Sorority Noise by Harper King / Sick Snaps
On March 17, Sorority Noise played their first Portland headliner and were joined by Remo Drive and Foxx Bodies for a memorable night of music.
I knew nothing about Foxx Bodies going into this show, and ended up being really moved by their performance. They definitely were a great fit for this bill and a band that I’m sure fellow Sorority Noise fans also enjoyed because they’ve got a similar emotional rock/punk thing going on too. Usually, in a lot of music I’ve listened to, it’s lyrical content and instrumentation together that bring out the sadness in songs, but in the case of Foxx Bodies, Bella Vanek’s vocals just sounded so heartbreakingly sad that it brought the stories and thoughts in their lyrics to life in an achingly realistic way. In terms of pace and instrumentation, a lot of their songs are fast, short and have fierce melodies. Between songs Vanek gave quick summaries of what the next tune was about with topics ranging from breakups, disappointing one’s parents, and being in a mental hospital. They also had more political songs talking about different issues involving gender and sexism to which the crowd seemed receptive and welcoming which made me happy. Foxx Bodies are genuinely captivating to watch even when you’re a first-time listener. Vanek seems to really get deep into each song and dances and moves around on stage in such a visually effective, and often fun, way. I’m really thankful that this band was on this show because they were such a great way to begin the night.
I had heard quite a bit about Remo Drive, especially with their recent signing to Epitaph, but I did not realize just how large of a following they’ve gained until the room came to life within moments of the band beginning. Their set was infectiously fun and lighthearted, and they brought great energy to the room throughout their entire performance. The crowd was super into every song, yelling, crowdsurfing, and single clapping along. Yes, you read that right—a single, individual clap during each song per the suggestion of the band. This resulted in clap leaders, but nothing could top the first single clap. The clap master held up their hand to count down and the majority of the room participated which made it successful, and oh-so wholesome. Even with all the joking around and fun that was had between songs, they really kept things rolling as they played through a bunch of songs from their debut album, Greatest Hits, as well as their new EP, Pop Music. Remo Drive was the perfect group to sandwich between two lyrically intense bands, and their set definitely made me a fan.
Before beginning this tour, Sorority Noise announced that following this run, and their UK tour, they will be heading into a hiatus. While this is sad news, it’s not all that surprising if you’ve listened to Sorority Noise before or really know anything about them. Conversations on mental health and grieving are a large part of what they’re known for lyrically and often in what they talk about on stage, and one can only imagine how difficult it would be to manage mental illness on the road. While there is obviously still hope that they will be back after however long they need to just live their lives and take care of themselves, no one can really predict the future, and Portland was ready to give Sorority Noise a great send-off in case they never make it back here again. That being said, Portland always goes hard for Sorority Noise regardless of the situation or the show they’re on, and this was their first headliner here which made it an extra special night.
The mood in the room quickly shifted as their set began. The crowd became still, quiet and attentive, gently whispering along to the first half of “Blissth,” but then as expected, surged forward as they burst with enthusiasm when everything picked up at the end of the song. Another perk to this being a headliner was getting to see the extra visual elements added to their live set which meant really cool color changing light boxes which featured a silhouette of a runner from their album artwork on each side of the stage.
Even without fun lighting, Sorority Noise has always been one of my favorite live bands. Not only do their fans get super into each and every song, but so does each member of the band. Vocalist/guitarist Adam Ackerman always manages to rock out and groove along with each tune no matter how confined of a space he’s in. As the set progressed he interacted with the crowd more, stepping up onto the edge of a speaker, rubbing his guitar on it, and yelling along with fans. Speaking of yelling, vocalist/guitarist Cameron Boucher yelled into his guitar for part of one song which created distinct vocal effects. Sorority Noise really doesn’t hold back at all when it comes to putting infinite amounts of passion into their performance. Highlights of their set naturally included songs from Forgettable. “Dirty Ickes” and “Blonde Hair, Black Lungs” are just so catchy and got everyone so excited that the energy in the room reached its peak moments during those songs.
There’s something kind of weird and enchanting that happens during certain Sorority Noise songs, particularly “Disappeared” and “No Halo.” I’m not really sure how to explain it in a tangible way, but I have just gotten chills every time I’ve heard these songs live, and the atmosphere feels full and weightless at the same time. I don’t know what I believe in when it comes to the afterlife, but there’s something about the feeling I experience during those two songs, that make me believe there may be more to the universe than what we can see, given that these two tracks are about people who have passed on.
We also got to hear some covers like “100 Dollars” by Manchester Orchestra, “In Bloom” by Nirvana, and before their last song, “Goodbye Cruel World” by Pink Floyd. That’s when a sense of finality began to set in, whether it was intentional or not, and their thank yous felt more bittersweet.
Before their set, fellow Sick Snaps contributor, Codie Porter and I were trying to figure out if we’d seen Sorority Noise play every time they’ve been here (October 2015 with Knuckle Puck, March 2016 with Citizen, September 2016 with The Menzingers/Bayside, November 2017 with Citizen again, and now this show). I didn’t even realize that they hadn’t been here before I saw them for the first time because I got into them with the release of Joy, Departed and had just assumed they’d already been here, but Codie was in fact right and I’ve been fortunate enough to have seen them every time they’ve played Portland. This was especially confirmed when the band finished their set with “No Halo” and then drummer Charlie Singer walked over and handed me his drumstick, thanking me for being at every single show they’ve played here, a gesture that really meant a lot to me. After that, the band came back out to finish the night with “Rory Shield.”
Sorority Noise was one of my first favorite bands seeing as 2015 was a big year for me discovering music on my own. I honestly don’t even remember how I found them, word of mouth most likely, but their music helped broaden the horizons of what I listen to now. Using their platform, they’ve helped to open up the always important conversation on mental health, and we wish them the best as they head into their hiatus in late April, and hope to see them again if/when the time is right.
When the band announced their hiatus they suggested that while they’re away everyone should check out other artists we may not normally listen to, so I’d suggest starting with Flower Girl Records artists, such as Animal Flag who Sorority Noise has been hyping up on social media because they’re great and their new record comes out on April 13! Find all Flower Girl Records artists at flowergirlrecords.com/artists and check out Animal Flag at animalflag.bandcamp.com. Also, we post monthly playlists on our Spotify, so hopefully we can help direct you to some great upcoming artists! Follow us here.