Updated: Sep 13, 2019
By Alaina Martin
As a transgender and queer woman, I am very proud of all who organized Out Loud, for what they put together.
Out Loud is a new bi-monthly queer music showcase put together largely by Erik Carlson, the lead singer of headlining act DoublePlusGood, which capped off a night that showcased queer musicians. Carlson says the event was created to fill a gap in the Portland music scene that has a diverse and fantastically talented queer community but lacks representation.
"I feel like when I go to local music shows I just don’t see many queer people in the audience," Carlson said. "I think that as much as there have been queer nights, there really haven’t been much of that focus on queer bands and musicians."
Carlson was helped in organizing the event by fellow musician Jame Doe, who also performed Wednesday night, and by Kelly's Olympian bar in Portland, the event's home for the foreseeable future.
"I'm hoping it kind of gets other queer people into the culture of queer bands and going to queer shows," Carlson said of the show. "I hope it kind of galvanizes the queer community."
Part of the proceeds from the night go to the Q Center, an LGBTQ+ community center that "provides a safe space to support and celebrate LGBTQ diversity, visibility and community building." If that doesn't make the event great enough, Out Loud had two ASL translators from the troupe Fingers Crossed providing accessibility for the hard of hearing at the show. Not only was it heartwarming, it added a layer of depth and emotion to the music that I have not experienced at a show before.
The first band of the night was Notel, a mostly instrumental band featuring Peter Condra, Becky Miller, Lorna Krier, and Emily Kingan. Their music is reminiscent of Post Rock with 60's synth, which kept me thinking about the back track of Pink Floyd's "Breathe" during their set.
With their low bassy sound, the melodic build reverberates through your chest, keeping you on your toes about what will come next. They sound like a mix of if Band of Skulls met the Doors and then had a small fling with Daft Punk. Their simple stage presence contrasts their bold, heavy sound that makes for a fun show.
The second act of the night was Jame Doe. His music is self-described as "Queer power pop you belt while descending a marble staircase in your favorite cloak." And that is no exaggeration. Slow and emotional, his music has a massive presence.
Jake's voice is electrifying, with a range that is haunting and sends shivers down your spine within five seconds of listening. The saxophone accompaniment by Joshua Davis was perfect, with flirty fills that bring life to the songs. He played a new song for the first time live called "Skin" that was simply mesmerizing.
Before introducing that number, he had some positive words about Portland's new queer showcase, "This is so special to me to have a night of queer music."
DoublePlusGood is an experience. There is something about Carlson's voice that seemingly can't be captured on recording. His breathy crooning playfully flutters up and down the scale as you're transported to the 1950's with harmonic pop melodies.
DoublePlusGood headlined the night, and the crowd was pumped up and ready. It was a fitting end.
Carlson says that he's really "leaned into the crooner sound" and the "queer narrative" of his songwriting. The band's new album, to be called Who's Your Man?, explores this by providing love songs for queer people in a Middle American Era that didn't explore LGBT romance. The band hopes to release the album this year.
DoublePlusGood played the title track from that album, a song that asks, "What is a man?", and explores the damage that people in all kinds of relationships can cause. A country-blues number "Who Would I Be?" similarly explores how relationships alter personal identity.
Tracks like "Take Me Dancing" and "Forget to Breathe" off of the band's album Like a Fire similarly fit in with these romantic themes and provided the crowd at Kelly's Olympian with danceable slow jams.
The band signed off with a fitting song for a night celebrating queer artists, ending with "For the Dancers of American Bandstand." It's Carlson's personalized response to the revelation that many of the dancer's in the iconic 1952 show's ensemble were closeted, as revealed in the memoirs of Arlene Sullivan, one half of the iconic dance duo Arlene and Kenny. The song is a moving number from the heart of one queer artist thanking these others for paving the way, lamenting that they couldn't live their truths for fear of retaliation.
Carlson and all who help set this event up have really gone above and beyond. The music was high caliber, the venue was snug but inviting, and the love was palpable.
The hope of the organizers now is that as the show continues to grow, more queer artists will catch wind of it and new lineups of talent will flock to the event.
Queer artists deserve this kind of show, and I am so excited to see it grow.
MORE IMAGES FROM THE SHOW
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