We got to Berbati’s Pan fairly early before the show started but I knew that it was going to be a crowded show right away. There was a bit of a line to get in, sure, but the telltale sign was when I approached the counter and I asked the guy for two tickets. He immediately went to the Will Call list (“What’s your last name?”) which is often a harbinger of there being no tickets left. Thankfully, this wasn’t true, so I paid our way in less the extra fees they would have cost online (saving twelve bucks in the process) and going inside.
This was only the second show I’ve caught at Berbati’s Pan and in as many months, but between the much larger crowd (on a Sunday at that) and the added partition to separate the all-ages crowd from the bar crowd, the place had a very different feel from the Kay Kay and his Weathered Underground show from early March. We eventually managed to find a couple of old theater seats in a corner while we waited; Dan and Morgan arrived soon after. Princeton, the opening band, seemed like likable enough indie rock, the highlight of the set for me being a swell cover of Yo La Tengo’s “Sugarcube”. I will have to check those guys out in more detail one of these fine days.
The wait for the main act– at least, when they’re the ones that I’ve come to see– always seems interminable. Guitars, so many guitars, placed about the stage, tuned and re-tuned; mics adjusted; keyboard sound levels checked; ad infinitum. Eventually, a new face peering out from behind the curtains. Someone that’s in the band? It turns out yes, and with a good roar from the crowd as they take the stage, Camera Obscura get right into it.
They’re clad in varying degrees of formal wear, the bassist and guitarist and the noise man (trumpet and miscellaneous percussion) are all sporting ties, the redheaded keyboard player in green, and the lead singer, who looks diminutive behind her large guitar and next to the looming guitarists, in a simple black dress. Her size belies a voice which carries this band on its back, though, all the more expressive and wistful and charming in person than it appears on record. The lead guitar, too, has a stage presence that’s more subdued in it’s album counterpart. In short: *swoon*
Highlights of the set list included fantastic performances of “James” and “The Sweetest Thing”, an encore performance of “Lloyd, I’m Ready to Be Heartbroken”, and a memorable version “Let’s Get Out of This Country” where the lead singer amusingly blanked out on the lyrics of the first verse, but she was well-forgiven by an adoring crowd (and having a sense of humor and an endearing Scottish accent helps). As it was apparently near the end of their tour proper, she said shortly before the end of the show that the band would have to make friends with the Portland crowd because, “…if the volcano ash won’t let us home, we’ll be hanging around here!”
If they get stuck here for long, I’m sure they won’t have any trouble finding fans for a second show.
Add comment April 26th, 2010