Roadkill Ghost Choir with Balto and Neighbor Wave at the Doug Fir Lounge

Vortex Music Magazine

Life never seems to be fully in your own control and here’s your chance to sing about it. Take an introspective look within on December 9 with Florida's Roadkill Ghost Choir and two local openers.


If you’ve ever watched the show Sons of Anarchy, you’ll know that the plot focuses on the internal and external struggles suffered by the son (Jax) of the deceased father and founder (JT) of a motorcycle gang (Sons of Anarchy). The Sons have strayed from JT’s originally intended path and are now rapidly descending down one of corruption, death and destruction. In the beginning of the series, the show was notorious for a few different camera shots—one of which usually saw Jax sitting on the roof of his club’s garage reading his father’s old journals and writing in his own. With its commentating voice-over and panning overhead shots, it showed the expanse and depth of concern for not only the individuals involved in the club, but the club as a whole. The other common shot was usually a montage of Jax (and sometimes other members) cruising through the back roads of the fictional California town of Charming. Askew camera angles and rapid switches back and forth gave a sense of urgency in an impulsive world. It showed the strength gained in the dangers of life and the need for struggle to excel.

It’s a combination of thoughts like these that can be heard on Roadkill Ghost Choir’s first full-length LP, In Tongues. The quintet from central Florida strap on their boots and hit the open road with two wheels on the ground, plenty of power between their legs and anguish on their mind. Led by frontman Andrew Shepard’s softer Jim James-like voice, the feeling of intrinsic reflection wraps listeners tightly throughout the 10-track ride, at times even seeming as if a fierce struggle is the only thing keeping everything from falling apart. Add in heavy doses of an eerie-sounding pedal steel guitar and the semblance of just how frightening an uncertain future can be takes hold.

But Roadkill Ghost Choir never let you spiral too far out of control. The churning percussion pushes you forward, not downward, and the drifting keys keep you seeing the beauty in the moment as you carry on across their Americana rock landscape. They help you see that even if there are dark days ahead, there can still always be a bright future.

Coming together with a pair of local openers at the Doug Fir on Tuesday, December 9, Balto is the brainchild of fairly recent Portland transplant Daniel Sheron who’s toted his tales of travel, loss, love and more along with him. After recording his first album, October’s Road, with five friends in a single-night recording session in 2010, Sheron set about sharpening the rustic edges of his folk-inspired sound and crafted a gorgeous assembly of melodies and imagery with layers of heartfelt soul and inspiration on 2012’s Monuments. The audible outcome is an orchestral tale of introspection and delight. Definitely a feeling not to be missed.

Starting the night off, Neighbor Wave makes self-described “old wave” and is made up of actual neighbors! Based here in Portland, there’s a chance that this band could be those quirky neighbors that keep you up all night with their kinky keyboards and out-there guitar riffs. Get there early to find out.

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