LIVE REVIEW: Guerilla Toss in Portland, ME (07.21.23)
Guerilla Toss made everything sensory on Friday night at their return to SPACE, a smaller, almost black box, nonprofit venue garnering more and more up and coming national acts as of late.
Kicking off with the bombastic “Cannibal Capital,” the “energy memory” started off with a bang and served as a sign that things would continue on that marathon path. With whimsical dance moves swaying and emphasizing the words with her hands, lead singer Kassie Carlson held full attention throughout the entirety of the night. An angelic voice ringing out among a swirling, repetitive groove, she uses her voice like an instrument, looping with herself and adding echoing effects. “Betty Dreams of Green Men” with the bouncing bass, repeated, building the flow and vibe, starting the trance and abduction of the audience into an intergalactic dance party that flowed into “Plants.”
Parts of their set blended and morphed together, as they continued on and on, nonstop in their energy and wall of synth sound, smashing through 17 songs on a guided journey through an audio-visual whirlwind of delight. Newer Famously Alive tracks, “Excitable Girls” and “I Got Spirit” bookended “Human Girl,” all making it feel like a soundtrack to a sci-fi movie playing in real time.
Having been a band for over a decade, they’ve become more refined and accessible with their newer works, but they still delight in the old noise rock favorites from a time of basement parties where dizzying, spiraling melodies captured and elevated the already high spirits. “Can I Get The Real Stuff” a testament to Kassie’s quick witted, sharp tongue, the crowd clapping along while the band bounced around. “Future Doesn’t Know” featured an extended guitar from Arian Shafiee and a deep sense of existentialism that had fans bobbing in a mini dance mosh.
Their songs are full of dynamism, telling of human interactions with nature and the obscurity of living, seemingly mindless and repetitive and serving the purpose of losing oneself, but full of so much more meaning in the deeper lyrics. “Are we having fun?” Carlson cried out with distortion before their latest single, the significant “Famously Alive.” A softer, sweeter side, culminating their growth as a band and the message they’re trying to send to old and new fans alike.
Things got a little wild again with a racing speed remainder of a set, railroading one song to the next in rehearsed chaos. The band is perfectly timed with one another on stops and breaks, stalling and starting back up at just the right moment and building the anticipation for Carlson’s energetic and magnetic frenzied rampage of rhythmic cries. The frenetic “367 Equalizer” and 90s Primus fueled “Trash Bed” wailing with dissonance and funk keeping the night wild and full of spirit, lending themselves to more highs in the set than lows.
Before ending with a bang, drummer Peter Negroponte yelled out, “This is a song about winning. In rock and roll, everybody wins! That’s not true, but tonight it is!” before “Zum Herz” built up another dance mosh. With a quick, cinematic ending, that was it. No encore, just a succinct perfect end purposely serving a night lost in sound, time, and space.