Wild Cub & Priory w/ Superhighway – Concert Review + Band Interview

IMG_3175Day Two of our Seven Days of Christmas series is upon us! We have five days until Christmas, and today we bring you the first of our December to Remember coverage.

On December 5th, 94/7’s December to Remember concert series was already two shows in, and we arrived upon the third night to cover an amazing double headliner, with one and the opener being right here from Portland.

Wild Cub and Priory took the headline title for the night, but before we went in to the show, I sat down in Ringler’s Pub underneath the Crystal Ballroom itself to catch up with legendary local band, and friends of indie/alt, Superhighway.

Superhighway, in case you’ve been living under a rock here in Portland, is one of this cities most up-and-coming, and most exciting, local indie bands, consisting of Eli Hirsch, 20, and Quincy Saunders, 19.

These guys have been featured on indie/alt countless times before. I’ve joked that they are to us what Arctic Monkeys are to NME Magazine. They’ve been featured in concert reviews, feature articles, and even full interviews before.

Back in June, they took the move down to Los Angeles, and were away from us for a little while. But now, I’m glad to say it: They’re back. Permanently.

After 6 months in SoCal, Superhighway returned to us, taking back their title as a Portland band. Though, they say, they never were an LA band.

“And thank God. We were always a Portland local band. We belong here.”

Though Los Angeles seems to be the city of dreams, it wasn’t all what Superhighway wanted it to be.

“People who are from LA love LA, and people who aren’t from LA don’t always love LA,” Hirsch says.

Now that they’re back in Oregon, right back where they started and grew up, formed their roots and took their flight, they say they’re happier than they’ve been in a long time.

“What’s cool about Portland is that fans are really excited here, and audiences are really appreciative and excited,” Hirsch tells us. “I always feel so grateful to play for an audience here in Portland.”

The last time we talked to Superhighway, we Skyped in to talk about upcoming projects, their roots as a band, and some of their favorite music on the scene right now (You can read, watch, and listen to the exclusive here).

This time, we chat like old friends, talking about what they’ve been up to in the last little while.

Since their move and now re-relocation, Superhighway have released a music video, a few songs, and have been blowing up on music blogs everywhere.

As we talked about in our last chat with the band, the guys traveled down under to Australia, to record their upcoming EP, now titled Back to Chinatown.

It’s lead single, “Back to Chinatown”, dropped on Soundcloud in late October, and since then, has gotten quite the response.

“Our Soundcloud has blown up with that. A lot of people have listened.”

As of now, the song had gotten close to 17K plays, and the number keeps growing. It was even featured on the Hype Machine charts, thanks to the blog, I Heart Moosiq.

If you haven’t heard it yet, it’s something you simply must hear. Go ahead. Give it a play!

The full EP, the band says, is still in the works.

“It’s still kinda being polished up cause we don’t exactly know what it’s gonna be yet,” Hirsch says.

According to them, we should be seeing it sometime next year. Hopefully sooner than later. We’ll keep you up to date.

As far as the immediate future goes, Superhighway says it looks bright.

“There’s a video coming out in January,” they say. “And after that, potentially SXSW.”

It’s an exciting future for sure for these guys, and we here at indie/alt can’t wait to see where they go.

{We are currently uploading the full recording of our conversation for you to listen to. We talk about funny road stories, their feelings on the studio, and more. As soon as it is live, it will be posted right here.}

As the band ran up to hit soundcheck for the night’s show, the fans began to line up to be let inside the venue. After a little while longer, everyone flooded to the ballroom, and got ready for the guys’ opening set.

I’ve said it all before, Superhighway live is an amazing thing to behold. Their energy never dies when they’re on stage. This time around, there wasn’t much of a change as far as energy, but the way they carry themselves has greatly matured. Their live sound, as well as the now “Float”-less setlist, shows that they’ve really grown as artists and performers. This, plus the always positive crowd vibe, gives me the impression Superhighway is ready to take on their own headline shows. After this set, they sure have the fanbase for it!

IMG_3213Another local legend took the night’s next slot, acting as the shows first headline act. This is my second time around seeing Priory do their thing in their hometown of Portland, the last being as an opening act on The Kooks’ latest tour.

Priory have that look to them. That cool look. I don’t know if it’s the glasses, the plaid, the skinny jeans. It’s just that aura where you look at them and immediately know they’re in a band, and you have to naturally assume they’re really good.

Hearing them play, you would’ve gotten that assumption just right. Their set completely consisted of songs off their upcoming Sophomore release, and from their live renditions, this will be a major record release.

The first three songs played were recently released on the Weekend EP. “Call to Arms”, “Put Em Up”, and “Lost Gold” all sound amazing both recorded, and live. And of course, “Weekend” is an anthem for every Friday night (perfectly timed being the show took place just then).

“Weekend” has to be one of this years biggest songs. Since it’s release, it has been played on nearly every alternative radio station nationwide, and has even peaked at 15 on Billboard’s Alternative charts. Everyone seems to know it, and they all showed it when the guys played it for the Crystal.

IMG_3236The night’s last act, and second headliner, had probably the majority of everyone in attendance. There was a real buzz leading up to Wild Cub’s set, and I really hoped this time around, they would really exceed expectation.

The first time I saw Wild Cub was at 94/7’s Pet Aid, and there, they were the definite highlight of the day. Keegan DeWitt’s energy there was an unbelievable force, and when they opened up for Bleachers back in November, I really wanted to see that again.

Unfortunately, it just wasn’t there for me. I lend this to the fact that the crowd was there for Jack Antonoff, not for them. This time around though, I had hoped that with a crowd there for them, they could feed off the energy in the air, and live up to what I had seen them do 4 months prior.

Happy to say, they did just that. Wild Cub came back to the top spot, giving an energetic and fully enjoyable performance for all of us. Highlights include, but are not limited to:

That time when Keegan crouched on one side of the stage, eyeing his drum like a hungry cat. Then, after a good amount planning strategy, ran to it and gave it the beating it deserved.

That time when he borrowed a phone from the front row to look up the lyrics to Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love”, using them just how they were meant to be used: sung out in a way only Wild Cub could.

That time he gave his guitar to a group in the front row, and never asked for it back. (Yeah. They got it signed and went home with it.)

And, of course, the ballroom sized singalong that ensued when they performed their biggest hit, and another best of 2014 song, “Thunder Clatter”.

With three amazing performances and one interview under our belt, our December to Remember was off to a rousing start. However, it wasn’t about to die down. The next day, the ballroom would see me once again for an amazing set from Oxford native band, Glass Animals. Come back tomorrow for day three of our Seven Days of Christmas to read the review.

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