Ask anyone who patronizes the performing arts in Portland if they���ve heard of the High Violets and most will tell you they have.
The High Violets have been diligently performing their original ���comet rock���� for local audiences for over three years. They���ve opened for touring bands, played festivals and headlined almost all of Portland���s popular rock clubs.
I first heard the High Violets when my old band Paramore opened up for them at the late club EJ���s. I was initially impressed with how nice they were ���� laid back, down to earth and unpretentious ���� refreshing qualities.
Then I was hypnotized, almost literally, by their dreamy textured pop. Clint Sargent and Kaitlyn ni Donovan created layers of chorused guitar fuzz while drummer/drum programmer Strahota Strahota, and bassist Allen Davis laid down the infectious pulse. Donovan���s voice would periodically enter and ride around serenely on top of it all.
The intensity ebbed and flowed and I wanted to kick my feet up, close my eyes and revel a while. Some audience members were inspired to bounce a little or a least tap their toes.
Before I left Paramore, I played probably a half dozen more shows with the High Violets at as many different clubs. Each time was better than the last and the Violets were consistant, solid and enjoyable.
Most people describe the High Violets as indy pop, often including such words as spacey, shoegazer, moody or ambient. The Violets are inspired by bands like Galaxie 500, Spirtualized, The Stone Roses, My Bloody Valentine, The Jesus and Mary Chain and Ride.
Strahota coined the term ���comet rock���� to describe their sound. ���We have a spacey rock element but we���re a little more driving than space or atmospheric rock, we have a little more punch,���� he said.
The band creates the songs together, usually after a prompt from one of the members in the form of a riff, melodic idea, or drum beat. After three years the chemistry and communication between the four members is good. Sargent and Strahota have been writing and playing together for about seven years, most notably in The Bella Low, before forming the Violets. Davis and Donovan joined up a couple years ago.
Over the course of their three-year stint, they���ve seen a lot of great bands come and go. The Violets have remained flexible and have stayed together, which, as any four-piece rock band will attest, is no easy task.
Strahota thinks flexibility is the secret to longevity. They all allow each other to do their various on band projects. Strahota is a full-time student at PSU, Donovan does solo gigs, Sargent does some film and recording work and Davis has a side project called Echoplex.
The Violets have worked hard and have stayed together but haven���t gotten widespread recognition. I asked Strahota how he felt about the Portland scene and if it���s supportive. He likes the music scene now and pointed out that there are no longer any ���kings���� of the scene, but rather a large diverse group of bands. Musicians in the scene and the die-hard fans are very supportive, but people, especially those in their early 20s, aren���t going out to see original music as much.
Strahota feels that more and more frequently young people are going out to electronic shows, often referred to as raves, to dance.
Strahota admits that the atmosphere created by a bunch of people dancing in a huge dark room is alluring. He thinks that ���when people dance, its rarely negative ���� raves have a high energy, positive environment that people find enlightening.����
Although their music is a little mellower and slower than the typical dance song, Strahota thinks the High Violets are capable of ���grooving���� an audience and they definitely wouldn���t object to a little dancing.
Their music personally makes me want to lay back on a breezy Portland day and watch the clouds roll by, or maybe make a little sweet love, but that���s another story.
Like a comet the High Violet���s keep rocking along. Like a comet, they���re noticeable in the night life. People know about them, and even if they haven���t made the earth-shattering kind of impression a meteor would, they will no doubt keep on adding a little beauty to the night.
The High Violets have a six-song EP CD out in local stores called ���Dream Away���� and more information can be found at www.thehighviolets.com.