Words and Photography by Robert Otero
The Liquor Store was the setting for Portland band, The English Language, to kick off their newest album release followed by a 16-day tour up and down the west coast. Comedian, Jimmy Newstetter, was on hand to host the event and opened the evening with his brand of self-effacing material before introducing local high-energy trio, Manx. They kicked off the night with their signature brand of camaro-rock. Lead singer/bass guitar player, John Barnaby, stole the spotlight with his spirited stage presence and slick guitar moves. The band played a barrage of fast-paced numbers extolling the virtues of cigarettes, denim, and planetoids. Manx performances are always earnest yet tongue-in-cheek and that evening proved no different. The middle-act, Holy Moly, was unfortunately minus their bass player for their debut show. The group boasts members of Fireballs of Freedom, LKN, and San Francisco’s CHROME. The band performed their brand of noise-tinged grunge-rock without a hitch, however. After settling in, their riff heavy songs were executed with the swagger one would expect from an underground supergroup. The twin guitars more than adequately made up for the lack personnel and the drummers high jinks behind his kit were enough to call their first show a well-earned success.
The English Language took the stage to much fanfare for their send off show. Mother Tongue is the trio’s 4th album and consists of 12 tracks recorded on a Tascam 388 in their basement in proper punk rock fashion. However, the band’s live sound is much more dynamic than most punk. The rhythm section (two-thirds of the trio that night) was gritty and tight. The songs are rooted in garage/psych but injected with elements of grunge and surf. Singer, Kyle Langlois’ vocals emote a grainy, rough quality that seems to ride above the instrumentation. He kept the melodies intact while the rest of the band did everything possible to destroy your eardrums while producing finer, dulcet vocals on the band’s more delicate numbers. Much to the crowd’s amusement, the show was punctuated with a little audience participation for a shrimp necklace giveaway contest. The spectacle also included a fog breathing mummy which graced the side stage. The English Language returns to Portland on June 27th with their final set of the tour at O’Malley’s.