Think seascapes, crashing white-tipped waves, bounding, lonely echoes off high canyon walls; think humbled whispers and sunshine streaming through holes in the treetops; think wispy blue flames.
Haze and shoegaze on stage
Think seascapes, crashing white-tipped waves, bounding, lonely echoes off high canyon walls; think humbled whispers and sunshine streaming through holes in the treetops; think wispy blue flames. Housefire, the Portland indie shoegaze quartet, comprised of Joseph Craig, Jon and Joey Lewis, and Max Jurgenson, embodies a sound inspired by Aphex Twin, Radiohead, Boards of Canada, and Squarepusher.
“A lot of the music I have written,” multi-instrumentalist Jon Lewis said, “is about an identity crisis and feeling insane.”
Though the darkness of such a sentiment might catch some people off-guard, the truth-value in Housefire’s music is refreshing. The band utilizes the fairly universal creative shift from acoustic to electronic instrumentation, using electronic beats, synthesizers, and heavily effect-pedaled guitars. Their sound is often minimalist, rarely harnessing that which so many bands rely on: vocals and drums. In its minimalism, the reverb-drenched softness acts as a catalyst for melancholic melodies. If reminiscence had a sound, their recently released and self-titled EP would be it.
As fate would have it, after meeting up in 2008, the band has been on the rise both locally and nationally. One really cool beacon of success is the music video made by two members of Wooden Lens, “a small collective of people trying to make something out of nothing or vice versa, we can’t decide,” who work with bands like San Francisco’s rockabilly group, The Ferocious Few and Toronto’s folk band, The Sadies. The video is a mosaic of clips from old found tapes that Wooden Lens cut and edited to add visual stimulus to Housefire’s song “La Ex.” The video has a very old-timey feel to it, using stop motion and live action, bursting with sun spots, San Francisco hills, snowy mountain peaks, and lots of rushing water.
The song they chose to illuminate, “La Ex,” has a heavy Aphex Twin vibe to it—complete with ethereal cut-and-paste female vocals and complex electronic beat composition. This song stands out in the realm of Housefire music due to its intense electronic feel, but the band intends to further pursue this genre.
“I’m a lot more interested,” Lewis said, “in electronics and unusual sounds in our music…We have guitars and drums and bass as well as some electronic drums and synths. We might have a pan [at our next show].”
This summer, the band did a small west coast tour that can be described, in Lewis’ words, as “hot, expensive, sweaty, and fun.” Besides the expensive part, this is the kind of show Housefire likes to put on for its audiences.
So what else is in store for these guys?
“We keep shrinking,” Lewis said, “and our sound is getting tighter and more focused…In the immediate future we hope to be playing SXSW this march, but we’ll see.”
Housefire will be playing tonight with not-quite-so-deep local band, Water & Bodies. Musically, they are pretty basic indie rock, but Christopher Ruff’s vocals have a certain high-pitched whiney timbre that doesn’t sit well with some people. They will put on a good show, though, full of twisting bodies and sweat. ?
Housefire, Water & Bodies
Ella St. Social Club
714 SW 20th Pl.
Free, 9 p.m.
You can also catch Housefire at the following shows:
Thursday Dec. 12
Doug Fir lounge
with No Kind of Rider,
Water & Bodies
Thursday Dec. 16
Doug Fir lounge
with Water & Bodies