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The Silver Jews perform at Neumo's on Thursday, Oct. 2.

Who: Silver Jews and Monotonix:

Where: Portland's Wonder Ballroom

When: Tuesday, September 30

Monotonix, since

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Last Night: Silver Jews and Monotonix in Portland

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The Silver Jews perform at Neumo's on Thursday, Oct. 2.

Who: Silver Jews and Monotonix:

Where: Portland's Wonder Ballroom

When: Tuesday, September 30

Monotonix, since they opened, played a short set, and the band didn't have a whole lot to work with because the Wonder Ballroom is basically one big box, but Ami managed to jump off the balcony into the crowd as a grand finale. That was pretty righteous. But the show at the Comet Tavern was much more intimate. Plus, the Portland crowd was reserved-- the Silver Jews fans didn't know what to make of Monotonix -- while a few brave souls rocked out in the front to the same sorts of antics: garbage cans crowd surfing, beer showers, drum crowd-surfing, mooning...you know, all the stuff that makes Monotonix one of the best live acts to see, period. And the Wonder Ballroom let them have their fun, which is good, because big venues tend to be more uptight about antics than smaller ones.

As for the Silver Jews...well, they played a handful of old songs (their best, in fact: "Random Rules," "Slow Education," "I'm Getting Back Into Getting Back Into You," "Punks In The Beerlight," etc.) to warm up the crowd before segueing into a few new ones, which was a wise choice, since Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea is one of the Silver Jews' weakest albums. However! I liked the new songs MUCH better live. And they rounded out the end of the show with a couple of old favorites like "New Orleans" and "Tennessee." As expected, David Berman seemed uncomfortable onstage, knocked over the mic, kept fiddling with his earpiece and generally seemed out of whack even though he managed to tell a couple of jokes between songs and remained jovial through one obnoxious guy's inappropriate yelling. He also sang to Cassie during the finale, "Tennessee," which was incredibly sweet even though the keyboard player screwed up royally and often. I suspect that some of those songs were not extensively rehearsed.

But whatever. The whole damn thing was beautiful. One of my show companions told me that someone had informed him that the Silver Jews' live show is not great, and to that I say bah! We all know David Berman had crippling stage fright. Be happy you get to hear your favorite songs sung live and in person. Even if they need to rehearse a few of their songs more, I barely noticed, because I was all verklempt basically the whole time. I did have some fairly high hopes that Stephen Malkmus would show up like the last show in Portland at Musicfest NW 2007. He did not. And I think David Berman might've had some high hopes of his own that were dashed. This is, of course, all speculation, but he made some comment about people disappointing him (he's a mumbler, so I didn't hear it very well), and a friend of mine who was closer to the stage than I said he saw him obsessively checking his phone. But I guess we'll never know for sure.

The moral of the story here is this: if you're a longtime Silver Jews fan who's on the fence about going to the Seattle show, do go. They played all of my favorite songs, and if they tour again in a year or two, I will attend that show as well. Silver Jews forever!

 
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