As with many of Rontoms’ Sunday Sessions, this was packed full of talent, on and off the stage. Rontoms, not unlike The Liqour Store, is seemingly a watering hole for the music scene to come together, if only for one night a week, to not just hear local and touring bands alike but to mingle and meet others amongst the music scene. A wonderfully unique layout that promotes comfortability while still giving concert goers the ability to take root in a fertile flowering scene in a casual lounge & patio setting.
I was all by my lonesome and yet amongst friendly familiar faces of many local band members so I felt right at home. I got a shot of Rye Whiskey and headed back for a smoke in the patio. Conversed with a few people and headed back in to catch the only remaining seat in front of the tiny dance floor directly in front of the stage. This was a show I knew wouldn’t necessarily rage, and yet, in no way was I worried it wouldn’t be groovy and amazing in it’s own sense.
Secrets was a unique melodic electronic dance number with frontman Aaron Chapman, (of the band Nurses) and two interpretive dancers dressed in black leotards. It was visually capturing and vocally relaxing. With no instruments on stage it was not my normal schtick but it certainly is one some would fall in love with, I was too busy drooling over my wait for Surfsdrugs and Bryson Cone’s sets to give it the appreciation it likely deserved. That said, I can see him taking it in so many directions that it only can evolve from there. Almost felt like I was in a Warhol factory moment when entranced by it’s sheer surreal artistic approach.
I strolled out for whiskey number two and joint number one and headed back in with overlying thoughts of seeing Surfsdrugs for the first time and yet in their new outfit with new members. I found my way back to the same seat and didn’t stay there long as Surfsdrugs pulled me like a magnet to the dance floor. Incredibly psychedelic and beachy guitar riffs and basslines that are smooth and send you into trances just to bring you back to climb up your spine, using poppy sways and ways of wonderfully wise lyrics and progressively unique riffs. A vibe similar to The Shivas softer side, (especially their newest re-release “Year of the Trimp”) while perfectly playing in the background of any of life’s situations. Catchy but not cliche, fuzzy but friendly and free.
Berg Radin, (of the Portland staple And And And) heads this new crew with help from lead guitarist Tyler, (who also dabbles on trumpet) Connor on Bass, and Chase on drums, and Emma on tambourine. We will proudly be hosting a St. Patrick’s day event with four bands including these Springfield, (Eugene) hitmakers_ Surely will be an exciting event to see.
Last, but certainly not least, is Bryson Cone. Headed by Bryson Hansen on guitar & synth and his partner Cat Hoch also on guitar and synth, (who has amazing solo work as well under the name Cat Hoch) backed by bassist Bambi Browning, (of the band Reptaliens) and two saxophonists, Andy Rayburn does some backup vocals and Chris Hoganson plays keys as well as lead vocals in a song. This is arguably the most groovin’ band in Portland today and will only get better from here. They bring heavy elements of soul, R&B, and psychedelic pop together to make it a must to either melt or move your hips and feet. Even Bambi can’t help herself from wiggling along to it while she shreds her bass.
Bryson and Cat are a perfect pair and even switch off from guitar to keys or keys to guitar, both bringing vocals into the mix with incredible saxophones to shake things up a bit and steer them more inline with the ever funky rhythm and blues that is their forte.
On this night they had a special fill in on drums by Hannah Blileh, (of Miss Rayon, The Gossip, & Vexations among others) who did everything but disappoint with her back beats and extremely smooth time signatures. Certainly a drummer high on my list in town and one to catch often with other bands she’s in. The night tapered off soon after as I left with my band tee and cassette I felt like there couldn’t have been a better place to be that December evening. An early holiday gift in my eyes to what would be a spectacular winter season so far. Cheers!