Live Show: pseudoboss Record Release with Spirit Lake & Ramble On at The Wonder Ballroom
J-Fell Presents and The Wonder Ballroom hosted a night to be remembered as three of Portland’s finest played to a packed house.
First things first, Ramble On (Led Zeppelin tribute) was powerful and mesmerizing. It’s tough to find a tribute band that captures the spirit of the original artist as much as these guys do. They artfully selected a set list of Zeppelin favorites to bring the evening to a crescendo as they closed the show. The headliners played to an amped up crowd, thanks to the two original bands that preceded them.
I was recently introduced to the music of Spirit Lake and was immediately captivated by it. A few weeks back Teri Briggs and myself interviewed Adam and Ray from the band on Portland Radio Project: PRP.FM. In preparation for our show I found myself listening to their music and being struck by how honest and raw their songs were.
Spirit Lake kicked things off on Saturday night with a mix of songs that exemplified the band’s dynamic range. As a self-described Rock/Psychedelic/Americana band they deliver on all of these live. Lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Travis Ferguson brought his lyrics to life on stage in a way that connected with the audience quickly. Ray Yurkewycz (lead guitar, backing vocals) played a plethora of different styles throughout the set. At one point of the evening, Ray brought out a beautiful Gibson SG and put it to good use on a few of their tracks. During other parts of their set I couldn’t stop watching Justin Valdivia (drums) and Adam Anderson (bass). As a rhythm section, they created an atmosphere on stage that allowed their songs to breathe in a very natural way. The band closed out their set with “The Town That I Died In”, a song that showcased everything great about Spirit Lake. I wish each band had a little bit more time to play because I could’ve listened to another set from these guys for sure! Check out their contact information at the bottom of the article for upcoming shows. Congratulations to Spirit Lake on a great set and getting The Wonder Ballroom primed and ready for pseudoboss! I will be seeing you again for sure and I encourage all my readers to do the same.
I don’t know if anyone can truly quantify what goes into an event like a record release. There’s the promotion of the event, getting all of your merchandise ready, and making sure you can play the set in your sleep. You also need support from a promoter (J-Fell Presents), a great street team and of course your fans to help create buzz. But when you really think about it Noah Stroup (lead vocals, rhythm guitar) has spent years crafting most of the songs on the new record. Then take into account the endless hours of rehearsing, writing, producing, and recording and it can seem to be an overwhelming process. The time had come for the band to share their new album and enjoy the fruits of their labor. pseudoboss give us a debut record and live performance that reflects the passion and commitment of these artists.
pseudoboss opened their set with the intense synchronicity that the power trio is known for. So much so that drummer Charley McGowan managed to knock the beater off of the kick drum pedal during the first song! Hats off to Charley who kept playing around the stage crew and entertained us at the same time. Despite this small technical glitch the band was firing on all cylinders and didn’t miss a beat! Justin Gibson (lead guitar, backing vocals) played awe-inspiring solos to a now swelling crowd. He was clearly enjoying himself as he and Noah continued to volley riffs back and forth. The music has well thought out time and dynamic changes that wowed us all. I know a few people standing by me had not heard the band before and they were taken back all night by the smart and catchy songs. Noah delivered his vocals with commanding force all evening and had everyone in the room singing along during “Make Her Scream”.
I know there were a lot of first time listeners in the room that quickly became diehard fans like the rest of us. One of my favorite moments of the set was when they played “Fallen Soldier Part I & II”. I enjoy listening to these songs back to back on the record because it feels like one cohesive piece. This was even more evident when hearing them live. There is a flow in these two tracks that tells a story both musically and lyrically. It was a captivating segment of the set and helped me appreciate the songs even more.
Charley and Noah create a complex, driving rhythm section that kept us all wanting to see what was going to happen next. This allowed Justin to display his heart felt and precise lead parts while singing strong backing vocals all evening. It seemed like the trio became tighter with every track as they tore through the majority of the new album.
There is a ferocity in their live show that is balanced out by the warm and inviting presence of the members on stage. I saw a true connection between the audience and pseudoboss by the end of their set. The band hit the Wonder Ballroom with a wall of sonic dominance and a fitting introduction to the record! All in attendance were treated to a night of music that should make our city proud.
all photos by Luke Neill