I’d been wanting to see Morning Teleportation for a while after meeting a couple of them at Sasquatch Festival this year. They just pretty much seemed like nice, straight-forward, and positive fellows, and they proved this to be true at Hawthorne Theater. Because they were opening up for the infamously energetic Man Man, the crowd was ridiculously amped. It was one of the highest-energy rock shows I’ve seen in Portland, and Morning Teleportation’s brand of psychedelic pop hit the sweet spot. It didn’t even matter that no one seemed to know who they were despite the fact that they’re Portland natives (cries of, “What band is this?” and “Does anyone know what band this is?” abounded… and it seemed like no one knew but us) or that their music is actually quite stilted and genre-hops without warning. Let’s just say that there’s probably a reason Morning Teleportation are opening for The Flaming Lips for a string of tour dates; they exude nothing but positive vibes and show a boatload of promise.
Ted Leo And The Pharmacists
Ted Leo and company have been doing what they do since the late ’90s, and what they’re doing is certainly something. While watching their set, I thought to myself, “How is it that Ted Leo can make pop-punk and still gather respect from an older, mainstream crowd?” I didn’t come to any conclusions, but what I did conclude was that Ted Leo And The Pharmacists have some mad skills. I have heard Ted Leo albums, but probably only as much as anyone who hasn’t really listened to his music that much. I’ve heard it around and probably have listened to one album enough to know the tracks upon encounter, but not nearly enough to rattle off album titles of even the best-sounding ones. But this is where Ted Leo’s ability to write pop songs becomes apparent. I found that I could sing along with — and head bob in time with — songs that I probably have heard only a couple times. That’s how catchy this stuff is. You don’t need to know it; you just do, somehow.
Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside
Musicfest NW is a pretty diverse festival, but being inundated with music from a variety of kind-of-similar, genre-sharing bands becomes tiring at times. Luckily, Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside offered me a respite from indie rock generics and pulled me into a warm (and I do mean warm — Berbati’s was packed), blues and ’50s-inspired dance party. Despite the fact that I was personally exhausted from an evening full of really, really loud rock shows, Sallie Ford did the trick and got me boogieing. To my surprise, the mature audience was pretty muted. It wasn’t that they weren’t enjoying the upright bass, the playful guitar lines, or the beautiful female vocals; the smiles on their faces showed that they definitely were. But they were just keeping it all inside, like bashful schoolkids at a middle school dance, which was really too bad. This band is channeling the likes of Billie Holiday and Etta James and Ella Fitzgerald — and any number of influential female jazz vocalists from way back when — into some really fun and timely pop jams.