SHOW REVIEW: WRITTEN IN ASHES/Rotating Leslies/Sumerland
April 29, 1998--EJ's (Portland, Oregon)
What an odd line-up..... 2 Goth bands (Sumerland & Written In Ashes), and sandwiched in the center - the more "popular" club-band "Rotating Leslies". I must say, "odd" works for me. What I can't understand, is why they were playing an almost empty EJ's and not a filled-to-capacity venue such as LaLuna. With the talent before me at EJ's, it was almost like a private showing of some of the best talent Portland has to offer.
The night began with Sumerland, a Gothic band with 5 members. The interesting thing about Sumerland are the 2 drummers, Enrique and Megan. Another interesting point, Megan is also a keyboarder/drummer for the 3rd band of the night "Written In Ashes". Enrique has some unusual percussion choices, he uses a very large bullet shell casing; and, in lieu of a bass drum, he chose a large plastic washing detergent tub (the sound worked beautifully!). Band member, Dave, plays bass, with Marshall on keyboards. The lead singer, Dorien, has a deep, powerful voice and plays an acoustic 12-string guitar. This band sounds wonderful and Dorien is so delicious on-stage... and quite polite and soft-spoken off-stage. For some reason, I had a mental image of Jim Morrison while watching him perform, he is so wonderful to watch and has such a potent voice. Megan also fascinates me. She is a gothic beauty and fits into the atmosphere so well.
The next band of the night were the "Rotating Leslies". I have had the pleasure of seeing Rotating Leslies several times before, at clubs such as Ash Street Saloon and Arnada Cafe. I always enjoy seeing them play. Rotating Leslies has 3 band members, 2 of which are brothers. Jeff Dood on bass/vocals, and Ryan Dood on guitar. Patrick Costello plays drums. It was so odd to witness a goth band such as Sumerland, and then to witness the people that were dancing to Rotating Leslies. It was like "goth meets tie-dye". There was a bit of something for everyone, but surprisingly enough the mix worked - mainly due to the talent there that night. The Rotating Leslies will be putting out a CD soon, so I was sure to sign up on their mailing list to be one of the first to get my copy. They seem to be one of the hardest working bands around town, and it seems they are always playing at one club or another on any given night. I really like their fresh sound, and all 3 are incredibly talented and seem to be extremely dedicated.
The final band is the band I had gone to EJ's that night to see, Written In Ashes. I have seen them perform once before at The Paris Theatre and I was curious to see if a different atmosphere took anything away from their dark and powerful performance at The Paris. It didn't. In fact, it was all the more powerful and I found myself with chills - something I haven't had from listening to a band in a very long time. Yes, I will admit that they are a bit frightening, but what better feeling to ad to the excitement of watching a band perform live (and don't we ALL like to be frightened from time to time?) I know what makes me FEEL, and this band can do that to you. Kevin Hay's lusty vocals and larger than life stage presence, Megan on keyboards, David Battrick's intense drumming, Eric Hold on bass, and an extremely talented David Anderson on guitar and, yes, violin. The clothes, the sound, the atmosphere they bring into a club... all work perfectly together. When Kevin put down his guitar, stepped off the stage and walked to where I was sitting during one of his songs, I was mesmerized by his gaze......what a strong performer he is! Immediately after their set, I spoke to David Anderson (violin, guitar, vocals) and he was so incredibly friendly and nice, and he taught me some great new words, like "Deathlings" and "Doom Cookies" - some tongue-in-cheek "terms of endearment". What a great sense of humor. He also does the graphic artwork for their web-page. It is extremely professional and well done, and I urge you to check it out. It's at http://www.teleport.com/~dka/wia.html.
I picked up a copy of their CD "eternal" that night... and haven't been able to put it down since. My favorite cut is "Nightfeast", you have to hear it to understand how bewitching this song is. Another great cut is a tune called "Expulsion From Eden", a realistic yet disturbing look at mankind, and I absolutely love the violin work on this song. The entire CD keeps me spellbound from beginning to end.
Perhaps it was a rather odd line-up at EJ's that night - perhaps not. I do know that I will definitely go see any of these 3 bands again - together or separately. That especially rings true for Written In Ashes. Besides, after gazing at Kevin, I think he owns my soul now anyway!