Alberta Cross opens for Pete Yorn at Port City Music Hall on the night of the 2nd. It's a Monday and the bands are an interesting mix. Alberta Cross plays a raw, distorted rock, contrasting Yorn's indie-pop-punk aesthetic.
The audience for Yorn is fairly different from the audience that would enjoy Alberta Cross, but that doesn't stop the band from opening the show with amazing energy.
Alberta Cross lists their influences on MySpace as "Rock/Blues/Gospel," but that does not do them justice. They are not derivative, although they are as infectious as you might be led to believe by that sound. They work equally well electric and acoustic, which is an interesting disparity AND owes a fair amount to Petter's vocals. They are high and clear while sounding, in true rock or blues fashion, worn and battered. The songwriting trends toward the simple and hooky. They rely a lot on the suspension and relief offered in blues song structure. They draw out that resolution as long as possible at times, check out "The Devil's All You Ever Wanted" for an example. There's something spooky and dark to their music.
Anyway, they play the gig and are in Portland for a day of goofing around before heading on a European tour.
Europe is home for half the band.
Petter is Swedish. He's from Uppsala originally, but he moved to London. So while he's Swedish, he speaks with a London accent. Much like Terry, who is British all the way. Alec, the guitarist, is half-British/half-American. Austin's from California. We didn't get a chance to meet Sam, who was apparently struck down by a severe hangover compounded by a thyroid problem.
Not a life-threatening one, to be clear, just a crappy one.
Petter and Terry have been playing together the longest. They started off in a band in London, then that dissolved - or more specifically their involvement in the project dissolved - and the two struck out on their own.
They moved to Brooklyn, forming the rest of the band along the way.
The band tours extensively, and their manager, Brian - on loan from Dave Matthews duties - plans extensively. Trying to figure out which places they'll be staying at, how to get from A to B and what to do while they're there.
Dispatches from the afternoon:
-The Afternoon in Portland represents their one day off for two weeks on either side of the day. At least. Brian picked Portland because the only other option was Albany. Smart choice.
-When we meet up with the Band, they've eaten at Duckfat and are working their way across Franklin Arterial in search of a tailor to fix Petter's coat. It is missing two buttons.
-Petter goes in and talks with the tailor while the rest of the band mills about and investigates Guitar Grave. The tailor's busy now, but maybe around 6:00 he can work on the coat.
-We walk around in the autumn, enjoying the sights Portland has to offer, heading down to the pier.
-The band finds abandoned rope from some old ship to play with. It turns violent.
-There is talk of pints.
-We make good on it, heading to Novare Res where we enjoy classy beers, wine. Our waitress is the waitress who served Alberta Cross dinner the night before.
-We head to Amigo's where the pool and cheap beer better suit the conviviality and mood. It's quiet still.
-Petter demands we spin the 8 ball before every break.
There's idle chatter and darts.
-Terry showcases his busted iPhone, screen cracked from a hard sit on the wrong pocket.
-There's talk of women in far off places and the manic strain and frenzied delight that carries.
-Somewhere 6:00 and the tailor pass unnoticed.
-It's time for dinner. Brian takes Alec back to the van and they pick up Sam while Petter, Terry and Austin begin walking to Local 188. Dark has come and its time for the night to end.
We part ways, us for home, Alberta Cross for Europe.
Thankfully, they are back now and touring further in the United States.
The extremely lucky, for instance, will get to see them play with Hacienda through January, it looks like.
Portland will welcome you back, Alberta Cross. Or at least [dog] and [pony] will.