September 9th, 2016
At 8:30 p.m., the Wonder Ballroom is already half-filled. New Joseph merchandise and “I’m Alone, No You’re Not” vinyls are being sold in the back of the misty room.
When the opener, The Duncan Fellows, take stage, Portland is ready. Hollers arise just as lead singer Colin Harman asks, “How’s everybody doing tonight?” The band jumps right into an upbeat jam. Fading purple lights slowed the drum beat for “Dark Eyes” a song from their most recent album.
“A ripple on the lake in the light of the moon/You killed all the flowers before they bloomed.”
Colin introduces the band’s five members. Finishing with the keys player, he says, “And Jack here has requested to play guitar. He’s just learning, so don’t be hard on him.” People cheer and the lead guitarist passes off the instrument. They play an energetic cover of “Ooh, La La La” by The Faces. When the band finishes, the Wonder Ballroom hits capacity. Everyone awaits the hometown favorites.
After an exaggerated wait, the lights drop down. A silhouette of Natalie Closner and her guitar appear through the curtain. A woman behind the stairs yells, “We love you, Natalie.” Singing the opening lines of “Hundred Ways,” Natalie is joined by the twins, Meegan and Allison. A woman whispers, “They’re so amazing live.”
The band’s headcount has doubled with the addition of their drummer, keys player, and bassist. Joseph plays another new song called “SOS (Overboard)”. Meegan begins solo, “You don’t see me. My eyes are closed, and I swear/You can’t see me, but my arms are holding me back.” The mallet drumsticks enable the group to crescendo in ways that they were previously incapable.
After the song, a man asks multiple crowd members, “When did you first see them?” No matter the response, he replies, “I’ve been watching them since they were this big.” He gestures towards his hip and laughs, “I’m their uncle!” Uncle Rick points to a group of folks near the stairway and says, “We’re all family,” a colorful showing of one of the band’s most faithful followings.
Meegan greets the crowd, “Thank you all for coming out. This is the first show we’ve sold out and the largest we’ve ever headlined!” Alli continues, “We’re just so grateful for all of your support. We love all of you and this city.” A man near the bar yells back, “Portland loves you!”
Natalie dedicates “Tell Me There’s A Garden” to her husband. The song is a prayer that their new relationship will serve as a plot where her “flowers will grow.” Only the three sisters perform the heartfelt ballad.
Drinking water to recoup, Meegan pulls an earpiece out and explains, “Once we got the drums and guitars playing, it was easy to belt out notes and think you’re right on key, only to hear it played back and… well we needed to be able to hear ourselves a little better.” She holds up the earpiece and laughs before putting it back in.
Resuming their new sound, the band playsan updated version of “Cloudline,” a hit song from their first album, “Native Dreamer Kin.” The song that was previously their most upbeat song builds even more energy. “Show me the high dive/So high up in the sky/I’ll jump up, I’ll take flight/Fall through the Cloudline.”
Finally, the girls let loose resounding hums as Natalie sings abruptly, “Your yelling’s getting loud/Keep it down now! Keep it down now!” Everyone begins to sing and stomp. The band’s new hit, “White Flag,” is their most fervent track on the new album, and this crowd has followed them as they performed the new song on television shows like Conan and CBS This Morning. The audience erupts at the close, and Joseph waves, walking offstage.
Only seconds pass before the balcony begins the stomping and cheering that would bring the girls back out for their inevitable encore. The Closners return followed by their new instrumentalists and The Duncan Fellows. The fifteen musicians gather around a microphone. They perform together “Eyes to the Sky.” In a newly mastered harmony, the male vocals provide the song a new, perplexing depth. Colin Harmon sings the second verse, “Give me grace, and give me peace/Through my pain and suffering/Be a constant fire, that draws me higher/Burn up the despair that’s been sinking me.”
A celebratory and passionate applause roars. Once the lights rise, most flood to the merchandise rack. Conversations upon the ballroom exodus are animated. The hometown faithful know this band’s unquestionable talent will raise them to new heights as they embark on their first-ever headlining tour.
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