Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Plan B - more like Plan A! Wait...

Our new fave lil' area watering hole, Plan B, decided to put on a show. So we signed on with our buddies Shock Troops to play a Saturday night there. We honestly weren't expecting much, given that while we love the place it's pretty much empty most of the times we've been in there. But we like the owners and what they're trying to do so we thought we could support 'em. Turns out, so do many other people.

A little history's in order first, tho'. When I first found this place it was the White Eagle or White Horse or White Fish or something. Nice, quiet little neighborhood bar but the only place on the freakin' West Coast that served a real pork tenderloin sandwich. (If you're from, say, Missouri or Iowa, you know that this is and how glorious it can be.) They closed down/got bought out and Acme took its place. The smartest thing these owners did was to take over the parking lot and convert it into a massive outdoor seating and entertainment area. That really caused the place to take off. However, apart from moving the bar inconveniently into a perpendicular stance, they neglected the interior. With some ecletic drinks and horrid music selection it soon became a hipster haven, slow service notwithstanding. But that, too, just didn't last, and so entered Plan B last summer. After some extensive reworking inside (putting the bar back along the main wall, where it belonged) they opened as the local punk rock bar. Neato. But, boy, the hipsters sure didn't appreciate it. We were seated outside one fine September afternoon and a large group of giggling hipster mall chicks came in and took over a large center table. They looked at the menus in quizzical disgust - where was the paella or pesto-soaked whatever? What's a pepper-bacon-wrapped deep fried kosher dog? Do they really mean Cup O' Noodles on here? - and no one coming to help them they left after about 3 minutes. It was beautiful, a nice "cleansing image to the place.

Since patio weather's been on the outs here in Portland for a while, tho', the focus has shifted indoors and, typically, there's not many folks there - on weeknights. We didn't make it over for weekend fare but saw that they had bands periodically play, mostly metal and punk acts. Our guitarist Foil relocated and ended up a scant few blocks from the place so we started hanging there more and, inevitably, the proposal of playing there presented itself. We thought of it more perhaps as a charity opportunity, to support this business we enjoyed, to give it a fighting chance or something. Magnanimous of us, no?

Well, call us chagrined because the turnout to the show this past Saturday was downright astonishing. No stage, no storage area for gear, everybody pressed right in on top of everything - it's a fine combination for a night of loud, messy punk. We had at least 120 paying audience members (capacity there's rated at 140 or so) and you knew it - they were right up there with the bands. We like having that kind of instantaneous response, that instant energy/feedback. It just makes the shows that much more, ya' know?

Sure, there were no monitors and I couldn't hear myself so I sang so loud I don't have much of a voice here 3 days afterward. But so what? It was a blast. Shock Troops hit into their set and the response was great from the get-go. So much so that two particularly raucous attendees decided to start a fight and crash into Choad's drum kit, reducing among other things his stool to a 3-leg affair. They had a bit of a pit going on and that continued on during our set as well. I kept having to push folks about, just to keep them from crashing into the equipment. That was a new one for me but definitely welcome. Fighting a cold, I could then relinquish some control of the mic to up-front folks to share vocal duties. Granted, they usually just sang the original lyrics but I wasn't too concerned. It was too fun. The crowd numbers and response and support just blew us all away. We need to play there again, no question.

We're going a bit quiet for the next month or so, looking forward to probably a return in April. Stay watchful and stay fat!

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