Thursday night found Walter Etc., a California indie-pop staple, dropping by Portland on tour in support of their brilliant album, Gloom Cruise. Walter Etc. was joined by locals Lee Corey Oswald, Riled, Hemingway and Young Elvis. I showed up to Blackwater Bar a little after 9pm which means that I unfortunately missed out on seeing Hemingway and Young Elvis, but from my short conversations with all the members, I’m sure there will be more than a handful of opportunities to run into them soon.
After quelling my social anxiety with a couple of “adult beverages,” Riled was all tuned up and ready to rock and also possibly roll. I have seen Riled a handful of times and have consistently been impressed at the ambition that their anxious, jangly pop exhibits. Riled worked their way through their newly released EP, Always Koozie, an explosion of mathy pop songs that will get you moving, then have you stop, confused at the tempo/signature change that they effortlessly weave through their songs. Hitting influential nerves that range everywhere from hardcore punk 3/4 energy, glitchy guitar work reminiscent of Tera Melos, and even hints of what can only be described as surfy jazz swings. Their set left me excited to see what move they make from here, and I think that move should be putting their shoulder to the wheel. This is the type of band that sticks with you well after they’ve cleared off stage.
The next band to take the stage was Walter Etc.. I had seen them around town a handful of times, but whether it be the Pound Pit or some other DIY Space, I never had the chance to catch them in a fully mic’d setting, and that perspective change really did make a world of difference. Walter Etc. don’t deal much in the world of math or high energy rocking, preferring to dive head first into a singer-songwriter approach where the songs build off a central theme as written by Walter’s primary songwriter, Dustin Hayes. As an uninitiated show goer, the DIY sets I had seen left me a little underwhelmed being that Portland has a rich tradition of hosting phenomenal pop oriented artists, so nothing seemed to particularly stand out. However, in a fully mic’d situation and with dozens of shows under their belt on this tour, Walter Etc. delivered a very tight, dynamic performance that led me to downloading their album via Spotify in Blackwater’s bathroom directly after the set.
The last set of the night belonged to Portland’s Lee Corey Oswald. I have been seeing them throughout the years and have more or less grown up with this band being a constant, so I was very excited to see them because they haven’t been as active locally since the release/touring cycle of their full length, Regards. Lee Corey Oswald began their set by playing some previously unheard songs that show them going further down the road of creating engaging guitar-driven punk-rock with a hint of John K Samson-esque folky charm. The songs featured something not completely alien to their songwriting formula in some tasteful guitar solo work that they have obviously spent some time dialing in. Between the guitar work on display, drummer Corey Ciresi delivered one of the most entertaining sets from a drummer I have seen. They finished the night out with some older tracks from Regards before closing with another newer song. Lee Corey Oswald is a band that just keeps getting better and tighter, yet is still somehow criminally overlooked in this city… a fate not likely to last as these new songs showed a band that is yet to creatively reach its peak.