LIVE REVIEW: Slothrust, Pronoun in Portland, ME (08.26.23)

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LIVE REVIEW: Slothrust, Pronoun in Portland, ME (08.26.23)

“I don’t want to be addicted to the noise, but when it goes away, I want to die.” A motto for the most serious of music fans (probably). And the fans in attendance were pretty hardcore and super into the music, since originally hailing from Boston, Slothrust are no strangers to Portland, and have played multiple times over the years. Strutting down the walkway to Ginuwine’s “Pony” over the speakers, the three members emerged on stage to cheers of anticipation, with everyone into the goofy nature of the nostalgia trip.

Donning their gear, heavy hitter of an instrumental, “Surf Goth” kicked things off and got everyone amped. Coasting into their first ever single, the slightly folky/not quite hokey, “7:30am” followed, cluing in that they were ready to play a range of material across their almost 13 year catalog. The chilling, hollow oohs of “Cranium” rang out across a sea of faces cooing back, and swaying to the hypnotic, melodic rhythm as if in a trance of approval for the band’s newest work Parallel Timeline. Leah Wellbaum’s dulcet tones adding fluidity and character to her internal questions, over bending guitars.

Fun and dancy “Peach” lightened the mood with childlike whimsy, sandboxes, scarecrows, and kindergarten classrooms. Toying with her vocals like a yo-yo, everything was controlled, switching from angular to delicate.
Full of doom, but with a tinge of hopefulness, “The Next Curse” came next. Dipping and swelling, and erupting into dynamic bursts, before Wellbaum’s frantic monolog, which got a huge crowd reaction.

“Raise your hand if you think it’s starting to look a lot like October out there. I’ve said this about every stop on this tour, but I think it’s the most true here.” she stated, a precursor to a “weird and unsettling” old song that fits into this particular time of year, “Like A Child Hiding Behind Your Tombstone.” The morbid and curious memento mori nature of the lyrics fluctuating from chest voice to head voice, starting and stopping on a dime with sweet and quiet moments between a bouncy ballad. “Plus, who doesn’t love a good cemetery?”

“On the count of three, I want you to yell your favorite fruit!” Wellbaum called, to which some people started yelling before the countdown, “Wow.. Jeez..” After the real countdown, the audience participation was enthusiastic and what’s better with fruit than “Juice,” a current resurrection of an old song that didn’t see a lot of play before. The plucky guitar and jumpy rhythm section built up into clashing chaos that kept the crowd bopping. A brief instrumental interlude came before The Pact one-two punch of “Planetarium” and “Double Down.” The former being a short energetic burst that was hectic in a good way, full of repetitive verses and a racing tempo. The latter featuring everyone singing along and Wellbaum’s smiling sardonically while uncomfortably pacing around the stage in a playful act.

The walk on music was a foreshadow of the grunged up and just as sexy “Pony” cover, which dropped the key and consisted of glistening guitar and steamy vocals. Trickling down for the intro of “Once More for the Ocean,” they quickly sped things back up for a sing along, keeping hands clapping and heads bobbing. A rampageous outro jam saw Wellbaum off the stage and hometown girl and touring bassist Annie Hoffman started a “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” instrumental cover to bring an air of whimsy. Drummer Will Gorin came in a minute later, while Wellbaum ran around covering the stage and crowd with a bubble maker on blast.

Slowing it down to get sentimental, “Waiting” saw Wellbaum acting out the words and emotions, the soft “oohs” a release and welcoming of inner peace and harmony. Flipping the switch yet again with a testament to their previous jazz training, “Beowulf” bounced between noodling and hard rock to keep the fun, free spirit, keeping fans on their toes to the end of the main set. A cacophony of screaming and ringing guitar left the air hanging.

Departing the stage for a minute, they came back on for an encore starting with the delicate, desperate plea for connection, “Horseshoe Crab.” Ending with “Crockpot,” they had the crowd surging and chanting back for an all-out finale.

Notable Opener: Pronoun was a familiar opener to some in the crowd, as founder Alyse Vellturo is also originally from Boston and has played Portland in some iteration before. The three piece featured easy to dance to pop songs with crystal clear vocals and alternating harmonies. The bassist and drummer, as Vellturo’s touring musicians, wore matching red jumpsuits while keeping the driving beats under her twinkly, bright guitar hooks. A 40 minute set that was full of charm, quirkiness, and catchy melodies.

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