Creature Comforts/String and Return/Pinehurst Kids
That the Pinehurst Kids opened the show was somewhat of a surprise; this Portland-based band has earned some national name recognition. Last year, this group played The Bottleneck, displaying a great deal of promise and finesse in its live show. Since then, it changed drummers and added a guitarist, bringing the total number of Kids up to four. The new lineup delivered a much stronger and more energetic set than its predecessor, ripping through a set of quick-paced pop songs that focused on selections from its newest release, Viewmaster. The sparse early-arriving crowd seemed enraptured.
Lawrence’s Higher Burning Fire, which was supposed to follow, canceled, and KC’s String and Return joined the bill as a last-minute fill-in. Usually, such afterthoughts to the bill are painfully out of place, but String and Return appeared to be anything but uncomfortable. This quartet plays repetitive rock that drives its seemingly simple riffs into listeners’ heads, lulling them into a trance before hitting the distortion pedals and swallowing the room with sound. Only by concentrating and interacting with the band’s oceanic sway can anyone comprehend its beautiful subtleties. Unfortunately, few devoted the necessary mental power, because the group’s solid set served mostly as an oddly highbrow soundtrack for distracted drinkers in the back of the bar.
The Creature Comforts provided a potent adrenaline shot after String and Return’s mellow set. Like the Pinehurst Kids, this Lawrence outfit recently upgraded from a trio with the addition of J.D. Warnock on keys and guitar. The added instrumentation made the band’s sound much thicker and fuller while adding a rambunctious new element to its performance. The Creature Comforts are a bar band through and through, but that’s no knock on these talented musicians; they just know how to write songs that make the drunk (and the not-so-drunk) get on their feet and bob their heads. As a result, the floor in front of the stage finally started to fill up as the Creature Comforts delivered tried-and-true selections and unveiled tunes of their upcoming album. These newer songs seemed to be a bit slower and more textured, and the band seemed much more charged and lively when delivering its trademark dirty rockers. Still, no matter what they were playing, the Creature Comforts sweated, jumped, and inspired otherwise inattentive audience members to perk up their ears.