A few weeks from now, Planes Mistaken for Stars will be no more. The Denver band—known more for their unfortunate moniker than their penchant for riotous live shows—is hanging it up for good after a decade of debauched performances and overlooked recordings.
Formed in Peoria, Illinois (a city with a hilarious, salt-of-the-earth motto: "See how it plays in Peoria"), the band's early days had the PMFS crew emoting like few bands were ever really capable of. Nowadays the "e" word is saddled with a mighty stigma (and for the most part, rightfully so), but in the mid-to-late '90s, to be a band birthed from the rigid post-punk scene and to sound like PMFS did, was a stunning achievement. Tales of broken homes and rough living were the centerpiece of the raspy-voiced screams of singer Gared O'Donnell, and their musical breakdowns seemed to mirror actual emotional ones. The band possessed a nervous sense of danger, akin to a cornered animal with raised hair and snarling teeth. They were raw as fuck, a handful of Midwestern kids making music the only way they knew how, and it wasn't pretty. No careerism, or desire for upward mobility, just a desire to vent in song, no matter how difficult things got.
Sensing a change, the band migrated to Denver, and in the process cleaned up their rough edges. They grew in popularity, traveled the globe, and shared the stage with some of today's finer acts (Mastodon, Hot Water Music, High on Fire) along the way. In their final incarnation PMFS are a living, breathing, beast of a rock band. No longer content to bear the burden of their unfortunate name, or have to justify it, the band has slowly unleashed one brutal recording after another, and in the process they've kicked enough dirt on their emo past to completely bury that aspect of their history. Now firmly grounded in the dirty metal scene, PMFS have found a welcome home for their growling vocals, discordant guitars, and sweaty (and often nude) live show.
So as their farewell tour rolls through Portland, get ready to witness the ugly swan song of a band that will, without a doubt, leave everything on the stage. That is, if they can actually stay on the stage, which judging from past shows, is probably not the case. Let me amend that: They'll leave everything on the stage, the floor, and the sidewalk outside the club. Then they'll stop playing forever.
Planes Mistaken for Stars perform at Satyricon on Sunday, September 16.