A Week of Shows: L.A. Witch, The Black Angels, Wild Nothing, Beach Fossils, Dry Cleaning

The past month has been decently quiet for me as far as seeing live shows go. That is, until this week, when Portland was suddenly pounded with a variety of incredible shows. I sadly had to miss plenty, including Sugar Candy Mountain, Kikagaku Moyo, Salo Panto, Levitation Room and more. But gratefully, I was able to see some fantastic live shows this week, including many bands that I have never seen live before.

L.A. Witch
Though I’ve been a fan of L.A. Witch for a while, I’ve never had the opportunity to see them live. Just from their sound alone, you can tell they’re badass babes, but seeing them live upped the ante even more. Women aren’t as represented in the music industry as men, particularly the rock genre, so it’s truly inspiring to see each of these ladies put so much charisma into their instrument, creating a unique psychedelic, twangy sound. The trio and their touring guitar player played hits from their first full-length record “L.A. Witch,” released in 2019, as well as their latest release, “Play with Fire,” from 2020. L.A. Witch is currently continuing on tour across the U.S. with The Black Angels.

L.A. Witch at Revolution Hall in Portland, Ore., on November 9, 2021.

The Black Angels
The Black Angels quickly became one of my favorite bands when I first discovered them just a few years ago. I was able to see them play Desert Daze in 2019, and it was beyond magical. Wild, psychedelic images on the screen, a crazy loud sound system and some of their best songs to date as the sun went down just above Lake Perris — I knew that that set was going to be hard to top seeing them live a second time around. And honestly, Tuesday’s show didn’t top their Desert Daze performance. But it was still a fantastic show, nonetheless. With all of their amps hidden behind a lit up partition, the five-piece band rocked the stage playing olds songs and some not even yet released. The most impressive part was how often the band members switched instruments — taking turns between guitar, bass, synth, percussion and more. Clearly, a talented bunch.

The Black Angels at Revolution Hall in Portland, Ore., on November 9, 2021.

Beach Fossils & Wild Nothing
The two mid-Atlantic bands set out on tour together last month and made their stop in Portland for two shows on Friday and Saturday. Attending the first night meant missing out on two other shows I would have loved to attend (Sugar Candy Mountain and Kikagaku Moyo — both bands I’ve seen multiple times), but having never seen Beach Fossils or Wild Nothing live, I knew I had to be there. Though both bands transmit a somber sound, the show was much roudier than I could have ever expected. During the Beach Fossils set, a mosh pit erupted at the front of the stage and eventually fans started crowd surfing at the sold out show. Both bands brought a strong energy that really ignited the crowd, which is what I think sparked this bit of fun chaos.

Beach Fossils at Polaris Hall in Portland, Ore., on November 12, 2021.
Wild Nothing at Polaris Hall in Portland, Ore., on November 12, 2021.

Dry Cleaning
I’ve been listening to this South London-based band quite hard since the release of their first full-length album, “New Long Leg” earlier this year. They emot such a unique sound that I’ve really never heard — a catchy, post-punk band with a stoic, poetic leader singer (talker?) uttering near nonsense. True to character, their stage presence is also unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Lead singer Florence Shaw stood in front of the sold out crowd unafraid of looking fans deep in the eye as she dramatically spoke out the lyrics, never cracking a smile except when interacting with fans in between songs. Guitarist Tom Dowse was like a little kid playing a song on his guitar for the first time, but for every single song. He was jumping around with so much energy and joy. While bassist Lewis Maynard seemingly was making love to his bass, often with his eyes closed. Though I couldn’t see drummer Nick Buxton from my position in the crowd, seeing these three unique characters side-by-side creating a wholesome sound was certainly a sight to behold.

Dry Cleaning at Vitalidad Movement Arts & Event Center in Portland, Ore., on November 13, 2021.