Concert Review: Ought, March 22 at Mississippi Studios in Portland, Oregon
By: Joseph Perry (@JosephWPerryJWP)
Canadian post-punk band Ought brought lean, aggressive, stripped-down versions of songs from its expansive third album Room Inside the World to vivid life at Portland, Oregon’s Mississippi Studios concert venue on March 22, 2018. The quartet thrilled the near-capacity crowd with its art rock approach that is reminiscent of such predecessors as The Fall and early Talking Heads, but that possesses its own brand of intelligence and wry humor.
Vocalist/guitarist Tim Darcy may look like an unassuming sort, but he commands the stage with a mesmerizing presence. He and drummer Tim Keen, bassist Ben Stidworthy, and keyboardist Matt May eschewed stage histrionics in favor of focusing on the atmosphere of their songs, from earlier selections such as the driving “Men for Miles” and hypnotic crowd favorite “Beautiful Blue Sky” to Room Inside the World cuts like concert opener “Into the Sea” and the infectious “Disgraced in America.” Synthesizer-driven single “These 3 Things” came off particularly effectively live, and album flourishes such as multilayered instrumental backgrounds and backing vocals by a chorus didn’t hurt songs like “Desire” in the least. Rather, these more minimalist versions showed the raw power and emotion of Ought’s latest work, providing a sort of live bridge between the group’s comparatively leaner first two albums and the more mature, understated, fleshed-out approach of their latest.
It was exciting to see Ought at this stage of its career, touring on its most creative and ambitious album yet, and playing off the energy of a rapt, partisan crowd. On its current tour, Ought has moved up to larger venues than it has previously played, and it is a safe bet, with performances like the one reviewed here, that the group will be playing even bigger concert halls the next time around.
Ought is on tour in the United States through April 7, and then in Europe from April 20 through May 7. Tour dates can be found at https://ought.bandcamp.com/.
Joseph Perry is one of the hosts of When It Was Cool’s exclusive Uphill Both Ways podcast (whenitwascool.com/up-hill-both-ways-podcast/) and Gruesome Magazine’s Decades of Horror: The Classic Era podcast (decadesofhorror.com/category/classicera/).
He also writes for the retro pop culture website That’s Not Current (thatsnotcurrent.com), Diabolique Magazine (diaboliquemagazine.com), Scream Magazine (screamhorrormag.com), and several other print and online film critique and pop culture magazines.
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