If you try to take a photo in a dimly-lit church with a non-professional camera, you’ve got the brain of a four-year old child, and I bet he was glad to get rid of it.
My trip to Central Presby (if we have to call south Congress “SoCo” we can call a Presbyterian church the “Presby”) gave me one of my favorite moments of the week: as I walked by a group of girls, I heard them shout, “I F**KING HATE BADGE HOLDERS!” My music badge (thanks, UPROXX!) was swinging in the wind, so I stopped and told them I was sorry. Come to find out, Horse Feathers was about to go on inside the church, and security wasn’t letting anyone in without a badge.
The interesting aside to that story is that I watched Horse Feathers with about 40 people, total. For shows at Central Presbyterian you sit quietly in pews, just like you would for Sunday services, and at least ten rows on either side of me were empty. You’d think they’d let some lonesome toursits in to see their favorite Portlandic folk act, especially for what essentially boils down to being a church fundraiser, but who knows?
If you haven’t heard Horse Feathers, they’re fronted by singer/songwriter Justin Ringle, a wonderful musician who looks a lot like bearded Ron Howard and reminds you the world of Best New Artist “Bonny Bear.” He makes beautiful music — perfect for listening to somberly in church — but it’s all an extremely folkish level of low key, and at one point I had to put my face in my hands to stay awake.
To my knowledge, those poor, cursing girls never got in.
In direct contrast to Horse Feathers was Mississippian Charlie Mars, who played by himself and announced before he began that this was his “big break.”
Horse Feathers played beautiful music in near silence. Charlie Mars brought a lively atmosphere to the church, asking us to sing along with most of his songs and flagrantly saying whatever the hell he wanted to (including a short story about getting high and eating banana popsicles) under the big Central Presbyterian cross. His songs all sounded similar — he does the same Extreme “More Than Words” thumb slap thing in every one of them — but he was engaging about it, and made the crowd laugh more than most of the comics at Esther’s Follies.
Is it more important to sound great or be interesting?