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April 1 @ 9:00 pm
COVID-19 POLICY: The artist requires all patrons attending this performance to provide proof of vaccination or negative test within 48 hours prior to the event. Patrons will need to provide physical or digital documentation of COVID-19 vaccination or negative test for entry.
– 9PM SHOW / 8PM DOORS
– ALL AGES
– STANDING ROOM ONLY
Portland, Oregon’s SOFT KILL, ripped through 2016 with their first release on Profound Lore Records ‘Choke’, the follow up to 2015’s ‘Heresy’ became the band’s most acclaimed LP to date and saw the band on a constant touring cycle in support of it through North America and Europe as demand for the band was on a constant upswing. SOFT KILL now return with the triumphant follow up full length Savior to be released by Profound Lore Records on 5/11/18, bringing their unique blend of gloom, laced with pop charm and flawless song writing that transcends the post punk genre.
The writing for Savior was sparked while returning from tour, frontman Tobias Grave’s wife began to bleed out in the van, at eight months pregnant they were in the middle of nowhere on the side of the road far from a medical facility. The band raced through the night landing at the emergency room of UC Davis Trauma Center in Sacramento where surgery was performed to save both the mother and unborn child. Although the surgery went well, baby Dominick’s lung collapsed on his second day of life causing him to flat line. Grave was forced to standby and watch as the doctors and nurses struggled to keep his newborn child alive with blood transfusions, breathing and feeding tubes. As days turned into weeks, stranded far from home, standing vigil, he purchased a guitar, borrowed a bass from a friend and began to write songs that eventually would become the core of Savior. Grave wrote songs about losing his son, his battle with drug addiction, the many tragedies that came along with that life, and the empty space suspended between mourning and celebration, life and death.
With Savior, recorded/mixed in Kingsize Sudios in Los Angeles and produced by Benjamin Greenberg (Uniform, The Men, Algiers) SOFT KILL have matured into a powerhouse, effortlessly combining genres, always with Grave’s powerful, raw emotional storytelling where we see a person come to grips with their own reflection as seen in the eyes of their dying son. From the pop perfection of “Trying Not to Die” to the swelling and crushing guitars on “Hard Candy” to the unrelenting dirge of “Bunny Room”, Savior is a creative tour de force. Drawing from a diverse musical palette, Savior is influenced by early U2, Gun Club, The Replacements and a requiem to Tom Petty.
Like any hopeless romantic worth their weight in mix CDs, Alien Boy wears its heart on its sleeve. The group takes its name from an EP by Portland punk legends the Wipers; their roster of covers includes a bleak take on Oasis’ “Wonderwall” and a morphiated Morrisey on the Smiths’ “Hand in Glove.” And like her influences, Alien Boy guitarist and vocalist Sonia Weber works at extremes: Every TV show is Friday Night Lights, every romance is like a dream, every melody is coated in chorus effect. The band’s new album, Don’t Know What I Am, wraps contemporary angst in a shimmering haze, drowning depression in lustrous dream pop.
With a pedal roster longer than the tracklist, Don’t Know What I Am vibrates with echo and reverb. The album arrives during a resurgence of shoegaze within emo and metal, with bands like Deafheaven and Nothing leading the charge. Alien Boy check some of those boxes: Like their 2018 debut full-length Sleeping Lessons, this record was produced by Jack Shirley, a former screamo bandleader known for his expertise in effects-heavy, effusive metal.
But where many of their contemporaries lean into the genre’s jagged edges, Alien Boy reach for chorus and distortion in service of jangly hooks and gleaming counter-melodies, more Cure than Codeine. “Nothing’s Enough” bounces with Siouxsie and the Banshees’ psychedelic sheen; “Ache #2” (named for the Jawbreaker song) recalls the paranoid bassline of “Every Breath You Take.” Where Sleeping Lessons felt top-heavy, with no song quite matching the nostalgic gleam of its opener, Don’t Know What I Am uses pacing to its advantage. Just as things begin to grow sleepy on “Seventeen,” “How Do I Think When Yr Asleep?” opens the proverbial pit with drum rolls and breakneck guitar solos. Weber’s vocals are clean and earnest, more about feeling than perfect form, as if to match the vulnerability in her lyrics.
She sings about “you” and “me” and “them,” obscuring the proper nouns of her life, but her disarmingly intimate words ache with a specific loneliness. As on Sleeping Lessons, the lyrics track the bitter end of a relationship, but here, Weber wrestles with messier aspects of acceptance and identity long after the breakup: “Sometimes I look in the mirror and you’re all I see,” she confesses on “Memory’s Vault.” “Something Better” comes closest to a thesis for the record: “Is it okay to still feel this way?” She takes a cue from Moz, repeating words and phrases until they turn into chants that inject energy into the album’s most despondent moments. “I want something better than out here,” she cries. Shouted enough times, it starts to sound aspirational.
There’s nothing jaded about the world of Alien Boy; Weber picks over old fights like scabbed wounds. The emotional openness of her writing sets the band apart from contemporary shoegaze inclinations towards existential ennui. It’s one thing to cover up your detached nihilism with reverb; it’s in some ways riskier to lean into the desperate romance of Loveless. And sure, hearing Weber sing about giving her “fragile heart” to a lover might summon a few eye-rolls from the Sargent House crowd. But Alien Boy knows that it’s futile to put up a front. As Weber concedes on “Memory Vault,” “It’s just too hard to be cool.”
Washed-Out Post-Punk (Bay Area, CA)
The abysmal valley you’ve been sleeping in for your entire life sparks into a fiery horizon without warning. You’re too caught off guard by this sudden change to notice that flames are growing. Rapidly, they eat up everything on the outside of your shell and pursue the light inside of you. They pull it from you and exfoliate you with sharp teeth and burdens. The flames leave no room for judgment or improvement; they only leave room for denial and the harsh stripping of what once made you who you are. You twist and burn.
Slower this time and with even less thought given towards it, the heat grows cold and lonely. The cold towers over the flames and extinguishes them, ready to move on to better meals. It washes over the embers and creates a consistent ash, smoking on your rubble. Once the heat has subsided and all that’s left is isolating cold, the emptiness makes room for a blinding and spectacular light. Everything parts to reveal something clean and new. It’s a beautiful feeling, but still sharp. This new iridescent light has you realizing you don’t know who you are anymore. You’ve been scalded repeatedly and you can’t recognize yourself. You can’t sink into this. You don’t know how to handle the beauty.