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Aural Fix

169 is a dank basement on East Broadway with a rough history, and a mixed crowd of trendies, band-followers, and presumably local hang-overs from its previous dive-bar incarnation. Eric’s in Oregon blinked under the somewhat harsh ‘stage’ (actually a piece of concrete floor by the front window) lighting and gave all of them a spirited show, slowly warming the house as the set progressed. Front man Tom is distinctive, with a quiet presence that is secretly quite charismatic, self-effacing grin not withstanding. I wanted more of his voice, and in that sense I wasn’t sure if I was in the presence of a singer-songwriter or a stripped down rock band, as the songs veered between the intimate, and an optimistic declaiming neo-sixties vibe. Either way, I lost the lyrics to the murky sound system, but also, this is a voice with a lot of nuance, and much of this subtle tone didn’t get over the chiming guitars. I say chiming, but second guitarist Scott was a lot more effective when he played repetitive lines and riffs rather than chord voicings that all too often duplicated the work already done by Tom’s acoustic, and the all too seldom moments when he sang were wonderfully potent. Lost in the back, and seemingly still learning the charts was an accordionist whose name I didn’t catch. This instrument will be a very interesting colour in the arrangements once the player has settled in. Eric’s in Oregon felt like a work-in-progress, but building on the essential nucleus of Tom’s soulful singing and writing they should have a solid future.