A light drizzle begins as I make my way into Kelly’s Olympian on a Saturday night. Blink and you’ll miss it as you enter downtown Portland. For those who have their eyes peeled, however, the reward is their neon pink sign letting you know this is the place to be. Once inside, head left to enter their intimate concert space to enjoy some local rock music.
The first act was The Breaking. Upon entering, my ears were instantly awash with their ethereal guitars on a track called “Home”. With a distinct melody overlaying their dreamy instrumentations I was captured by the lyrics and drawn into the story singer Adam Sweeney was telling. It’s no wonder that the lyrics have a prominent place, as Adam has spent some time as a solo act. This band feels like a natural evolution in his music. They band cites albums like Achtung Baby and The Bends as influences and you can hear that in their guitar tones and lead lines.
This particular evening was only the second show for Young Vienna and they blew the doors down. The songs had a tight, punchy drive that at times had me thinking of The Strokes, but with the fullness of Jet. The lead singer, Lael, was like a man possessed, kicking his legs in the air, accenting the beat. He was a cross between Mick Jagger and Eddie Vedder and held the audience in rapt attention. As I was speaking with Rian after their set he mentioned that the band has been rehearsing for the last year and it shines through. Their onstage banter was relaxed and enjoyable to witness. It was like we were being included in an intimate friendship.
The evening was rounded out by Blue Skies for Black Hearts. Their sound hearkened back to a classic rock sound with beautiful four part harmonies and jangling guitars. There were times when my mind instantly thought of the Beatles like on their track, “Siouxsie Please Come Home” from the album “Serenades and Hand Grenades.” The hooks reach out and grab you and don’t let go. Each song was a finely crafted pop tune that instantly made me a fan. There was a deep sense of familiarity with the music’s roots that still felt fresh. They are making something unique and beautiful for music listeners. They release their self titled record on July 16th and begin a West Coast tour at The Doug Fir on July 9th.