I’ve wanted to catch the Portland trio live for sometime now. I was uber excited to see that they were stopping near my fair ol city. The live show was great, Hutch, Kathy and Westin put on a great performance and left the audience aching for more…if you don’t know The Thermals you have lead a shamed life…SHAMED I SAY! Check ’em out and their new album Now We Can See.
With a recent modification to the original band name, Say Hi To Your Mom, Eric Elbogen bid farewell to the latter portion of his moniker and started 2008 anew. Since his last release, 2006’s Impeccable Blahs, Elbogen left the fair state of New York for Seattle, took a promo picture in a bunny suit, sung about the lovely girls in the Northwest and brewed a toasty new album, The Wishes and the Glitch. This recent fifth self released album (all of Elbogen’s releases have been released on his own label Euphobia) is garnering Say Hi praise for its more upbeat sounds and is capturing the ears of critics and fans alike. Out to promote Wishes, Elbogen has hit the road with drummer Westin Glass to invade a new state each night with his lo-fi sounds and quirky lyrics.
Primarily a one man band, the accompanying musicians change with each release and sometimes Elbogen travels solo, so it’s a mystery what the setup will be when you catch Say Hi on tour. Yet Elbogen was far from alone as he waited for his time to command the stage in the quite dank Soundlab. Bundled in sweatshirt and coat Elbogen relaxed while Glass occasionally stood and danced to some bad dance music (possibly to get the blood flowing to his legs, as no heat was circulating in the basement venue).
The opening act was a noise band who was not impressive for their sounds but for their choice to run clips of Twilight Zone as they played. However, the awe quickly abated when the clip proved to be approximately 6 minutes long and the same images looped for their full 30 minute set. Finally it was Say Hi’s turn and the crowd was also eager for the band to work their magic as they quickly gathered before the stage.
With Twilight Zone still screening in the background, Eric Elbogen set up his drum machine and looper, greeted the crowd, queued up the first track of the evening, “Zero to Love” from Wishes, and the rhythmic bass began pouring into the club. Performing mostly tracks from Wishes, Say Hi put on a solid performance, and after each song, Elbogen thanked the crowd then proceeded with the next song. He did not chat too often with the crowd but when he did, the mellow singer provided some laughs and the audience proved just as entertaining. When Elbogen asked how the music “tasted,” someone shouted “caliente,” to which he laughed and in a monotone voice responded, “Caliente indeed!”
Elbogen and Glass effortlessly leapt from one track to the next, from new tracks to oldies, and played crowd favorites. Among the songs performed were “Northwestern Girls,” “These Fangs,” “Zero to Love,” “Blah Blah Blah,” “Toil and Trouble,” “Back Before We Were Brittle,” plus a closing solo performance of “Let’s Talk About Spaceships.” The banter between Elbogen and the audience continued, people cheering after each track and shouting requests or praise. At one point someone demanded, “Tell us a story,” and Elbogen had to oblige.
He began telling the story of a die hard Say Hi fan who was eager to receive her Say Hi tote, the new design with robots on one side. Well, one fair evening, after a night of partying she felt nauseous while in the back of a taxi and had to… well you can guess what—right in the tote bag. As Elbogen closed his story with, “My soul was in that tote bag,” someone shouted, “Your soul was in a tote bag, that’s a silly place to leave it!” Elbogen laughed as suddenly a girl in the back of the room yelled, “Sorry!” It turned out that Say Hi’s merchandise purveyor was the guilty party. After some more laughs Elbogen and Glass played the last songs of the evening and closed before a delighted audience.
Don’t let the mellow sounds of Say Hi fool you into thinking that an equally “mellow” live performance will be in store. The mixture of electro beats, simple yet catchy sequences and hypnotic drumming combined with Elbogen’s tongue in cheek lyrics (who else signs about meeting a girl in the Laundromat and commenting that her “soap technique is pretty ill”?) and