Hiss Golden Messenger played at the Aladdin Theater in Portland on November 5th.
by Arran Fagan
The Golden Messenger show at the Aladdin Theater started with “peace, love, and music.” Or at least those were intentions proclaimed by M.C. Taylor, the band’s front man. We waited in line for two hours and were rewarded with second row seats. We were the youngest people in the audience. What can I say, I love folk rock; and so apparently does the majority of people over thirty. Everyone was dressed in denim, leather, or had some kind of unique hat on. There were a lot of beards.
Hiss Golden Messenger is a folk rock jam band who draws a lot of influence from The Grateful Dead. Songs were extended from their original orientation, guitar and piano solos were taken one by one, and I loved every minute of it. There is something so wonderful about music that is aware of what it is and at the same time fully committed to the craft. The band was tight and having a great time. Smiles were as abundant on stage as they were in the audience. People, ages thirty and beyond were dancing, smiling, and drinking wine – lots of wine. The band went from one upbeat song to another, using warm colors on stage to enhance the overall experience. The band brought up a few Portland musician friends of theirs to perform on their songs. Heather Woods Broderick (Sharon Van Etten, Horse Feathers, Loch Lomond, and Lisa Hannigan) was brought up on stage to sing backup vocals on a song. Patterson Hood (Drive-by Truckers) was brought up on stage to play rhythm guitar and expel guitar solos in a rudimentary and yet satisfying way, including a cover of the late Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down,” which was met with wild applause – nothing gets middle-aged white people excited like a Tom Petty cover.
After an onslaught of songs, the band left the stage, leaving M.C. alone with the crowd. M.C. told us the story of how he tried to do music for over ten years and nothing ever came of it, and how he gave up and moved from San Francisco to North Carolina to go to Grad School and find a career. M.C. told us about how he made an album just for himself and shared it with a few people. The people he showed it to liked it and that was when his music started to pick up. He then sang “Drum,” a song from the first record. The audience was motionless. The chords and lyrics were absorbed and held deep in everyone. There was a moment of silence when the song was over which held some sort of warmth and comfort in the air. The band came back on, and rocked the night away.