Although I do not go to as many concerts as I would probably like to , it is something I enjoy doing from time to time, and when I had the chance to see a little-known band I happen to greatly enjoy  named Finish Ticket perform in Portland at a new venue (for me) and for a reasonable price, it was an obvious sell for me even though it meant that I would have far less sleep than I wanted because of my early morning schedule. There are sometimes sacrifices one must make for one’s love of music, and a loss of sleep is a fairly obvious one of those for me. At any rate, this was a band I was definitely looking to see, having devoured their entire back catalog, which contains about sixteen solid songs which put the band in the general vicinity of Young The Giant, another band I happen to greatly enjoy. So, armed with some enthusiasm and a hope and a full stomach from some tasty food, I was off to enjoy the concert after getting through the atrocious traffic.
As I waited in line outside the theater for the opening of the show, I noticed that nearly everyone else in the audience was a teenager of some sort, which made me feel decidedly like a creeper. Once I got in via will call, I quickly found that the venue had no seats and went into the 21+ area so that I could write on the barrier behind the sound booth. My feet were not happy about the prospect of standing for between three and four hours, but as there were no seats for those who were not staff, I made the best of it and write my notes on the concert by the light of my cell phone and enjoyed the show. The distinct feeling I was getting by the show, including its generous run time as well as the conditions, was that I am getting too old for this. I need a place where I can sit down and get to bed early enough for an early shift for work the next day, and this was definitely not where I parked my car (a few blocks away). I chatted with one of the members of Irontom (more about them later), and he commented that Finish Ticket had gotten a lot of young fans by performing with Twenty One Pilots, another band I happen to like , which made them quite attractive for the two opening bands, who like Finish Ticket hail from Southern California.
The opening bands, both of which had sets of close to half an hour, with fifteen minutes in between, were motivated to show off their skills and gain some new fans in the wake of Finish Ticket’s success. First up was Irontom, an energetic five piece band that was most notable for the muscular drumming of Dyl Williams, the serious guitar skills of Zach Irons, and the passionate singing of Harry Hayes. This band gained at least one fan–me–through its playing. Listening to their set, which included a few tracks from their finished album produced by Aaron from AWOLNATION, I could hear a few of those songs making it to alternative radio here in Portland, and they would be enjoyable to listen to. I picked up their demo compilation (review forthcoming) and struck up an acquaintanceship with the band’s manager, who talked about a soon-to-come single release as well as the two tracks of theirs (“Elijah” and “Hookers”) that are on SoundCloud. If you like melodic hard rock music with some amazing guitar solos, this is a band to check out.
After Irontom seriously impressed me, I listened to the energetic six-piece band Run River North. At first, I was really excited to see that the band had a violinist, which as a violist myself is something I enjoy seeing in a rock band. Unfortunately, the band’s performance did not impress me. The vocals were murky, and it was nearly impossible to hear anything the lead singer was trying to sing. Not only that, but the violin I was excited to hear often got lost in the mix, which was filled with distortion and was at times unpleasant to hear both in terms of being loud and in terms of being too messy. One could tell that there was a melody there to be found, and there was enough of a tune for me to nod my head to some of their efforts when I wasn’t trying to shield my eardrums, but for the most part this performance was a missed opportunity in that I wanted to like them but found myself unable to enjoy them as much as I wanted.
Finally, at about 9:45PM or so, it was time for Finish Ticket to take the stage. Even though the lead singer was struggling a bit with a cold, and he said a couple of times that he was ill and almost wasn’t able to perform today, the band did very well, and the singer himself gave a brave and able performance despite not feeling his best, as the band performed a set that was heavy on tracks from their current EP “When Night Becomes Day” (review forthcoming) as well as their debut album, and a good Arctic Monkeys cover. Although I would have liked to have heard more from the band, and the crowd enthusiastically sang along to the songs, many of which I have listened to over and over again on Pandora and YouTube, the performance was a solid one, and here is hoping that the singer gets well soon. After the concert I chatted with one of the band’s people, who mentioned that this was near the end of the band’s tour in support of their EP and that they would soon lock themselves away and work on their next album. That was music to my ears, as I look forward to hearing more work from them in the future and in seeing them on tour once again.
Setlist for Finish Ticket:
Lying Through Our Teeth
When Night Becomes Day
Catch You On My Way Out
Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High (Arctic Monkeys cover)
Bring The Rain
My overall thoughts of the concert were this: Irontom has a chance to break out big and Finish Ticket delivered the goods. Those are two bands I am looking forward to seeing again when they come to Portland. I’m willing to give Run River North another chance, once my eardrums heal a bit. Was this concert worthwhile? It was a fantastic deal at only $18, and even though I felt like an old man standing and hoping my feet wouldn’t be bothered too much, and even though it cost me some sleep, it was definitely a fun experience and a wonderful concert at a good venue. All in all, it was an evening well spent.
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