The Long Winters – Portland – Doug Fir, OR – 2006-07-21

The Long Winters
Where: Portland – Doug Fir, OR.

When: 2006-07-21

There are many things in life that you do without question, like feed your dog or buy your mom flowers on Mother’s Day. Add going to see The Long Winters to your list. You haven’t heard any of the band’s music you say? Don’t question me, just go; it’ll be a good time.

It also helps if the band is playing at a good venue. With a great sound system, wood paneling, and far too many mirrors strategically placed to trick those who have had a bit too much gin, the Doug Fir Lounge in Portland is one of the best.

Joining a beardless John Roderick were bass player Eric Corson and new TLW members Nabil Ayers on the drums and Jonathan Rothman on keys and a whole bunch of other stuff that kept his hands, feet, and mouth continuously moving at all times. Since it was an album release show for the third full-length, Putting the Days to Bed (due in stores Tuesday, July 25th), they played mostly new stuff despite the crowd’s continual shouts for old favorites. Even though they call Seattle their home, Portland was the lucky city to be first to hear the album live and get their own personal copy.

The TLW boys were totally on, and not only did the songs sounds great, but the musicians looked like they were enjoying every minute of it, even though it was the hottest day of the summer to date and it was arguable as to whether the air conditioning had been turned off halfway through the show. Singer John Roderick was dripping buckets and had to constantly take off his glasses and wipe them off with his pant legs due to the fact that his shirt, he informed us, was not 100% cotton.

By the time they launched into “Cinnamon,” a track from their sophomore release When I Pretend to Fall, the crowd had been wound up so tight that they exploded. There were some seriously die-hard fans in the audience that threw their hands in their air as if Roderick were God himself. They were shaking their bodies so violently at times and having such difficulty respecting the personal bubbles of others that I realized why flip flops could perhaps be a poor choice in footwear. There’s always someone in the crowd that everyone is glad they aren’t standing next to, yet it was my unfortunate luck that he was right next to me and my exposed toes. Although I wasn’t about to let a drunken dancing fool scare me away from the front row. Roderick also seemed to get a kick out of the mouthy group and kept conveniently forgetting the lyrics, which the fans quickly stepped in to yell in his place.

As a teaser to TLW’s latest effort, the Ultimatum EP was release last year with a more stripped-down, acoustic feel than the band’s two more pop-oriented full-lengths. For the last portion of the show, Roderick pulled out his stool and showed off the emotional side of the band. An indulgence that he described as “Bellingham em. So emo that it doesn’t even have an O.”

While I was sad not to witness any of the extravagantly entertaining guitar solos, I was delighted to hear one of my favorite songs, “Scared Straight,” as one of the few older songs the band chose to play that evening, including “Blue Diamonds.” Someone from the crowd also was hoping for guitar solos and was even bold enough to yell out for the drums to drop out and just have the audience clap the beat while Roderick graced the stage with a solo performance.

John Roderick is obviously a born entertainer, and with his quick wit, he didn’t skip a beat as the audience continually egged him on. While he kept trying to say that he was the world’s biggest asshole, he was nothing but nice as he handed me a little penguin button at the end of the evening. He’s really just a class clown that loves what he does and gets a kick out of pulling his audience in to the show. He’s not just there to entertain you; you are there to entertain him as well.