Van Etten wows, War on Drugs channel Springsteen live in Portland
It doesn’t hurt when Bon Iver covers you, The National produce you, SXSW adores you, and hip websites anoint you the latest musical “it” girl.
That being said, Sharon Van Etten – touring on the strength of her latest, Tramp, didn’t disappoint a packed house at The Aladdin. After a solid set from Philadelphia’s The War on Drugs (channeling early Springsteen, and a self-professed love of The Waterboys – who they covered in their encore), Van Etten and her talented supporting cast seemed right at home in the intimate confines of The Aladdin.
Though Van Etten was the clear attraction, a reasonable contingent of folks were also on hand to support the (arguably) equally talented Heather Woods Broderick, who provided flawless harmony vocals, keyboards and guitar. Broderick (affectionately nicknamed “Bro-Derek” by Van Etten during their tour) is a Portlander, and Smells Like Pop has witnessed her talent first hand as a member of Horse Feathers (along with her brother, Peter Broderick).
The band fleshed out the subtle and nuanced dynamics of Tramp – taking an already solid record, and bringing it lovingly to life. Guitarist Doug Keith captured the gothic-twang necessary to make “Give Out” shine, while drummer Zeke Hutchins allowed the power and menace of “Serpents” to be showcased.
With her talent on an upward trajectory, hopefully the young Van Etten won’t get pitchforked over for the next inevitable find.
(photos by William Olson)