Published Aug 17, 2010SMMR BMMR, Portland, OR's premier and vowel-less garage rock festival, has been running for three years now and is the summer equivalent to the slightly older winter version, DMMR BMMR. The list of bands who've played in the past is pretty much a who's who of West coast garage, punk rock and all hybrids within, including Thee Oh Sees, Ty Segall, Eat Skull, Sic Alps, Ganglians, Box Elders, the Fresh & Onlys, and Nobunny, all of whom have broken through to much larger audiences over the past few years.
For the first time in the event's history, most of the bands played on an outdoor stage, eventually heading inside to Plan B's main stage. Admittedly, the first night was probably the most front-loaded of the three-day event, though the first highlight came courtesy of one of Alberta's latest additions to its flourishing DIY scene, namely Lethbridge's Fist City, who played an intense set of frenetic, though quite tuneful, punk rock that recalled the urgency of those early riot grrl days. Later in the day, Vancouver, BC's own Manic Attracts tore through their wound-up and frantic call-and-response punk that proved to be one of the loudest and well-received bands of the night.
Moving inside, Austin, TX's Woven Bones, the newest signees to Sub Pop sister label Hardly Art, overstayed their welcome with what seemed like a repetition of the same song, a snot-filled take on early Jesus and Mary Chain that worked better on a more forgiving seven-inch single. Headliners of the first night, Mayyors, proved well worth staying up late for, however. The band's pummelling force defies proper description, but imagine the terror invoked by Jesus Lizard in their prime and combine it with the fierceness of the entire back catalogue of the legendary Amphetamine Reptile label, and you might come close. Rumour has it that Mayyors are soon breaking up, so the crowd took full advantage by turning the front of the stage into a veritable war zone that only a brave few would venture near.
The second day proved to be the day that Vancouver took over, featuring three of the scene's most popular garage acts. Dead Ghosts, who are about to release an LP through Florida's Dying, shredded through their jangly jams, converting the crowd in the process and topping off the set with their guitarist ripping a solo while crowd surfing. Indian Wars were just as well received with their songs of Bob Dylan-infused twang garage. Sex Church were in fine form, also, performing a shortened set of their moody psych to a sweltering crowd intent on soaking up the band's gloomy death rays.
The third and final day also happened to be the hottest, with the weather breaking 30 degrees. This made for a crowd that was much thinner than the previous two days, not to mention a little lethargic from two days of beer, pizza and late nights. Portland's own Meercaz were the definite highlight, kicking out their MC5-styled proto-punk to a small but devoted crowd. Finally, close to the end of the night, Vancouver had one more ace up its sleeve. Timecopz, who had clearly not been affected by the boiling temperatures, lit up the inside of Plan B with their anthemic and all too catchy brand of punk garage, resulting in a beer-soaked dance floor and a throbbing crowd clearly dizzied by the band and the heat.
This year, SMMR BMMR proved to be an even bigger success than last year, hopefully setting the stage for an even bigger year in 2011.