PORCHES + HARMONY TIVIDAD + GIRL RAY @ THE TERAGRAM BALLROOM
Photos by David Fisch Words by Zach Bilson
It takes a lot of guts to play to an LA crowd while wearing a “I <3 NY” tee, but Porches’ Aaron Maine is that kind of performer – slyly provocative, with an adoring cult of fans less concerned with defending their city than obsessing over their hero’s every move.
This year’s The House represented another step further away from the homespun indie rock Porches cut its teeth on, but Friday’s sold-out Teragram set showcased Maine as an enigmatic, crowd-pleasing frontman in the vein of Of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes, with watery synthpop tunes like “By My Side” and “Ono” brought to life by his impassioned dances and steady, confident voice.
Part of his star appeal may come from his shy-boy image – his mumbled “Thank you, keep it coming, uh, wow, okay” drew raucous applause from giddy teens in the crowd – but his manic stage presence creates an enthralling dichotomy, even giving vibrant energy to a cowbell riff on the gently swaying “Anymore.” Not that his band is slouches either – drummer Cameron Wisch (also of Sheer Mag) and bassist Maya Laner provided the muscle (or “Dark Muscle,” as Porches’ merch says) that lifted their grooves out of lo-fi murk, while keyboardist Seiya Jewell coated The House and Pool cuts with their signature DX7 pads. It’s a fully fleshed-out live set with the confidence and precision of a band playing venues five times the size of the Teragram – stages that may not be far off for Maine & co.
Support for the show came from Londoners Girl Ray and Angeleno Harmony Tividad of Girlpool. Girl Ray are touring with Porches around SXSW, and played an energetic set of folksy indie pop, with Porches’ Cameron Wisch joining them on percussion at the end of their set. Harmony Tividad played a more stripped-down set reminiscent of Phil Elverum’s campfire hymnals (“I feel like a preschool teacher!” she joked at one point, perhaps also poking fun at the average age of the crowd), featuring solo tracks and Girlpool re-arrangements, including a bouncy, near-joyous rendition of “It Gets More Blue”.