It’s Wednesday evening and the sun has still not set as Erin Ansley begins a tumbling drum roll in a North Portland basement. A small crowd begins to gather, and Brian Carr and Bob Pounding join in on the keyboard and bass respectively, an instrumental lineup that will switch many times before the end of their set. This is Bodhi, a three-piece garage rock band.
Enlightenment from basements
It’s Wednesday evening and the sun has still not set as Erin Ansley begins a tumbling drum roll in a North Portland basement. A small crowd begins to gather, and Brian Carr and Bob Pounding join in on the keyboard and bass respectively, an instrumental lineup that will switch many times before the end of their set.
This is Bodhi, a three-piece garage rock band.
“Bodhi is short for Bodhisattva,” Ansley explains, “which means ‘an enlightened being.'” When asked, however, whether or not Bodhi felt that there was something enlightening about their music, the only response they gave was laughter.
Carr went on to explain the name: “When I thought of the name, I thought it was so obvious to people, because Nirvana is in reference to the same sort of Buddhism thing. I thought people would think we were just ripping them off, but I’m still always being asked what Bodhi means, so I guess not.”
Bodhi has been showing up on bills all over town since August. On this particular evening, the venue of choice is a house party and the audience is largely made up of members of other bands, one of which, Shiloe, has come all the way from Los Angeles, making this a stop on their West Coast tour.
Why a house show? There is no shortage of venues in Portland. From dive bars without any real stages, to the cr퀌�me de la cr퀌�me of sound engineering such as Mississippi Studios and The Doug Fir, the options for stages for bands to play range from highly accessible to highly desirable. Despite this abundance of places to play out, many bands and many music fans prefer the friendly atmosphere of a house show.
The attraction is obvious: fun! In a crowded basement, there’s practically no separation between band and audience, creating an intimate atmosphere that can’t be attained in most venues. The venues themselves go beyond a mere address with a good basement and accommodating neighbors. These houses have names, and some of them are stop-offs toward gaining citywide recognition, as well as tour destinations. There’s a certain feeling of exclusivity and belonging in a house show that a normal venue simply cannot give.
It’s this sense of belonging that has many bands coming back for the house show atmosphere even after they reach national exposure. For instance, Reporter (formerly Wet Confetti), still rocks basements on a semi-regular basis. The Thermals have been known to play house shows. Also, you could call it a rumor, or you could call it an undisclosed source, but word is that the Shaky Hands have expressed interest in returning to their house-show roots sometime in the near future.
Yes, the house show is alive and well in Portland, which is exactly why Bodhi is here. Ansley and Carr have played together in both New York and San Francisco under the name Bodhi, but moved to Portland when San Francisco became too expensive.
“Basically, what the band’s been doing is just running from gentrification,” Carr said. “It’s all about cost of living.”
This third incarnation is going to prove to be the charm, it seems. With guitarist, keyboardist, bassist (and PSU student) Pounding, as well as a city that fits their low-key style, the band seems to be nearing completion. However, Ansley adds, “we are looking for another member, possibly another guitarist-keyboardist.”
The future for Bodhi also means an appearance at this summer’s PDX Pop Now! festival as well as a track on the upcoming compilation. They’re also planning to go into the studio to record a full-length album, and tour come fall. The big event they’ve been mentioning with the most excitement, however, is the upcoming Summer of Love Festival, which will take place in two house venues, as well as Good Neighbor Pizzeria from June 20-22.