November 2, 2015 – The Chicago based four-piece Marrow graced the stage at a quiet One Longfellow Square (OLS) tonight, bringing quite a vivacious energy to the room. The group impressed everyone upon first strum, first hooking them in with harmonies and rhythms touching upon the quieter hits of The Beatles, Broken Social Scene’s self-titled album and early days of The White Stripes. The whole performance was dynamic, not just number to number, but down to every change in each song. The jazzy pop-rock energies entranced the audience for the entire set.
The fresh-faced foursome are touring to promote their newest album The Gold Standard. As always, the sound at OLS was on point. I was almost disappointed to come home to study flat Marrow recordings from my tiny earbud headphones, although happy to have just witnessed such a flawless act of musical performance in a suitable room for the sound. Despite playing for around 30 people, the group brought their best efforts, quirkily confident sense of humor, and natural chemistry.
My favorite song during the performance was probably “She Chose You.” Liam Cunningham’s lead on this piece put your feet and heart in a happy place, combined with Lane Beckstrom’s California-sunshine bass line and Matt Carroll’s peppy kick drum. Macie Stewart’s buttery back-up vocals sang while multi-tasking both keys and guitar on this piece were impressive. Although it’s the harmonies between all four members that really got me. Everyone played their part fervently, and most importantly brought the fun. As I watched people dancing in the audience to the tune I nostalgically and affectionately pictured this playing during a make-up, make-out scene between Seth and Summer in an episode of The O.C.
Other influences that came to mind during Marrow’s performance were Sleeter Kinney, No Doubt, Dr. Dog, Ben Folds, The Eels and Elvis Costello. Still the arrangements and subdued yet awesome stage presence were unlike any I’ve seen. The 45-minute set flew by all too quickly. Luckily for me, and for those of you who weren’t at the show (now kicking yourselves wishing you were), Cunningham closed the night with a message to the people of Portland. “I promise, I don’t know when, but we’ll be back.” Here’s hoping.
Cam Jones and Sonia Sturino’s (of The Box Tiger) newest project, Weakened Friends, rightfully opened the night with their first performance at OLS. The show was also kicking off a Northeast tour and, sadly, their last performance in Portland for the foreseeable future.
I’d love to see a pairing of Marrow with locals Coke Weed and/or Big Blood, and maybe invite Boston up-and-comers Bent Knee for a killer night at any of the medium-sized, great-sounding rooms in Portland. Now that would be a show not to miss.
Please note: We received free admission in exchange for this review.