August 6th, 2012 @ The Doug Fir Lounge, Portland, OR
Orlando Higginbottom, better known by his stage name Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, was worried before the show that the venue wasn’t going to be nearly as full as it should’ve been. “It’s a Monday,” he proclaimed, “and it’s empty.” I tried to encourage him by explaining most patrons shuffle in pretty late, but he was on to the same trends that had been bothering me. And sure, he was partly right in mentioning that it was a Monday night, but in a town this bustling with music nerds and it being the middle of the summer, filling the Doug Fir should have been no problem for the popular UK producer. It all begs the question, why aren’t these shows open to people under twenty-one? I understand the logistics and possible dangers of allowing minors into more concerts in town, but there are larger clubs all across the country which are able to control this situation with ease. A live review isn’t the place to get into these issues, but once again the show’s turnout reinforced a glaring issue with the city.
While Portland’s RAC (Remix Artist Collective) spun a few tunes from club-tested groups like Aeroplane and Holy Ghost!, the few younger folks around the room shared drinks and danced under the disco ball. Tucked away in the DJ booth, RAC left the stage empty until Higginbottom finally took the stage on Monday. Equipped with little more than a dinosaur suit, one of the UK’s most promising producers took to the stage on Monday, and even though the club hadn’t filled to his liking, the people who were there seemed to know every word to his unique electropop. On the top of a black, nondescript table, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs had his buffett of tools. A few mixers, a keyboard. It was your standard, somewhat boring stage set for an electronic-based act, but it was the microphone which lent the excitement all night. Each time Higginbottom grabbed the mic, whether to say his hello or belt out a verse on “Garden” or “Household Goods,” the crowd of sweaty dancers instantly erupted. And it was that decision which led Higginbottom on this adventure in the first place. Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs had been touring Europe, playing festivals and enjoying a small success from his his first few EPs, but it was his decision to begin singing on his tracks garnered him international attention. It’s amazing to see those changes finally paying off, as Higginbottom is enjoying a great amount of praise on his first full North American tour.
His set consisted almost entirely of tracks from his debut album Trouble, and even though he didn’t much stray from their original recordings, each song sounded as meticulous and exciting as the last. As the night went on, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs had full control of the room, exploding confetti into the crowd and unleashing blowup dinosaur toys. Higginbottom finally played some of his older, instrumental tracks and devolved his set into more of a DJ showcase. It may not have been the most technically impressive set I have ever seen, but Trouble remains one of my favorite albums of the year and Higgenbottom completely owned the room. It’s just a shame there weren’t more people allowed to enjoy it.