Typhoon: Concert Review
August 7th, 2011 • Concert Review
The sweetness of summer is pretty much universally understood to be unrivaled, and I’ve yet to come across a band that epitomizes the epic summer anthem quite like Portland, Oregon-based Typhoon. Introduced to Typhoon last summer some months after the release of their excellent full-length album Hunger and Thirst, I have had the privilege of seeing them play twice in the last few months: once on the west coast at the 4th Anniversary bash of Tender Loving Empire, the group’s home-grown recording company, at the Wonder Ballroom in Portland; and out east at the Mercury Lounge in New York City while on tour promoting their newest EP, A New Kind of House. The band’s an unusual ensemble, with upwards of 15 members including both a string and horn section in addition to two drummers working full kits. While one might think such a cohort runs the risk of being becoming a chaotic mess of a super-band, anchored by front man Kyle Morton’s artful lead vocals and vivid, elegant lyrics the band manages to create remarkably tight instrumental arrangements which nearly always include a particularly economical use of choral capacity — background vocals are provided by the entire band, not a single member’s voice goes unused. As a result of all of the above, the sheer volume of instrumentality, at any given moment as delightful as it is complex, entirely avoids becoming overwrought. They are, in short, alternately warm and bold, or mild and easy — that is, the perfect summer night in a musical nutshell.
Having established the good-on-paper qualification of Typhoon’s recorded music, let me also say: boy, can these guys play the bejesus out of a live show. TLE’s birthday showcase featured several other acts signed to the label, but Typhoon’s ceaselessly energetic performance saw even the most subtle songs in their repertoire completely adapted for live performance; that is, into jams you couldn’t help but rock out to, making them the memorably unequivocal focal point of the night. The venue and the band’s following may have been significantly smaller in New York than their Portland counterparts, but the performance ethic translated with crystal clarity. After playing at Lollapalooza on August 6th they are headed back to Oregon via Missouri and Colorado, so if you can’t catch them before the summer ends do check out both Hunger and Thirst and A New Kind of House.
Check out some of their stuff here.
Recommended tracks: CPR-Claws Pt. 2 (Hunger and Thirst)
The Sickness unto Death (Hunger and Thirst)
The Honest Truth (A New Kind of House)
Summer Home (A New Kind of House)
Also recommended: video of the lead singer performing a cover of Bruce Springstein’s “Atlantic City” with Danielle Sullivan, who’s also in a pretty great Portland band, Wild Ones. (They date each other.)
Lily Joslin is a Portland, Oregon native. How cool.