Portland crowds are rarely more enthusiastic than they are at a homecoming show—especially when the band is joined by their friends.
Portland crowds are rarely more enthusiastic than they are at a homecoming show—especially when the band is joined by their friends. Typhoon’s recent concert—a three-band bill also including the well-loved Wild Ones and the fresh-faced Amenta Abioto—was precisely one of those shows. Typhoon had been largely absent for a while, taking a five-year break between the release of 2013’s White Lighter and this year’s fantastic Offerings.The sold-out show confirmed that despite the silence, Portland’s love of Kyle Morton and company hasn’t faded. It’s reassuring, as Offerings felt like enough of a substantial sonic departure that it was easy to wonder if fans would follow the band where they’ve gone.
Considering the oversized nature of Typhoon’s music, as well as the grandeur of Offerings, it was somewhat shocking to see the band choose to perform without any kind of stage dressing, other than the standard rainbow of stage lights. This felt like a gentle, playfully brash statement, as if they’re saying, “We don’t need projections and props to make the world we’re building feel more alive; our music can do that on its own.” There’s a reverence that newer Portland bands have for the Crystal Ballroom (a fact that Wild Ones’ Danielle Sullivan noted, talking about having gone to Lincoln High School half a mile from the stage), and it’s oddly satisfying to get to see a band comfortable enough in their own skin to play without the usual bells and whistles. It feels a little emptier without Typhoon’s former brass section, but luckily, they’ve lost none of their impeccable songsmanship.
Offerings is the kind of album that grows on you, and part of the excitement going into their performance was wondering how its songs—full of strange vocal tricks and spooky interludes—would translate in a live space. Typhoon has been making music for more than a decade now, so it shouldn’t be surprising that the new crop sound fantastic in the Crystal Ballroom. Locals have a notorious love-hate relationship with the Ballroom’s acoustics, but on this night there were moments that felt designed to fit the space.
Typhoon has, through the process of playing a fixed set throughout the tour supporting Offerings, tightly honed the live renditions of the music from the album and beyond, but the downside is that the set leaned more heavily on 2013’s White Lighter—a fact that long-time fans may appreciate, but it left me wanting to see live iterations of songs like “Chiaroscuro” and “Ariadne,” some of the album’s strongest tracks. There’s a safety in getting your sea legs again after a long break by packing your set with five-plus-year-old songs (“CPR/Claws Pt. II” is eight years old now), but Offerings is an album well-constructed enough to justify being played in full on the road, with the crowd-pleasers like “Prosthetic Love” and “Artificial Light” relegated to the encore.
As it stands, Typhoon is one of Portland’s finest bands, though they might balk at that idea. If you have a chance to see them at any point in the near future, it’s absolutely worth the ticket price if only because “Rorschach” and “Empiricist” (the song I was most excited to catch) border on breathtaking in a live setting and you’re able to watch the moving parts that make those songs work. It will be interesting to see the band the next time it plays a show here, perhaps after it’s comfortable enough to vary the setlist and bring out some of the more complex cuts from Offerings—those songs are just too good to be kept tucked away.