Thur Jan 13
1905 NE MLK
As I fruitlessly search for liquor, I curse the house show tradition for once again leaving me high and dry. Awkwardly shuffling around strangers' kitchens, conversing with hipster boys that are skinnier than my 7-year-old cousin, and this cursed dearth of available alcohol is almost unbearable, but tonight I'll be glad I made it. Suddenly, a microphoned voice rings from the basement, posing the question "What kind of bees make milk?" The speaker bellows the self-reply: "Boo-o-o-obies!"
The woman who peaked my interest is Mariel (last names were asked to remain anonymous) of Hustler White, Portland's own--and possibly last--basement band. They describe themselves so, not to desperately gain social tokens or to latch onto this dying breed, but because they are genuinely constructed for and in love with this format. I couldn't believe my eyes as the whole of the basement began collectively moshing and stomping their feet to Meghan's tribally-rhythmic pounding drums, Daniel's shoe gazer keyboarding attitude, Mariel and Adam's dual animal screams, and Nick's guitar that locks in the hook of every song.
Their aptitude for non-venue success is in part due to their consistent appeal to the playfully morose. Most songs are built off of Nick's metal-guitar riffs (loosely similar to his former band Alarmist), piercingly dark keyboards and heavy horror-movie referenced lyrics follow. Their songs blatantly dabble in art rock territory yet refrain from being so self-indulgently messy that nobody knows when to jump. This dichotomy of approachability and sporadically dark themes is the central to Hustler White: you can invite them to your birthday party, but don't expect them to refrain from play-hanging themselves from your ceiling or singing about fucking people with a peg leg.
They're not working to get on Thrasher's good side, nor are they scrambling to release the 7" with Business Lady that's in the works. They are just a refreshingly unambitious band that's already met their goal in the moment--and it's happening in a basement near you.