Saturday found me coming down with a mean hankering for some cider, which just so happened to coincide with Apple Harvest Festival in Dirty Dovah. Through the vine, I had heard a rumor that the Mallett Bros. were playing the festival so I had to investigate and show the boys some good granite love and support.
I was expecting to find copious amounts of apple pies, crisps, ciders, all that old fashioned New England autumn goodness. What I found instead was a congested stretch of market vendors peddling irrelevance. Knowing full well that a set of rip roaring Mainah rock would quell my apprehension, I pressed on into the masses bent on finding the Brick House bandstand.
My mallett mullet drooped when I learned the Brothers had already played and high-tailed it back Downeast. Not wicked mint bud but at least there was a killer Cash cover of “Boy Named Sue” played by Eli Autry and his strikingly scrawny by comparison guitar companion.
The festival’s saving grace was a bounce house metropolis that my photos do not do justice. Baby fever was running high and it was hard to rein in my desire to run and tumble, but I took out my frustration at not having met the height requirement (or my future baby momma) by putting some money down on a kid duel.
Flash forward to Portsmouth’s highly anticipated hipster hoot: The Tan Vampires at the Press Room. The kids were out in full force to witness the dazzling display of facial hair soft rock complete with multi-layered beard ballads and meticulously sculpted mustache melodies.
I was subdued by the ambient sounds immediately and appreciated the opportunity for mental unfurling. To my surprise and excitement, I noticed Mike Effenberger up there tickling the ivories of his ragged Rhodes and synth; the legendary seacoast keyboardist layered nuanced chord voicings over the music to propel the Vamps into uncharted, aurally soporific realms.
This is starting to sound cultish. There’s not one gyrating body in this place. Okay focus. Don’t panic. Try desperately to pick out a snippet of the lyrics so you have something more substantial to report on… and fail. Not one hand clap after a song that sounded like that Chris Isaak tune where he’s dancing with that naked girl on the beach. Two guys behind me shouted: “Turn it up boys!” I looked at them and agreed.
Hipster vampires vamping on dreary progressions—I changed my mind about liking the ambient droning. It’s time to show off your tan boys; you’ve been spending time in the sun, now pick me up with something brighter sounding. For the finale, the band climaxed subtly and earned a few whoops and hollers (oxymoron?) and I overheard a man tell the fiance of a bandmember to “Tell your hubby to turn it up and play an encore.” Chill bro, they have their own vinyls; as far as I’m concerned that’s living the dream.