Fronting a band is one thing. Playing solo is something else altogether. There’s nowhere to hide – no drummer to keep the beat, no bass player to drive the groove, and no one else to pick up the slack. It takes courage, it takes charisma, and it takes strong material.
I remember seeing Bob Mould do a solo show back at the turn of the century, at Bimbo’s 365 Club in San Francisco, just him and his 12-string acoustic, doing songs from his solo records and his band, Sugar. He explained that he got the idea from seeing Pete Townsend give a similar treatment to the Who’s catalog, and acknowledged that being alone on stage, just him and the songs, was a whole different ballgame. Some songs worked, some songs didn’t, he said; the challenge as an artist was to find new ways to connect by digging in to the material to get at the core and bring it to light.
On Friday night, four of Portland’s best front people — Brooke Binion (the Worst), Maximus Hansen (Mouth Washington), Reesa Wood (Cadaverette, Draudiga) and Harry James (FonFon Ru) — are going to take the stage at Sun Tiki Studios, for solo sets to do just that.
Each of these bands has earned a reputation for consistently delivering powerful, visceral live shows, raucous and loud.
Binion’s The Worst is coming off the road after a round of shows that tore it up throughout the northeast, and Wood’s Draudiga, by all accounts, turned in a stunning set last week at Portland’s Brass Rail.
You can get a taste of what Wood might bring to the stage Friday night in the video she posted to the Draudiga Insta a few days ago.
Hansen’s Mouth Washington dropped a new record a couple months back on Portland’s Repeating Cloud label that crackles with the power and majesty of full-on electric rock magic, and FonFon Ru, also a Repeating Cloud artist, traffick in a trippy, noise-pop sound and swirling art rock energy.
But Friday night at the Sun Tiki, all of that’s gonna be left behind, leaving only the singer and the song.
I’m really looking forward to this one. See you there.