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Loch Lomond @ Mississippi Studios

Loch Lomond @ Mississippi Studios


It’s been nearly three years since Loch Lomond has headlined a full show in Portland. In December they played with the Vaselines at the Doug Fir, and they have played a surprise show here and there, but last Wednesday night at Mississippi Studios was something special. For a moment, the room felt like the Portland that I was introduced to in 2007. Before Portlandia and all those God-damned condos. After a big show at the Aladdin in the winter of 2012, Ritchie Young was admittedly exhausted from playing in town, and took a break for awhile. Many thought it was the last Loch Lomond show for good. Young and his band mates have been very busy, however. Over the last couple years they released a new album, Dresses, toured extensively in Europe, especially in Scotland (where they are adored, not only for their name). And last year they contributed music to Laika’s Academy Award nominee The Boxtrolls.

Everyone at Mississippi Studios was in good spirits as they eagerly anticipated the long overdue show. They started quite perfectly with the beginning – Carl Sagan, the opening track from their first album, Paper The Walls. Ritchie sang the line “Things are going well, friends coming home” and it all seemed too good to be true. Although many of the members have changed, the music sounded just as good it did seven years ago. The song built into crescendo with “No one gives a fuck what will become”, then the meditative chorus, “Pay Attention”. Brooke Parrot accompanied Ritchie on vocals with etherial grace, as she always does. The audience of old friends and new fans rejoiced. They followed with something more recent – a stunning version of “Spray Painted Drums” from the 2013 album Dresses. Then went back to a couple of fan favorites – “Stripe”, and “Elephants and Little Girls”. Ritchie showed off his amazing vocal range with “Kicking With Your Feet” and sandwiched between two unknown songs, “Pens From Spain” and “Nocturnal Me”, which displayed a much darker, tormented version of the so called chamber-pop genre that they have been pegged with. Next Brooke implored Ritchie to play a “sex jam”, which was “Seattle Denver Arms”, and as the frontman promised he could bring only fifty percent of the sex, the crowd snickered and smiled while the band played the new song. They went on to perform a version of “Tiny Little Steps” that stirred the audience with its bombastic horns and bold vocals. The show ended, quite suddenly, only for L.L. to come back for two encores – the beautiful “Trumpet Song” then “Your Eyes” – Ritchie saved the best for last. Belting out the chorus while the new members of the band nailed every note.

What Ritchie and Loch Lomond achieve in their music is in many ways what fine artists strive for in their masterpieces – to capture a feeling or an emotion, be it triumphant, defiant, joyful or numbingly sad. Just something inherently human that the rest of have a sense of but can’t place. There seems to be so little of this kind of expression going on right now, even here in one of the last bastions of culture in the country. It’s understandable that Loch Lomond would go over to Europe for inspiration. This is the band that should be playing at Pickathon. This is the band that should be on late night television. We need to stop shuffling through acts that define a new era of music, and appreciate the talent that has been here all along.

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Words and photos by Scott McHale