Words by Jeff Beam / Photos by Andrew Foster
On Friday the 13th, Port City Music Hall hosted Portland ex-pat Lady Lamb (RIP “the Beekeeper”) for her highly-anticipated record release show (we went record shopping with her the night before the show). After is Aly Spaltro’s 2nd full-length studio release upon moving to Brooklyn a few years ago. The 15-song monster has received rave reviews from the most prestigious music publications (Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, NPR), but Lady Lamb is perhaps most celebrated in her home state. This was most apparent with the lead up to her sold-out release show, with Lady Lamb gracing the cover of both the Portland Phoenix and the MaineToday Entertainment Magazine.
Lady Lamb wasn’t the only artist on the bill with a homecoming. The first act of the evening was Henry Jamison, my former bandmate in The Milkman’s Union. While Henry is originally from and currently lives in Burlington, VT, he went to college at Bowdoin and experienced crucial formative years in the Portland music scene. Performing both solo and accompanied by Ben Davis from Cuddle Magic, absent from his set were any songs from his Milkman’s Union days, with the exception of “Lover’s Tree” from the Telos EP. Instead, the crowd (already at maximum capacity) was treated to an array of newer compositions, all featuring Henry’s ethereal charm. Few artists have his lyrical command and execution, especially not when coupled with his sharp sense of melody and his musical aptitude. The city of Portland was blessed to host this musician for as long as it did.
Cuddle Magic took the stage next, and I’ll start by saying that they are perhaps the most impressive band I’ve ever seen. No exaggeration. The Brooklyn-based, New England Conservatory-bred sextet has a level of command and control that is matchless in the indie scene. Highly disciplined and intelligent people singing & playing a wide array of instruments (vibraphone, horns, circuit-bent keyboards, upright bass), with an emphasis on dynamics, percussion, and interlocking patterns, with the ability to be both minimalistic and grandiose at the same time. Why Cuddle Magic isn’t a national household name is a mystery to me.
And then, Lady Lamb. Flanked by TJ Metcalfe on bass and Derek Gierhan on drums, Lady Lamb ripped through a muscular set that featured many of the new compositions on After, while also throwing in some classic Beekeeper jams. I’ve had the pleasure of playing with/seeing Aly play many times, but this was without question the tightest I’ve ever heard her with a band. A 30-show tour looms in the near future, but the trio already sounded like true road warriors, seasoned from playing night after night. The crowd at Port City was raucous, delighted at the chance to welcome back their local hero, returning from conquering the world. It was a celebratory atmosphere, and overall, the evening was a massive victory for Lady Lamb, as well as for the Maine music scene. Due to the ceaseless ascent, her next big headlining show in Portland will almost certainly take place at the State Theatre. Lady Lamb will keep rising to new heights, but she’s always be a Maine musician at heart.
Check out a few videos and the full photo gallery from the night: