode and urinal. I will remember to ask a female about the ladyís room next time.
I canít comment on drink prices. As it was my birthday, I didnít have to buy my own. I drank a total of two beers, three Bloody Marys, and one Surfer on Acid, and remembered enough to write this long-winded review. The Ash St. Bloody Mary was quite good, with a slightly different taste than I was more used to. It was a bit sweet, or sour. It did include my required two olives. I could tell by the taste that they were "La Romanella" brand green olives. If you have tasted many green olives you know some have funny tastes and what-not. I asked the bartender,and was quickly shown a heavenly gallon glass jar with the words "La Romanella" printed on the label.
The Ash Streetís show-area was fabulous, with high ceilings and a large stage. The lights were well-run and greatly enhanced the performances. The sound was as well mixed as I have ever heard in any live venue of this size. It was not overbearingly loud. I only wore my earplugs after the first act, not because of punishingly loud sound, but for the comfort and protection of my precious hearing.
I know you want to read about the bands and their performances so without further adieuÖ
NuíTrel was the name of the four-member opener for Chicks Kick Ash 5. They got things started for the rapidly growing audience with their own personal flavor of earthy, yet edgy rock. NuíTrelís acoustic-guitar wielding front-woman brought fourth vocals that reminded me of 4 Non-Blondeís Linda Perry. This was the rose among the field of daisies, metaphorically expressed. Most of NuíTrelís stage presence was supplied by the previously mentioned lead-fem moving about on the stage. I do not recall any vocal harmonies. NuíTrelís energy was moderate, yet adequate for this nightís crowd, and culminated in a powerful rendition of Led Zepplinís Rock & Roll. Their dynamics varied enough to keep me interested and helped to invoke an energetic response from the audience. NuíTrel will be an act that I believe is worth following as they hold their own in a very active and rapidly growing Portland music scene.
Softcore took the stage next and absolutely kicked my ass. I was nearly overwhelmed by what I saw and heard. Their compositions were sophisticated and highly enticing, with impressively well-conceived melodic progressions and concrete vocal harmonies. I would describe Softcoreís music as hard-pop with a straightshot of high octane music-fuel. In other words, it is definitely edgy and original enough to pull away from the status-quo of similar such efforts. Softcoreís stage presence lacked nothing as all four membersí movements remained in perfect synchronicity with the music. Softcore lit the stage on fire and would have made ashes of the Ash Street had they any more energy. I find it a challenge to remember anything that detracted from their show. It will be impossible for me to forget them. I look forward to the purchase of their CD and canít wait to see them again. I recommend that you check out their website at www.softcoremusic.com. Go there now and make your own conclusions. If you arenít impressed, you may be pulseless.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Stabitha assumed the position and embarked on their next musical adventure. This innovative group has nurtured a loyal following in the Portland area. If you ever get the chance to see them, you will understand why. Their performance is as solid dramatically as it is musically. The members of Stabitha are one with their collective sound. It seems that they become oblivious to their surroundings.
Stabithaís guitar-playing Christian and his fancy pedalboard had a bit of a dispute at the beginning of their set. After about 4 minutes of patch switching and deft efforts to remedy the situation, the collared man plugged straight in and performed "commando". A situation like this can potentially kill the mood of both the audience and the band but at the end of their first song, one would have never remembered the delay.
Stabithaís music and show create instant infective energy. Lead-diva Chelle moves about onstage acting as much like a seasoned actress as amusician. Adara and Christian also noticeably add to the dramatic elements with their ample movements. Merrill and Myk seem as one musically and help to make Stabithaís world go Ďround. I didnít see much of Holly onstage as I was half on my way to intoxication-land, but I will note that she was wearing a striking blond bob-wig that seemed made just for her. Her keys round out the Stabitha sound to completeness. Their comprehensive package is tight, well rehearsed, and seemingly insightful based on the incredible audience response. Stabitha clearly demonstrates the necessary elements of a successful band with great dynamics, harmonies, instrumentation, and incredible artistic and emotional content. Thank you again, Stabitha for your consistency in exceeding expectations. Check out all things Stabitha at www.stabitha.com.
I had quite a birthday buzz going by the time 2 Minute Hate took the spotlight. Their sound was indeed angry. I enjoyed their show, yet their style was a bit beyond my listening tastes. It was a tad "screamo", but was much better than some of the same I have heard. However, there were portions that were not screamy, but with melodic vocals. I am challenged to write much more because I really canít remember the finer details. I would have remembered if they were less than tight or obnoxious, so they were good my book. I look forward to seeing them again when it is not my birthday. Check out their website at www.2minutehate.net.
Some additional thoughts on this night: Geoff Minor may not be a chick but he certainly kicks ass. He has serious skills when it comes to all aspects of gathering talent and making them look great. G. Minorís special touches really shined, as illustrated in the keen attention to continuity, and how the styles seemed to escalate going from nearer to traditional rock ending up on the edge of rage. He is definitely worthy of my rave review and I am sure I will not be disappointed in anything that he has a hand in producing. Thank You Geoff!