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Show Review: Beach Fossils at Polaris Hall

Show Review: Beach Fossils at Polaris Hall

After nearly two years of quarantine and isolation brought on by a worldwide pandemic (you know the one!), seeing a live show that didn’t take place on your computer screen is a welcome return to something approaching normal: standing shoulder-to-should with masked-up, doorperson-approved vaccinated concert goers. It could have been the worst concert ever experienced, and you’d still have been grateful to be there. Thankfully, the Brooklyn lo-fi dreampop band—Beach Fossils—puts on one helluva show.

Co-headlined with Wild Nothing, the second stop on the first leg Beach Fossils’ West Coast tour landed them in Portland at Mississippi Studio’s sister venue, Polaris Hall, for two-nights of sold-out shows.

The El Monte, California trio—the Red Pairs (aka, Las Peras Rojas) opened the show with a blistering sonic wallop cut through with commanding garage rock vocals. Think The Arctic Monkeys crossed with Ride and a dash of Lyres mixed in.

Wild Nothing took the stage next. “Thank you so much, Portland,” lead singer Jack Tatum told the cheering Friday night crowd after the band’s first song. Tatum, smiling, looked just as happy to see them. “Thank you so much!” Wild Nothing’s gauzy, synth-haze set was nothing short of flawless.

But the night belonged to Beach Fossils, whose four members took the stage set to an announcer doing their best impression of SNL’s intro monologue: “Musical guest: Beach Fossils!” Shaky video footage taken from the streets of NYC was projected on the wall behind them.

“It’s fuckin’ tight to be here!” beamed guitarist and lead singer, Dustin Payseur, after opening track, “This Year.” The band powered through a setlist including “What A Pleasure,” “Sugar,” and “Daydream,”—inspiring crowd surfing, the politest mosh pit in recorded history and a call-and-response determination that strawberry is the best cake flavor. 

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Dancing occurred!. The end of each song witnessed hands held overhead and enthusiastically clapped. At one point, the audience loudly sang to “Down the Line,” through their face masks: “These days I feel like I do nothing right/ So come with me and we’ll go down the line!”

With the pandemic still looming large, it was great to once again experience a night hanging with complete strangers to see bands that were obviously happy to be there, too.