Changing the scenery from Chop Suey to the gorgeous Columbia City Theater was one of the many steps the ladies at Three Imaginary Girls took to outdo themselves this year. With Christmas spirits overflowing (double entrendre intended), the Imaginary Holiday Office Party was an intimate success, benefiting both Teen Feed and all the cheerful patrons in attendance. The show pulled out all the stops in office party authenticity: elbow rubbing, cocktail sipping, baked good binging, and John Vanderslice lap-sitting. Ok, that last one isn’t tradition, but it should be.
Jose Bold, (aka. John Osebold of local band “Awesome”) got the show in gear with his set of quirky, sometimes impressive, sometimes half-baked stabs at solo entertainment. Bold combined E-string basslines and spastic Dirty Projectors-like riffs over a landscape of self-assured vocal acrobatics. Though his upside-down Dave Longstreth mimicry had it’s occasional charm, his long, brunette mane proved to be more impressive than his set.
John Vanderslice, resident Santa and all-around nice guy, took the stage to much anticipation. Heavenly stripped-down renditions on “Pale Horse” “Time to Go” and “White Dove” were only overshadowed by his heartbreaking take on Emerald City-era “Numbered Lithograph,” where he cries “I’ve never been lonelier.” Vanderslice, a master of studio tinkerings and scientific intricacies sounded so liberated, so natural without the shackles of a big sound or large audience. As a musician, and as a person, he was admirably modest, down to earth, and though his notable stature in the indie world was distracting, he managed not to steal the spotlight from the marvelous local acts that followed.
The Young Evils sounded better and fuller than ever, as their boy-girl melodies bounced around the gilded stage and into the crowds welcoming hearts. Fronting the Vaselines-lovin’ powerpop outfit, couple Troy Nelson and Mackenzie Mercer were just too damned cute as they shucked and jived to their Enchanted Chapel ditties. I would date them both if I could….or was that TMI? They have their smart, quick, candy-sweet, green cardigan-toting performances down to a science. The live-quintet killed with perfect takes on “Sleepwalking” “A Just Built Beaming Light” and “This Rock and Roll City is Done.” If MTV still played videos, there’s no doubt in my mind the Young Evils would be taking the airwaves by storm.
The Tripwires closed things off with a truly authentic rock n’ roll party. Channeling Thin Lizzie’s harmonizing guitars, energized Chuck Berry-like licks, and Kiss-inspired fun-but-serious mentalities the seasoned musicians weren’t afraid to show their influences, and weren’t afraid to rock the hell out, either. Mark Pickerel’s incredible drumming should not go unaccounted for. This drumstick spinnin’ spectacle makes his remarkable skills look so easy it sort of makes me wanna throw up. The band’s notable past in Screaming Trees, Young Fresh Fellows and the Minus 5 might begin to explain why this wildly talented group sounds so polished. Their encore-worthy performance wrapped-up past the midnight hour, making me feel my (mid-20’s) age. It’s a tough life, but someone’s gotta live it.