Ambiance at Smiths Old Bar w/ Mimicking Birds and Space Orphan.
By: Scott Tracy
The crowd gazes towards the stage in a lucid daze lost in the melodies of headliner, Mimicking Birds. As their band name may suggest, the Portland based band is a peaceful mix of jazz and ambient indie rock, making for a comfortable environment of easy listening. Audience interest peaks through the evolving and progressive choice of chord progressions. Some parts are so beautiful sounding, and then a transition so quickly into the next bit. The songs seem to come and go but curiosity remains nonetheless. The drummer stays in a well-knit pocket, periodically incorporating smooth polyrhythms or some electronic beats from his drum pad. The singer’s lyrics resonate clearly through the house with the accompaniment of all the fans, all while effortlessly playing crazy chord patterns in non-standard tunings, as revealed later by the bassist, who follows by sound not sight when playing, whether it be on bass or his analog mono synth. All this leads to some pretty unique music here at Smith’s Old Bar. Last time they were here, they played on the bottom floor bar, so that means next time they’ll be playing on the rooftop! Or just somewhere better I suppose. The opportunity for them is certainly real. Apparently as they continue their tour to the west, they will be reunited with their lead guitarist who had to miss a few shows for work at home. They don’t seem to be lacking a portion of their live sound, as they said they rocked a three piece for a while previously, but I would love to hear what more they could be with him. Upon finishing this tour, work on their third album will begin. Bassist Adam thinks they’re well in their stride and are excited to see what comes in the new material.
The curtains pull away leaving Space Orphan under lights on the second floor at Smith’s Old Bar. Seated folks get to their feet when the music begins, feeling through the set of all new songs with the band. Songs sustain themes that are dynamic, exhausting all avenues, leaving one with a proper sense of closure when each song comes to an end. Only sometimes was I unsure that they were finished and wouldn’t bust into another variant of their groove. Speaking of groove, the band did one of my favorite things I think every band should be able to do, that being ready members playing interlude music while other members prepare for the next song. They went with a jazzy elevator song style, it was nice. It’s always a more professional tactic than standing awkwardly and not even addressing the crowd like some bands take to, so kudos. Every tune is held tight with the entire band’s chemistry. Ruben on lead guitar precisely finger picks out melodies and morphs between tones in captivating solos, while rhythm guitarist Vince and drummer Tyler hammer out dynamic yet steady structures. The band currently lacks a bass player, and therefore have a less full sound than possible but are making it work. Vince’s use of primarily down stroking out heavy, bottom end power chords or single e-string riffs keeps it filled out. I had the chance to speak with Vince about the band, “[He] and Ruben have played together for a while. We came back from a long break of playing and it was a nice restart…things seem to flow what I like to think is organically”, to make what they have before described as cosmic indie rock, which is fitting. This was only the third show since the end of their hiatus but they remain very comfortable together and well familiar with their new material. Keep an eye out for the Space Orphan, abandoned and floating through space, or as show posts on your local bulletin board. Check out their Facebook page, they’ll have some stuff on there soon as they promised.