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The best kept secret in music


"Grads of girls camp show their rock souls"

Monday, October 09, 2006
The Oregonian
Given Friday night's grand opening of the renovated Bob and Diana Gerding Theater at the Armory, you might think Portland's downtown and Pearl District nightscape is morphing into a new theater district.
But make no mistake. The district's nightlife is still about rock 'n' roll.
Black-tie events to the contrary, it's about being young. Often it's about being female. And sometimes it's about shaking the walls in spaces an older generation would never suspect.
As if to make the case, two rising young bands from Portland played rollicking sets just one door down from the sumptuous new Portland Center Stage armory digs, where "West Side Story" was dancing to a pre-rock rhythm.
Blubird and The Revenants, two acts formed by graduates of the city's Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls, took to a corner stage fashioned in the Adidas Originals store, and, for one night, rocked the clothes racks. (Fittingly, the performance space was in the women's section.)
With displays of white tennis shoes as background, Blubird -- aka drummer Katie Alto and guitarist Una Rose, both 12 -- launched into a cover of Radiohead's "Karma Police." Skillfully rendered at Thursday night's show, the '90s indie-anthem (released when Blubird's band members were all of 3 years old) set the tone for Blubird's half of the concert: socially aware, alternative-rock gems.
After fiercely delivering the outraged "Global Warming," an original tune the two composed two years ago during their time studying at the Rock Camp, Katie hid the drumsticks to focus on harmonies with Una for a version of the Postal Service's "Such Great Heights." Their combined, confident voices infused the bittersweet melody with new hope.
The Revenants are usually a trio: Jessica Emdee and Ariel Kwiatkowski, both 17, and Blake Peterson, 15. But, as guitarist/lead vocalist Emdee explained before the set, "Her (Blake's) mom wouldn't let her come out tonight. . . . This is what we have to deal with!"
Even rising rock stars, it seems, have to finish homework on a school night.
Emdee worked out her frustration on her guitar, roaring into a punk-inspired playlist. For "Hey Mister," Emdee's fingers fretted at an especially blistering pace, but the rougher sonic landscape she traversed didn't lose the room, and she kept the folks firmly in-store.
" Midnight Vultures," a raging tune Emdee composed at the Rock 'n' Roll Camp, was a fit for her cathartic screams and sneers, which brought to mind Courtney Love's early albums.
Unlike Love, however, Emdee seems to have a future in music.
Emdee had expressed concern that her big, punky sound might not adapt to a store featuring sports attire that skews to a hip-hop vibe. But the night's double bill was proof a solid rock show is still a good fit for just about any space in town.©2007 The Oregonian - The Oregonian, Portland


CD coming this spring


Feeling a bit camera shy


Hometown: Portland, Oregon

Sound: An electric guitar and drums channeling 1970s punk, classic rock, folk and all the indie bands we love.

Members: Una Rose, 13, (vocals, guitar) and Katie Alto, 12, (drums, vocals)

Sometimes we cover: Radiohead, The Shins, Neil Young, the Clash, Van Morrison, Arcade Fire, Beck

Other band names in the running: Sound Board, Furious George, Yukon Cornelius

How the group formed: We have known each other since second grade and have the same musical tastes. We formed the band at the 2005 Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls.

Why we rock so hard: We're in middle school but we still know how to jam, and we're writing songs about things that we care about. One of our songs is about global warming. We play it in an HBO documentary. It's also featured as a Modern Protest Song on Neil Young's web site.

Who's the slackest band member when it comes to loading your equipment: We both work hard. No one slacks. Slacks are for wearing. Of course, we prefer jeans.

Musical guilty pleasure: Cheralee Dillon's "Little Yellow Lemon"

Who comes to your shows: Parents, friends, fans of girl rock, filmmakers and anyone else who cares about the Portland indie rock scene.

How do you handle an obvious onstage blunder? We look at each other, smile and just keep going. We have fun!

Any stage banter you wish you could rescind: We don't talk much onstage. We just play.

After a gig, nothing tastes better than: Ice cream, of course.

On the record: Coming soon, a CD of original songs.