"Tower of Song," December 5
The first hints of bouncy reverb can be heard from the Stadium on Free Street, and the echo chamber carries all the way to this monthly concert's home at the top of a building at the corner of Congress and High streets. The Tower of Song has been broadcasting from high above Portland's First Friday Art Walks since May, the brainchild of Will Ethridge, manager of December's buzzworthiest local act, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper. The apartment belongs to Johnny Fountain, who also plays the show most months.
Moseying toward the venue, small groups stop and stare up at the windows, where three televisions hooked up to cameras offer close-ups of the duo. A girl hops along to the enjoyably raucous climax of "Comet Flies Over the Underbelly," where Aly Spaltro — whose voice, often simultaneously doo-wop and punk rock, is astonishingly forceful for her tiny frame and 19 years — scats her way through a crisis of loneliness. Below the window, a friend mans a table with merchandise and upcoming concert tickets for sale.
Inside (a nice, comfortable apartment), the duo spend a goodly amount of time rearranging an array of instruments (xylophone, keys, drum, harmonica, guitar) for the next song, as TJ Metcalfe interacts with the spectators outside from on high. The successive songs cover a lot of ground — the sad/cute indie-pop of the Moldy Peaches, the structural ambition and brashness of the Fiery Furnaces, garage rock — all impassioned, fun, and industrious, and a surprisingly universally appealing soundtrack for the First Friday crowd.
Next month the 6:30 pm event features Dead End Armory. Lady Lamb the Beekeeper's next appearance is at the Big Easy this Saturday (see 8 Days a Week), and we'll review their debut album very soon.
: Live Reviews
, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper
, Will Ethridge
, TJ Metcalfe