Playing to a packed High Noon Saloon, Porches electrified the audience with souped-up live versions of tracks old and new.
The artist behind Porches, Aaron Maine and his cohorts — five in total — breathed new vivacity into his often bleak, though very melodic songs, adding a level of danceability totally absent on the recordings.
First came Kevin Krautner of rising Indianapolis band, Hoops, and London-based group, Girl Ray. To some people’s surprise, Krautner deferred playing any Hoops tracks, instead opting for his own with a full band. There were many resemblances between his own music and that of Hoops.
Next up came Girl Ray, a straightforward pop-rock trio with an added member for the live setting. The most notable part of their music — recorded or performed live — is lead singer and guitarist Poppy Hankin’s extending vocals mixed with the reserved, but oft-groovy instrument parts. Their live performance reflected this, letting the music speak for itself with a minimal but warm stage presence.
At one point, though, Hankin and bassist Sophie Moss did a coordinated jig that really got the crowd going.
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An earlier show, Krautner and Girl Ray finished up by 9:30 p.m., leaving 30 minutes before Maine and his friend could take the stage. In the meantime, the High Noon crowd mingled to get drinks, stepped outside for an earned cigarette and more or less tripled in size. As the time crept toward 10 p.m., the crowd’s chatters turned to hushed whispers and bated breaths about Maine’s looming performance.
Your correspondent, for one, was not sure what sort of live arrangement Maine would produce for his tracks, which are often drenched in introversion and solitude. I was thoroughly relieved then, to see Maine come out with four other bandmates, a guitarist, a bassist and synth player, another synth player and a drummer.
With a brief introduction, he began to play a new track, “Now The Water,” off the recently released LP The House, then followed quickly with standout track “Mood” off his last LP, Pool. At the onset of each of these tracks, concert-goers knew they were in for something special.
Maine’s recordings as Porches are equal parts sad and cathartic. They offer prime retrospection on life’s ills, but then often provide the energy, not letting them overtake you. In a live setting — with all of the live and modulated instrument parts, as the teched-out drums sounded amazing — all of Maine’s tracks were pure catharsis.
There was an energy apparent in tracks like the above, but especially “Ono” that simply wasn’t there in the recordings. It was as if these tracks, played live, felt like the energy surge one can get after an intense Porches listening session.
Maine himself, though, was reserved yet friendly, like his British openers. His crowd interactions were largely limited to genuine thanks and sarcastic, drawn-out “ha-ha’s” when someone in the crowd decided to do something boisterous.
On they went throughout the night, weaving older and newer tracks together and each forging new paths into the concertgoers’ ears. Especially haunting was “By My Side,” where lyrics like “It’s good to know ourselves/because most of the time/I have no idea who I see in the mirror” dropped down like heavy raindrops onto the crowd.
Some tracks, though, like “Leave The House” were even more stripped down. As a reprieve, Maine presented an acoustic version which left the song even more devastating than usual —Maine’s undistorted vocals coming through all to clear.
A few songs later, Maine finished his main list with “Underwater” off of Pool before quickly delving into an encore.
It was more of a cherry on top than a second serving, but it did present audience with never-before-heard “Wobble” as the final song.
This song was almost punky and felt like a callback to Porches’ earliest days when he embraced a more rock-ethic, but it also felt more chaotic and unstructured than anything Maine has done before.
It was the perfect way to end the evening, transitioning the sadness of Porches’ prior recordings to catharsis in a live setting and this new track offering up a new feeling altogether—maybe determination? Or, maybe just taking all the chaos of the world head-on, rather than letting it get you down.