- Nathan Yoder
Frances Quinlan and Mary Lattimore at the Doug Fir - 03/03/2020
Two indie stars hailing from the Philly music scene brought their tour through Portland on Tuesday night, and though their stringed performances were unique unto themselves, there was plenty of thematic crossover and collaboration as well.
Mary Lattimore opened the evening, with her massive harp and looping pedal in tow. Beginning with a first-time public performance of a song to be included on her upcoming fall release, she mesmerized the audience with a beautiful building melody. She then played two tracks from her 2017 album, Collected Pieces, the second of which was Wawa By The Ocean, which stood out as a setlist highlight. Another new song was debuted, followed by It Feels Like Floating, and finally For Scott Kelley, Returned to Earth. Watching such an accomplished harpist, especially one who utilizes so many looping techniques, truly elicits a sense of floating, either in the sky or at sea - something which many of Lattimore's song titles allude to. Much like her contemporary, Julianna Barwick, she is very adept at constructing ethereal textures, layered atop each other to create deeply complex pieces.
After Mary Lattimore's performance, Frances Quinlan took the stage. Opening the set with a mellow version of Detroit Lake (who doesn't love lyrics about algae blooms in the Oregon Cascades?), Quinlan soon picked up the pace when she launched into Rare Thing. Beginning her performance with what looked to be a self-styled Fender Jaguar electric, and then switching to an acoustic, she played many of the cuts off her new solo album, Likewise, including a peppy version of Your Reply - a definite standout. An annoying male audience member put a minor damper on the evening's energy (one could not help but be reminded of Quinlan's repeated lyric "strange to be shaped by such strange men"), but the indomitable Frances Quinlan rose above it, powering through Hop Along covers, including Happy To See Me with Mary Lattimore joining on harp. Finally, in a surprising move, Quinlan punctuated her performance with an exclamation point of an encore: a high-energy version of Bruno is Orange - a Hop Along, Queen Ansleis deep cut. It was rad.
Both performers were excellent and should make it back to Portland soon. Though there was a strange amount of Wawa-based banter, so perhaps both Lattimore and Quinlan will swing back through Philly first.