Monday, October 3, 2011
Liam Finn live at Doug Fir, Portland, October 2, 2011
It's hard to get your foot in the door in the music business these days. There are so many bands, old and new, local and international, all of them looking to break through the clutter and looking for new ways to capture people's attention and new ways to try to make a living from doing your art. Can't count on CD sales anymore, so touring, merch, and licensing have taken on added importance.
One certain way to provide a satisfactory answer to "WHO?" is to say, "Oh, he/she is the son/daughter/ex-lover/baby daddy of So And So..." but that's not good enough. That's enough perhaps to get your foot in the door, but to get people to actually open the door and let you in, you've got to be more than the "son of" somebody. You've got to be good.
Fortunately, Liam Finn, son of Neil Finn, nephew of Tim Finn, they of New Zealand's Split Enz and Crowded House (you definitely know at least a few of their catchy songs, like "I Got You" (...i don't know why sometimes i feel frightened...) and "Don't Dream It's Over") is actually good.
Interestingly, Liam got another foot in the door when his songs were featured in shows like "United States of Tara" ("Second Chance").
But I think it's safe to say that most people opened the door after seeing Liam play a show because he is an incredible live performer.
He's been touring for several years, with his father and uncle's band, and also opening for acts like Eddie Vedder.
The show at Doug Fir in Portland confirmed the adoration of long-term fans and probably made a few new converts too, myself included.
No review of any show of any Finn would be complete without the obligatory "Beatles" reference, so you can insert your own here:
The opening acts. The Young Evils and Marques Toliver, were quite good. Marquis is a very talented and personable multi-instrumentalist, singing and accompanying himself on the violin, guitar, autoharp, and drum. The autoharp made two appearances that night, as Liam Finn's vocal partner, Eliza-Jane Barnes, brought out the autoharp for a song as well. Could we be in the midst of an autoharp revival? PJ Harvey and The Avengers' Penelope Houston also rock the autoharp.
For the first song, Liam made a loop of himself on guitar, then sat down at the drums and proceeded to bang the shit out of the drums like no one else I'd ever seen. While introducing "Neurotic World" from the new album FOMO, Liam made reference to the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations taking place in New York and elsewhere currently. A friend had been at the Seattle protest, and Liam said he complained about all the hackysack, dreadlocks, and such. In defense of hackysack.... oh, nevermind. I know, I know, you want to present a serious image to the public so you and the cause are taken seriously, not just a bunch of stoners and slackers out for a lark.
Then Liam sat down at the drums and started banging away, while improvising a ditty about how the protesters should leave their hackysacks, dreadlocks, and drum circles at home. Ok, that did it. Hackysack may make an easy target, especially for those who never played (or can't), but, quite simply, Sports are like Capitalism and Hackysack is like the utopian paradise our protester hero-friends are dreaming of.... and they're helping to build that sunny pleasure doom too. Sports are all about competition and defeating the enemy. Just like Capitalism. Hackysack is all about cooperation, We're all on the same team. By working together, we can all win.
But anyway, quite a show, and Liam has a very energetic and affable stage presence, as you will see, hopefully, in some of these videos I shot at the show.