I realize I’m working against social norms here by reviewing a show weeks after it happened, but Schubas’ Portland-based doubleheader in mid-September was so solidly programmed that I knew I had to jot my thoughts down… eventually. I just didn’t know October 5 would be the magic day.
Honestly, much of the tardy can be blamed on a stupid little camera cord. You see, for the first time in quite awhile, I bought some batteries, inserted them into my point-and-shoot and then captured pics and video of a live show for you fine people reading at home. I can troll through the archives and figure out the last time I did this, but I don’t feel like it. It’s been a good while.
So the camera cord. As I said, I have a point-and-shoot, not a fancy pansy Internet-capable phone, so to get my media from the ground to the web requires a few steps. One of those steps rests on a simple, gray cord connecting the camera to my computer, and somehow, in the months and months that I neglected it, I failed to remember where I put it last.
Now, I could’ve posted my thoughts here a few days after the gig and added in the pics and video later, but I didn’t want to settle for that. I worked hard to get you guys some fun stuff to break up all this text, damn it! And I just wanted it all to go up together at the same time.
I’ll begin with The Parson Red Heads, because they were the opener. From Portland, the quartet played like champs. I loved the mix of new and old, and how majestically unified they were under the lights. Like the bands I tend to like best, the Red Heads shared the stage like well-mannered siblings. One Parson didn’t outshine another Parson, you know? It made watching them perform that much more enjoyable because one member didn’t box out the others for audience attention. I could bounce around from Parson to Parson and not feel like I missed anything.
One thing I picked out on record that didn’t go unmissed at Schubas was the band’s collective vocal effort, too. Everyone’s on mic when plowing through a set — much of the time at the same time. It all goes back to that shared responsibilities idea that the Red Heads apparently do so very well.
“Kids Hanging Out” — The Parson Red Heads
Following them was the night’s headliner, Viva Voce. A few weeks prior to the show, I prepped by getting cozy with their new one, The Future Will Destroy You, and anticipated hearing some of its songs arranged for the stage mixed with older material that would, accordingly, be totally new to me. This didn’t happen, as Viva Voce played The Future Will Destroy You from beginning to end, from “Plastic Radio” to “The Wondering Soul,” and called it a night.
When Viva opened with “Plastic Radio” and then slid into “Analog Woodland Song,” I didn’t think too much of it. Then “Diamond Mine,” then “Black Mood Ring,” and I realized that for one evening, at least, we Schubians were their guinea pigs.
I can’t quite understand the reasoning behind playing the same songs, essentially the same gig, night after night, but I’ll defer to the idea that Viva Voce knows its audience more than I. After 13 years as a rock group and six albums in the bag, they can either comb through that extensive catalog from venue to venue or subject their audiences to the new material. Newb ears would probably prefer the latter — it gives ’em more reason to buy The Future Will Destroy You. But you’ve got to think that Viva Voce fans would think the live show disappointing, even if only slightly.
These are the kinds of things I wanted to talk about with Kevin — one half of Viva Voce — but after a evening’s worth of beer, my opinions carried way too much bite. And that just isn’t fair to two talented individuals like Kevin and Anita, who, fortunately for us Chicagoans, stopped to play the city before continuing on their merry way.
So, Kevin, if you happen to be reading, I’m sorry. It isn’t in the spirit of this site — nor, as it were, in me — to issue personal attack. I’m happy you and Anita came, and I hope you both return.
I wish the lighting — and hell, my camera — were better on this video. At least it’ll give you an idea of their sound.
“Cool Morning Sun” — Viva Voce
- Read my review of The Parson Red Heads’ new album, Yearling.
- While you’re at it, check out my review of Viva Voce’s The Future Will Destroy You.