Photos by: Craig Williams
Story by: Colin Hudson
The term “sold out” seems like a bit of an understatement when describing the crowd that made it out to Wonder Ballroom in Portland, OR last week (February 6, 2015). From wall to wall and from the front to back, the ballroom was packed with an audience eager for the return of Lettuce. Also, as part of this tour, we were treated with a double dose of drummer Adam Deitch as his live EDM project, Break Science, was slated as the opener.
Fans arrived fashionably late which meant for a short while, it was easy to move around. By the time Break Science took the stage the place was about half full, but a smooth and calm start to their set with easy drumming on the cymbals and layers upon layers of soft, electric beats drew people in quickly. A smooth, casual build up that started with downtempo electric soul suddenly transitioned to their usual repertoire with heavy bass drops and swift drumming by Deitch. Shortly after, they busted out “Light Speed Transit” which brought in hints of dubstep and heavy dose of breakbeats.
Break Science carried this energy steadily for several more songs, adding in their hip-hop influences along the way. It culminated in thunderous version of “Brain Reaction” that features Redman (he wasn’t on stage, unfortunately) and samples some of Lettuce’s horn section. Clearly, a perfect transition to get a crowd ready for the six piece funk party.
In between sets, the number of people had increased dramatically. Need a beer? Forget it. All three bars had lines stretching deep into crowd. Soon enough though, the instruments were in tune and the suspense was in place, and Lettuce graced their presence. Most notably, bassist Erick “Jesus” Coombs walked up to the microphone sporting LED sunglasses and yelled “Are you ready to RAGE!?”
They started off with a long intro complete with saxophone and trumpet solos that shortly developed into their pseudo fight song, “Madison Square” that diverts into long solos that eventually wrap back around into their horn heavy chorus. They then went into several instrumental jams that blended their sounds of jazz, soul, psychedelic rock, and funk. The horn players have jazz tendencies over a rhythm section that is all rock and roll. A guitarist with blues influences is complimented by a do-it-all keyboard player that is simply all over the place. Everything else was bounded together solid bass lines and funk rock drumming by Adam Deitch (is he even human at this point?)
During the second half of their set, Lettuce brought out vocalist Nigel Hall to sing a few songs including “Do It Like You Do” that highlighted the soul side of Lettuce roots (enjoy that gardening pun—it’s Portland, after all). After an almost two-hour throw down, the party had slowed down to an ending point. They didn’t tease the crowd for too long and came back with “Outta Here” off of their first album.
When the lights came on, the room was just as full as it was before they took stage. Typically, a crowd like this can be overwhelming, but both of these bands are known for their positive fan base. So when all that can be seen is smiles in all direction is that really a bad thing?
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