DO YOU REMEMBER the first time you heard Joy Division, or My Bloody Valentine, or any musician who's dark and somehow literary, but also instinctual? Remember how you felt--like there was some heavy thing pressing on your chest, this new beautiful melancholy, this strange and wonderful sepia-toned sound, and maybe you didn't really know where it came from, but it was new and fascinating and electric?

I remember that feeling. It's few and far between, but I got that super-dark shiver again, last Monday (Aug 14). And it was better this time, because it was live, in Portland, at Satyricon's New Band Night (NBN), of all places.

Admit it; most people aren't likely to go to NBN at any club, unless it's their neighbors' band that's playing, or there's some really cheap deal on Schlitz. And, to be honest with you, I wasn't expecting anything good, except for the somewhat amusing possibility of seeing some bands that haven't yet traded in their Alice in Chains CD collections. If I hadn't promised I'd be there in a previous Mercury (Up & Coming, Aug 10), I probably wouldn't have gone. But I'm glad I did.

It really seemed like the NBN angels had come down and bestowed a special treat upon the 30-or-so attendees. Vibrant punk openers Try and Step on Her had contagious energy in the way Superchunk used to, pre-On The Mouth. Mortal Clay, who played second, were eerie-cute goths, adorably complex like Lenore or a Dame Darcy drawing (more about both bands coming in future issues).

Then there were The Prids. Holy fucking shit. You have got to see this band, right now.

Imagine if My Bloody Valentine and New Order decided to collaborate when they were both at their peaks. They'd make magenta-charged electro-wave, a crashing of static guitars with a heavily delicate synthesizer melody and unexpected drum smatters. The vocals would be iridescent, with breathy distortion. Imagine the electricity in that dark tension.

That's The Prids.

"We grew up in a time when [music was] really hard, and there was punk. We were so embedded in new wave, but we were also driven by that punk rock aesthetic. We wanted it heavier, so it seemed to come out really raging instead of just wilting. It isn't necessarily right up front sad. There is sadness to it, but it isn't a mourning," says guitarist David Frederickson.

The Prids, who moved to Portland from Lincoln, NE, in January of this year, have been playing as a band since 1998. They stretch a canvas of guitar and bass (Mistina Keith), gessoed with a keyboard (Trenor Rapki) and swept with a hard abstractness of drums (Jairus Smith). Their music is subconscious, a result of both incredible talent and incredible passion. "We all give everything we have to the music cause it's really all we have. We're lucky to have the music we make," says Smith.

Says Keith, "Music is the only thing I want to do, and it's the only thing I care about. Silly little things in life like fights, even when they're major, mean nothing in comparison. All I care about is the way it makes me feel, and I'm hoping when I'm performing that it can make other people feel that way."

"We're looking for the chill factor," says Frederickson.

The Prids will play Sept. 23 at Medicine Hat. Their self-released EP, Duracraft, is out in October.