Concert Review: Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside at Great Scott in Allston, MA
Reviewed by: Dorise Gruber
Listen up greasers and paper shakers, quit toolin’ around in your hopped up wheels and check it: this band out of Portland is boss, and I’m wiggin’ out over their new album! I’m gonna play their record at the soda shoppe on my next shift. My candyass boss is gonna flip his lid! Hey man, don’t be such a square – if you don’t love ‘em, look – I’ll let you gimme a wet willie.
With Sallie Ford decked in a vintage blue dress, polka-dot keds, flashy cat-eye specs, and a mint chocolate chip Fender, her style and knee-swivels were certainly consistent with her sound – a modernized 60’s doo-wop/rockabilly/surf-pop blend with vocals that crossed somewhere between a less quirky Regina Spektor and a less deranged Karen O. That’s not to say that Ford is just a neutered version of these two women – she’s not without her own eccentricities – a mix of flirty, grungy, and hip that oozes Portland. What could easily become kitchy or ingenuine never crosses that line – she’ll toy with country ballads like in “Paris,” give tongue-in-cheek nods to 60s bubblegum like in “Do Me Right,” make you swoon with sultry tracks like “They Told Me” and “Shivers,” or just give some good ol’ fashioned in-your-face tough-chick badassness like in their single “Party Kids.” If Ford were straight-up copy-catting the sound of half a century ago it’d be easy to balk, but she rarely lets her voice get too saccharin or cloyingly cutesy, instead rasping at the ends of most phrasing. She mixes in just the right amount of fuzz and filth to elevate it from gimmicky to fleshy, and in that repurposing she proves herself a true Portland starlet.
Mostly featuring tracks from this year’s Untamed Beast, they did find room to feature some new, unreleased tracks, (“Fuck That” and “Lips & Hips”), some popular cuts from their 2011 debut Dirty Radio, and covers from both Dylan and Blondie. After a night of bopping along with the band and an especially engaged crowd, I was jazzed to hear they’re already planning on touring through again later this year.
Tell you what, hep cats: how’s about you come over to my pad and we’ll blow some tunes to prep for the next tour? It’ll be a gas. You dig?
The Eagle Has Landed (Instrumental)
They Told Me
Do Me Right
Lips & Hips
Heart of Glass (Blondie cover)
Trouble in Mind (Bob Dylan cover)