Thursday, October 30, 2008

Jaguar Love @ Emo's, 10.25.08

Jaguar Love is a love ‘em or hate ‘em type band with no middle ground. Even as they started their performance at Emo’s Lounge you can see people in the crowd light up with approval or cringe in annoyance. It’s all in the way you perceive lead man Johnny Whitney. If you can see his top-of-the-lungs yowl and flamboyant stage presence as refreshing, when so many indie bands are beginning to sound alike, than you fully appreciate this band. If not, you think he’s annoying and would rather have the sound of his voice erased from your memory.

I lie on the side of the fans. Not only because of Whitney,but also because of drummer Jay Clark who was a guitarist in one of my most favorite bands Pretty Girls Make Graves. Jaguar Love is actually an indie supergroup (if this oxymoron term can actually exist) made up of PGMG'er Clark along with Johnny Whiney and Cody Votolato both formally of The Blood Brothers. When those two Portland bands broke up in 2007 the three came together to form a new band that keeps its sound rooted in that of both predecessors and simultaneously stretches to new corners of art-punk. Their debut album Take Me to the Sea was released earlier this year on Matador.

The live performance this past Saturday (10.25) at Emo's was pretty much what should have been expected after listening to the album– an assault on the senses. Whitney struts and jives like he’s living his own
Saturday Night Fever and sings in a high-pitched squeal that probably resembles the screams of small children thrown into a fire. And despite what you're take on that is, one can't deny that there wasn't a moment when the band didn't give their all. Clark looks like he has made a smooth transition to the drums and Votolalo's guitar provides all the needed momentum for his blood brother. Whether is was the full-on punk of "Highways of Gold" or the power ballad “Bone Trees and a Broken Heart,” Whitney bounces from one side of the stage to the next and gets the crowd grooving right along with him.

Incidentally, a video for “Jaguar Pirates” was just released showcasing what their live performance consist of. So check it out…

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